Season 10 (June 15 - June 27)

June 15: The Three Doctors Episodes One & Two
June 16: The Three Doctors Episodes Three & Four
June 17: Carnival of Monsters Episodes One & Two
June 18: Carnival of Monsters Episodes Three & Four
June 19: Frontier in Space Episodes One & Two
June 20: Frontier in Space Episodes Three & Four
June 21: Frontier in Space Episodes Five & Six
June 22: Planet of the Daleks Episodes One & Two
June 23: Planet of the Daleks Episodes Three & Four
June 24: Planet of the Daleks Episodes Five & Six
June 25: The Green Death Episodes One & Two
June 26: The Green Death Episodes Three & Four
June 27: The Green Death Episodes Five & Six

June 15: The Three Doctors Episodes One & Two

Standard and special edition DVDs
Well, today's my birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with Doctor Who's own tenth anniversary celebration71, The Three Doctors?  And we've reached another sort of milestone: with two exceptions, every episode in the archives now exists in their original PAL video format.

It's an understated beginning, with a weather balloon wafting gently in the breeze and a gamekeeper waving at a scientist in a jeep before suddenly disappearing.  There are also some nice little moments in the subsequent laboratory scene with the Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier, and Dr. Tyler (the scientist from the beginning), such as the Brigadier asking what he can do to help.  "Yes," the Doctor replies.  "Pass me a silicon rod, will you?"  The Brigadier does so, only for the Doctor to use it to stir his tea, much to Lethbridge-Stewart's exasperation.  There's also the Brigadier's oft-quoted, somewhat bizarre fit of pique at the tail of the scene, as he chastises Dr. Tyler for treating his top-secret facility like any old lab: "Liberty Hall, Dr. Tyler, Liberty Hall."  Even the DVD subtitles are at a loss to explain this, but the best explanation I've seen is that it's a reference to Oliver Goldsmith's 18th-century comedy She Stoops to Conquer, which has a Liberty Hall that's inadvertently believed by the characters to be an inn -- and which had just been adapted by the BBC in 1971, so it would have been fresh in the memory.

But the danger soon reveals itself, with a nifty electronic effect that looks like a red, black, and blue amorphous jelly (and which they've done a fabulous job of making it look like it's going in and out of drains and such), which causes things and people to vanish in an off-white flash.  And it seems that the beam of light that sent the jelly to Earth in the first place is also draining the Time Lords of all their power, since it emanates from the black hole that provides the Time Lords with said power.  This gives the story the feel of an epic tale without really even trying.  And coming on the heels of The Time Monster, this is both a revelation and a relief.  With things on the Time Lords' home planet just as dire as the situation on Earth, which escalates from an electronic effect to blobby red jellies attacking UNIT HQ (all of UNIT HQ!  How much more exciting than anything in The Time Monster) and UNIT soldiers helpless to stop them (even after Corporal Palmer's legendary response to his first sight of the Gell [sic] Guards (as the script calls them) of "Holy Moses, what's that?!"), the Time Lords are forced to transgress the First Law of Time and send the Doctor back to help himself.  And that's how Patrick Troughton enters the scene, sent by the Time Lords to help Jon Pertwee's Doctor.  Except it's quickly clear that these two aren't going to get along.  Troughton starts prickly ("I can see you've been doing the TARDIS up a bit.  Hmm.  I don't like it." -- he should have seen it last story), and Pertwee responds in kind, and it's clear that these two (rather wonderfully) aren't going to get along.  It's also nice to see how effortlessly Troughton slips back into the role, even if it's not quite the same second Doctor as we're used to (his obsession with his recorder, for instance, feels more like the original characterization of the second Doctor than the one we had by the end of the '60s).

The Time Lords try again with the first Doctor, William Hartnell, but he gets stuck in a time eddy and can only advise from the TARDIS scanner (this is because Hartnell was so ill at this point that he could only do a few short pre-filmed segments -- sadly, he's noticeably ill in these scenes and is transparently reading off cue cards, although a few flashes of the old Doctor still come through (e.g., "So stop dilly-dallying...and cross it!") -- but it's still rather nice to have him there).  And to Bob Baker and Dave Martin's credit, they don't waste time getting all the Doctors involved in the action (they don't, for instance, save their appearance for the first cliffhanger) but have them interacting and bickering right away.  No, the first cliffhanger sees the third Doctor and Jo made to vanish by the antimatter effect.  (Well, right after the Brigadier and Corporal Palmer spot it, leading Palmer to say, "Good grief, sir, what's that?!"  Palmer doesn't come off the best in this episode, does he?)

Episode two continues the fun, with the Brigadier in disbelief at the sight of the second Doctor instead of the third.  Troughton is trying to work out how to contain the antimatter creature ("What are we going to do now?" Benton asks.  "Keep it confused," the second Doctor replies.  "Feed it with useless information.  I wonder if I have a television set handy?"), while the third Doctor and Jo find themselves not dead, as Jo initially believes (just as she did at the end of The Time Monster), but in a bleak and desolate place -- "at the other end of that light streak of yours," the Doctor tells Tyler, who's also been transported here.  "That's in the black hole," Tyler replies in disbelief.  "Yes, exactly...  On a stable world in a universe of antimatter.  An anomaly within an impossibility," the Doctor responds -- and it's clear that their host wants them to join him, as the Doctor, Jo, and Tyler are all surrounded by Gell Guards.

The second Doctor prepares to turn off the TARDIS's forcefield.
(The Three Doctors Episode Two) ©BBC
Back on Earth, the second Doctor's attempts to restrain the antimatter creature only serve to antagonize it ("Of course, you fool," he berates himself,  "it's antimatter!  The opposite effect!  Instead of quietening down, I've stimulated it!"), forcing the Brigadier and Benton to take refuge with Troughton in the TARDIS (thus allowing Lethbridge-Stewart to have a go at marveling at the interior dimensions (Benton had his go last episode)).  And (important, this) the second Doctor offers a jelly baby to the Brigadier while they're trapped in the TARDIS -- the first time any Doctor has done so.

It's not all perfect, though; there's a noticeable bit of padding as Tyler, while waiting inside their host's blobby palace (the decor looking an awful lot like the Gell Guards), decides to make a run for it, which leads to him dashing down some corridors to fill the time before ending up right back where he started.  "That was a bit of a waste of time, wasn't it?" he says ruefully.  But fortunately there's not much of this, and the episode does end strikingly: after being told by the first Doctor to switch off the TARDIS's forcefield, the second Doctor does so ("Because he told me to, and I've always had a great respect for his advice," Troughton explains to the Brigadier and Benton), which leads to the entirety of UNIT HQ vanishing, disappearing down the light stream into the black hole...

June 16: The Three Doctors Episodes Three & Four

Omega warns the Doctors not to deceive him. (The Three
Episode Three) ©BBC
After two episodes of mystery (other than a brief look from behind), episode three finally introduces us to our host: a man named Omega, who was the solar engineer who turned a star into a black hole and gave the Time Lords the source of their power.  Omega was believed to be destroyed in the supernova, but it turns out he was sucked inside the black hole and survived.  And now Omega has decided to take his revenge against the Time Lords for abandoning him (as he perceives it) by draining away their power and then escaping from this world of antimatter.  But the catch is that the world is maintained by Omega's will, so he needs a fellow Time Lord to maintain it while he makes his escape.  And so that's why Omega needs the Doctor.

Then there's the infamous moment where the Brigadier, upon finding that UNIT HQ has been transported to some new location, believes they've been transported to Cromer (a coastal town in Norfolk), rather than a different universe as the Doctor says.  The Stupid Brigadier archetype really begins here, sadly -- although he still handles the rest of the situation well, as he watches the second Doctor and Benton get led away by Gell Guards and taken inside Omega's place and tries to figure out how to get inside.  (He doesn't, for instance, ask Mr. Ollis where the nearest phone is.)  Still, we're a far cry from the Brigadier of The Invasion or Spearhead from Space.

But the best parts of this episode are the Doctors' interactions with Omega, as he explains the plot and backstory to them (at exactly the right part in the story for the audience as well).  The oddest part is when Omega discovers them wandering around his place and examining Singularity (which is consistently treated as a proper noun rather than a thing) and declares that the Doctor must fight the dark side of his mind, which looks like a weird bloke in vaguely racist Oriental make-up exchanging judo throws with Jon Pertwee in an entirely black void.  Stranger still, this fight ends up being the cliffhanger, as the third Doctor starts to lose to Omega's dark side.

The first Doctor advises the other two from the TARDIS scanner.
(The Three Doctors Episode Four) ©BBC
The third Doctor is only saved at the top of episode four by the second Doctor pointing out that Omega still needs him in order to escape.  This leads to the best part of the episode, as Omega instructs them to remove his mask in order to prepare for his escape, only to discover that there's nothing of Omega's body left: he exists purely as a force of will, the rest having been eroded by countless centuries of exposure to the "light stream".  The moment where he lifts the whole helmet off, revealing nothing but the sight of the second and third Doctors standing behind him, is a marvelously memorable scene. This revelation drives Omega mad(der) though, as he vows to destroy "all things".  It does give the Doctors a chance to escape and regroup, however, which means we get to see William Hartnell again, and even though he's still confined to the screen, flashes of his Doctor still come through.  They come up with a plan, but we don't really find out what that is, as a better opportunity presents itself: the second Doctor's recorder fell into the TARDIS's forcefield generator and thus wasn't converted into antimatter when it was brought into Omega's realm (just go with it).  So after a lengthy scene where each of the other characters transported into the black hole are sent back to Earth by passing through Singularity (which, you may be surprised to learn, is a column of white smoke), the second and third Doctors offer Omega his freedom by handing him the recorder.  Omega is angered by this, though, and knocks it aside, thus causing the matter of the recorder to come into contact with the antimatter of everything else, creating a massive explosion that results in a(nother) supernova.  The Time Lords and the rest of the universe are saved.

And at the very end, in gratitude for saving the Time Lords, the Doctor's exile is revoked: he receives a new dematerialization circuit and the memory of how to properly travel in time.  The Doctor is no longer stuck in one time and place (thus making official what had basically been the situation last season anyway, only without needing to constantly refer to the Time Lords interfering with the TARDIS).

The Three Doctors is a story that gets a bit of a rough ride from fans, but it's frankly hard to see why.  It's sometimes derided as cheap and gaudy, but it's not noticeably any cheaper or gaudier than any other "space" story from this era, and in fact the striking Glam rock design is one of this story's charms.  There's also the fun interplay between Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, and it's nice to see William Hartnell, even if he's not as strong as he was when he was the star.  Add to all this the sense of scale that the Bristol Boys have given us with their script, and the result is a highly entertaining adventure.  And it's got a great ending, too, as Mrs. Ollis demands to know where her husband has been all this time.  Mr. Ollis pauses, trying to come up with an explanation, before simply saying, "You'd never believe me, woman.  Supper ready?"  Season 10 is off to a strong start.

June 17: Carnival of Monsters Episodes One & Two

Standard and special edition DVDs
With a flash of wit and cleverness, Robert Holmes arrives.  Sure, his earlier stories have had flashes of brilliance, but Carnival of Monsters is where the Robert Holmes that fandom reveres truly begins.

It starts on an alien world, with grey-skinned beings moving cargo for a different kind of grey-skinned being when two carnival entertainers arrive via the luggage belt.  These two colorful characters, Vorg and his assistant Shirna, are immediately under suspicion by the xenophobic ruling class on this planet.

And then the scene completely changes as the Doctor and Jo arrive in the TARDIS (her first trip post-exile, it seems) on a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, and not Metebelis III as the Doctor was shooting for.  We then move back and forth between these two disparate locations for a bit, unsure what's going on -- though Vorg gives a clue to those paying attention: "Roll up and see the monster show!  A carnival of monsters, all living in their natural habitat, wild in this little box of mine.  A miracle of intragalactic technology!  Roll up!  Roll up!"  And then to reinforce the point, the Doctor and Jo are hiding from the crew when a plesiosaurus rears up out of the Indian Ocean -- an impossibility if this really is 1926 Earth.  In addition to this there are other clues for the Doctor and Jo: a metal plate in the deck floor that only the Doctor and Jo can see, the fact that it's broad daylight outside when it should be pitch dark, and the strange jumping back of the clock in the cabin.  The Doctor also notes that they're on the SS Bernice, which, he says, vanished from the Indian Ocean on 4 June 1926 -- the date that the calendar in the cabin reads.

Meanwhile, Vorg and Shirna are trying to convince the official species (as Pletrac refers to his race) that they should be allowed to stay, and that their Scope is harmless.  "Our purpose is to amuse, simply to amuse," Vorg explains.  "Nothing serious, nothing political," he adds.  But a fault has developed inside their machine, and as the Doctor and Jo head back to the TARDIS, a giant hand reaches down and plucks the TARDIS up, thus providing a memorable cliffhanger.

Episode two makes it clear what's going on: the Scope is essentially a miniaturized zoo, with different creatures and habitats all in their own self-contained environments and conditioned to follow the same set of events over and over again.  Their personalities can be adjusted a bit, as Vorg demonstrates by increasing the aggression of the Tellurians (aka humans), leading to Lieutenant Andrews (as played by Ian Marter) declaring he's going to thrash the Doctor "within an inch of his life" before chasing after the two stowaways around the ship, trying to shoot them.  "I can't leave it for too long or the specimens start damaging each other," Vorg says, and turns the aggrometer back down, leaving the crew to cheerfully walk away from the bemused Doctor and Jo.  Still, now the Doctor and Jo can remove the metal plate, revealing a hole that leads to complex circuitry (in a rather lovely set design from Roger Liminton) that they can investigate.

Outside the Scope, the officials are making the lives of Vorg and Shirna miserable, finally announcing officiously that the Scope should be destroyed -- only the Eradicator that they use isn't successful: the Scope is damaged but not destroyed.  "Who's going to pay good credit bars to see a blob in a snowstorm?" Shirna complains afterwards.  Meanwhile the officials are growing even more paranoid, wondering if Vorg and Shirna are spies sent to destroy them.  When Orum investigates the machine, he finds nothing but a piece of a bric-a-brac: the TARDIS, which then grows to full size as the effects of the Scope's compression field wear off.  

But the Doctor and Jo have broken into a completely different part of the machine, consisting of flat marshland.  Shirna realizes from watching on the Scope's screen that they've entered the environment of the vicious Drashigs ("They're great favourites with the children, you know, with their gnashing and snapping and tearing at each other," Vorg notes happily) , who will stop at nothing to hunt down their prey once they get their scent.  And as the Doctor and Jo look, a giant Drashig head rears out of the water, its mouth gaping open, roaring at them...

June 18: Carnival of Monsters Episodes Three & Four

Ok, I guess the Drashigs haven't quite found the Doctor and Jo yet.  They hunt purely by smell so it's taking them a bit to track our heroes down.  But only a little bit, and the Doctor and Jo soon find themselves in trouble.  Detonating the marsh gas with the sonic screwdriver delays the Drashigs a bit, but it requires help from above, as Vorg sticks his hand in and waves the Drashigs away, giving the Doctor and Jo a chance to escape back into the circuitry.  Except, like the Mounties, the Drashigs always get their man, and they won't rest until they've eaten their prey.

It's after this that the Doctor works out that they're inside a Miniscope, which were banned by the Time Lords (thanks to the Doctor) due to their capturing of intelligent creatures.  However, it looks like this one was missed (and yes, everyone points out that maybe they've landed in a time before the ban -- but this is the Time Lords, so maybe the ban took place throughout time and space and there is no "before" time).  "And outside there are people and creatures just looking at us for kicks?...  They must be evil and horrible," Jo exclaims, and the joke isn't lost on the audience.  (Well, it's not lost on me, at least.)

But there are bigger problems at the moment, as the Drashigs have broken through into the circuitry in pursuit of the Doctor and Jo and are relentlessly hunting them down.  The Doctor finds the exit, but they'll need rope to get down to it; fortunately, there's plenty of rope on the SS Bernice.  But this means that the Drashigs also make their way on board, which leads to Lt. Andrews, Major Daly, and the rest of the crew frantically trying to fend off these huge, bizarre creatures -- though not until after they've captured Jo again as a stowaway.  But they are successful in their efforts (thanks to some dynamite which causes even more problems in the Miniscope's circuits), and the Doctor uses the opportunity to climb down and escape the Miniscope -- leading to the rather odd cliffhanger of Shirna screaming because the Doctor is free...

The Doctor holds the Inter Minorans responsible for the
Miniscope, as Shirna and Vorg look on. (Carnival of Monsters
Episode Four) ©BBC
Episode four has some great moments, such as the Doctor attempting to out-bureaucrat the bureaucrat aliens by holding them (not Vorg and Shirna) responsible for the Miniscope, and Vorg trying to get the Doctor to admit he's a carnival showman like Vorg is.  This is also the episode where Kalik, who's been quietly conspiring with fellow Tribunal member Orum for the last three episodes, starts to put his plan into action: he figures that by unleashing the Drashigs, a major incident will occur that will lead to the removal of his brother President Zarb from power, thus allowing Kalik to take over.  And so while the Doctor lashes up a machine to get himself back inside the Miniscope so that he can rescue Jo, Kalik lets the Drashigs out, only to be eaten by one (this isn't obvious from the broadcast version, but a deleted scene (as seen on the DVD) makes this clear).  Vorg's quick thinking has him use the Eradicator to destroy the Drashigs, and there's just enough power in the Doctor's lash-up to send everyone and everything inside the Scope back to their natural time and place.  Vorg is now hailed as a hero by the Inter Minorans, and the Doctor and Jo slip away in the TARDIS while Vorg demonstrates a variation of Three-card Monte/Find the Lady (delete according to nationality and/or preference) to Pletrac, taking his money in the process.

Let's make it clear: Carnival of Monsters is wonderful.  However, it's not flashily brilliant (like, say, The Caves of Androzani); it's quietly brilliant, which means that if you're not paying attention then this one might pass you by.  There are no obvious "splash" moments (to borrow a term from comics) and nothing that one can clearly point to and say, "That's why this works."  No, Carnival of Monsters works because it takes the most wonderful Doctor Who-ish idea, of taking radically different environments and mashing them together to see what comes out, and runs with it.  It's the sort of idea you won't get on almost any other show, and Robert Holmes makes it all fit together naturally.

It also gives us the full flowering of Holmes's talents, with lots of witty and knowing dialogue (to adapt a phrase from The DisContinuity Guide) on display and marvelous characterization.  One of the many brilliant things about Carnival of Monsters is that there's no real villain involved; the primary antagonist (other than the Drashigs, who are simply hunting by instinct) is bureaucracy, with a race of literal grey-faced bureaucratic aliens who want nothing more than to deport Vorg and Shirna and their Miniscope, but have to wait until they've filled in the proper forms and received the proper authorizations.  Even Kalik's plans to depose President Zarb come across more as inter-office politicking than any sort of evil intent.  Then Holmes contrasts the Inter Minor officials with the very colorful and free-spirited Lurmans, Vorg and Shirna, who have this magical machine but don't quite know how it works.

As I said before, it's not the most flashy Doctor Who tale, but it succeeds marvelously at what it sets out to do.  If you're not watching these stories in any particular order, then you might not realize the greatness that is Carnival of Monsters -- this is a story that benefits from being watched in context, because it makes its virtues stand out even more; it hardly puts a foot wrong.  One to cherish.

June 19: Frontier in Space Episodes One & Two

After a near collision with a passing spaceship, the TARDIS materializes on said ship, only to find that tensions are high.  It seems that Earth cargo vessels, like this one, have been raided recently by Draconian ships -- and sure enough, this ship is next.  Except things aren't what they seem, as Jo watches the ship outside appear to change shape, and then soon after one of the crew members perceives the Doctor as a Draconian, while Jo sees a Drashig (as seen last time) -- and each illusion is accompanied by a strange noise.  It seems that something is influencing the perceptions of the humans aboard, using ultrasonics to cause them to see whatever it is they fear.  All well and good, but try convincing the already paranoid crew of that.

This first episode concerns itself largely with setting up the situation.  We learn about the tensions between the humans and the Draconians (thanks to a scene between the Earth President and the Draconian Ambassador), about how there was a war before and it looks like there'll be a war again, as each side accuses the other of violating the previous peace treaty and raiding the other race's ships.  Clear care is going into making this seem futuristic; the fashion, obviously, with the huge collars and the frankly implausible padding on the shoulders and forearms, but also touches like the President being a woman and the newsreader being black (both progressive ideas in 1973) help define this as a "future" story (and, parallel timeline aside, the first look of futuristic Earth we've had (as opposed to simply hearing about it) since The Seeds of Death).  And we should also take a moment to acknowledge how genuinely impressive the Draconian makeup is, with an alien yet humanoid appearance, extremely expressive and lovingly crafted72, and with an attention to detail that extends to the similarly textured arms and hands.  It's fantastic work.

Then as the episode progresses we see that the attackers of the cargo vessel aren't Draconians but in fact Ogrons, as last seen in Day of the Daleks (well, and a brief cameo in Carnival of Monsters).  But of course the human crew see Draconians, and they can't be persuaded otherwise.  A shootout leaves the crew stunned but unharmed -- which means they can testify that they saw Draconians, and that the Doctor and Jo are Draconian spies...

So yes, episode two does see the Doctor and Jo spend the vast majority of the length locked up, but at least Malcolm Hulke has inserted some humor into the situation: "Right," Jo declares, once the guard has moved off; "we'll give it a few minutes, then I'll start groaning and pretending I'm ill.  When he comes in, you can use your Venusian karate...  Then, we'll take his gun, go to the flight deck and make somebody take us back to Earth."  "Jo," the Doctor replies reasonably, "this ship's already going back to Earth."  Then, once they arrive on Earth, they're held in a different cell, while the Doctor reassures Jo about mind probes: "As long as you tell them the truth, they can't do you any harm."  This leads to a story about a giant rabbit, a pink elephant, and a purple horse with yellow spots, who were all delegates at an intergalactic peace conference, it seems.  So when the Doctor was captured by the Medusoids ("a sort of hairy jellyfish with claws, teeth, and a leg"), the mind probes couldn't believe he was telling the truth, and so they burned themselves out.  It's a fun little story.

The problem with Earth, however (getting back to the main plot), is that no one will listen to their story of a third party attempting to start another war between Earth and Draconia.  General Williams is convinced that the Doctor and Jo are Draconian spies, and nothing the Doctor says can persuade him.  ("Allow me to congratulate you, sir," the Doctor says to Williams, exasperatedly.  "You have the most totally closed mind that I've ever encountered.")  The President seems slightly more inclined to listen, but she still has a hard time believing the story.  Meanwhile, the Draconians believe that the Doctor and Jo are in fact working for General Williams, trying to assign blame for the raids to the Draconians and thus incite a war.  We learned he started the last war between the two races, and the Draconians think he's trying to start another.  Stalemate, it would seem.  And then, to make matters worse, at the end of the episode the Ogrons (once again making the humans see them as Draconians) raid the prison where the Doctor and Jo are being kept.  "You, come," an Ogron says to the Doctor at the end of the episode.

June 20: Frontier in Space Episodes Three & Four

Well, that "rescue" didn't last long; apparently the Doctor and Jo have no desire to be rescued by Ogrons, and the result is to be recaptured by Earth security forces and locked up again.  Then the Doctor is subjected to the mind probe, which indicates that everything he's been telling them has been the truth (even when the mind probe is turned up to "break" the Doctor's non-existent conditioning by the Draconians).  General Williams's conclusion?  The Doctor must be lying and just really good at defeating mind probes.  It never occurs to them that, hey, maybe there actually is a third party trying to provoke a war; nope, they just pack the Doctor off to a penal colony on the Moon.

Of course, the nice thing about this is the change of scenery, as a reasonable lunar landscape is represented outside the large window inside the prison.  There's some screwing around with the Peace Party members already imprisoned (the lunar prison is apparently for political prisoners), as two of them play Star Trek-style three-dimensional chess (perhaps the first obvious influence of Star Trek on Doctor Who) while the Doctor and the Peace Party's leader Professor Dale work on escaping from the prison.

The most important part of this episode, however, is the appearance of the Commissioner from Sirius IV, revealed almost nonchalantly to be the Master.  He's here to take the Doctor and Jo back to Sirius IV for trial; yes, he's the one who's been hiring Ogrons to impersonate Draconians and humans in order to start a war, and he learned of the Doctor's presence after the Ogrons brought the TARDIS back, along with the stolen cargo, to their home planet, where the Master was scheming.  So after collecting Jo, it's off to the Moon to collect the Doctor -- except he might be too late, as the Doctor and Professor Dale are both trapped in a rapidly-depressurizing airlock with no oxygen (a result of a failed attempt at an escape)...

The Doctor and the Master are confronted by a Draconian
boarding party. (Frontier in Space Episode Four) ©BBC
Nope, no death for the Doctor today; the Master arrives to save them at the top of episode four, and he successfully convinces the prison governor to turn the Doctor over into his care.  It seems the Master's employers want the Doctor alive, so the Master's taking him and Jo back to the Ogrons' home planet.  Of course, this means that the Doctor and Jo are locked up yet again -- but this time the Doctor is able to escape (thanks to a steel file and a lot of extemporaneous talking from Jo -- "Thank you, Miss Grant, we'll let you know," the Master remarks drily upon uncovering the ruse) and head outside the spaceship to try and take control of the flight deck via an external hatch.  The spacewalk parts of this episode are rather good -- it's a shame that the Kirby wires holding the Doctor up are so visible (to the point of casting shadows on the hull of the spaceship).  The Master and the Doctor have a confrontation, but before this gets too far a Draconian ship arrives and takes everyone prisoner, piloting the ship back to Draconia.  The Doctor is looking forward to this, as he hopes he can explain the Master's actions to the Draconian emperor, but the Master has secretly sent a signal, which, in a shocking cliffhanger, is received by an Ogron.  With its back to us.  That'll get 'em tuning in next week.

It might not sound exciting, but the thing Frontier in Space has going for it is the scope of things.  We've been on ships, Earth, the Moon, and it sounds like we're going to Draconia next.  There's a scale to the proceedings here that is incredibly welcome -- it's nice to see all the different things, rather than just hear about them as in Colony in Space or The Mutants.  Let's hope they can keep this going for the final two installments.

June 21: Frontier in Space Episodes Five & Six

Earth Police Spaceship 2390 (aka the Doctor's ship) encounters
Earth Battlecruiser X29. (Frontier in Space Episode Five) ©BBC
Episode five begins with the Doctor, the Master, and Jo all being taken in front of the Draconian Emperor.  It seems the Doctor is an honorary Draconian noble, but other than that it's just more arguing -- that is, until the Master is rescued by ultrasonic-disguised Ogrons, one of whom is accidentally left behind.  This allows the Emperor and the prince to see that the Doctor has been speaking the truth.  Armed with this knowledge, the Emperor sends the Doctor and his son on an urgent mission to Earth, to warn them of this third party, and with the evidence of the Ogron to support their claims.  Alas, the Master manages to board their vessel and recapture the Ogron prisoner -- and take Jo Grant along too.  With the evidence gone, the Doctor and the Draconian prince head to Earth to try and tell their story to the President and General Williams.  Again.

In what might be one of the least motivated changes of heart ever on Doctor Who, General Williams learns that the first Earth-Draconian War started because of a misunderstanding; when Williams saw a Draconian battlecruiser approaching, one that wasn't responding to communication attempts, he opened fire, starting the war.  But apparently that's how Draconian nobles travel -- in battlecruisers; this one just wasn't armed.  And the lack of communication?  Neutron storm.  General Williams feels terrible about the whole thing (it was 20 years ago -- how is he only now just learning about this?) and agrees to take a ship to the Ogrons' planet to investigate.

And so Jo's been captured, right?  So the Master plans on using her as bait by hypnotizing her, but she recites nursery rhymes to foil his plans, making him unable to get a hold on her mind.  "You'll just have to give up all hope of hypnotising me, won't you?" she tells him.  "Once was quite enough, thank you," she adds, referring back to Terror of the Autons.  So Jo can hold out against the Master's hypnosis attempt.  But, the cliffhanger has us ask, can she hold out against his fear-generating machine?

The answer is yes, yes she can.  It appears to take an enormous amount of willpower, but she's able to overcome the Master's device.  "It doesn't work on me any more!" she cries.  Frustrated, the Master sends her to be locked up.  Meanwhile General Williams' ship encounters trouble from a Draconian ship -- mainly as an excuse to have Jon Pertwee do another spacewalk sequence.  And, sadly, the Kirby wires are as visible as ever.  But then it's off to the Ogrons' planet, where the Master lures them into a trap (apparently -- this part's a bit confusing, since the Master seems to be trying to lure the Doctor to his base, except isn't that what the Doctor would do anyway?).  The trap doesn't work though, because the Ogrons are scared off by their god, which is (and sorry about this, but there's really no other way to describe it) a large, orange, hairy scrotum.  (No wonder director Paul Bernard cut every shot of it bar that one from the finished show.)  But the Master has another trap laid, as it turns out he's been working for...the Daleks!  And in an appearance that the Radio Times didn't spoil!

The final shot73 of Roger Delgado as the Master. (Frontier
in Space
Episode Six) ©BBC
Yes, it turns out that the Daleks are behind the plot to set Earth and Draconia at each other's throats.  Once those two empires are gone, they'll swoop in and conquer the survivors.  The Master has the Doctor under lock and key, but fortunately the Doctor and company escape.  General Williams and the Draconian prince are sent to their respective homeworlds to warn them about the Dalek threat, and the Doctor manages to escape in the TARDIS -- although he appears to be grazed by the Master's gun before he escapes.  Yes, this part is rather famously garbled; the original intent was for the Doctor to use the Master's fear machine to make the Ogrons see their god, but as Bernard was deeply unhappy with those shots (because scrotum), they were all removed and what's left is the Ogrons fleeing in fear, taking the Master with them.

And what's this?  Another cliffhanger?  Yes, it seems that, even though this is the final installment of Frontier in Space, things have been left unresolved in favor of a full-blooded Dalek serial as the follow-up.  So we'll have to wait until the next story to find out what happens next.

When you stop to think about it, Frontier in Space doesn't seem to be the most exciting story.  There's a lot going on, but we experience most of it from inside various prison cells.  And yet this doesn't seem to matter.  The sense of scope that Frontier in Space has -- that "space opera" feel, to coin a phrase -- goes a long way in making sure this is entertaining.  And make no mistake: this is definitely entertaining.  What's more, we get to see both Pertwee and Delgado at their best -- and Jo Grant, who can often be one of the more annoying assistants, also gets a chance to shine -- particularly in her cliffhanger confrontation with the Master.  The script isn't heavy-handed, and it's good to have such a wide variety of locations.  Perfunctory ending aside (and besides, it's relying on Planet of the Daleks to wrap up the major plot points), Frontier in Space is a joy from start to finish.

However, we sadly have to bid farewell at this point to Roger Delgado as the Master.  A planned final appearance next season (which would also have seen the end of Pertwee's Doctor) had to be dropped, due to Delgado's tragic death in June 1973 in an automobile accident in Turkey.  This makes that final scene in episode six even more frustrating than it would otherwise be, as you can't help but feel that he should have gotten a better farewell than that.  So goodbye to the original Master, Roger Delgado -- probably the best actor to play the role (as well as one of the best actors on the show period).  He will indeed be missed.

June 22: Planet of the Daleks Episodes One & Two

When we last saw the Doctor, he'd been wounded by the Master and had sent a telepathic signal to the Time Lords to take the TARDIS to where he needed to go.  Now he's taking the time to recuperate, which means it's time for Pertwee Healing Coma #5.  It's been a while; we went all of season 9 without one.  This one's a little different from the one in The Dæmons, though, because here the ice crystals appear to form on his skin as a result of the coma, rather than because he was blasted with ice.  But this means that Jo's all alone, so she takes the TARDIS log (which is so obviously an audio cassette case with some bits inside that it's a wonder they thought they could get away with it) and ventures out into an unknown jungle to seek help for the Doctor.

While she's gone, the Doctor recovers from his coma, only to find that the doors are sealed shut and all the air is gone -- apparently because squirting plants outside have covered the TARDIS in their thick fungus (yeeesssssss... it's probably better to just screw your eyes up tight and accept for this story that an interdimensional time machine can be nearly incapacitated by plant juice than try and reason your way out of this).  Fortunately, Jo Grant finds help from some space travellers on the planet ("I'm qualified in space medicine," Taron, their leader, tells Jo, but declines to mention what makes space medicine different from regular medicine) -- trying to avoid "them".  Unfortunately, she's been squirted by those plants, and so now she's being slowly covered by fungus.

The travellers find the TARDIS and break off the fungus enough for the Doctor to get out -- good thing, too, as he was almost completely out of oxygen (remember, just accept this).  He works out that these travellers are in fact Thals, as last seen way back in The Daleks.  They're on this planet, Spiridon (pronounced ['spaɪ.ɹɪ.dən], or SPY-rih-don if you don't know IPA) on a secret mission, one that they refuse to discuss.  The Doctor's also on a mission that he refuses to discuss, but at the cliffhanger it turns out they're both on the trail of the same thing: "Daleks," the Doctor says, as if he wasn't expecting them.  Let's remember not just that this story has the word Daleks in the title, but that last episode we learned all about their plot to conquer the galaxy and that the Doctor headed to Spiridon (with Time Lord assistance) for the express purpose of stopping them.  But no, the production team (or maybe just Terry Nation -- who's back writing a Dalek story for the first time since season 3 and The Daleks' Master Plan) has decided to hold back their appearance till the cliffhanger and pretend we won't know who the baddies are until that moment.

Still, at least we get something a little different: this Dalek is invisible, a trick it's picked up from the native Spiridons.74  Invisibility takes so much out of the Daleks though that this one is basically dead (or actually dead -- it seems to be the latter, but it's not entirely clear), so the Doctor and the Thals end up wandering the jungle avoiding Daleks (apparently there are about 12 of them on the planet) and bands of invisible Spiridons.  Not entirely successfully, though: Codal, one of the Thals, runs off to distract the Spiridons and ends up being captured by them.

Jo, meanwhile, is succumbing to the fungus.  She attempts to leave the Thals' ship but collapses nearby.  And then the Daleks come to destroy the Thals' ship.  The Doctor, believing Jo is still inside, rushes out and tries to stop them, but the Daleks paralyze his legs (yes, just like Ian in The Daleks) and get on with blowing up the Thals' ship before capturing the Doctor and taking him to a small cell in their base (yep, again like The Daleks), where he meets up with Codal (all right, that's different).  He gives a little speech about bravery and then it's time to try and escape.  And while this is happening, Jo's fungal infection is treated by a friendly Spiridon.

But the game-changing moment occurs near the end, when another Thal ship crashes down on Spiridon.  One of the survivors, Rebec, tells Taron that there aren't twelve Daleks on Spiridon; there are 10,000.  Which is actually a pretty good cliffhanger and goes some way towards making up for that lousy first one.

June 23: Planet of the Daleks Episodes Three & Four

A little while back, you might recall, I mentioned that all of Doctor Who from The Three Doctors on exists on PAL videotape (its original format) with two exceptions.  Planet of the Daleks episode three is the first of those two exceptions.  Technically this episode only exists on 16mm black & white film, but thanks to some color recovery (the first Doctor Who episode to be treated in this fashion) and some computer colorization (commissioned before the color recovery process was finalized), this episode has been restored to color.  And even though this episode has also had the benefit of computer colorization, to be honest the results aren't noticeably different from the episodes that are simply color recovered, without any additional computer work.

Sadly, that might be the most exciting thing about episode three.  Most everything else feels like a remake of The Daleks.  So we have the Doctor and Codal conspiring to escape their prison cell by overpowering a Dalek (using a rewired TARDIS log instead of mud and a cloak, but the result is the same); Taron, Rebec, and Marat crawling through caves to breach the Dalek base via the cooling ducts (instead of the plumbing, but near enough); shenanigans with our heroes and a lift; and the Daleks trying to cut their way into a room that's been sealed by the Doctor (a sequence which looked rather more impressive in 1964).

Jo is plainly in that Dalek's line of sight.  How did no
one catch this? (Planet of the Daleks Episode Three) ©BBC
Still, it's not exactly the same: the Thals are clambering through caves filled with an allotrope of ice that remains a liquid (which is water, fine, but the impression given is that this is a type of water that remains a liquid below the standard freezing point), and the core of the planet, it seems, consists of this "molten ice".  Then there's also the matter of Jo sneaking into the base in a cart wheeled by the Spiridons -- now completely covered in dark purple fur coats (so as not to have to make them invisible) -- in order to rescue the Doctor.  They wheel this cart of junk into the main control room, for some reason, and when the coast is clear Jo sneaks out, unseen by anyone.  Which would be fine, except for the fact that there's a Dalek in the corner staring straight at her.  But this Dalek is sleeping or something, so she gets away unseen.  Seriously, they couldn't turn that Dalek around to look at something else while Jo made her getaway?

The method of our trapped heroes' escape is also relatively novel (though I can't comment on how feasible it would actually be): creating a lot of heat down low and then capturing it with some plastic sheeting, thus rising up through an access shaft to the planet's surface.  The cliffhanger's a bit lame, though, as the Thals worry that their plan won't work in time for them to escape.  And then episode four's resolution shows that, no, it does.

Things get a little better here, and while the sight of the makeshift hot air balloon isn't bad, the floating Dalek is much more nifty (even if all we really see are specially selected camera angles and such).  And that might be a first for the show75, a floating Dalek, even if it requires a special platform to hover.  It doesn't catch up to our heroes in time though, and some boulders dropped down the shaft put paid to that Dalek.  And that model shot is also pretty good.  Things are looking up a bit from the shot of a bunch of Louis Marx Dalek toys in episode three.

The Doctor chats with Taron. (Planet of the Daleks
Episode Four) ©BBC
Then there's a quick reunion between the Doctor and Jo (who, having spent that time sneaking into the Dalek base at the start of episode three, had snuck back out by the end of it), where they wrap up a few loose ends from Frontier in Space (well, they just tell us that the Daleks' plan of fomenting war has been foiled, even though we never get official confirmation of this) and have some heart to heart chats with the Thals ("...the business of command is not for a machine, is it?  The moment that we forget that we're dealing with people, then we're no better off than the machines that we came here to destroy.  When we start acting and thinking like the Daleks, Taron, the battle is lost," the Doctor says).  But night's coming, so it's off to the Plain of Stones ("It's an area of huge boulders," Codal tells us helpfully), where there'll be enough residual heat from the daytime to keep them alive.  (Oh, and what the hell is up with Jo and Latep?  It looks like they're trying to set up a love interest for Jo, but it's done so clumsily that you just feel sorry for actor Alan Tucker, who has to deliver these incredibly awkward lines and is clearly struggling to do so convincingly.)

Nothing dramatic has happened for a few minutes, so Vaber (who's already been shown to be hotheaded) decides to quarrel with Taron over how to proceed with their mission of destroying the Daleks, which leads to a lot of macho yelling and things, and then when they've all quieted down, Vaber takes some explosives away on his own to blow up the Daleks (by dropping the bombs down that ventilation shaft).  Taron and Codal go after him, leaving the others alone, with animals closing in (hilariously indicated by their glowing eyes -- clearly sets of flashlights -- as if this was a cartoon or something).  And Vaber's captured by some fur-clad Spiridons on his way to the shaft.  "Take him to the Daleks," one of them declares, ending the episode.

June 24: Planet of the Daleks Episodes Five & Six

Seriously.  Let's us just acknowledge how appalling the "glowing lights substituting for unblinking eyes that you can literally see them turn off and on to simulate running away and then coming back" scene is and move on.

Cover of the 1976 Target novelization.
(From On Target - Planet of the Daleks)
And Vaber's been taken by the Daleks!  Taron and Codal are on his trail, disguised as Spiridons (boy, those purple furs sure are handy, aren't they?), and while they're too late to stop Vaber from being exterminated (killed while trying to escape), they're at least able to retrieve their bombs.  Meanwhile, the friendly Spiridon that helped Jo shows up: it turns out his name is Wester, and he's learned of a Dalek "bacteria bomb" containing an incredibly virulent disease that will wipe out all non-inoculated life.  (Oh, right; forgot to mention last time that the Daleks were working on this.)  So now the Doctor and company really have to stop the Daleks.

Fortunately, the Doctor has a cunning plan to infiltrate the city, which is to capture a Dalek by shoving it into a molten ice pool (in an iconic moment -- well, iconic for me, at least, but that might just be because of the cover of the Target book) and then, er, recreate the part of The Daleks that they missed in episode three by having Rebec hide in the shell and lead the others into the base (though they'll be disguised as Spiridons rather than prisoners).  Oh, and they're splitting up, so Jo and Latep are going to head to the ventilation shaft in case the other group doesn't make it.  So the Doctor, Codal, and Taron (all in furs) head with Rebec (inside the Dalek) into the base, where they watch Wester enter the bacteria preparation room and foil their plan of biological warfare by pushing the cover off the glass container and releasing it into the atmosphere before the Daleks have distributed the antidote.  A noble sacrifice, and after Wester dies we see his face -- which might suggest that invisibility for the Spiridons is a force of will rather than an innate property.  (Sadly, it turns out he's just a white-face humanoid with a lumpy face.)

And then a Dalek sees a foot and realizes these aren't real Spiridons.  Cliffhanger!

Episode six continues to remake The Daleks by having Rebec get out just in the nick of time before the Daleks destroy the captured shell -- a fact we only learn in the next scene ("Well, Rebec, it seems you stopped being a Dalek just in time").  They head inside the cooling chamber and barricade the door with random stuff, which leads to possibly the most ludicrous scene ever, as Daleks take turns ramming into this barricade at low speeds to try and break it down -- rather than, say, just blowing it up with their guns.  But no, this indeed serves to delay the Daleks while the Doctor tries to find a good place to set the bomb.

The Dalek Supreme emerges from its spaceship. (Planet of the
Episode Six) ©BBC
And while this is happening, Jo and Latep watch a Dalek craft descend to the surface.  This one contains a member of the Dalek Supreme Council, which is a movie Dalek prop that's been refitted with a standard Dalek gun and given a new paint job.  This Dalek Supreme has arrived to oversee the final operations on Spiridon.  It's time to wake up all the Daleks currently in hibernation beneath Spiridon's surface -- which is something of a problem for the Doctor, given that he's right next to them.  But they manage to place the bomb (although there was a moment where the timer was damaged and I was worried we were going to lose Codal, the best of the Thals by some distance, to a moment of self-sacrifice) and set it off, flooding the caverns with molten ice and sending the Daleks back into deep freeze.  The galaxy is safe -- for now.  ("Preparations will begin at once to free our army from the ice.  We have been delayed, not defeated," the Dalek Supreme states.)  After an awkward parting between Jo and Latep (who've been having awkward conversations about their relationship all episode) and the Doctor giving an honestly not that bad speech about the danger of glorifying war ("Don't make war sound like an exciting and thrilling game...  Tell them about the members of your mission that will not be returning...  Tell them about the fear; otherwise your people might relish the idea of war"), it's back to the TARDIS and the end of this epic Dalek adventure.

There's not really anything particularly wrong with Planet of the Daleks, but there's nothing incredibly exciting either.  Terry Nation hasn't written for the series since 1965, and so sometimes there's a sense that he's assuming nothing's changed since then.  There are definitely moments where this feels more like a Hartnell story than a Pertwee one -- yes, obviously all the bits that are lifted from The Daleks, but also just in the way the story is paced and written.  Unfortunately, it doesn't feel like one of the good Hartnells; it's more like a mix between the first couple episodes of The Daleks' Master Plan and the runaround latter episodes of The Daleks, with lots of traipsing through jungles and avoiding Dalek patrols.  Remaking those Hartnell stories in color isn't necessarily the worst of sins, but there's nothing here to add to that.  And worse, all the set-up that Frontier in Space gives this story is casually brushed aside to give us this fairly generic runaround.  It's not a terrible story by any means (and it's entertaining for most of the time, even if not always for the right reasons), but it does feel rather like a pointless one.

June 25: The Green Death Episodes One & Two

It's interesting how quickly the "end of an era" feeling begins in The Green Death.  It's all over the first UNIT scene, with the Doctor offering to take Jo to Metebelis III and her choosing to go down to South Wales to help Professor Jones in his crusade against a company called Global Chemicals instead.  She seems to feel it's her duty to try and make a difference, and that this Professor Jones reminds her of a younger Doctor.  "I don't know whether to feel flattered or insulted," the Doctor replies.  He tries to sweeten the deal by offering to take her not just to Metebelis III, but anywhere and anywhen she'd like to go, but her mind is made up.  "So the fledgling flies the coop," the Doctor remarks a bit sadly, after Jo leaves, before setting out on his own to Metebelis III.

But the story really starts with a parody of Neville Chamberlain's speech about the Munich Agreement, the pact which allowed Nazi Germany to annex part of Czechoslovakia.  "I have in my hand a piece of paper which will mean a great deal to all of you," the director of Global Chemicals, Stevens, tells the crowd of gathered ex-miners.  "Wealth in our time!"  The miners seem reasonably happy with this, as it means they'll have jobs, but Professor Jones and his compatriots are protesting that it will mean an increase in pollution.  Yes, for the first time in Pertwee-era Who, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks are deliberately tackling a current hot topic: the problem of pollution and what it will eventually do to the planet without making changes.  (They've tackled social issues before, but this is the first time they'd commissioned/written a story specifically designed to address one.)

This first episode consists primarily of setting up the opposing points of view, and as such there's not much in the way of excitement or action.  There's the death at the very beginning, the cliffhanger, and then the Doctor's trip to Metebelis III, which looks an utterly miserable time, as the Doctor is attacked by all sorts of creatures while he grabs a blue sapphire as a souvenir.  Still, at least he was right about the blue light everywhere.  But everything else is set-up: Professor Jones is working on sustainability, and thus he opposes Global Chemicals and their oil refinery process.  However, Director Stevens insists that their revolutionary new process not only allows them to refine 25% more petrol and diesel from a given amount of crude oil but also produces no waste.  "Well, I'm no scientist, Mr. Stevens, but I find that somewhat difficult to believe," the Brigadier tells him.  Professor Jones believes that Global Chemicals is lying and is simply pumping the waste into the disused mines.  Jo wants to go and look, but Professor Jones is too busy.  (We should probably also note how much the first meeting between Jo and Jones is pitched as a meet cute, with adorable/"adorable" (delete according to preference) bumbling from Jo and a lot of teasing from Professor Jones.  This is Jo Grant's last story, after all, but at least they're taking the time to try and set up her departure (as opposed to, say, Liz Shaw's complete disappearance between seasons 7 and 8).)

So Jo's off to the mine, but there's a problem as she descends with another miner, Bert: the brakes on the lift aren't working and it's running out of control...

Episode two is a bit more action-packed, first with the Doctor's successful effort to halt the lift's descent (by jamming a piece of metal into the pulley system and forcing it to stop), and then with their efforts to free Jo and Bert from the lift.  The only way they can get down into the mine now is to cut the cable of the broken lift and then rigging up a donkey pulley to send the lift in the other shaft down (they work in tandem, you see).  The mine doesn't have cutting equipment, but Global Chemicals does.

Dai Evans is the latest victim of the mysterious "green
death".  (The Green Death Episode Two) ©BBC
Global Chemicals don't want people going down into the mines, and so they're deliberately obstructive, informing UNIT that they have no cutting equipment on site.  The Brigadier goes off to get some while the Doctor decides to infiltrate Global Chemicals.  A couple fight scenes later (where, for the first time, it's incredibly obvious that Terry Walsh is doubling for Jon Pertwee -- the hair's the wrong color, for starters), the only thing the Doctor accomplishes is bringing himself to the attention of Stevens' boss, at this point only represented by a disembodied voice and an oscilloscope trace on a screen.  Jo and Bert, meanwhile, have decided to venture into the mine in search of another exit.  They encounter Dai Evans, a miner who's been infected with the same green glowing skin condition as John Scott Martin at the start of episode one, but they leave him behind as they search for the exit.  They also find a strange green substance that appears to burn Bert when he touches it, and shortly thereafter he starts to exhibit the same green glow.

The Doctor and some miners manage to gain access to the mine and set off in search of Jo and Bert.  They find Bert, who's in a bad way, and while the miners take him back the Doctor moves ahead to find Jo.  He does so, but he also finds a huge pool of glowing green goo, filled with large maggots.  It's a suitably unnerving sight, but it's about to get even worse, for as the Doctor and Jo turn back, part of the mine collapses -- revealing three large, hissing maggots...

June 26: The Green Death Episodes Three & Four

Episode three is a bit of a slow burn.  There's a lot of stuff with the Doctor and Jo making their way through the mine (first by "punting" an old mine cart through the green maggot-infested goo lake, then by climbing up a crevasse that is unfortunately all too obviously made of polystyrene, as it squeaks like mad when the Doctor and Jo make their way through it).  Their journey ends inside a pipe at Global Chemicals, where Elgin (the "good" technician) manages to get them out right before a whole bunch of waste is dumped down the pipe (and remember, the Stevens process allegedly creates no waste).  This is after Elgin has an urgent conversation with Fell, the gentleman we saw last episode getting brainwashed in Stevens' office and who seems to be fighting to regain control of his mind.  His programming somewhat broken, he returns to Stevens' office, where the computer he's hooked up to gives him orders to "self-destruct" -- which Fell does by throwing himself off an outside balcony.  Stevens seems shaken by this.  "Stevens, you are a sentimentalist," his boss taunts him. 

While this is happening, the Brigadier is trying to get Stevens to shut down Global Chemicals while they investigate this strange green substance in the mines, but Stevens refuses and calls his friends in the government to intervene -- which leads to a scene where the Brigadier is being told to back off by the Prime Minister himself.  Unable to do anything else, and with the Doctor and Jo safely out of the Global Chemicals complex, they all retire to the Nuthutch, where the Doctor regales them with tales and Jo and Jones start to form a real connection -- although they don't quite get the chance to kiss, as the Brigadier and the Doctor can be heard coming into the room.  The Doctor seems to realize what's going on, and his behavior is that of someone who's slightly jealous, interestingly; first he tries to show off to Jo by showing her the blue crystal he recovered from Metebelis III, and when that fails he (rather obviously) grabs Professor Jones's attention and leads him off to discuss scientific matters, leaving Jo alone in the living room.  But unbeknownst to her, the giant maggot egg that the Doctor retrieved from his trip through the crevasse has hatched, and a giant maggot is silently inching up behind her...

If episode three was a slow burn, episode four sees some action finally start happening.  Stevens had sent a goon to the Nuthutch to take care of the Doctor and Jo (the only witnesses thus far to the giant maggots in the mine), and it's him who ends up being attacked by the newly-hatched maggot, which then escapes into the night.

A giant maggot hisses on the hillside. (The Green Death
Episode Four) ©BBC
Having learned about the maggots (and presumably having informed his superiors about them), the Brigadier is the next day preparing to blow up the mine, thus sealing the giant maggots away where they can't hurt anyone.  Despite the Doctor's best efforts (which involve pleading his case to Stevens, who refuses to take the Doctor seriously and brings in a man from the Ministry to support his side -- which ends up being an incognito Mike Yates), he's unable to prevent the mine's sealing.  Turns out this doesn't stop the maggots, though, despite the Brigadier's initial claim to the contrary (which is treated as a joke, complete with "wah-wah"-esque music -- proof, if nothing else, that Murray Gold doesn't have a monopoly on inappropriately highlighting "funny" bits); the maggots start crawling up through the waste pipes and even burrowing out of the hillside.  Worse still, they're impervious to bullets (of course they are), owing to "thick chitinous plates protecting the whole body surface", as the Doctor says.  Well, except he pronounces it like "chit" ([tʃɪt]), instead of like "kite" ([kaɪt]) as it should be, but never mind.76  Thus the Doctor resolves to investigate Global Chemicals undercover, first as a visually-decent old milkman and then as a rather less convincing cleaning lady.  Yates has been unable to uncover anything, but he tells the Doctor that Stevens' boss lives on the top floor, along with anything important pertaining to Global Chemicals.  The Doctor heads up there, only to find out who the head of Global Chemicals really is.  "I am the boss.  I'm all around you," the boss tells the Doctor, who turns to look at a large red screen.  "Exactly," the boss confirms.  "I am the computer."

(Oh, and special mention to the grammar fail in this week's credits, which includes "Yate's Guard" -- although at least the end graphics aren't upside-down like they were for episode two.)

June 27: The Green Death Episodes Five & Six

Back to the slow burn with episode five, but at least there's enough incident to sustain interest through the slower bits (which, honestly, has been the case with all the episodes of The Green Death so far).  Still, you can't help but be a little exasperated at Jo, who's gone to the slag heap to recover a maggot for Professor Jones to experiment on.  She doesn't know that the Brigadier's about to bomb the area in a (futile) effort to destroy the maggots, but it's still a silly thing to do.  But when Jones goes after her, he's the one who ends up knocked out and infected by maggots, not Jo.  And just as he'd discovered a cure for the green death in the previous episode, too.  Eventually they're rescued, but Jones is in a bad way, and if the Doctor can't discover what the cure for the green death was (the only clue he has is Jones muttering "serendipity", because the cure, the special fungus Jones has been breeding, was knocked onto the treated slides by Jo), then Jones will become its latest victim.

While Jo and Jones are stuck on the slag heap, the Doctor is having a conversation with the computer on the top floor of Global Chemicals: it's the first Biomorphic Organizational Systems Supervisor, or BOSS.  It's been linked to Stevens' mind in order to help it make the leaps of logic that a computer can't do, but in the process it's turned into "a megalomaniac machine".  The Doctor tries to escape but is discovered by Stevens before he can do so, which leads to a lovely scene where BOSS is trying to condition the Doctor the same way he conditioned Fell (this time complete with a nifty little electronic effect around the Doctor's head) but is unsuccessful:
BOSS: The subject is not responding to therapy!
DOCTOR: Therapy?  Oh, what a pretty euphemism.  You're not trying to tell me this is all for my own good?
BOSS: It is.
DOCTOR: And that it hurts you more than it hurts me?
BOSS: It does.
DOCTOR: (happily) You didn't mean it to though, did you?
Mike Yates holds the Brigadier and the Doctor at gunpoint.
(The Green Death Episode Five) ©BBC
Thus thwarted, BOSS sends the Doctor to a holding room, where he's set free by Mike Yates, but in the escape attempt Mike is caught and conditioned to try and kill the Doctor.  This is where that blue crystal the Doctor took from Metebelis III comes in handy, as the Doctor is able to use it (somehow) to break Mike's conditioning.  Then Mike is sent back into Global Chemicals to find out what's happening, but after he deconditions a man named James77 and learns that BOSS is planning a takeover of something at four o'clock, he's caught by Stevens.  "Just can't depend on anyone, can you, Mr. Yates?" he says.

Episode six shows the Doctor accidentally discovering how to kill the maggots, as one dies while eating the fungus stuff.  Armed with this knowledge, the Doctor and Sergeant Benton drive out to the slag heap and throw chunks of fungus at the maggots, who devour the stuff and then perish.  "Kitty, kitty, kitty," Sergeant Benton starts calling out entertainingly at one point, "come on!  Come on and get your lovely din-dins!  Come on, kitty, kit—"  "Sergeant Benton!" the Doctor interjects, appalled.

Just as they think they're done, though, a huge fly starts dive-bombing them -- one of the maggots having pupated.  It's, er, not the most convincing effect in the world, particularly as they've shot it on film and then superimposed the Doctor and Benton via CSO, which means they're both on video and have yellow fringing all around them.  It also doesn't last very long, as the Doctor throws his cloak into the air (another less-than-convincing effect) and ensnares the fly, which crashes to the ground and dies.

They still haven't figured out Jones's cure for the green death yet, but when Jo mentions how she knocked brown powder on his slides, the Doctor works out what "serendipity" means and has Jo show him.  It's the same fungus as killed the maggots, and it means that they can cure Professor Jones.  But Mike Yates has managed to escape from Global Chemicals and warns the Doctor about BOSS's planned takeover.  The Doctor heads to Global Chemicals, only to find that BOSS has completely taken Stevens over.  BOSS is an amazing character, by the way, happily humming to himself and taunting Stevens about his nervousness while he wonders if he should have staged a concert to mark the occasion.  "Stevens, you know, we should have arranged for a symphony orchestra to herald my triumph.  To take over the world, to sweep into power on the crest of a wave of Wagnerian sound!... No?  Oh, er, the 1812, perhaps?  Or would we dare the glorious Ninth?" BOSS asks.  It's such a welcome change from the typical talking computer (even if Doctor Who itself hadn't done much with that particular cliché) that it's incredibly entertaining to watch.

But as I said, the Doctor arrives to stop BOSS from taking over, which would then cause the Stevens process, and therefore the toxic green slime, to go worldwide (in addition to the whole "enslaving the humans" thing).  "Stevens, listen to me," the Doctor says.  "You've seen where this efficiency of yours leads.  Wholesale pollution of the countryside.  Devilish creatures spawned by the filthy by-products of your technology.  Men walking around like brainless vegetables.  Death.  Disease.  Destruction."  But Stevens is under BOSS's control, so the Doctor produces the blue crystal, bringing Stevens back long enough to come to his senses and initiate the destruction of the entire complex by "cross-feeding the generator circuitry."  With a lot of crazy color effects and then a giant explosion, the world is saved.

The Doctor presents Jo with the blue crystal as a wedding
present. (The Green Death Episode Six) ©BBC
Not quite done yet, though; as mentioned before, this is Jo's final story, and so we have to have her farewell scene, where she announces that she's going to follow Jones into the Amazon to look for a high-protein fungus.  Jones asks her to marry him (well, sort of; he more announces his intention to marry her and she agrees), and an impromptu celebration begins at the Nuthutch.  The Doctor realizes he's lost the battle for Jo's affection, so after gallantly giving her the blue crystal as a wedding gift, he quietly slips away and drives off into the night.  (Well, I think it's supposed to be night; they've clearly put a filter on the camera to do day for night filming, but unfortunately the sun is still blazing away in the shot.)  It's quite an emotional moment78, and they do a nice balance of celebrating Jo's happiness with the Doctor's loss.

And so The Green Death comes to an end.  This story made a big impact on the audience at the time -- it's probably one of the most fondly-remembered stories of Doctor Who's 20th-century run -- and it's not hard to see why.  The story is paced well (a welcome improvement over the authors' last story, The Time Monster), starting small and getting bigger and bigger.  The pro-environmental theme is also nice because it roots the problem in something relatable: the mad computer angle might muddy the waters a bit, but this is a story about the dangers of pollution.  Yet The Green Death doesn't beat you over the head with this theme, content instead to let it percolate in the background for anyone who wants to think about it; for those that don't, it's just about a freak green slime that causes mutations and death.  Like all the best Doctor Who, it works on multiple levels.  It is a bit patronizing to the Welsh, though, with lots of dialogue ending in questions and "boyo"s thrown in for good measure (not to mention things like Jo describing the deceased Bert as a "funny little Welshman"), but the goodwill that this story generates tends to outweigh these concerns.

So now that we've reached the end of season 10, it's worth taking a look back not just at the previous season, but at how the show has changed over these ten years.  Season 10 itself is generally a triumph, with some of the best stories the show has ever produced.  Not only that, but the public knows it too; the ratings have been up all season and the move to end the Doctor's exile is a good one (even if in terms of settings there's really not that much difference between this and the previous season).  It gives them more freedom to tell different stories, and if the group they've put together this time around is any indication, Doctor Who will be on top for a while.  But there's also a sense of endings, with Katy Manning leaving and Roger Delgado's death (as well as a final hurrah for both these title/end graphics (run upside-down for the end credits of both episodes five and six) and the use of the word "episode" (sob) -- from here on out, the installments will be referred to as "parts"), so how the show moves forward after these events will be interesting to see.  Season 10 is a high point for Doctor Who.

But the show itself has adapted considerably since its beginning, moving from an educational-cum-adventure show to a more formulaic "monster" show into its current incarnation, an action-adventure serial.  Yet that flavor of wonder and learning that made the early seasons such a success isn't gone.  It's still present in most of the stories up through season 10, and there are a lot of moments where Doctor Who tries to both showcase ideas (such as, say, the black hole in The Three Doctors, much of which was accurate based on 1972's understanding of the concept (and is still the most accurate black hole portrayed on the show)) and slip them into the background (e.g., the segregation that exists between the Overlords and the Solonians in The Mutants, some of which is explicit but some of which is casually added as a detail in the background).  I don't know if Sydney Newman's thoughts about this period of the show are recorded, but I would think he would still recognize Letts and Dicks' version as the same one he had come up with back in 1963, just with some cosmetic differences.  There's just as much to enjoy now as there was then, and even with such a restrictive format (and such a massive sea change) as the Doctor's exile to Earth, that sense of investigation is still present, letting us know that this is the same show as before.  Ending the exile only confirms that by showing us stories that are similar in feel to the ones from the '60s, and in the meantime they've surreptitiously increased the importance of the "contemporary problems of Earth" element, almost without our realizing it.

In general, these first ten years of Doctor Who have been a strong success, and it's easy to see why this show became one of the most successful television shows ever created.  Here's to the next ten years and the strengths and changes that those years will bring, while still retaining that core appeal.


71 Yes, yes, Steven Moffat, I see you in the back there pointing out that this was broadcast a lot closer to the ninth anniversary than the tenth, but the point of this story is clearly to celebrate ten years of Doctor Who and you know it.
72 Well, at least as far as the hero masks go.  The Draconian illusion that one of the crewmen sees the Doctor as is obviously a rough one-piece copy of the more detailed appliances.
73 Well, there is one additional shot of the Master fleeing, but a) it's only a fraction of a second, and b) it's both blurred and in shadow, so it's not obvious that it's the Master at all, given that there are also fleeing Ogrons in the shot.  In fact, the only way to tell it's the Master is that you can just make out his white cuffs sticking out, and even then only in slow motion.
74 Although the less charitable among you will note that Nation also has invisible aliens in The Daleks' Master Plan (specifically the fifth episode, "Counter Plot").  No invisible Daleks though.
75 Not for all Doctor Who, though; the Dalek comic strip featured plenty of Daleks on flying platforms whizzing over planet surfaces and through space.
76 Actually, it's this, not the fluff from The Mutants, that's probably Pertwee's most famous goof -- although that's only because of a well-known letter sent in to the production team after transmission, which read
The reason I'm writin'
Is how to say kitin [sic]
77 This was supposed to be Elgin, but the actor playing him, Tony Adams, developed peritonitis and thus couldn't be present for the final recording session, so his lines were given to a new character played by Roy Skelton.
78 And it's a moment explicitly paid tribute to by the end of Sherlock series 3 episode 2, "The Sign of Three".  Although if you know anything at all about Mark Gatiss and his tendencies towards pastiche in just about every thing he writes, this is perhaps not the most surprising thing in the world.