Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Colony in Space"

Aired April 10 - May 15, 1971

6 Episodes

Story 58

Written by Malcolm Hulke

Directed by Michael E. Briant


Upon discovering that the Master has stolen a secret file regarding a Doomsday Weapon, the Time Lords decide the use the Doctor as an unwitting agent. They will allow him to travel in time and space for the first time since he was exiled to Earth and use him to stop the Master's scheme. The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Jo to the planet Uxarieus in the 25th century. They encounter a group of colonists who are barely surviving on the planet. Their crops refuse to grow, they have a shaky relationship with the primitive indigenous people, and they are worried that the Interplanetary Mining Corporation may try to chase them off. 

Sure enough, the Doctor soon uncovers a plot by the IMC to do just that, as the company has discovered a plentiful deposit of duralinium exists on the planet. The mineral will provide much needed building material to a dangerously over-populated Earth. The IMC ship's crew will do anything, including murder, to force the colonists off-planet. However, the colonists don't have the resources to survive moving on, if they leave, they'll likely die. 

As he tries to resolve this conflict, the Doctor also learns that the indigenous Primitives and their High Priests worship a large machine tended by a creature called the Guardian. The primitives were not always so, they apparently at one point had a technologically advanced society. 

The colonists are pinning their hopes on the arrival of an Adjudicator from Earth to resolve their conflict with the IMC. When the Adjudicator arrives, however, the Doctor is shocked to discover it is in fact the Master. After hearing both sides, the Master rules in favour of the IMC, who promptly take over and begin the process of forcing the colonists off-world.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"The Claws of Axos"

Aired March 13 - April 3, 1971

4 Episodes

Story 57

Written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Directed by Michael Ferguson


An alien spacecraft approaches Earth, picked up by UNIT monitoring equipment. Meanwhile, a civil servant named Chinn has arrived from the Ministry of Defense, and is irritating everyone by throwing his weight around. UNIT is also playing host to Bill Filer, a secret agent from America who has been assigned to track down the Master. 

The spacecraft lands near Nuton Power Station, a nuclear power plant, and UNIT, along with Filer and and Chinn, rush to the landing site. There, they meet the aliens; attractive gold-skinned beings called Axons. The Axons claim to be fleeing a planetary catastrophe aboard this ship, the Axos. The Axos is damaged and needs to stay on Earth for a time while it repairs itself. In return for Earth's hospitality, the Axons offer a living molecule called Axonite, which can cause animals to enlarge and thereby provide an end to food shortages worldwide, as well as provide a source of energy.

While Chinn and the administrators of the Nuton Power Complex welcome the Axons and their gifts with open arms, the Doctor and UNIT are suspicious. Chinn tries to keep a stranglehold on the Axonite to ensure England's superiority, while Filer sneaks aboard the Axos to investigate. There, he finds that the Master is aboard, having brought the Axons to Earth. 

The Axons true plan is to have the Axonite distributed as widely as possible, and then sue the substance to drain the Earth of energy; the Axons are parasites, and the Master is working with them to buy his freedom. Once the Doctor uncovers and reveals the true nature of the Axons, he seemingly betrays Earth to work with the Master and offers to link his TARDIS with the Master's to help the Axons boost their energy. In return, the Axons will help him wreak revenge on the Time Lords for his exile.

Of course, this is a ruse, and the Doctor's true aim is to locking Axos in a time loop for eternity. Doing so, the Doctor returns to Earth in the TARDIS, though the Master has escaped once again, this time off Earth entirely.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"The Mind of Evil"

Aired Jan. 30 - March 6, 1971

6 Episodes

Story 56

Written by Don Houghton

Directed by Timothy Combe


Arriving at Stangmoor Prison, the Doctor and Jo attend a demonstration of the Keller Machine, a device that supposedly removes all negative emotions from its subjects. It's being used to forcibly reform hardened criminals. Troubled by the implications of this machine, the Doctor's fears are borne out when its latest subject, Barnham, collapses after his treatment.

Back in London, the Brigadier is handling two high-pressure situations. First, UNIT is in charge of security for a tense World Peace Conference, made even more volatile following the disappearance of vital documents and the death of the Chinese delegate. Second, the Brigadier has also sent Captain Yates to handle the transport and destruction of a nuclear powered Thunderbird missile loaded with illegal nerve gas.

Back at Stangmoor, things are escalating out of control. There have been several deaths in the vicinity of the Keller Machine, all seemingly caused by impossible physical manifestations of the victims' worst fear. In the middle of investigating the Machine, the Doctor is called back to assist the Brigadier in the intrigue at the Conference.

The Doctor and the Brigadier uncover and prevent an attempt by Captain Chin Lee, the aide to the Chinese delegate, to kill the American delegate. The Doctor discovers that Lee is under the hypnotic control of the Master, and he also learns that the Master is also known as Professor Emil Keller, inventor of the Keller Machine.

The Master has already arrived at Stangmoor, where he uses the power of the Keller Machine to start a riot that results in the inmates seizing the prison and taking hostages, including Jo. The Machine stores all of the evil impulses it has extracted, but is not actually just a machine, but rather a house for a malevolent alien parasite that grows in power as it feeds on negative impulses. Offering the convicts the chance to disappear anywhere in the world, the Master enlists their aid to steal the Thunderbolt missile. The Master's ultimate goal is to use the missile to destroy the conference and start WWIII.

Returning to Stangmoor, the Doctor is recaptured. He realizes that Barnham, the last subject of treatment from the machine, now has the mind of a child and therefore an immunity to the parasite's powers. As the Master escapes to a nearby airfield to launch the missile, UNIT retakes the prison, and the Brigadier frees Jo and the Doctor. The Doctor takes advantage of Barnham's immunity to the parasite to transport the Keller Machine to the airfield, where he uses the power of the parasite to distract the master and set the missile to auto-destruct. The explosion destroys the parasite, but the Master escapes yet again, killing Barnham in the process.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Terror of the Autons"

Aired Jan. 2 - Jan. 23, 1971

4 Episodes

Story 55

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by Barry Letts


Working on an experiment at UNIT HQ, the Doctor meets his new assistant Jo Grant, a novice UNIT agent eager to prove her worth. Meanwhile, an evil renegade Time Lord called the Master arrives on Earth and steals a dormant Nestene energy unit left over from their previous invasion. He travels to a radio telescope facility, kills an employee, and uses the telescope to reactive the energy unit. 

When UNIT is called in to investigate the incident at the telescope, the Doctor is informed by the Time Lords that the Master has come to Earth. The Master uses his hypnotic abilities to take control of a small plastics firm in order to produce deadly Auton weapons in the form of dolls, chairs and daffodils.

Autons spread across the area, handing out plastic daffodils in a fake promotional campaign. These flowers are designed to emit a suffocating plastic film over their victim's mouth and nose. The Master plans to activate the flowers with a signal from the radio telescope, and in the ensuing chaos he use the telescope to bring the full Nestene Consciousness to Earth. 

Arriving at the telescope in the nick of time, the Doctor convinces the Master that the Nestene will turn on their Time Lord ally once he's outlived his usefulness  and that it is in the Master's best interest to oppose the invaders. Forging a temporary alliance, the two Time Lords successfully repeal the Nestene. The victory isn't complete, however, as the Master manages to escape, with the Doctor looking forward to a rematch.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Season 7 Overview

Season Seven's regular cast, from L to R:
Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart),
Jon Pertwee (the Doctor), Caroline John (Liz Shaw)
Terrance Dicks, long-time script editor of Doctor Who, is fond of recounting that, after completion of Season 6 in 1969, the BBC wanted to cancel the series. Dicks maintains that if the powers that be had had anything suitable to take the programme's place, it most likely would never have received a seventh season at all. But, as they felt they didn't have anything developed enough in place, Doctor Who was given one last chance to improve on its viewing figures and resolve its production issues. Whether or not Dicks' version is accurate, it is certainly true that Doctor Who's seventh season was one of huge change and great success, beginning a surge of popularity that would last a full decade and would enshrine the programme as a beloved cultural icon once and for all. That would have been a substantial achievement alone, but the seventh season also represents a high-water mark in quality, resulting in one of the most perfect seasons in the history of the series.