Monday, September 28, 2015

"Planet of Evil"

Aired Sept 27 - Oct 18, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 81

Written by: Louis Marks

Directed by: David Maloney


Arriving on the planet Zeta Minor, on the edge of the known universe, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves investigating a distress call sent by a Morestran geological expedition. Exploring the forbidding jungle environment, they discover that the geological team has been nearly wiped out by an unseen killer, with only team leader Professor Sorenson left alive.

A Morestran military mission has also responded the the distress signal, and the team commander, Salamar, immediately suspects the Doctor of being behind the attacks. However, the Doctor soon discovers that the true killer is a monstrous creature from a universe of antimatter, crossing into our universe from a portal on Zeat Minor, site of a natural weak point. The creature is retaliating for Sorenson having taken antimatter minerals from near the portal.

The Doctor attempts to convince the Morestrans that the samples are what is drawing the creature to attack, but Sorenson is blinded by ambition, and sees his samples as the best chance to solve Morestrans increasingly dire energy issues.

As the Morestrans attempt to leave Zeta Minor, they find the ship canont escape the gravitational pull of the planet and is soon begin drawn back on a collision course. Though the Doctor does convince them of the need to dispose of the antimatter on board, Sorenson has become infected by antimatter and eventually transforms into an antimatter hybrid creature that drains the life-force from the crew. Salamar attempts to destroy Sorenson with radiation, but the attempt only causes the creature to replicate into many forms, and the ships is soon overrun.

The Doctor manages to locate the original Sorenson creature, and takes him back to Zeta Minor in the TARDIS, throwing both the professor and the samples into the portal. The antimatter force is satisfied, and returns Sorenson unharmed. The Morestrans are allowed to go on their way, the Doctor having given Sorenson a new, less deadly idea to solve their planet's energy crisis.

The Doctor and Sarah are free to go as well, and they return to the TARDIS to resume their travels.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Terror of the Zygons"

Aired Aug 30 - Sept 20, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 80

Written by: Robert Banks Stewart

Directed by: Douglas Camfield


Returning to Earth after receiving an emergency message from the Brigadier, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find themselves on the Scottish moors, aiding UNIT in their investigation of a series of attacks on North Sea oil rigs. The Doctor soon uncovers that the attacks are part of an invasion plan of the alien Zygons, shape-shifters whose spaceship lies at the bottom of Loch Ness. Their own planet having been destroyed, the Zygons are using a huge cybernetic beast called the Skarasen to destroy the rigs and their shape-shifting abilities to impersonate local citizens. Their leader, Broton, has assumed the identity of the Duke of Forgill, using the laird's position and power to further their plans.

The Doctor manages to free the Zygons' prisoners and destroy their ship, however Broton escapes in disguise as the Duke. He heads to London where the Duke has been invited to an Energy Conference attended by political leaders. There, the Skarasen will attack and the Zygons will begin their invasion. 

Though UNIT shoots and kills Broton, the day is only saved once the Doctor manages to force the Skarasen to eat the homing device that is forcing it to attack. Once without its influence, the creatures swims harmlessly back into Loch Ness. The Doctor and Sarah head off in the TARDIS, this time without Harry, who elects to stay behind.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Season 12 Overview

Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen at the
photo call announcing his casting.
With a new leading man, a new producer and a new script editor, it would certainly be tempting to call Season 12 the start of a bold new era for Doctor Who. But, truth be told, due to the way the programme was made, it's not quite the new broom that it first appears to be. It's one of what I like to call "Shoulder Seasons", because it's really a melding of the old production team and the new, resulting in a merging of sensibilities that don't allow the new team to definitively make its stamp, even as the influence of the previous team is limited, albeit felt in crucial ways.

Though Barry Letts was no longer in charge of the series during Season 12, he commissioned all of the scripts for the season, and made some initial production decisions that greatly affected the content and shape of the whole season. However, new producer Philip Hinchcliffe and incoming script editor Robert Holmes then had to shape these scripts and actually produce the stories, crafting the tone and style of the new era. The overall result is one that serves to point the way the series was heading without being too jarring of a transition. A lot of this is helped by the fact that Holmes had been working on the series for some time already, and had a major hand in script commissioning, but Season 12 still winds up feeling transitional.

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Revenge of the Cybermen"

Aired Apr 19 - May 10, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 79

Written by: Gerry Davis

Directed by: Michael E Briant


The Time Ring takes the Doctor, Sarah and Harry back to Nerva at last, but they arrive thousands of years before their previous adventure there. Though the TARDIS will eventually drift back through time to meet them, they will have to wait. The station is currently being used as a beacon warning passing ships of a new asteroid orbiting Jupiter.

But the Doctor soon discovers all is not well aboard the Beacon. A mysterious plague has killed nearly the entire crew, and the survivors are desperately trying to survive. Among them is a civilian scientist named Kellman who is studying the asteroid, which he has dubbed Voga. It is discovered that Kellman is working in league with the Cybermen, who want to destroy Voga because its gold rich make-up is anathema to them. Gold, it seems, can coat their breathing apparatus and suffocate them.

The Doctor uncovers that the plague is actually a fast-acting poison injected into the body by Cybermats hidden aboard the beacon. After Sarah is poisoned, the Doctor uses transmat travel to clear her system by teleporting her and Harry down to Voga. The asteroid is inhabited by Vogans who live in caves underground and who are plotting to secure their safety from the Cybermen threat. 
Meanwhile, the Cybermen invade the Beacon  where their plan is to use the Doctor and the final two crewmen to carry cobalt bombs deep in the heart of the Vogan tunnels, destroying Voga. 

Kellman has escaped to Voga,where it's revealed that he's actually a double agent, secretly working with the Vogans to lure the Cybermen to the Beaconwhich they will destroy with a missile, thus ending the threat of the Cybermen forever. The Doctor manages to avoid using the Cybermen's bombs, but Sarah, thinking he is still on the Beacon, returns there to warn him of the missile attack. The Doctor heads back to the Beacon and tells the Cybermen of the Vogan plan. The Cybermen leave, but have loaded the Beacon with bombs and set it on a collision course with Voga.

While he and Sarah succeed in keeping Nerva from crashing into Voga, the Doctor also manages to divert the course of the missile so that it strikes the Cybermen's ship, destroying it. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry find that the TARDIS has arrived, and they hurry off following a distress call from the Brigadier on Earth...

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Genesis of the Daleks"

Aired Mar 8 - Apr 12, 1975

6 Episodes

Story 78

Written by: Terry Nation

Directed by: David Maloney


Intercepting the transmat beam taking the Doctor and his friends to Nerva, the Time Lords send them instead to the planet Skaro. There, the Time Lords give the Doctor a mission, avert the creation of the Daleks or alter their development so the they evolve into less destructive creatures. The Doctor is given a time ring that with return him and his friends to the TARDIS once the mission is complete.

They find themselves in a period of Skaro's history where the Kaleds and the Thals are locked in an seemingly endless war of attrition to exterminate each other. The chief scientist of the Kaled side, Davros, has been experimenting to create the final evolutionary form into which the Kaleds will mutate, altering these creatures to make them more aggressive and more successful survivors. He has also created a weaponized protective casing into which these creatures can be placed to further help them survive and dominate. The Doctor and Sarah instantly recognize these as Daleks.

Harry and the Doctor are captured by Davros and his Elite, a faction of scientists who reside in an underground bunker and have one purpose; to win the war at all costs. Though Davros' plan is supported by many of the Elite, including his loyal right-hand man Nyder, there are those who feel the Daleks are an abomination, genetically modified by Davros without pity, compassion or mercy. The Doctor and Harry foment this faction to rise against Davros' leadership, but the brilliant Davros conspires with the Thals to wipe out the Kaled city, leaving only the Elite in the bunker and his Dalek creatures. While the Daleks wipe out the Thals, Davros attempts to learn from the Doctor every future defeat the Daleks will face, and make plans to counteract those failures.

Eventually, the Elite revolts against Davros' rule, buying the Doctor time to set up a bomb that will wipe out the Dalek creatures, but Davros has foreseen this revolution, and unleashes his Daleks on the Elite, exterminating them. However, the Daleks turn on their creator, seizing total control and wiping out the remaining Kaled Elite, including, it seems, Davros himself. Thal survivors plan to detonate explosives at the entrance to the Elite bunker, sealing everyone inside, and the Doctor, Sarah and Harry manage to escape just as the explosives are set off.

The Daleks remain sealed inside, plotting, waiting. The Doctor estimates he has only set back their development by perhaps a thousand years and comforts himself that even out of the existence of something as evil of Daleks, must come something good.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"The Sontaran Experiment"

Aired Feb 22 - Mar 1, 1975

2 Episodes

Story 77

Written by: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Directed by: Rodney Bennett


After beaming down from Nerva to repair the transmat relays, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find the Earth is not as deserted as everyone thought. A crew of shipwrecked humans from a distant colony are trying desperately to survive. Lured to Earth by a fake distress call, the astronauts have been captured and tortured by an alien warrior for reasons unknown. 

Sarah is soon captured and is shocked to discover the alien in question is Sontaran Field Major Styre, who is using cruel and brutal methods of torture in an effort to ascertain the physical and emotional limitations of humans as prelude to an invasion.

The Doctor comes up with a plan. He will distract Styre be challenging him to unarmed combat while Harry will sneak in Styre's ship and sabotage its energy supply. While the Doctor is greatly outmatched by the powerful Sontaran, the unfamiliar gravity of Earth causes Styre to weaken quickly. When Styre returns to his ship to revitalize himself, Harry's sabotaged energy supply destroys the Sontataran.

The Doctor then contacts the Sontaran fleet, informing them of Styre's defeat. Without the Major's report, the fleet has no idea of the level of resistance to expect, and therefore chooses to call off the invasion.