Season 3 of the classic BBC series gets underway with this four-part adventure written by William Emms, and originally broadcast from 11 September to 2 October, 1965, and isn’t the strongest way to start the new season.
Unfortunately, that may be due to the fact that the viewing experience available to viewers now, is just a reconstruction using the show’s audio and pictures taken on set, as nothing of the original broadcast material seems to remains. Sadly, this seems to be the case for most of the stories in Season 3, so I’m starting to think that this season may be a tough watch…
The four episodes are titled Four Hundred Dawns, Trap of Steel, Air Lock and The Exploding Planet.
The Doctor, Vicki (Maureen O’Brian) and Stephen (Peter Purves) find themselves on a silent planet, which has two downed ships nearby. Aboard one are the warrior women of Drahvins, who are struggling to get their ship operational and off-planet before an imminent explosion.
The other ship is manned by the monstrous looking Rill, a non-air breathing species, who are using little robots Vicki names Chumblies, to investigate the surrounding area as they too prepare to make an escape from the doomed planet.
Stephen is the first one who is suspicious of the Dharvins, thinking perhaps there is something more going on here than he knows, especially after he learns that the Rill have offered their assistance to the warriors in leaving the planet.
Instead, they pressure our heroes to kill the Rill and steal their spacecraft so they can make their escape.
The Doctor, of course, doesn’t quite agree with that thought process, and instead upon learning the story of the Rill, he aids them with power from the TARDIS, and they make their escape from the planet, leaving the warlike Dharvin, led by the brutal Maaga (Stephanie Bidmead) to suffer their fate.
Whether due to the reconstructed nature of the story, or the action itself, this one didn’t take me in as much as some of the other stories did. So we’ll see how the rest of this season goes… they are really going to make me work to get to my first regeneration!
Nothing in this story is particularly engaging, though it does play with that old idea that just because something is pretty doesn’t make them good, and just because something is ‘ugly’ or scary, doesn’t make them bad.
I’ll be curious to see where the rest of the season goes, and also, be interested in taking a look at next week’s story, which is a single episode, called Mission to the Unknown, which features neither the Doctor, nor his companions, and is in fact a prologue for the next Dalek tale, The Dalek’s Master Plan!