The Doctor suffers from a Honey, I shrunk the Kids episode this week in a four-part story penned by Robert Holmes that ran from 27 January to 17 February, 1973. As the Time Lords have lifted The Doctor’s (Pertwee) exile, he and Jo (Katy Manning) decide to knock about the universe in the TARDIS and see where the old gal takes them. Jo is a little upset when it appears they are in the cargo bay of a cruise ship on Earth, in 1926.
The Doctor is confused, and is convinced from the off that something just isn’t right. He’s proven right, when they bump into a few of the passengers, and moments later, the ship, the SS Bernice, is attacked by a plesiosaur! It gets stranger for our heroes though, because moments later, everything seems to reset and start over again. The entire ship and area, with the exception of The Doctor and Jo, are in some kind of time loop.
As he investigates, The Doctor believes that they are actually in some kind of menagerie, on display. The viewer already knows this to be true as we’ve been introduced to Vorg (Leslie Dwyer) and Shirna (Cheryl Hall) already. They’re show people, newly arrived on the planet Inter Minor, and are in the process of going through a form of customs. Their main showpiece is a scope, which allows them to examine the miniaturized inhabitants inside, including the Bernice and its passengers. They are held that way by a compression field, if they should be able to get out of the machine they will return to their actual size.
As they escape from their confines on the ship, they work their way through the interior of the scope pursued by the monstrous, worm-like Drashigs, while outside, the inhabitants of Inter Minor, or at least those in control, are preparing to deny Vorg and Shirna entry to the planet, and the scope may in fact be destroyed!
Escaping the machine, while Jo returns to the Bernice, The Doctor makes his case with the inhabitants and properly chastises Vorg for keeping intelligent beings locked up in such a manner. As he prepares to return to the Bernice to save Jo, a drashig escapes from the machine, and returns to normal size.
While The Doctor is busy saving the day inside the scope, Vorg and Shirna stop the Grashik and save a number of inhabitants, rather endearing themselves to the planet, but with The Doctor and Jo free of the machine, and everyone else returned to their proper places and times, Vorg realizes he may have to find another way to make money. It’s a good thing he’s equal parts con-man and showman!
This ends up being a rather light story, but still fun, though nowhere near as enjoyable as The Three Doctors! We’ll see what happens next time when The Doctor explores the Frontier in Space!