This week, the Doctor (Baker), Romana (Mary Tamm) and K9’s search for the third part of the Key to Time leads them to one of the Doctor’s favorite planets, Earth in this four part story written by David Fisher, and aired from 28 October to 18 November, 1978. This story was the 100th, and part four aired during the week of the show’s 15th anniversary (just wait until we get to the 50th! I really do like that story).
Returning to present day Earth, the Time Lord, and Lady, find themselves enmeshed in a mystery of stone circles, Druidic worship, and a Celtic goddess known as Cailleach, who, once again, may be a bit of an alien imposter.
As the Doctor and Romana set off to find the piece (in poorly chosen shoes in Romana’s case, though she is by far the most stylish Companion to date) the Doctor reveals to her that she was not assigned to him by the Council but by the White Guardian, and also tells her the true nature of their mission, and the dangerous possibility of encountering the Black Guardian.
In their journeys they encounter a professor, Amelia (!) (Beatrix Lehman), Vivien (Susan Engel) – who may more than she seems, and De Vries (Nicholas McArdie). And let’s be clear, out of all of these people, only one can be trusted, I wonder which one?
As the story progresses we realize there are a number of alien life forms at work in this story, the silicon-based life forms wandering around, the Ogri, who look like the stones that the circles were made of, there is the escaped criminal Cessair of Diplos, and there are those seeking to deliver her to justice, the Megara, who seem to be stuck in hyper space.
I do like how the story tries to tie in with Celtic and Druidic mythologies with Cailleach. This goddess is represented by crows, and any time one shows up in the story, you perk up, because you don’t know if she actually sees and hears everything through the birds. It’s a nice touch, and one I think that needs to be revisited.
K9 continues to prove his use, though halfway through the story, the poor fella gets some of his circuits fried.
But nothing will stop the Doctor, and once he learns, or even begins to have his suspicions about the dual nature of Cailleach/Cessair, and who it really is, he is ready to face the Ogri and the Megara, who seem quite happy to execute anyone they think is guilty. And if the Doctor doesn’t sort things out, it could be him and Romana.
This story seemed to slide around all over the place, and while the Doctor seems to be having a lot of fun, I don’t necessarily think this was the strongest story so far in the arc, though it does have some fun moments, and ideas.
But that puts us halfway through the Key to Time arc, and next time they encounter The Androids of Tara!!