David Fisher pens this week’s installment of Doctor Who. Airing as four parts from 27 October to 17 November, 1979, the Doctor (Baker), Romana (Lalla Ward) and K9 (who has a different voice all of a sudden, David Brierley replacing John Leeson for the season) arrive on the verdant and vibrant planet Chloris.
They discover that metals are few and far between on the planet, and it all seems to be under the tyrannical rule of Lady Adastra (Myra Frances), who owns the only lucrative mine on the planet. She guards them voraciously, with her Huntsman (David Telfer) and his wolfweeds.
A group of humans, led by Tovin (John Bryans), scavenge for metals as they can, but live a meager existence, thieving from Adastra when they can.
But there is more going on here as well, it seems there is something deep within the mines, trapped, and instilling fear in all who hear about it, the creature from the pit!
The travelers curiously discover what seem to be the remains of a giant shell on the planet’s surface, and the Doctor begins to puzzle out what it could me. Learning about the creature, and following a hunch, the Doctor of course leaps right into the pit, even as Romana is first captured by the thieves, and then Adastra. She uses K9’s knowledge as a bargaining chip, and this is all that seems to keep her alive while the Doctor explores below.
It is in the mines and caverns that he encounters not only the creature, but a banished prophet, Organon (Geoffrey Bayldon), and the Doctor and he have some wonderful banter back and forth, as they talk about fortune-telling, predictions, and hunting down the creature.
When the Doctor finally comes across the creature, we learn it is of immense size, and lives on chlorophyll. In fact, we learn quite a bit about it, once the being’s communication device is returned, such as how it ended up in the pits, who it really is, why they are there, and who is the real villain of the piece.
Hopefully, the Doctor can sort it all out, broker a peace and trade between two worlds, and put paid to the baddie of the story.
While the sets, and designs are big (the creature is a bit odd, but I do like that not every creature we encounter is bipedal, it’s not quite a huge story), there is no universe hanging in the balance of the outcome, Earth is not being threatened, it’s a mediocre problem, with a fun mystery on a distant world.
The banter between the Doctor and Organon is the highlight of the episode, I hate K9’s new voice, and I would like it if Romana got to do a little more. She’s a Time Lady, she may not be as old as the Doctor, but she’s clever, let her be clever! I hated the way she acted with K9, it seemed childish, and honestly unbecoming of both characters and the show.
Next week it’s the Nightmare of Eden!