It’s time to welcome someone new to the TARDIS, in this first part of what has become known as the E-Space Trilogy. Written by Andrew Smith, this four episode story aired from 25 October to 15 November, 1980. This episode looks pretty good, in large part to the location work.
With the summons to return to Gallifrey, Romana (Lalla Ward) is worried that she will be forced to leave the Doctor (Baker). After all, she was only supposed to help him with the Key To Time.
They get pulled into a parallel/sub/pocket universe, or E-Space where the inhabitants of a crash starliner composed of settler, Deciders and a group of teenagers who call themselves the Outlers . When Mistfall occurs, seemingly on a fairly regular basis, they are menaced by a race known only as the Marshmen.
But not everyone is who they seem to be, and perhaps the survivors aren’t descendants of the starliner crew after all.
And amongst the young Outlers is a young, mathematically inclined man named Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), who wants more than the life he is living.
The Doctor arrives and, of course, begins to puzzle out what is going on and how the phrase ‘full circle’ applies to the inhabitants of the planet, and helps with the repair of the starliner.
But before then, Adric is forced by the Outlers to take over the TARDIS, while the Doctor has his first confrontation with the Marshmen. K9 has a bit of trouble when the mechanical dog encounters the aliens, looks like the Doctor may be repairing him again sometime soon…
There are more troubles for the Time Lord and Lady as they encounter a vicious species of spider and the TARDIS is stolen.
There is a lot going on in this episode, as the Doctor begins to find all the connections, and learns the truth about what is going on, and how much has been forgotten, or unlearned. Romana falls victim to the spiders, and not only loses her memory, but becomes their pawn, and soon the Doctor figures out there is a connection between all three species, the spiders, the marshmen and the planet’s inhabitants, and it seems that some of the members of the Deciders may know more than they are sharing.
Will he be able to cure Romana? and help the starliner take off and save everyone? Will Adric sneak aboard the TARDIS and live a life far different that one he had planned or dreamed of?
I quite enjoyed this episode, it was a lot of fun, it sets Adric up rather nicely, he’s smart clever, but honestly, not as joyful and enthusiastic as some companions. Perhaps that will change, but it also means that Romana is leaving soon.
I have to wonder what will happen when they finally get to Gallifrey, but first they will have to deal with the State of Decay…