Season 21 comes to a close this week with a new Doctor (Baker) in the TARDIS and a four part story penned by Anthony Steven that ran from 22 to 30 March, 1984.
The tale finds the Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) arrive on the planet Jaconda, where they come to the aid of the local inhabitants, as they confront Mestor (Edwin Richfield) the leader of an invading group of gastropods, who plan to cause an incredibly large explosion that will help to spread their eggs throughout the universe.
The gastropods are aided by two young twins, Romulus and Remus (Gavin and Andrew Conrad) kidnapped from Earth, who send a team out to rescue them, and the Doctor falls in with Jaconda’s former ruler, Professor Edgeworth (Maurice Denham), who we learn is actually a Time Lord like the Doctor.
Add into this the fact that both Peri and the Doctor are getting used to his regeneration, though the Doctor seems quite content with his new demeanour, even if it does make him more than a little arrogant (sometimes very enjoyably), a little cowardly, and imbues him with a very poor fashion sense, which admittedly, kind of grows on me – I mean he wears a cat lapel pin (oohh, nine lives… are cats Time Lords?).
There are side effects to this regeneration, possibly caused by the way it was brought about, but the Doctor has violent fits, and is decidedly cruel to Peri a number of times. I am sure all of this was jarring to viewers when it first happened, and we now have some distance from it to enjoy it a bit more.
I’m not a big fan of the gastropods, they are really just men in suits. Yes, that’s pretty much the standard for the show, but, there is almost no imagination in their design. I do get the budgetary restrictions that were placed on the show, but a little improvisation and inspiration could have led to something a little cooler.
It also bothers me that it takes until the third part of the story before the Doctor even gets involved in confronting the Gastropods. I feel that it almost meanders its way through the story, the first part is good because we’re getting used to the idea and attitudes of the new Doctor, but it takes too long for him to truly get involved in the story, no matter what else is going on around him.
Edgeworth aka the Time Lord Azmael, is trying to find a way to fight against Mestor, to reclaim the desolated, practically destroyed planet of Jaconda and he works with the Doctor and the Twins to come up with a plan, though he learns it may be the last thing he does for his people.
Not the best story to introduce a new Doctor with, but there are some cool things on the horizon… Season 22 gets underway next time with Attack of the Cybermen.