The Doctor (Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) are really in it this time, as they dive into the world of reality television (a couple of decades before it really took off)!
Vengeance on Varos was penned by Philip Martin and was comprised of two parts, running from the 19 to 26 January, 1985.
The TARDIS has arrived on the planet Varos, where the Doctor is looking for some zeiton-7, a mineral, to help in his continuing repairs of his TARDIS. Unfortunately, Varos was once a prison planet, housing political prisoners and their guards. But as time has gone by, the descendants of the original prison have continued with the lawkeeping and governing. Things get even worse, when its revealed that both guards and prisoners have their fate, be it torture or even death are voted on through interactive television programming.
Of course, the Doctor and Peri end up right in the middle of everything as they are believed to be alien infiltrators, and find themselves the latest subjects of the programme! They try and work their way through the prison dome, eluding the traps, while the citizens of Varos watch, and react.
The TARDIS is seized, and the Doctor is believed dead, and is almost thrown in an acid bath, while Peri is held captive by Sil (Nabil Shaban) and the planet’s rulers.
It’s interesting to hear that those in power are keeping the denizens of the planet under control by keeping them entertained via the reality programme, one wonders if there is a reflection of modern society taking place here. If one subscribed to such beliefs, of course.
Not only are our heroes, and the inhabitants introduced to violent and evil machinations, all voted on of course, we are introduced to the villainous character named Sil (love his laugh by the way), a rather sadistic little being who will return to menace the Doctor and Peri again.
Speaking of, Sil, he is there to cement a deal between his company and the colony for the zeiton-7, but he’s also trying to low ball them on the price, but the Doctor reveals the real value of the mineral, even as Peri is having her genes and cells manipulated for Sil’s enjoyment.
Of course, the Doctor saves those he can, and he and Peri continue their journeys together.
The thing that should have been played up a little more, and the one that would be the focus today, is the broadcasting nature of the events in the dome, and the viewers voting on them. It could be scary, occasionally funny, and full of social commentary.
Overall, a fun story, but needed to be a little tighter in the storytelling department.
Of note in the supporting cast is Jason Connery, the son of Sean Connery, and Owen Teale who plays Thorne on Game of Thrones.
Next week, the Doctor encounters another villainous Time Lord in Mark of the Rani!