Third Doctor, Season Eight, Serial Four
reviewed by Tom-Tom
This serial represents a landmark change in the Third Doctor’s exile on Earth. Aside from previous journeys to a different dimension in Inferno or being driven around by The Master in The Claws of Axos, the Doctor has been limited to Earthbound adventures up to now. Suddenly, thanks to some meddling on the part of the Time Lords, his TARDIS takes off with companion Jo Grant to a far off time and planet, her first. They find, well, a colony in space who are struggling to survive despite failed crops and sometimes aggressive “primitive” aliens. Feelings and opinions are heated about the future of the colony and much debate is being made about whether to move on to another planet or just to give up and go home. Enter into the mix the Doctor and Jo, who introduce themselves as “Explorers”. It soon becomes apparent that unknown creatures have attacked and killed some of the settlers. Darker still that a mining cooperation has arrived and is desperate to start drilling for whatever fuels Earth at this stage in history. The colonists are determined (for the most part) to stay and keep on the struggle for survival despite the arrival of yet another visitor who claims he is from a failed colony whose settlers were all murdered by the “primitives.”
This serial provides the Doctor the chance to stretch his legs and intellect on another planet as well as dealing with important questions of colonization and its various complicated issues such as food, group morale, forming a relationship with native peoples and big cooperations whose avarice lead their employees to do anything to get what they want. This isn’t a “great” serial by any means but it is nice to see the Doctor in his element doing what he loves. He get the chance to use his trademark Venusian Aikido screaming “Hai!” beforehand. It’s rather fun to watch along with the 1970’s special effects. The claw festooned robot and model rocket bring out a few chuckles. The hidden lair of the primitives , the Doctor’s use of a magic trick (perhaps predicting the Seventh Doctor’s regimen), and the identity of the Adjudicator are nice touches. Unfortunately, as with all of the Third Doctor’s serials the music is subpar electronic drivel. The interesting twist of the Adjudicator’s true motive takes the serial to its end but not before lots of annoying firefights and protests by the settlers and mining cooperation crew. The true nature of the not so primitive “Primitives” is interesting to behold and is the serial’s final saving grace.