|Originally Broadcast 15th December 1979|
Written by: Bob Baker
In a nutshell: After discovering the secret of the Mandrels, the Doctor must now find out who is leading the drug smuggling operation and put a stop to it.
Review: If I thought it difficult to say anything nice about episode three, then I’m really going to struggle with this part, as I think it’s the worst ‘classic’ Doctor Who episode that springs to mind currently (not meaning it is the worst, after all, there are almost 700 episodes to pick from!). I can’t remember anything exciting about this part or, really, anything that grabbed me. Soon into it I became quite bored and was looking forward to the theme tune bursting through the screen, concluding the story.
The opening couple minutes were decent, with the Doctor discovering the first half of a very clever plot concerning the smuggling of Vraxoin and he had a very ‘human’ reaction upon reading Dymond’s computer screen. This reaction was sparked again near the end of the episode as Tryst tried reasoning with the Doctor about how he had nothing to do with it or he was forced into the operation.
The humour (or what I class as humour) has completely phased out of the show by this episode, it creeped into part one, was brilliantly effected in two, slowed a bit by three and vanished by four. I think it’s safe to say this is one of the most inconsistent serials in the shows history. It can definitely be appreciated as a whole, but it’s definitely the first half of this story that’s written well by Bob Baker (for the first and only time without co-writer Dave Martin). I think this gets a bit of unfair rep amongst Whovians, although the second half (especially part four) certainly deserves its place in the lower half of liked serials.
One final thing I don’t understand is how the Doctor is fairly violent toward the Mandrels in episode three (I thought this at the time but dismissed it) and again in episode four, yet at the end of the episode he states how they have a right to live and none of this is their fault, so why did he act this way previously in the episode? I think Douglas Adams wasn’t doing his job of script editing Bob Baker’s poor writing properly.