|Originally Broadcast 8th December 1979|
Written by: Bob Baker
In a nutshell: Escaping into the planet Eden, the Doctor and Romana discover a missing crew member, the name of the aliens (Mandrels) and the connection they have to a drug smuggling operation in space.
Review: OK, let’s run through this one more time: episode one-great characterisation, episode two-brilliantly funny, so what does episode three have going for it? A little bit of plot, very few funny lines and just boring stuff for the rest of it. I’m going to have trouble reviewing this episode bar just saying it didn’t really grab me.
The reason the last episode was amazing was because it was so funny and zany so I just don’t get where Douglas Adams put his joke book this week, there was nothing to this episode. The plot had a lot of predictable and/or dull moments but there were a few revelations to keep me going. I liked the connection between the Mandrals and the drug smuggling when it was finally revealed to the Doctor near the climax of the episode and the Mandrel disintegrating was a brilliant effect, although it was the only one I can remember being successful.
Another thing we discovered in this episode is who the drug smugglers are, and what a stereotypical surprise, it’s the guy with the fake German accent! Whatever this episode achieves, it certainly isn’t international relations between England and Germany, that’s for sure, as it relies on its 1940s B-Movie racism and tries to make it a surprise. Perhaps they thought, “That’s stereotypical, they’ll never think we’ll go for that” as a double-bluff but it really doesn’t pay off.
The Doctor’s job for the second half of this episode is to make some sci-fi mumbo-jumbo box by 20:25 but it gets trashed by a Mandrel, yet somehow the Doctor manages to repair it and put his coat and scarf on (whilst sweating under the pressure like mad, why put your scarf back on?) and still complete it by the same time. I’m not sure how this works, but it does and it provides a decent cliffhanger with it.
I’ll sign this chapter off with another poor moment, here’s an excerpt of dialogue following K-9 killing a Mandrel:
Doctor: It’s perfectly alright.
The Doctor kicks the Mandrel’s lifeless body
Doctor: It’s quite dead.
Romana: Oh, if you say so.
Three guesses which Mandrel destroyed the Doctor’s machine I mentioned a paragraph ago.