|Originally Broadcast 2nd February 1974|
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
In a nutshell: With Sarah apparently travelling through space for the last three months, the Doctor is stuck in London searching for a nuclear generator that will lead him to the men behind the new world operation.
Review: “We left Earth three months ago!” As soon as I hear those words I know nothing here is true. There’s a difference in storytelling between classic and new Who, whereas new Who could get away with a character being trapped somewhere for months, I don’t believe the classic run would ever take that risk with it’s characters. But keep an eye out for Sarah’s impression of Victor Meldrew, sorry, Doctor Constantine: “Three months? But I don’t believe it!”
Forgetting that, though, we’ve got the Who-mobile!!! I’m quite impressed Pertwee put his own money and time into this for the show and it goes to show just how much he loved the show and threw himself into it. Despite having read an interview or two where he tells how the show killed his career, Pertwee is one of the Doctors who I know really cared for the show, even long after his tenure. He was still giving appearances in costume up until his passing in the mid-1990s where other Doctors (Eccleston, for example) won’t even talk about the show.
There’s some really lovely lighting in this episode when the Doctor is in wherever he traced the signal too. The location isn’t told to us, yet we see Martin Jarvis entering a lift in a closet and the lighting through the door as the lift goes down is brilliant. I don’t know how they achieved that shot and I don’t think I want to as it’d spoil this stunning effect. It also strikes me as really strange that, apart from a few lines between Miles and Jarvis, there’s been no dialogue for a very long time, I’d say five minutes or even longer, perhaps. It all works and creates a good atmosphere of the Doctor being alone and makes watching somewhat unsettling as we realise how cut off the Doctor is from everyone.
One thing I never thought I’d see in Doctor Who is Jon Pertwee fighting off a Pterodactyl with a mop! The scene kind of works for me but I think it’s the sound effects that put it down. The screeching sounds coming from the dinosaur is a bit poor and unconvincing. As for the model, it’s so clearly fake but, like before, I’m buying into it. I’ve become convinced by these models and can suspend my disbelief enough to see the wonder and ambition of the story.
Whilst all this is happening, Sarah is being horribly tortured! She’s been locked in a room and forced to watch those boring low-budget science-type videos you had to watch in school that were taped twenty years before you were born and recorded onto poor grainy VHS. I wouldn’t blame her if she tried to take her own life at this point, I sadly remember quite clearly just how dire those were.
The Doctor tells the Brig how something big is happening that is rapidly approaching its end. He clearly hasn’t been told we’re only in part four. In fact, it’s his turn to be dim this time round, as Sarah was last week. Whitaker, the missing scientist who’s somehow involved in this, phones up the Doctor and asks him to come alone to meet him. The Doctor agrees. Is he mental? Thankfully, and cleverly, the cliffhanger is there to set the Doctor up rather than another “dinosaur appears and growls” moment. I didn’t see this ending coming and it really does work. I’m regaining my hope for the story now after the dip in quality last time.