Timestamp #87: The Hand of Fear

Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear
(4 episodes, s14e05-e08, 1976)

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It’s time to say goodbye, but first… an adventure!

In the prologue, a traitor named Eldrad is sentenced to death by being launched into space. Eldrad’s crimes include the destruction of the barriers that stopped the solar winds from assaulting the planet Kastria. In an attempt to beat the rush before their impending doom, the planetary leaders decide to destroy the space capsule, despite the possibility of survival, and then they evacuate the area and await their fate as the planet dies around them.

Back in present time, the TARDIS materializes in a quarry where blasting operations are underway. Sarah Jane is upset that they are not in South Croydon, but is soon more upset as the crew detonates the quarry and buries her in the resulting rubble. When she is uncovered, she found clutching a fossilized hand as she is taken to the hospital. The hand is recovered, but clutched tightly in her hand is a ring. Eldrad’s ring.

The fossilized hand is examined by the Doctor and a pathologist named Carter, and it is found the be 150 million years old. The Doctor visits the quarry, then returns to the pathology lab. While he is away, Sarah Jane (now possessed by Eldrad) steals the hand and knocks out Carter with a flash from the ring. The Doctor notes the DNA a crystalline form, which is regenerating due to radiation from the microscope, and sets out after Sarah Jane.

There are some great camera angles in this story.

Sarah Jane takes the hand to a nearby nuclear reactor – Doctor Who loves the nuclear reactor sci-fi tropes – and enters the reactor chamber. The hand begins to regenerate and move. The alarms sound throughout the complex as the Doctor and Carter infiltrate the plant. Professor Watson, the senior operator in the control room (who has a random bug on his forehead in one shot) orders a shutdown to remove Sarah Jane from the reactor room. The core near Sarah Jane (magically) won’t shutdown, and she is absorbing a ton of radiation. When the Doctor talks to her over the intercom, she repeats that, “Eldrad must live,” which prompts the Doctor to go after her. Carter, also possessed by Eldrad, follows and tries to stop the Doctor. In the fight, Carter falls to his death.

The radiation reaches “critical” levels as Sarah Jane tries to open the containment area. The Doctor bursts in through a cooling pipe, knocks out Sarah Jane, and takes her to decontamination. The hand escapes and the ring is left behind. Sarah Jane is revived, not remembering any of the adventure so far, and apparently fine after her significant radiation exposure. The Doctor tells the operations team the story of the hand, which they see on the camera, and they send a technician named Driscoll to retrieve it. He finds the ring, becomes possessed, and takes the hand to the reactor core. The Doctor pursues and narrowly avoids being blasted by the ring. Driscoll takes the hand into the reactor core, which could cause a chain reaction and explosion (huh?), and results in the consoles in the control room to explode (huh?).

At the core itself, all of the radiation has been absorbed by the hand in what the Doctor calls an “unexplosion” reaction. Watson calls the RAF for a missile strike to destroy the site and the threat, but the nuclear missiles are absorbed by Eldrad and complete her regeneration.

Insert that animated GIF of Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm Reynolds here, because the professor should have connected those dots without any help whatsoever.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane return to the core to confront Eldrad. She explains that she was the architect of the barriers that allowed Kastria to thrive, but they were destroyed in a war and she was betrayed. She asks the Doctor to take her back in time to save her world, but he can only take her to present day Kastria. After she agrees to his terms, Watson tries to kill her with a handgun. Eldrad fights back, but stops as the Doctor adds Watson’s survival as a contingency to their agreement.

Eldrad, Sarah Jane, and the Doctor return to the quarry and use the TARDIS to travel to Kastria. Eldrad tries to take over, but she is powerless inside the TARDIS… for reasons. When they arrive, the planet is desolate and powerless, but Eldrad activates a backup geothermal power supply. As she opens the door to the thermal chambers below to rally her people, she takes an arrow to the chest.

The arrow was a syringe containing an acid that will destroy her crystalline structure. The travelers take her to the regeneration chambers, but are slowed by a series of traps. The chamber regenerates Eldrad into a new, male body, and he reveals that he patterned his previous body off of Sarah Jane. How flattering. He also reveals that he destroyed the barriers in an attempt to take over the throne, and that there was no war. He declares his intention to take over the planet, but is stopped by the revelation that all of his people are long since dead. Eldrad turns his attention to Earth, demanding that the Doctor take him to be their ruler, but the Doctor rejects him. They run and Eldrad pursues, but our heroes trip him over the side a deep abyss, presumably to his doom, but as they say, no body, no death.

The travelers return to the TARDIS, and Sarah Jane laments her life as a companion. Much like in Terror of the Zygons, she’s ready to go home. As she storms off to pack her belongings, the Doctor receives a distress call from Gallifrey and sets a course for South Croydon since he conveniently cannot take her with him. After a touching goodbye, Sarah Jane leaves the TARDIS, only realizing after the Doctor departs that she is nowhere near home.

And here’s where we say goodbye to Sarah Jane. She has been one of my favorite companions because of her energy, wit, and intelligence. I’m going to miss her, but, hey, at least they didn’t kill her off.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

Timestamp #86: The Masque of Mandragora

Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora
(4 episodes, s14e01-e04, 1976)

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Our heroes made their own adventure this time.

On a tour of the TARDIS, our heroes find the secondary control room. It’s a swanky, intimate affair with mood lighting, wood paneling, and brass rails, and it comes complete with a previous Doctor’s clothes, a previous previous Doctor’s recorder, and an Enterprise viewscreen. On said screen, a swirl of living energy appears which the Doctor calls the Mandragora Helix. He tries to pilot through it, but instead ends up stuck inside it. The pair go outside to investigate – stay in the ship, Sarah Jane! – and dodge a flare of helix energy. Since Sarah Jane left the door open, the flare ends up inside the TARDIS. Unaware of this, the travelers depart the helix.

The TARDIS randomly lands in 15th century Italy, which has a peasant revolt and the death of the Duke as “foretold” by the court astrologer Hieronymous. The Duke’s son Giuliano takes charge of San Martino, but his uncle Count Frederico is plotting to take over while conspiring with Hieronymous. The entire peasant revolt aspect of the plot is forgotten as soon as it is mentioned.

The Doctor reveals that he was not in control of the TARDIS, and Sarah Jane explores the area, happy with some tasty fresh oranges. She is soon captured by some men in robes. One attacks the Doctor and he defends himself, presumably with the Third’s Venusian Aikido. He is soon knocked out and the hooded men escape with Sarah Jane. Meanwhile, the helix energy leaves the TARDIS and attacks a peasant. The Doctor investigates the smoking scene and realizes just what he has brought with him. He is soon intercepted by the Duke’s soldiers, and he distracts them long enough to steal a horse. That escape is short-lived.

Sarah Jane is brought before a priest who plans to sacrifice her to Demnos, the Roman god of moonlight and solstice, as foretold in a prophecy. Not too far away, the helix energy kills a guard.

The Doctor is brought before Count Frederico, and he explains about the helix energy. The court mocks him, and the Count tests him as a potential seer. The Doctor fails the test and is ordered to be executed as a spy. Just as he is to be killed, he uses his scarf to trip the executioner and he escapes into the city’s catacombs. The guards refuse to follow because they fear the followers of Demnos.

I loved how the Dcotor was obviously toying with the guards during the chase. It was very funny.

The cult’s ritual commences, and a purple-clad follower is about to sacrifice Sarah Jane when the Doctor rescues her. As Purple orders the followers to pursue, they are distracted by the helix energy, which they take to be a manifestation of Demnos. Purple, who is really Hieronymous, is chosen as the vessel of the helix energy. Lucky him. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are captured, but are taken to Giuliano, who has examined the remains of the guard who was killed by the helix. Giuliano fears that if the Count succeeds in his plot, all learning and knowledge will be suppressed. The Doctor decides to find some answers to all of the questions surrounding the circumstances.

The Count discovers that Giuliano has called for the area nobles to come to a celebration of his ascension, and the Count orders Hieronymous to kill Giuliano before the nobles confirm the new Duke. The Doctor explains the reason for the helix’s arrival at this time and place: At the end of the Dark Ages, the cult of Demnos provides a ready power base before the dawn of the Renaissance. Giuliano leads the travelers to the catacombs so the Doctor can destroy the temple. The Count is alerted to their presence and plans to remove both of his problems at once. As the Doctor enters the temple, he is assaulted by the helix energy. The guards corner Giuliano and Sarah Jane flees into the catacombs where she is captured by the cult.

There was some nice use of haunted house technology to put up temporary walls against the Doctor as he tries to escape the temple.

The Doctor escapes the temple and fights the guards with Giuliano. The Duke is injured, but the cult’s brethren join the fray and provide a window for the Doctor and Giuliano to escape. Against the priest’s wishes, Hieronymous uses Sarah Jane as bait for the Doctor. He explains that he allowed Giuliano to escape because he has some value left before his death, and then he hypnotizes Sarah Jane to kill the Doctor. She is left in the catacombs for the Doctor and Giuliano to find.

Sarah Jane questions the ability to understand foreign languages. There’s that part of the franchise mythology.

Hieronymous warns the Count that his life is in danger, and the Count exiles Hieronymous from the city. Meanwhile, the Doctor determines that Hieronymous is the leader of the cult and confronts him, stealthily leading Sarah Jane to the scene. Sarah Jane tries to attack the Doctor, but he breaks her trance by reminding her that he is her best friend. The guards come for Hieronymous, and while he escapes, the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Giuliano are captured.

The fact that Sarah Jane questioned the ability to understand languages informed the Doctor of her trance. It is a “Time Lord gift” that he shares with her.

Hieronymous and his followers are infused with the helix energy as the cult marches on the city. The Count takes the Doctor to confront Hieronymous. The Count unmasks him and discovers that the seer’s face is pure energy. Hieronymous then disintegrates the Count and the guards, but the Doctor escapes disguised as a cult member. He returns to the dungeon and reveals the Count’s fate. The guards side with the Duke, and the Doctor hatches a plan.

The palace is fortified, and the followers drive the citizens from the city. The Duke attempts to cancel the gathering – the titular “masque” – but is dissuaded. The Doctor determines that a lunar eclipse will occur within the next day, fulfilling the prophecy that Mandragora will swallow the moon and signaling the start of the attack on humanity. The Doctor determines that the helix energy is spread thin at this critical point, and determines a method to exhaust it.

I love the running gag of the Doctor wanting to meet Leonardo da Vinci.

The Doctor sets his trap in the temple as the masque commences. He is confronted by Hieronymous, who fires on him repeatedly and drains his helix energy.

“It’s part of a Time Lord’s job to insist on justice for all species.” If only we could all be like the Doctor.

The brethren attack the masque, killing two of the attendees before Hieronymous appears, orders them to stop, and take everyone to the temple. The brethren begin the ceremony at the eclipse, but they are absorbed into the altar. The threat is over as “Hieronymous” is unmasked as the Doctor.

After some goodbyes, the gift of a salami, and the Doctor’s warning that Mandragora will return at the end of the 20th century, he and Sarah depart on another adventure.

And I’m left wondering if our heroes need to walk all the way through the TARDIS to exit from the secondary control room, or if it’s just “timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly”.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Timestamp: Thirteenth Series Summary

Doctor Who: Thirteenth Series Summary

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The Thirteenth Series showed us the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith in their grooves.

With respect to this project’s reviews, the thirteenth year of the Doctor’s travels series has seen ups and downs, but none of the downs were severe. The high point was definitely Pyramids of Mars, which was a fun adventure with a complex story where the villains actually won until a last minute (almost deus ex machina) save. I would normally dislike a deus ex machina, but Doctor Who is formed from the premise of an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation. the Doctor is, from the human perspective, a god who emerges from a machine. So, it works for me.

The lows were Terror of the Zygons and The Brain of Morbius: Terror of the Zygons felt like a paint-by-numbers romp filled with Scottish stereotypes, and The Brain of Morbius shared the problem of a story built strictly on tropes. Both also used famous monsters to drive the story, but instead of making Frankenstein’s monster or Nessie a clever nod, the routine stories made the monsters almost groan-worthy.

It’s worth noting, however, that neither of them fell below a mid-range grade.

All of that aside, I am still enjoying the dynamic between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane. I admire his whimsy and her strength, and together they make a fantastic team. It’s going to shake things up a bit when she departs in the next series, but from the experiences of this project, it’s also good to shake up the formula from time to time.

By the numbers, this series is on par with the Seventh and Tenth. It is tied for fifth overall, coming in behind the Twelfth, Fifth, Eleventh, and Ninth, in ascending order.

 

Terror of the Zygons – 3
Planet of Evil – 4
Pyramids of Mars – 5
The Android Invasion – 4
The Brain of Morbius – 3
The Seeds of Doom – 4

 

Series Thirteen Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Book Review: “The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley” by Jeff Deck

The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley
(580 pages, 2016)

Jeff Deck has returned. Following his previous novel, Player Choice, moved into the paranormal thriller realm, but kept a bit of the technological for spice. Welcome to the world of The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley.

My name is Mark Huntley. You know, life was a lot simpler when my biggest problem was how to pay for both rent and beer. Now, I’ve apparently got to stop a secret war between otherworldly forces that threatens all of humanity. Oh, and make sure I don’t get any of my friends or loved ones killed in the process. All this while a demonic weapon inside me may slowly be driving me insane.

This should be fun.

Mark Huntley is a political fact-checker in Washington, DC. As the world rapidly approaches the 2004 Presidential Election, Mark runs headlong into destiny. He starts sensing things that he shouldn’t – auras and flashes, smells and emotions, all related to random people – and he doesn’t know who to tell, or even who to trust. So he starts a blog under a pseudonym and tells the world.

Previously published as a four-part serial, the novel is told in epistolary style as each chapter is a new blog entry. Since the story takes place exclusively from Mark’s point of view, the reader gets to ride a wild roller-coaster of intrigue, humor, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and guilt, all while unraveling the mystery as the story dips and twists. The novel is grounded in Jeff’s experiences since he’s familiar with the DC area, and that adds an air of authenticity to the otherwise alien happenings, and it rapidly escalates from the mystery of one man’s life to the challenge of a small group of chosen (yet reluctant) heroes saving the world.

Even though it comes in at nearly 600 pages, the story is quickly paced and exciting, and I had a hard time putting this one down.

Overall, I give The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley four stars out of five.

 

Disclosure: Jeff provided me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

 

Huntley

Star Trek at Fifty

 

Star Trek at Fifty

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Happy 50th anniversary, Star Trek!

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It’s continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

My first memories of Star Trek are spending mornings with my parents on weekends watching back-to-back reruns of the original series and Lost in Space. They must have known that they had a fan on their hands when I asked my dad one day if we could construct the Enterprise out of Legos. We didn’t watch much of The Next Generation in first-run syndication, but we watched every one of the movies with the original crew at every possible chance, and I caught up later after Star Trek: Generations and my good friend Ryan McCarthy rekindled my passion for the franchise in the mid to late 1990s. After that, it was almost appointment watching for each series and film.

There was a rough time in my fandom in the era around the end of Star Trek: Enterprise and the debut of the JJ Abrams films, which I credit to a wave of “true fan” negativity that spread virally through the internet. With the resurrection of the franchise under Abrams, I was able to overcome my conflicted emotions and determine that it really didn’t matter what other fans thought. I realized that my fandom is mine alone, and my passions cannot be helmed by the fickle attitudes of the internet.

I often used Star Trek quotes in my essays for school and college, and I patterned my writing style off of the authors I read as I grew up, including so many in the continuing voyages.

Star Trek truly helped form me into the person I am today.

 

My favorite series is Deep Space Nine, followed by The Next Generation and Voyager in a close second. I truly believe that Voyager gets a lot of undeserved flack for its seven-year run. It had a lot of problems, especially in the strict adherence to the Trek writing formula, but it also returned to the core of the franchise in exploring the unknown. I wanted more conflict between the Starfleet and Maquis crews, and I wanted Voyager to be less pristine after all of the conflicts. They made a big deal out of conserving power and replicator rations, but the ship was nearly always flawless. I always point to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica as an example of what I expected, but with a much lighter story.

Deep Space Nine was unique because it turned the tables on the Trek formula in exploring the human condition by bringing the galaxy’s diversity to the characters. I loved the explorations of faith and religion, as well as the link to faith-based conflict and the American fascination with war. My single contention with DS9 is how the Bajoran story was left unresolved: Instead of ending the series with Bajor finally being admitted to the Federation, the show ends with the resolution of the Dominion War, which was not part of the overall premise.

My least favorite series is Enterprise, mostly because of the chaotic mess that it was. In an added moment of truth, I have yet to sit down and watch the entire animated series.

My top films are The Voyage Home, The Wrath of Khan, First Contact, and Star Trek Beyond. My least favorites are The Final Frontier, Into Darkness, and Nemesis. Between those poles, the order shifts around substantially. The Motion Picture does the most amount of moving because it’s a beautiful picture and among the most Trek of the franchise, but it’s also very slow and deliberate. It is very much a Robert Wise film.

My favorite captain is Sisko because I see a lot of myself in him. He’s emotional and conflicted, but he’s also willing to go against the Starfleet bureaucracy to get things done. Picard and Janeway are close seconds.

My favorite characters are the Prime Universe Spock and Data, though the Kelvin Universe version of McCoy is rapidly climbing the ranks to join them. I admit that Spock and Data have suffered a bit in my eyes with their latter appearances. Without a doubt, my least favorite character is Voyager‘s Kes because of the sheer amount of untapped potential and wasted story in that character. She could have been so much more.

My favorite ships are the Defiant and the Enterprise-D.

I also have two favorite Star Trek podcasts. The first is Women at Warp, which is a podcast that explores the Trek universe from a woman’s point of view. It has helped me to see many aspects of the franchise from a different point of view, and they are always respectful and thoughtful with their analyses. The second is Mission Log, which is an excellent episode-by-episode review of the franchise with some additional supplemental material from the Roddenberry archive. One of my favorite elements of this show is producer Rod Roddenberry’s journey as he comes to terms with his father’s legacy.

 

I am very excited for the future of the franchise, including the greenlit fourth Kelvin Universe film, and I am happy to see the return of Trek to television with the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. The future is bright, and it has the potential to inspire future generations as it helped inspire me.

My deepest gratitude goes out to the casts and crews, authors and artists, game studios, and my friends and family for keeping this ship flying for fifty years. May she continue to boldly go for many more.

 

startrek50th

 

Timestamp #85: The Seeds of Doom

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom
(6 episodes, s13e21-e26, 1976)

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Doctor Who meets The Thing? Maybe, when The Thing was Who Goes There?, The Thing from Another World, or even Horror Express.

A science team is digging up a strange artifact which turns out to be a 20,000 year-old lifeform. Meanwhile, back in London – they made it! – Richard Dunbar shows the Doctor photographs of the seed pod. The Doctor worries that it may be a time bomb ready to explode, and he books the next flight with UNIT for the Antarctic.

The videography looks much nicer this time around with the outdoor sequences being filmed on videotape.

The Antarctic science team fears that the Doctor will know nothing about their studies and continues to experiment on the pod as Dunbar visits millionaire Harrison Chase, a man who is on a mission to protect plant life worldwide. Dunbar sells the information to Chase, who then sends his own a representative to the Antarctic.

The pod awakens and stings Winlett, one of the scientists who is working alone –  that’s never a good thing to be in a horror film –  and he is assimilated by the pod. The Doctor arrives and examines Winlett. The scientist’s pulse rate and body temperature are dropping. The Doctor believes that the infection is a complete mutation into a plant form. His worst fears are confirmed when he examines the pod: It will likely result in the destruction of all life on the planet. The Doctor seeks out a second pod since they travel in pairs, and explains that Winlett is changing into a Krynoid, a form of intergalactic kudzu that consumes animal life wherever it goes.

The sound of engines draws the science team outside, presumably to meet the medical team. Instead, it was a private plane with Chase’s men – Scorby and Keeler – on board. The Doctor suggests that the infection may be slowed at its source by amputating Winlett’s arm. After some deliberation, the group leaves to prepare, and Winlett rises from the bed and kills one of the other scientists. Scorby prepares to assassinate everyone at the base, but Keeler doesn’t like the plan, so Scorby coerces him on threat of death. Sarah Jane discovers Moberly’s body and alerts the Doctor and Stevenson. They go out to search for the Krynoid, and Chase’s men take the opportunity to search for the pod. They intercept a radio message about the medical team and call off the dispatch.

The Doctor’s team track the Krynoid to the generator hut and the experimental fuel cell system, but when they can’t find it, they return to the base under the assumption that it has frozen in the subzero conditions. When the Doctor and Sarah Jane return to the infirmary, they are ambushed by Chase’s men, and the Doctor tells them the story. Chase’s men tie them up and interrogate them, and Stevenson tracks them the bunk room. The remaining scientist tries to stop the antagonists, but his rifle has been sabotaged and he is also taken captive, but not before letting slip that a second pod exists. They find the pod and force Sarah Jane to take them to the generator, leaving the Doctor and Stevenson tied up. The Doctor breaks a lantern uses the glass to cut their bonds.

Scorby sets a bomb on the generator that will destroy the entire base and leaves Sarah Jane to die. Keeler tries to stop Scorby, but Scorby forces him to leave with him. The Doctor sets out to find Sarah Jane as Stevenson calls for help, but the Krynoid breaks in and kills Stevenson. It then tracks the Doctor to the generator as he frees Sarah Jane. The Doctor locks the Krynoid in the generator hut and the travelers run. The bomb explodes and destroys the base.

Some time later, the rest of the base’s crew return from their expedition to South Bend to discover Sarah Jane and the Doctor, the MacReady and Childs of this story (even though neither of them are the alien). Chase’s men return home to the estate with the pod, but Dunbar spoils Chase’s joyous moment by reporting that the Doctor and Sarah Jane are still alive.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane return to London and consult with Dunbar and his boss, Sir Colin Thackeray. They then depart for the Botanic Institute, but the driver takes them to a deserted quarry and tries to assassinate them. They stop the driver and find a painting in the car’s trunk that leads them to Amelia Ducat, one of the world’s leading floral artists. She tells them that the painting was bought by Chase, but that she was never paid.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane sneak into Chase’s estate. After they are discovered, the Doctor suggests that they act natural, which in their case means to run. They are captured and taken before Chase who tells them that they will die, but only after a guided tour of the millionaire’s collection.

After an annoying musical sequence that was obviously filler, Chase is informed that the pod is growing. He orders the execution and departs for the lab. The travelers get the jump on Scorby and escape. The Doctor sends Sarah Jane to inform Sir Colin of the happenings before heading back for the pod, but she is readily captured once again. She is taken to the lab where Chase plans to expose her to the hatching pod.

The Doctor jumps in like an action star, beats down the bad guys, and holds them at gunpoint – to the writing team’s credit, they do acknowledge that the Doctor would never use it, but that the bad guys don’t know that – as he rescues Sarah Jane. Meanwhile, the pod opens and attacks Keeler. Instead of calling for the ambulance, Chase has Keeler taken the estate’s cottage for observation.

As the Doctor returns to the lab, he is captured by Scorby and taken to the compost room. Chase is called away as Amelia Ducat arrives and demands her payment. After she negotiates like a champ, he pays her handsomely, and then leaves to oversee the “recycling” of the Doctor. He has the Doctor loaded into the composter and sets it for an automatic delay.

Oh, come on! You know, you’d get away with all of this if you just killed them straight away instead of playing games. What is this, a James Bond movie?

Meanwhile, Sarah Jane sneaks to the cottage and discovers Keeler. He asks for her help, but she refuses in fear that he could complete his transformation at any moment, and she escapes at the earliest convenience and returns to the main house. She intercepts Ducat and asks her to pass the word of what’s happening at the estate. Amelia informs Sir Colin, but they are delayed by Dunbar who returns to the house to rectify his mistake. He tells Sir Colin to contact UNIT if he doesn’t return in the next half hour.

Sarah Jane rescues the Doctor as the Krynoid finishes transforming and Dunbar confronts Chase. Dunbar tries to leave, but is pursued by Scorby. He runs into the Krynoid, and in true Doctor Who fashion, firearms don’t work against it. The Krynoid kills Dunbar just as the Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive, and the Doctor faces off against the creature with a sword. Scorby and the guards arrive and open fire, prompting them all to run and take shelter in the cottage. The Krynoid offers to let everyone else escape in exchange for the Doctor. Scorby almost agrees, but is convinced to make a firebomb instead.

There is a great performance here by Tom Baker as the Doctor gets absolutely furious, then within seconds shifts back to typical Doctor whimsy.

Sir Colin and Ducat return his office and call UNIT as Scorby throws the bomb and the Doctor runs, making it to a car and driving away. Scorby and Sarah Jane take refuge in the main house. Chase has gone to photograph the Krynoid, and it doesn’t attack him. Instead, he has a transcendent experience and comes to understand the Krynoid’s plans, which he considers beautiful.

The Doctor arrives at Sir Colin’s office and convinces Major Beresford (who is standing in for the Brigadier) to take action as the world’s plants become hostile. The Doctor calls Sarah Jane to tell her the news, but the Krynoid cuts the phone lines. They discover that the plants are becoming violent and confront Chase as he communes with his collection. The collection attacks them, but the Doctor and Sgt. Henderson arrive in the nick of time to douse the attacking plants with an experimental herbicide. Chase escapes as the Doctor frees Sarah Jane and Scorby, but Chase’s butler Hargreaves is dead.

The team takes all of the smaller plants outside, and Chase locks them outside with the towering Krynoid. They are saved by UNIT and an impressive laser cannon. The team returns to the house as UNIT assaults the Krynoid, and the Doctor determines that Chase is possessed by the creature. They take refuge in the laboratory, and Chase ambushes Henderson as the sergeant gathers timber to barricade the windows. As Scorby panics, Chase kills Henderson with the composter. Scorby runs from the laboratory and into a pond where the plants drown him. As the Doctor repairs the loudspeaker system, Sarah Jane searches for Henderson and is captured by Chase.

Major Beresford contacts the Doctor, and the Time Lord reveals that they have about fifteen minutes before the Krynoid spreads its influence across all of England. He convinces the major to order an air strike, then goes in search of Sarah Jane, who is about to be composted. The Doctor rescues her, but is trapped in the machine with Chase. The Doctor escapes just in time as Chase returns to the plants in the messiest way possible.

Trapped by the plants, the Doctor rigs a steam pipe to blow a hole in the foliage, and they escape the house as the Royal Air Force blasts the Krynoid into oblivion.

Later on, the Doctor wraps up loose threads with Sir Colin, and then offers to take Sarah Jane on vacation to Cassiopeia. They take flight in the TARDIS, but land in Antarctica and wonder if they’ve already been there or if they’re yet to arrive. Even though it was obviously staged, I loved that last bit of chemistry between these two actors in this season.

There are some very strong characters in this tale with the exception of Chase, who was shallow and very annoying. This story also capitalizes on coming up within weeks of my first viewing of The Thing, which helped make the Antarctic sequences that much better. Overall, this is a high 3 grade, and I always round up.

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Thirteenth Series Summary