‘I’m beginning to lose confidence for the first time in my life – and that covers several thousand years.’
31st January – 14th March 1970
The Time Space Visualiser
Season seven is coming up trumps. We are only five weeks into our fresh new look and I am completely enraptured. I love how each story gives us a new science fiction twist to avoid alien invasion of the week syndrome. So this week it is not an invasion, more of a reclamation. ‘This planet is ours. It always has been.’ The first note I look at when writing up this review is that there is a character called Spencer in it. I must have been so excited that I thought it worthy of a mention. I also spotted Fulton Mackay as Doctor Quinn and the number plate of Bessie as WHO1. I love how the mystery builds. You don’t really know what is going on. The Silurian sounds a bit like a Kroton.
I love how there are no footprints anywhere apart from perfectly formed reptilian ones. The Doctor finally meets a Silurian and after a quick chat, the Silurian pushes past the doctor sounding just like a man in a rubber suit. The human pest control chemical is kept in a pill container from Boots. The Silurian that befriends and begins to trust the Doctor leaves him to confer with his colleagues but doesn’t trust the Doctor too much because he leaves him behind a force field allowing Pertwee to do some great ‘mime a piece of glass with your hands’ acting.
The pace of this story is hardly breath-taking. The Doctor seems to spend hours searching for a cure and despite the use of a musical montage it feels like we are there for most of them. The Silurians begin to wake up their colleagues as the one they call the Doctor has provided power. However the first one they wake up is too tired and goes back to sleep. The Doctor tells the Brigadier to stay out of the tunnels but he blows them up.
The Silurians and the Humans were never going to be able to live in harmony as this would affect the future Whoniverse and all the stories that followed, even now, whatever you think about UNIT dating. Nonetheless this complex conundrum is a further example of how grown up the series has become. It is a fairly typical Malcolm Hulke story as it deals with the politics and despite the length of the story, you do not feel it is padded. One of the best season seven stories so far.
First appearance of Bessie. Unless you count the red car he stole in Spearhead from Space that looks exactly like Bessie except it is red!
Paul Darrow off of Blakes 7, almost before his voice broke makes his first Doctor Who appearance.
First use of CSO in Doctor Who. I have mentioned this before in ‘The Ark’ but I think that must have been back projection as even though I am not too technical I have watched enough Blue Peter to know that the C in CSO stands for colour. How I loved the magical quality of it. It was the mainstay of special effect TV in the 70s and the forerunner of green screen. It was also used to provide a cheap monitor on the news. Monitors on Doctor Who were two a penny and the TARDIS scanner was a CSO panel from when they stopped using a portable TV off of kitchens right up until the end of classic Who. Here it is used to make the dinosaur big and, of course, for a monitor.
‘Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.’
In this story he fuses the control of the neutron flow, in others he reverses the polarity but it is the genesis of a catch phrase.
So what are these creatures called then? I think that must people call them Silurians and this is the first time we see them. They are erroneously referred to as aliens quite often.
Welcome to Barry Letts as producer.
Episode 2 11:45
Dr Quinn: Gone off to that cottage of his has he?
Episode 6 21:00
Silurian: Then we shall penetrate from here.
Woman in a Head Scarf
And thank you to Nancie Jackson who played Doris Squire modelling a lilac tartan number. A wonderful part this. Wear your head scarf, see a monster, scream and get questioned about your experience by the Doctor.
‘Stop, don’t kill him! He may be useful.’ That great ‘get out of gaol free’ card. Normally regretted by the villain of the story as saving the Doctor usually results in plans being foiled. In this case however, after the cliffhanger to episode 4 is resolved the result is thankfully less simplistic than the Doctor going on to destroy the Silurians.
‘Kill these humans! No. They will all stay here to die from the radiation.’ Well of course they won’t. They will escape and be around to dispatch you all the next time you wake up to pay a visit.
‘Ah yes, your mysterious Doctor!’ says Dr Lawrence to the Brigadier. It is a trope already used in the bases under siege that a really important scientist, base leader or, in the Pertwee years, usually a civil servant, Dr Lawrence is the head of the medical centre which is a base under siege and he is clearly as bonkers as all the leaders of bases under siege before him. Of course he completely underestimates the Doctor. Unfortunately he dies of the plague before he gets to see the error of his ways.
Catchphrase Error of the Week.
Lawrence to the Brigadier in Episode 6: ‘You can clear out the lot of you, and take that crazy Doctor with you!’
Everyone knows it’s ‘Get out and take that dog with you!’
Enlightening Dialogue of the Week
Doctor: He’s just frightened that’s all.
Liz: What made him like this?
Doctor: Some kind of fear.
The 500 Year Diary
16th November 1972 am
Well, the Brigadier is good on his word. I have an old vintage car – bright yellow – but it needs a bit of work. Have decided to call the old thing, Bessie. Liz doesn’t seem impressed and thinks I can’t get it to work particularly as I appear to have missed out an iron ring. Not sure where that came from. Oh well. The number plate’s rather distinctive – WHO 1!
Liz tells me we’re summoned to Wenley Moor by the Brigadier. Rather work on the car really and I don’t take orders! However there are some interesting caves there and could give Bessie a test run. And it starts first time. On my touch as well!
There’s something wrong at Wenley Moor. They have a huge cyclotron converting nuclear energy into electric power which keeps going wrong and there’s also odd things occurring with the staff –even Liz felt a bit ill in the control room. The security officer, Major Baker, thinks it’s a saboteur – some pages have been ripped out of a log book. The director, Dr Lawrence, doesn’t even want us there. Anyway, if it doesn’t get sorted it could create a massive nuclear explosion! It nearly happened – one of the men went mad and attacked Miss Dawson – luckily I was there to help stabilize the nuclear reactions.
Take a visit to the medical centre where an attacked potholer has gone a bit mad and drawing on the wall of strange creatures. His fellow potholer was killed – giant claw marks were found on him. Need to investigate so I go into the caves only to be confronted by a massive dinosaur!
16th November 1972 pm
The dinosaur is called off by a strange noise. The Brigadier sends his men down and Major Baker is injured by someone or something in the caves. He managed to get a shot at it. We examine some bloods – reptilian.
It appears this thing has escaped into the outside as it attacked and killed a farmer in the barn that Liz is working in!
16th November 1972 eve
Happily no lasting damage to Liz. Just a bit shocked. The creature is bipedal reptile it seems. Whilst at the barn, Dr Quinn turns up behaving very oddly. Says he’s on his way to the centre, but it’s miles out of his way.
The Brigadier has put a search out for the creature. Eventually we find footprints alongside tyre marks. Quinn?
I go and see Quinn at his cottage. Again he is guarded and wants me out the way. The thermostat is up rather high. I suspect he’s got the creature in there and he won’t listen to me. Back at the centre, after rooting through his office, nearly manage to get Miss Dawson to talk to us until the Brigadier ruins it.
I go back to the cottage. Quinn is dead, but he’s holding a device in his hand. I turn it on. It makes a noise – in bursts the creature!
17th November 1972 am
The creature runs away before I can talk to it. A Silurian. The name catches on as everyone starts using it!
Major Baker foolishly escapes sickbay and makes for the Silurian base. He is captured and Liz and I find him locked up. We manage to get out unnoticed, but we see they are reviving other Silurians.
I need to try and broker a peace between the two races rather than face an all-out war. I try to convince Masters, the Permanent Under-Secretary, but as soon as Miss Dawson arrives with news that Quinn has been killed, it gives the Brigadier the excuse he needs for his armed expedition.
I go into the caves and try and reason with the leader who agrees with what I am saying. There are plenty of places on Earth where man cannot exist. However, a younger Silurian wants me destroyed and starts flashing his third eye at me. The pain!
17th November 1972 am
Luckily I’m saved by the older Silurian. He explains that they occupied the Earth many years ago, but hibernated on the approach of the moon. Their hibernation mechanism malfunctioned and were only reawakened by the nuclear reactor.
He releases the UNIT troops that were trapped in the caves, but at the same time the younger Silurian infects Baker with a deadly virus and lets him go. The older Silurian gives me a canister of the virus so I can find a cure.
Baker collapses from the virus, but is taken to the hospital. The Brigadier and I find him outside – dead. The first one.
17th November 1972 pm
Spent most of the afternoon trying to find a cure. Liz suggests adding A37 in the presence of Z19. She starts to come over all dizzy. I suppose it’s the pressure as well. She’s fielding all these calls. Apparently Masters left the centre and could infect London and beyond. All these doctors want the antidote. I can’t remember their names. Doctor who? And the Silurians continue to cause problems.
Eureka! Just as I find the formula. I hear noises behind me? Kazoos perhaps. Next thing two Silurians have burst through and attack me. More pain!
17th November 1972 eve
The Silurians capture me and I tell them that their plan to kill the humans with the virus has failed. They have a back-up plan which will involve destroying the Van Allen belt, thus causing the death of all mankind. I say that I will help them connect their device to the nuclear reactor, but I overload it and force them back into hibernation. Good plan, except I actually have overloaded the reactor!
Happily, I am able to fix it. The young leader was rather quick to accept defeat and my word for it. We have a final confrontation in the caves and the Brigadier kills him before he kills me.
I firmly believe these Silurians have a lot to offer us in terms of science and I’m sure they can live in peace with the humans, if we revive them one at a time. As Liz and I drive off in Bessie – which breaks down – we see that the Brigadier has exploded the Silurian base. Genocide. Unbelievable. Such a waste. Maybe there are other bases?
Drive back to London. I’m stuck on this planet with the Brigadier blowing everything in sight up.
Five Word Lords
A moral conundrum, wonderfully Hulke.