Another Loose Cannon reconstruction, this reconstruction is different from the others, as there were virtually no photos, publicity or otherwise, left over, no footage to speak of. It’s introduced by Steven Purves, who played companion Steven Taylor, and from him we learn that this, like others in this time, had originally been written for Ian and Barbara, and many of Steven’s lines were written for Barbara. (Now I’m wondering why Ian/Barbara left when they did – was it the actors wanting out, was it a high level decision forced on the producers? Does anyone know if there’s any books about behind the scenes of the early days of the show?)

 Purves tells us that this reconstruction was made with snippets and photos from other serials, and apparently some reenactments by the LC crew. Interesting…

 And so begins the first serial of the third series (as they call them across the pond, they’re not seasons) of Doctor Who…

 E1 “Four Hundred Dawns”

 The TARDIS materialises, and we see inside. Steven is seated, Vicki is cutting his hair. The Doctor activates the scanner and we see a sea? They note no signs of life.

 Steven wants to go for a swim, but The Doctor warns them they must be on their guard. They argue. Outside, we see a robot moving around the TARDIS, apparently investigating by physical contact, and the passengers note the noise… then see the robot on the scanner.

 After the robot departs, they exit the TARDIS to discover there are three suns in the sky. The robot (which Vicki has nicknamed a Chumbley) is still there and had a gun pointed at them. Steven goes for a rock, but when they make noise, it reacts to them. The Doctor postulates that it’s blind. It nudges them, as if herding them.

 In a display of threat, the Chumbley sets a nearby brush on fire and they agree to do what it wants. It herds them in the direction it wants. Two alien women watch as the Chumbley herds the travelers, and as the Chumbley grows near, they grab a mesh net and ensnare the Chumbley – the metal net interferes with the robot’s command signals and it goes dormant.

 They are the Drahvins, from the planet Drahva in Galaxy 4. They order our heroes to accompany them to their leader, Maaga, before more machines come to recapture them and take them to the Rill. As The Doctor agrees that they should go, a group of Chumblies approach. The Drahvin try to recover their net, but they must rush off instead. 

 The Chumblies give chase, so this is the running scene. In what must be some of the rare video to survive, we see an out of breath Doctor and the others arrive at a landed spacecraft, and they go inside. Maaga explains the Drahvins are at war with the Rill and also that the planet is dying.

 The Drahvins came 400 dawns ago, looking for a world to colonise. This planet (as yet unnamed) has no native life – the Rill are from another world, also. The Drahvin society is female-dominated, some men are kept alive, the rest are killed. Maaga is a natural-born Drahvin, the others with her are clones.

 The Rill and Drahvin ships fought above the planet and both crash-landed. The Drahvin ship is disabled and cannot fly. Maaga wants to capture the Rill ship to escape.

 Maaga orders the radio receivers to be turned off so a Chumbly that has approached cannot send any messages – she claims they are lies that would do her soldiers no good.

 It seems that Maaga is extremely paranoid. The Doctor and Steven leave to return to the TARDIS, in hopes of determining if the planet truly is going to disintegrate. Maaga insists that someone stay behind and Vicki volunteered. 

 Back at the TARDIS, Chumblies are attempting to get inside. The Chumblies give up and leave and Steven and The Doctor enter. The Doctor accesses his astral map (last seen in The Web Planet) and confirms that the planet is dying but there are only two dawns left and credits roll.

 While I certainly appreciate the labour of love that Loose Cannon does, this reconstruction is somewhat difficult to properly enjoy – the recording suffers from many skips and jumps and the audio of course is hardly the highest quality.

 That being said, so far it’s an interesting enough story.  Unfortunately, I cannot say it maintains that all the way through.  

E2 “Trap of Steel”

 Outside, they see a Chumbly has returned with some device it places just outside the TARDIS doors – it’s a bomb, which it detonates. Steven and The Doctor are knocked down by the explosion, but a second explosion sends them down again.

 The Doctor celebrates the failure of the Chumbly as it goes off, but they quickly head out to recover Vicki.

 Vicki is surly and sulky, refusing to eat when offered leaves. They’ve been gone two hours and she’s stressed. Maaga refuses to let her go and look for them, but promises to go in a while if they still haven’t returned.

 The Doctor and Steven return and comment on the Drahvin spaceship’s inferior quality. They go inside and Vicki is releived. The Doctor razzes on the poor quality of her ship, and Maaga is not pleased. He reveals that the planet will explode, but doesn’t tell Maaga the truth – and claims that the timeframe the Rill have given her is accurate. Steven, surprisingly, doesn’t say anything.

 Maaga wants help capturing the Rill ship, but The Doctor refuses because she wants to leave the Rill behind to die. He claims he never kills anything. They refuse to help, and Maaga draws a gun. There’s a struggle between her and Steven, but the clones show up and all is lost.

 Maaga is suspicious of The Doctor’s truthfulness and manages to get out that it is only two dawns away.

 Steven is kept behind while The Doctor and Vicki are sent to capture the Rill ship on their own. The Doctor and Vicki talk as they travel, speculating that if the Rill were as evil as Maaga made out, they could have destroyed the Drahvins by now.

 Steven complains about the leaves that the clones eat. He finds out that Maaga eats other food and has a more powerful gun than the clones do. Maaga comes in and yells at the clone for talking to Steven, and then tries to get him to pilot the TARDIS.

 One of the clones asks Maaga why they don’t kill Steven now; she replies she will kill him when she is good and ready.

 Vicki and The Doctor follow a Chumbly, after Vicki determines it cannot sense sounds behind it. Apparently, it’s another running scene – it is Doctor Who, after all. They make their way to the Rill ship. The Doctor is impressed by the advanced technology of the Rill ship, especially in comparison to the Drahvin. They comment on the scent of ammonia.

 They poke around, until a monstrous creature appears and Vicki screams and the credits roll.

E3 “Air Lock”

 A Chumbly arrives, brought by Vicki’s scream, and they run. A door drops down and keeps them from escaping.

 “I can’t move it – it’s immovable.” – The Doctor. Wow, that’s great writing there.

 The Chumbly escorts Vicki, while The Doctor works on an air converter – the Rill breath ammonia, apparently, and cannot leave the ship.

 The Drahvin clones are used to patrolling and argue when Maaga says they cannot go out. She has a soliloquy about how she is the only intelligent one, and then talks to the clones, trying to explain why they will not go on patrol. We learn that the Drahvin do not understand compassion for friends. She changes her mind and sends several on patrol to check up on The Doctor and Vicki’s progress, refering to them at the Earth-creatures (though I don’t recall that coming up during discussions. More bad writing or I just missed it.)

 Vicki is brought back to where she spotted the Rill. The Chumbly with her uses her voice to learn how to speak and communicates with her, apologising for separating her from The Doctor. The Rill is at the window again, and using the Chumbly to speak to her. She explains what is going on. The Rill confirms that they have offered to help the Drahvin leave.

 The Rill explanation of the encounter in space is quite different than Maaga’s recanting. The Drahvins fired first, after both ships waited four dawns, and when the Rill ship turned to leave, she fired. After the ships crashed, the Rill came to help the Drahvin, but Maaga attacked. She killed her own wounded soldier, and blamed the Rill.

 Vicki discovers that the Rill need amoniac gas to live and demands she be allowed to go to stop him from harming them.

 Steven is pretending to sleep while being watched. The clone guarding him drifts off to sleep and he escapes, despite Maaga’s attempt to stop him. A Chumbly is outside, and Steven reenters the ship.

 Vicki arrives in time to stop The Doctor from killing the Rill. The Doctor speaks with the Rill and makes plans to help them.

 Back at the ship, Steven is trapped in the airlock; inside, the Drahvin wait, with guns, outside the Chumbly, which he doesn’t realise is an ally. Maaga makes ready to empty the airlock of air. The Doctor and Vicki rush off to help him, when the Chumbly outside the Drahvin ship reports back to them that he is calling out in distress.

 They hurry back to the Drahvin ship, so maybe a third running scene? That’s a lot, even for Doctor Who!

 The Drahvin on patrol stops The Doctor and Vicki and their Chumblies companions. They stop to argue with her; I thought Steven was in dire need. Anyhow, the clone tries to shoot a Chumbly (but their weapons are not good enough) and they disarm her.

 Steven is suffocating; he decides to go outside, but cannot as the door is now locked from the pressure change.

 “You must surrender… or die!” Maaga tells him, and the credits roll.

E4 “The Exploding Planet”

 The Doctor and Vicki arrive in time to save Steven. Maaga sends the clones after them with orders to kill. The Rill, speaking through the Chumbly orders Maaga to stand down and return to their ship, and they obey, for fear of the Rill weaponry.

 The Doctor makes preparations to transfer power from the TARDIS to the Rill ship, so they might be able to take off before planet death, which The Doctor estimates to be in six hours.

 The Drahvin have escaped and taken out the Chumbly guarding them and make plans to attack the Rill ship. The Doctor and Vicki reunited with Steven at the Rill ship. Steven is frantic, but nobody else seems to worry about the Drahvin. A Drahvin shows up but is neutralised by the Chumbly with them.

 The Doctor and his companions finally see the Rill, fully, and are not horrified. They leave as the ammoniac gas seems to be leaking out.

 The Drahvins are holed up in battle with the Chumblies. There is an hour of charging left and about 90 minutes before planet death.

 The ship is charged enough to launch into space, where it can use the suns to recharge. The Rill leaves a Chumbly to escort them back to the TARDIS, and they say their farewells.

 The Rill ship launches, and the Drahvins pursue the “Earth people”. Steven calls The Doctor “Doc” and doesn’t get chastised. Just in time, the travelers make it back to the TARDIS and dematerialise, leaving the Drahvins behind to die as the planet begins to explode.

 Inside, Vicki complains of a hurt ankle. The Doctor says they’ll have to put a cold compress on it. The Doctor muses he wishes they could stop and rest instead of being in danger all the time.

 They see a planet on the scanner, and they wonder what is going on there. We zoom in on the planet, and see a video of a jungle, with many animal sounds. We see two men, seemingly spacefarers. One is laying down/unconscious/dead, the other on his hands and knees. He says, “I remember now. I must kill… I must kill…” and the final credits roll.

 I’m not sure I saw the point in this story. Socio-political commentary? The failings of aggression/paranoia versus enlightened acceptance? If so, I think it wasn’t very good at showing that. All in all, a weaker story, not as bad as some, but not one I care to see again.

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