A serial that (AFAIK) I’ve never seen before. If I have, it’s been so long ago that I have no recollection. I don’t even know what it is about. I’m excited!

Episode 1:

 A man in a spacecraft/shuttle communicates with mission control, adjusting his course towards Mars Probe 7. Apparently there are men believed to be on the probe, which is returning from Mars, though whether they’re alive or not is unknown – there’s been no contact for seven months.

 (Differently from previous serials, this happens after the series intro sequence, with Pertwee’s face, etc, but then the episode title, with a burst of the series theme music and the tunnel effect happens now.)

 In mission control, a scientist (well, he’s wearing a white lab coat, so he must be one, right?) approachs the man that the astronaut (Charlie) has been communicating with. Again, talk about the possibility of the probe being occupied with dead men is brought up.

 Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who is standing next to the mission control man, asks him what they’re going to tell the public. Then we see a television (or radio, perhaps) announce in an adjacent room, talking to his audience, “In a few minutes we shall know the answer to the question that has been occupying the minds of everyone here at Space Control since Mars Probe 7 took off seven months ago.” 

 It’s a tv announcer, as we then see him talking on a tv as The Doctor turns down the volume. In his lab, we see The Doctor has brought the TARDIS console out of the ship, presumably to work on it easier? Liz asks what he’s doing and he says he’s trying to repair the time vector generator. He warns her where she’s standing, she could be sent into the future, and with a whoosh, she vanishes. He is startled, moves over to where she was, and he, too, disappears.

 She appears, walks to another side, and disappears. He appears, then fiddles, and she re-appears. She seems to have some difficulty understanding or believing. Before they can go any further in their discussion, The Doctor notices the Brig on the tv, and they turn on the volume. (There is a snarky comment by The Doctor about the Brig needing something to do now that he’s “blown up the Silurians”, so it’s good to see that The Doctor is still upset over that.)

 The astronaut’s craft is in the process of linking up to the Mars Probe. Charlie confirms that it is Mars Probe 7 (a confirmation the Brig demanded to know, much to the startlement of the mission control man.) Charlie’s ship is “Recovery 7”. After no response from Mars Probe 7, Charlie links up the two craft. 

 The Doctor watches, fascinated, from his lab.

 As Charlie links up with the Probe, he hears sounds of the crew on the other side of the hatch. He passes into the tunnel and we hear a loud sound (that assaults the ears of the men in mission control) and Charlie’s face contorts in horror and pain. When it ends, they cannot raise Charlie on the radio.

 The Doctor, in his lab, watches the tv in shock. He says he knows that sound, he’s heard it before, but he can’t remember. He and Liz leave for the Space Center.

 (AHAH! I knew the mission control man, who’s yet to be named, looked familiar. He’s played by Ronald Allen, who played Dominator Rago in THE DOMINATORS – he was the lead Dominator, the one who had to deal with the destruction-happy Probationer Toba.)

 The techs at Space Control work to reestablish contact and/or figure out what is going on. The TV man interrogates the lab coated guy, who gets huffy and storms off. The Doctor arrives, yelling about not believing in passes, but the Brig vouches for he and Liz (how they got that far doesn’t quite make sense, but hey.)

 The Doctor insists that the sound is a message and it’s going to be repeated. The mission control (former Dominator) dude is not impressed by The Doctor and insists the Brig have “one of his associates” escorted out. But then the sound repeats and the guy is a bit more open to The Doctor’s assertions.

 Okay, the former Dominator Rago has a name – Professor Cornish. He and The Doctor butt heads and the Brig interjects himself, trying to get them to settle down and work together. He manages to get The Doctor to key down his arrogant lecturing, which does work.

 A third transmission is heard; The Doctor says that was a reply and was not from the capsule. They start working on trying to triangulate where the reply came from, hoping that a second reply is sent. One is and using triangulation narrows in on London – they narrow it down to an abandoned warehouse.

 We see several men in the warehouse, running the message again. Outside, jeeps with UNIT men, led by the Brig arrive and the soldiers rush out. The men inside are alerted to the arrival of UNIT and men move to intercept them. A firefight begins as UNIT arrives.

 The men inside send “the final transmission”. The fight becomes total chaos, men running about, firing wildly. Hand to hand combat and gun play all at the same time. One of the men gets the drop on the Brig, could have killed him easily, but surrenders. UNIT seems to have won the battle, though it seems the men were more interested in delaying UNIT more than anything else.

 The men with the transmission equipment set a self destruct which destroys it as the UNIT men gain access to the room.

 The Doctor is having trouble with the scientist dude over computer access and goes to Professor Cornish. Cornish contacts the scientist (Prof Taltalian) and orders him to give The Doctor complete cooperation.

 Athens observatory reports a solar flare in the next twenty-four hours; the men on the Probe/Recovery would not survive exposure to the radiation. Cornish attempts (again) to contact them, giving them the message.

 We hear Cornish’s communication playing in one of the ships; the camera pans out to show an empty console on Recovery 7.

 The Doctor and Liz hurry down to the computer room, but Taltalian pulls out a gun on them… and the credits roll.

 Interesting start, looks like we have an alien menace, maybe, with humans working with them? Me likey so far.

Episode 2:

 Taltalian demands The Doctor hand over the recording of the message(s) that the time lord is holding. The Doctor offers the tape, but it disappears from his hand. The Brig walks in, but the scientist takes Liz hostage, only long enough to get out of the room, then he shoves her at them. The Brig gives chase, and The Doctor has the tape re-appear in his hand. (Liz thought he sent it into the future, but he says it was “transmigration of object”, something different.)

 Liz puts the tape in an analogue-digital converter while The Doctor and the Brig go to talk to the prisoner they took at the warehouse, the one who could have shot the Brig. They found no personal ID on the man and all his clothing have had the labels removed. The interrogation gets nothing other than that the man is a Sergeant.

 The tv man reports that the two capsules have seperated, and they’re getting further from each other. Recovery 7 i is orbiting Earth, readying for re-entry. The Doctor goes to check on Liz’s progress with decoding, while the Brig prepares to run a security check on the Sergeant they have prisoner.

 As a soldier brings in tea to said Sergeant, he is attacked.

 The Doctor, Liz and Taltalian’s assistant look over the results, each positing why they’re coming up with nonsense. Liz runs a test on the machine, The Doctor telling her to feed it a simple math equation. It comes back with 2+2=5. It’s obvious Taltalian sabotaged it. (Though, The Doctor does make a snarky comment about never trusting those things, so it seems he still holds some of the Second Doctor’s dislike of computers.)

 Recovery 7 is beginning re-entry. The Doctor and Brig have joined Prof Cornish in the control room. It is in range of remote control and they attempt to take over guidance. After several attempts, the achieve the contact needed. The TV man reports as if it is believed the three astronauts (Charlie from the Recovery, the two men from the Mars Probe) are on board.

 Recovery 7 is brought down successfully. A truck rushes out to where it is, The Doctor, Cornish and the Brig leading the approach. Cornish connects a mic to a port on the outside and speaks to the craft. He tells them they are safe and landed and gives instruction to open the hatch.

 In the nearby woods, men watch via binoculars.

 Cornish gets no reply and fears they’re unconscious. They can’t open it from the outside – either the mechanism is jammed or it has been locked from the inside. They can’t cut it open, it’d be too dangerous to the crew. The Brig gets on the radio to UNIT Control to order a clear route from there to the Space Center. The men in the woods, who were the men who escaped the warehouse, listen in on the transmission.

 The capsule is placed on a lorry and hauled off. The Doctor follows in Bessie, but she stalls out and he is left behind. The truck (with the Brig in the cab) rolls on, accompanied by motorcycle patrol (which doesn’t strike me as a particularly secure arrangement.)

 The Doctor gets Bessie up and running.

 Ahead, on the road, a helicopter buzzes the motorcade. The men in the copter have gas masks or some such on. They drop cannisters that explode, creating a smokescreen (or perhaps it’s gas – if it’s just a smoke screen, I’d think the copter would be a bad choice.) The men exit and engage in a firefight with the UNIT forces, though the men have some sort of gas or air pressure weapons – they have cannisters on their backs and thick tubed guns connected to the via tubes. The fight goes on but the men take the truck.

 The Doctor rolls along, coming across the truck as it is heading in the wrong direction. He parks Bessie in the middle of the road and pretends it is broken down. He tells them they’ll have to help move the car and they get out to push her out of the way. As they push, he activates a switched marked “anti-theft device, which makes it impossible for them to remove their hands.

 Back at Space Control, the Brig reports they lost the capsule and The Doctor has gone missing. He and Cornish walk down to where the capsule is; The Doctor informs the Brig that he recovered it and brought it there.

 Liz calls to report she’s on to something and The Doctor goes to see her. It seems the code is pictographic. Dobson, the assistant, calls someone to report that “they’ve started to crack the code”.

 The Doctor and the Brig meet with “the top man”, Sir James Quinlan, who is very dismissive about their concerns over Taltalian and the possibility of others involved.

 After they leave Sir James’ office, Taltalian comes in and Sir James tells him to take a seat. He’s obviously part of the conspiracy, which explains much.

 Back at the capsule, they continue to try to contact inside Recovery 7. After the Brig repeats his feelings they should cut it open, Cornish says he has men with thermal lances waiting and steps away, presumably to call for them. As he does, Liz says she’s got a response on the machine, and he stops.

 Taltalian and Sir James talk about the capsule, wondering how UNIT got it. Sir James says UNIT has quite a surprise.

 Charlie’s voice comes on the communicator, asking permission for re-entry. Cornish gets on the mic, saying they’re at Space Control. Charlie’s response is “we’re not cleared for re-entry.” The voice then repeats the same sequence of responses. The Doctor grabs the mic, asking questions about Australia and beans, but the voice just repeats the same sequence.

 The Doctor turns to Cornish, “Right, cut it open!”… and the credits roll.

Episode 3:

 They cut open the capsule, to discover that it is empty. A tape recording is connected to the communications system. It comes up that earlier (off camera), several men showed up and sent away Liz and Cornish for a security sweep of the area. The Brig didn’t order this, of course, and it seems that is when the astronauts were removed.

 Liz discovers that the interior is radioactive and says that if anyone was in there, “they’re as good as dead”.

 We see three astronauts, fully suited, laying in a chamber. One of the men behind raid on the capsule is dressed in military uniform and gazes at them from outside the chamber. Technicians attend to computers; one of them says they should be dead. When they tried to remove their helmets, the astronauts resisted. The military man, General Carrington, scolds them for trying to remove their protective gear.

 The General tells the scientists to increase the radiation, that the men need it now. The scientists resist.

 The Doctor, Liz and Brig meet with Sir James again. They report to Sir James that the authorisation of the Army was proper and demand to know the truth. He says he’s going to introduce them to the man who can explain things. He summons in General Carrington, head of the newly formed Space Security. Liz recognises him as an astronaut from Mars Probe 6 (ahah, now things start to make a little sense.)

 Carrington says that the Mars Probe passed through unknown radiation and that was the reason of the coded transmissions; UNIT, being an international organisation, wasn’t exactly trusted, which is why the Brig was kept out of the loop. The General says that the radiation is “self-sustaining and highly contagious”.

 The Doctor demands the right to see the astronauts. Carrington is reluctant, but Sir James says it can’t do any harm.

 We see the usual group of thugs escorting the astronauts from the lab, holding the scientists at bay with guns. They shoot the scientists as they leave. As the bus leaves with them in one direction, The Doctor, Liz, the Brig and Carrington arrive in Bessie from the other.

 They enter and find the dead scientists. The Brig calls in to UNIT, as Liz and The Doctor investigate the print outs, discovering the high radiation count; Liz says the men couldn’t possibly have survived.

 The van drives out to a quarry, where two of the thugs (who were made to ride in the back with the astronauts) are dumped – the driver has a radiation suit on. The two bodies and their guns and some paper are deposited there. The van leaves and then the driver activates a switch that changes the license plate as well as the business marked on the side of the van.

 The Doctor and Liz review the information, discussing that that much radiation would destroy human bodies. As the Brig and Carrington discuss who was privy to the location of the lab, The Doctor comes over to say that the astronauts must still be in orbit – whatever came down in those space suits is not human.

 The astronauts (or the space suited aliens, or whatever) are seen lying in another chamber, attended to by other technicians. Doctor Lennox is very upset that the men aren’t in a hospital. The driver who brought them there tells him to attend to them.

 Cornish and The Doctor discuss sending another recovery capsule up, but when Cornish calls Sir James, the politico says there isn’t enough evidence, but Cornish threatens to call a press conference if he doesn’t support them. Carrington is listening in and after the call, the general says that they cannot send a second recovery capsule up.

 One of the astronauts is up and about and collapses, and Lennox is trying to get in there, but the driver stops him. They argue, and Lennox talks the driver into going in to help him. The ‘astronaut’ attacks the driver then exits the chamber and pursues Lennox, who tries to escape. Just as the astronaut is about to get Lennox, the astronaut collapses. The driver recovers and they get the astronaut back. A call comes in, telling them to give the astronauts more radiation.

 Cornish is having trouble getting things put together for another recovery mission. He feels it’s because of Quinlan, but cannot prove it.

 The Brig receives a call about two bodies in a gravel pit that died from radiation.

 The driver gets orders to take care of Liz and The Doctor; he shows Lennox their photos and Lennox says he met Liz once.

 Taking Bessie, Liz goes to the gravel pit, summoned by a message from the Brig. She’s being followed. The Brig arrives back at the capsule and The Doctor explains where Liz went to; it’s obviously a trap, and the Brig goes off to find Liz. Liz tries to evade her pursuers, even ditching Bessie and running on foot. While crossing over water, the men catch up with her and she is flung over the rail… and the credits roll.

Episode 4:

 The men keep Liz from going into the water and take her to where the ‘astronauts’ are. She recognises Lennox and is told that she’s there to assist him.

 Carrington tries to jam up The Doctor and the Brig’s attempts to find Liz, to determine who is responsible for all the interferences. Taltalian is back at Space Control and isn’t being much help to Cornish, who is still trying to set up a second recovery launch.

 While in the computer room, The Doctor receives a call with a message for him to stop interfering or they’ll kill Liz. He goes back to work, as if he didn’t get the call, much to Taltalian’s surprise.

 Lennox helps Liz escape, “dropping” his key to the exit and suggesting that they’ll find him locked in the astronauts’ chamber.

 The Doctor has determined that the impulses are instructions to build some sort of device; the only way to determine what the device is for is to build it.

 Liz runs (of course she does, it’s Doctor Who) to the nearest road, to some incongruous music. She is picked up by Taltalian, who brings her back to where she was being held.

 Taltalian has brought the codes to Reegan (the man overseeing the people with the ‘astronauts’) and explains that The Doctor needs to be taken out – he’s getting too close. Reegan gives Taltalian a briefcase bomb, telling him he’s set it for fifteen minutes (does so in front of him, but then changes it to a shorter time behind his back.)

 The Doctor volunteers to be the pilot for Cornish’s recovery rocket. Taltalian returns, and after Cornish leaves, the two men talk. Taltalian activates the briefcase and it explodes in his face.

 With Liz’s help, they have set up one of the devices to send the commands to the aliens.

 The Doctor lived through the explosion with minor injuries (he has a bandage on his face) – he was on the far side of the room. While cleaning up, The Doctor finds one of the devices he’s trying to build.

 Carrington and Sir James discuss telling The Doctor the truth. They discuss stopping the rocket.

 “If that rocket goes up, it means disaster for the entire world.” – Carrington

 Reegan is on the phone with his superior, someone he calls “Sir”. He’s given orders to take the aliens out on “a little excursion”. He asks Liz if he could use it to receive communication from them, but she says no, though she posits there could be a machine that could do that.

 One of the aliens approaches a security gate. The guard opens fire, though it has no effect. The alien sends a shock through the gate into the man, taking him out. It enters the facility and attacks some technicians working there – it seems to have some form of energized (radioactive?) touch. Another guard opens fire, but he, too, is killed.

 The Doctor has the other half to Reegan’s machine, the one that receives radio signals and turns them into human speech. He receives a call to report to Sir James’ office, to learn “the whole truth”, and the Brig says he’s coming along.

 Meanwhile, Sir James is attacked by one of the astronauts. It opens his safe and destroys whatever is kept in there. The Doctor walks in, unaware that the alien is there, and moves to check on Sir James. As he has his head to Sir James’ chest, checking for a heartbeat, the alien comes up behind him, menacingly reaching out with its hand… and the credits roll.