Another six parter, split into two days. Don’t know the first thing about this one.

Episode 1:

We open in a misty fen, brambles and the like. A ragged looking man, long, unkempt hair is running, panting, terrified. He is being pursued by a man in a military or police uniform, though not one of the present day Earth, to be sure. He chases after the man, calling for others to follow. Calling the raggedy man “Mutt,” he chases, his gas mask falling off. Other men, dressed in the same uniforms, follow, picking up the Marshal’s mask.

From the two men talking, this is the planet Solos.

The men catch up with the Marshal, who has found the dead body of “Mutt”. The Marshal orders the men to call in the report, and one of them, Stubbs, calls in the report to Skybase about the mutant native alert – mutant tracked and found dead on arrival – “cause unknown”.

The Doctor and Jo are in his lab, where he is working on a “superdrive” for Bessie, when a spherical object appears on his table. He says it’s from the Time Lords, it’s an assignment, that it’s meant for someone, not him, he’s just the messenger.

Jo argues with The Doctor when he says she’s not coming along, as the TARDIS seems to be waiting for him to enter with the “message”, but she runs in after him and the TARDIS dematerialises.

It arrives inside a building and they exit. They look out a window and see that they’re in planetary orbit. A voice comes over a PA, identifying the station they’re on as “Skybase One”.

In another part of Skybase One, we see a group of men in cloaks and leather armor greeting each other. The men start arguing about the mutants and the hunting of them. One of them, Ky, opposes the rules set by the Overlords (those who operate the Skybase).

Ky and one of the other natives, Varan, almost come to blows, but the Overlords break them up. Varan is told that the Marshal wishes to speak to him, as the others are sent for cleaning up.

While Varan goes in to speak to the Marshal, one of the Overlords notices Varan’s associate seems to be hiding his hand. He grabs the native’s arm, revealing a mutated hand, and starts crying out, “Mutt! Mutt!” but the native attacks him and renders him unconscious or incapacitated (or dead.)

Jo and The Doctor wait for their reception (having overheard talk of the visitors, meaning the natives) and she asks when they are – they’re in the 30th century, the height of the Earth Empire. He tells them they’re above the planet Solos. Finally tiring of waiting, he pulls out his sonic screwdrier and approaches the door.

Varan demands to know why Ky is there, part fo the conference. Varan tells him they have plans for Ky.

The Doctor and Jo depart the storage area they arrived in, grabbing the box. A voice comes over the PA about the door in that storage area malfunctioning. The two guards from the “mutt hunt” are playing chess (?) and hear the order to check on the door.

Varan and the Marshal seem in cahoots about something – Varan says his warriors will fight to the death. The Marshal gives him a pass. They talk of seeing some man, but not until afterwards. When Varan leaves, the Marshal calls him a fool under his breath.

The Doctor and Jo wander about the corridors, and a warrior (perhaps the mutt who attacked the Overlord guard, I’m not sure) sees them and chases after them. The Doctor forces another door so they can escape him and this causes another alert to be issued over the PA. This time, the two guards leave their game.

The mutt’s arm is stuck in the door, preventing it from being closed; The Doctor and Jo push the door, preventing him from pushing his way in after them, when Stubbs and Cotton show up. They order The Doctor away, the warrior enters and attacks the guards, but is shot dead. Stubbs calls in a report about dealing with the mutant and finding and detaining two non-personnel.

The Marshal receives a report that Varan’s bodyguard was a mutant, and orders for him to be brought to him. The Administrator (played by Geoffrey Palmer, who played Permanent Under Secretary Masters in DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS, and later will play The Captain in the David Tennant Christmas Special VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED) comes in, demanding to know why he wasn’t informed that Varan was there. The Administrator chastises the Marshal for the abhorrent security and informs them that Earth is pulling out from Solos, and this is news to the Marshal.

The Marshal (who is played by Paul Whitsun-Jones, who played The Squire in the William Hartnell serial THE SMUGGLERS) argues that if Earth’s empire is crumbling, why go back, why not stay? The problem of the atmosphere comes up and the Marshal denies that his experiments, trying to adjust the atmosphere (making it more hospitable to humans), have anything to do with the mutations amongst the natives. The two men argue, the Administrator saying that they have no choice but to give Solos back to the Solonians.

The Doctor and Jo, sitting in lock up, look out and see Solos in the light of the sun. Jo notes that it’s grey and misty and The Doctor tells her that Earth in the 30th century is even greyer – it’s all grey from being built over.

The Administrator comes in, followed by the Marshal, to question The Doctor and Jo on who they are, why they’re there. The Doctor tries to pass himself off as being from Earth Centre, but the Marshal says there have been no arrivals to Skybase in weeks.

The Doctor offers his box to the Administrator but it doesn’t open for him, nor the Marshal. The Marshal tries firing an energy gun on the sphere, to no avail. The Administrator is called off to meet with the Solonian delegates. The Doctor tries to get the Marshal to take the sphere to the conference, but he refuses and leaves them and the sphere under the watchful eye of Stubbs.

In the conference hall, the Solonian delegates gather. Varan and the Marshal confer about one of the natives by the door. Varan assures the Marshal that “he understands” the new instructions and is reliable. The man they speak of is Varan’s son and he stands up for him.

The Doctor and Jo escape from Stubbs, distracting him with talk of Solos’ independence and his family on Earth.

The Administrator addresses the native delegates in a televised conference. We learn the Overlords (Earthlings) have been there for five centuries. Ky is all but heckling the Adminstrator’s speech, but the man seems to give him leeway.

Ky finally stops chattering under the Administrator’s words, jumping up and ranting. The Administrator tries to get him to listen, but he’s too busy with his sound bites to stop.

Outside, The Doctor and Jo are trying to get in with the sphere, but Cotton, posted at the door, won’t let them in without seeing what’s inside the sphere.

The Marshal orders Ky to be arrested for his outburst and at that moment, Varan’s son fires a weapon, a dart hitting the Administrator. In the confusion, Ky leaves the room, pushing past The Doctor, but the sphere begins to open. Jo goes after Ky, but he takes her prisoner.

Guards fire their guns at Ky and Jo… and the credits roll.

Tight cliffhanger there, of course we know they’ll be fine, but still, having to wait a week? Must’ve sucked.

I like this story already – I love stories of Earth’s empire amongst the stars, especially crumbling empire stories. We have that, we have native unrest, corrupt official(s), plots amongst the natives, and the Time Lords sending The Doctor as their errand boy. This has all the makings of a great serial!

Episode 2:

Ky and Jo step into a transmat booth as the guards fire. The booth is empty, having just beamed them down to the Solos transmat station. Ky overpowers a guard and they exit into the Solos surface.

The Marshal explains to The Doctor that the surface of Solos is poisonous to Earthlings; he uses his position (now that the Administrator has been assassinated, under the martial law, the Marshal is the highest ranking man) to coerce The Doctor into opening the sphere.

Ky and Jo run through the brambles. Jo collapses, falling prey to the effect of the atmosphere.

The Marshal brings The Doctor to Skybase’s laboratory. The Doctor offends the Marshal by calling the equipment “adequate”, and comments how it all seems to be geared towards atmospheric regulation. As they talk, a man bursts in, demanding to know, “What the blazes is going on in here?” At seeing the Marshal, he becomes apologetic.

However, when The Doctor admits to turning off a circuit that was about to overload, Jaeger (the man) begins ranting about atmospheric regeneration, prompting the Marshal to try to shut him up.

The Marshal leaves Jaeger with instructions to assist The Doctor in trying to open the sphere, as he receives a report that Varan’s son has been brought to his office.

Ky carries Jo and sets her down. They’re pursued by three guards, who split up. Ky attacks one and steals his gas mask for Jo.

Varan’s son demands to know why he is a prisoner, when he was acting under the orders of the Marshal. The Marshal uses the same weapon that was used to kill the Administrator to kill Varan’s son. Varan comes in, to find his son dead, and draws his sword. The Marshal fires the weapon on Varan, but Varan escapes.

The Marshal issues an alert that Varan is a mutant and is to be killed on sight. He contacts Stubbs and Cotton, who are the other two of the group pursuing Ky and Jo (ah, the limited cast budget of the show rears its ugly head) and orders them back to Skybase.

The Doctor and Jaeger discuss the effects of altering the atmosphere on Solos (The Doctor worried about the native Solonians, though Jaeger obviously doesn’t care one bit) and then turn their attention to the sphere. Jaeger scoffs at The Doctor’s claims of being able to reverse the sphere, and when The Doctor attempts it, we briefly see something inside with runic writing before there’s a flash from the machinery.

Varan runs into the herbarium, pursued by the guards.

Ky brings Jo into a cave. He helps her recover from exposure to the gases and explains that the gases are only harmful to Earthlings during the day.

Jaeger is fascinated by the partial success The Doctor had with the sphere, almost as if he can’t believe what happened. The Marshal and Stubbs show up, looking for Varan and The Doctor is interested in going along, something about the mutations (they’re claiming Varan is a mutt). He asks if he can go along and Jaeger motions to the Marshal that he wants to speak with him privately, so the Marshal has Stubbs take The Doctor with him to hunt down Varan.

Jaeger tells the Marshal that The Doctor could get the atmospheric reversal process working in a week and they must keep him around to help them.

Stubbs and The Doctor enter the Herbarium and find Varan, but it’s obvious he’s no mutant.

The Marshal tells Cotton to find Jo and bring her back, and as far as The Doctor knows, Jo is on a hospital on Solos.

The Doctor tells Stubbs they must lie to the Marshal, tell him that Varan has been “dealt with”, and when they return to the Marshal’s office, Stubbs does exactly that. The Marshal tells The Doctor that Jo has been found but it will be a few days before he’ll be able to see her. In the meantime, the Marshal suggests The Doctor help Jaeger with altering the atmosphere.

The Doctor and Jaeger argue over the process of altering the atmosphere. Cotton arrives to tell Jaeger that the Marshal wants to see him immediately. When Jaeger leaves, Cotton reveals the truth to The Doctor about Jo.

The Doctor and Cotton hatch a plan to help The Doctor get to the transfer (transmat) station. It involves initiating a power failure. Stubbs finds Varan, still hiding in the Herbarium, and tells him to wait until the power failure and then head to the transmat station. (I like transmat, why they’re not using that term for this serial, I don’t know, but I’m sticking with it.)

Jaeger and The Doctor run an experiment to try particle reversal, potentially as a method to alter the atmosphere. In reality, this is The Doctor’s way to cause the power failure; the resulting feedback knocks out Jaeger and The Doctor slips out.

As the alarms go off, Varan slips out, heading to the transmat. He finds The Doctor and grabs him, snarling, “Die, Overlord, Die,” holding his knife to The Doctor’s throat… and the credits roll.

Again, an excellent cliffhanger!


Episode 3:

The Doctor and Varan struggle; The Doctor uses his Venusian Karate to best the warrior and then gets Varan to swear to help him find Ky. They exit the transmat station on Solos, though Varan is surprised that The Doctor says he’s not an Earthman and need not worry about the daytime gases.

A firestorm is happening on Solos; The Doctor and Varan discuss it, the latter believing it to be “the wrath of the gods”. Elsewhere, in their cave, Jo and Ky watch the firestorm and Ky explains it is a side effect of the Marshal’s experiments on the atmosphere. In the flashing light, a strange humanoid creature is seen and it fightens Jo. Ky explains it’s one of his people and is harmless, though it then gets close and threatens them, forcing Ky to chase it off with a firey brand. They go deeper into the cave where it will be safer.

However, once they go deeper, they find more of the creatures. Ky hides Jo in a crevasse in the cave wall and then goes to chase them off with the fire.

The Marshal chastises Jaeger for falling for The Doctor’s trick and tells him to proceed with the rocket plan he had originally designed. Jaeger tries to protest but the Marshal won’t hear of it.

Stubbs and Cotton are ordered to the Marshal’s office; they fear that he is on to them. The Marshal chastises (he does that a lot) them and then tells them he’s sending them to Solos one last time, to take care of “mutts, Varan and The Doctor”.

Varan and The Doctor find Ky and Jo’s fire in the cave. One of the creatures appears but runs off. Varan says the creatures are “evil, diseased” and will go no further in the cave, but The Doctor challenges his manhood and they go onward.

Ky is surrounded by the creatures. Things look bad. Jo gasps and eeks from her hiding spot until a creature comes close and she runs off, getting lost.

Ky tries to reason with his people, but they don’t seem to know him or understand his words. As his brand loses its fire, the creatures gather close around him, but The Doctor and Varan show up to help Ky.

Jo finds a psychedelic area of the cave where she stands and looks bewildered (she does that a lot) and there’s funky music/sounds and she sees a vaguely humanoid form that approaches and seems to be a man in a space suit or perhaps a radiation/hazmat suit.

The Doctor introduces himself to Ky. He asks where Jo is and Ky says he hid her. He asks why The Doctor came and the Time Lord replies to find Jo and to give Ky the sphere. He does so and it begins to open. Inside are tablets, very disappointing to the Solonians.

Ky says the language on the tablets is that of the old ones. He says that nobody knows the old language. Varan storms off as the sphere closes itself. Ky leads The Doctor to where he left Jo. As they walk, they talk of a man named Sondergaard, a Earthman of great learning. Ky says he knew of the old langauge, but he disappeared. Ky says the Marshal was behind it.

The Marshal outlines a plan for the guards to flush The Doctor and company out of the caves.

They discover that Jo is no longer in her hiding spot.

Jaeger tells the Marshal that Solos is getting hotter and hotter – for the past 500 years, Solos has been in Spring, but now Summer is rising. Also, there are more mutts than ever and they’re all heading to the target area.

Varan watches as a group of guards enter the caves and he slips out past them. They fire and give chase but the native seems to have luck on his side.

Ky and The Doctor search the caves, not able to find Jo. The Doctor realises that the mutts only attack them in one particular chamber in the cave. Ky says he feels that the area is a safe place, he has an instinctual feeling about it.

The Marshal, Cotton and Stubbs are in the caves; the Marshal has some explosives that he’s hiding from them, and when they ask about going in to find The Doctor, he allows them fifteen minutes, but it’s obvious he’s on to them and is planning to detonate the explosives with them inside.

Varan returns to his village, demanding to know where his people are. An old man, obviously a mutt with spikes growing out of his back, tells him about the firestorm and then follows Varan’s orders to sound the gong.

The Doctor and Ky hear Stubbs and Cotton calling out for him, but evades them. He and Ky find Jo, and then Stubbs and Cotton find them. As they talk, the Marshal overhears their conversation (he’s apparently bugged one of them) and gives the orders for the grenades to be thrown. AS the grenades start releasing gas, he sets the explosive devices and departs.

Stubbs can’t raise anyone on the radio.

The old man tells Varan the warriors have fled, that everyone else is becoming a mutant and is going to the caves. Varan looks at his hand and sees he is changing. He hears a voice in his head telling him to go to the place of sleeping, the place of darkness and light.

He resists, drawing his blade, saying he is a warrior, he will die fighting, not sleeping.

Fully mutated mutts stagger down the tunnel into the grenade gas and collapse.

Jo explains to The Doctor about where she was and the silvery figure she saw before she fainted.

Stubbs, who was heading out, rushes back to The Doctor, Jo, Ky and Cotton, to report the gas attack has begun, that they’re sealed in… and the credits roll.

Not quite as good a cliffhanger, but still a well paced one. They’re really on stride with this serial thus far. The villain is nasty, the conflict and dramatics are good.

We’ll pick up the rest on Tuesday.