A four parter, so just one post. A serial I know nothing about. So, let’s do it!

 

Episode 1:

On a strange world, a ship arrives and the natives move to greet it. Agroup of aliens, somewhat different, assist in the unloading of packages and equipment. Two humanoids bumble about there, too. There’s an almost comical vibe to the scene; I do hope this isn’t indicative of the whole serial.

Two aliens who seem more advanced than the worker class arrive; one of the worker class aliens begins gesticulating wildly and grunting, inciting the others to anxious behavior. One of the advanced aliens renders him unconscious with a weapon.

Elsewhere, the TARDIS appears in the cargo hold of a ship. The Doctor and Jo step out.

On the planet, the humanoids disrobe as they’re being watched by the worker aliens. Vorg, the human male, says it’s time to begin the pitch and like a carny he begins a spiel about monsters in the box. The female, Shirna, seems to be a carny girl. Their garb is beyond gaudy, even beyond garish.

The two advanced aliens arrive and the workers disperse; they keep their distance and speak quietly about the visitors, whom they describe as “Lurmans”.

Jo and The Doctor try to figure out where they are. Jo is frightened by some chickens in a crate. It seems they’re still on Earth, though The Doctor was shooting for the blue planet in the Acteon Galaxy, and is obstinate to accept that they’re still on Earth.

They hide in one of the passenger areas, overhearing several of the passengers talk about dinner. One of them, a seaman, is played by Ian Marter, who we will later see play Harry, companion to the Fourth Doctor. They overhear them talking about Fred Astaire.

Jo fetches the newspaper, it’s the London Daily News from April, 1926. As they argue whether they’re really on Earth or not, a plesiosaurus attacks the ship! The crew finds them and realises they’re stowaways.

On the alien planet, the two higher aliens consult with another of their kind; there’s something going on, something about the caste system (though they don’t seem to be the same race, so it’s not just a social caste but a species one – the three aliens speak of being ‘the official species’.)

On the ship, Harry, I mean Lt Andrews, tells the passengers that they’ll have to house the stowaways in their cabin until the Captain can deal with them. While they’re being taken to the cabin, The Doctor and Jo see a strange metal plate on the floor, but Andrews can’t see anything there.

In the cabin, The Doctor learns they’re on the SS Bernice; The Doctor says the plate is made of a metal not known on Earth. Jo doesn’t recognise the name of the ship, so The Doctor explains that the SS Bernice disappeared on June 4, 1926, which according to a calendar is the same day they’re on.

They both notice that something funny is going on with the time. They start working on escaping the cabin.

On the alien planet, the carnies explain they are traveling entertainers. The three aliens huddle; it seems that amusement is prohibited, but the senior of the three says that their President, Zarb, is apparently considering removing that restriction. The thought is that the “Functionaries” (the worker aliens) may be more docile if allowed amusement and distraction.

The aliens vote to deny their Lurman’s entrance visa, but the man pulls out a tape saying he has a document microsigned by The Great Zarb. This is pure sham, but the aliens fall for it enough to reconsider and seek further information.

The Doctor and Jo inspect the plate and decide they have to get a “magnetic core extractor” to open it – and that means going back to the TARDIS, risking capture.

In the saloon, we see Lt Andrews and Major Daly and his daughter, returning from dinner – as they did earlier. Word for word, act for act, they’re reliving the same moment! The events happen as before; Major Daly drifts off to sleep reading his book as Daly’s daughter and Andrews walk laps on the deck, talking about Fred Astaire.

The Doctor times it and the plesiosaurus appears on schedule. Everyone reacts just as before. The Doctor and Jo slip out this time without being caught and make it to the TARDIS. Jo wants to leave, but The Doctor says he has to find out what’s going on.

Just then a giant hand reaches in and takes the TARDIS… and the credits roll.

I have a feeling this isn’t going to be one of my favourite serials; a lot of the corny/cheeseball stories tend not to be, and after following THE THREE DOCTORS, it’s going to be a hard sell.


Episode 2:

The Doctor and Jo watch as the hand takes away the TARDIS, and then they argue; despite HAVING SEEN THE DECK ABOVE SLIDE AWAY, SHE HAS TO ARGUE WITH HIM THAT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE. I hate willful ignorance. It’s bad enough in real life, why must we have it in our escapist stories, too? The Doctor punches Jo in the face and leaves her, never to see her again. (Sorry, wishful thinking.)

Seriously, though, I know the purpose of the companion is to ask stupid questions so The Doctor can explain to the stupid audience what is going on. It’s my biggest complaint about the show; Liz Shaw was written out because she was intelligent and it wasn’t appropriate for her to ask stupid questions. So instead, we get Jo Grant, who, while competent enough, does the stupid companion gimmick quite well.

Here’s an idea, why not treat your audience with some respect and stop being formulaic in the approach to a show?

/rant

The Doctor leaves to find the TARDIS. Jo follows.

On the alien planet, the three aliens debate and argue more. Somehow, the Lurmans’ data disc has checked out (though it was a sham, so that makes NO sense), but they vote and the original two side up to insist that the Lurman’s entertainment machine be examined first.

Vorg, the male Lurman, has been tinkering with their entertainment machine, trying to sort out some malfunction. He tells Shirna that he found some “bric-a-brac” and shows her the TARDIS, which is the size of a toy in his hand. So, yep, now you know what’s going on.

The tribunal approaches the Lurmans and wishes to know the function of their machine. Vorg goes on a tirade about how it is not a machine, it is an artistic blah de blah… finally one of the three demands he answer – what is the function of the machine.

Again, the Lurmans try to explain that they are entertainers… and the three aliens huddle again. Time is repeating for them as well? I’m confused. They reject the application, again. Again, Vorg pulls out the micrographed document… and the elder of the three rushes off.

The other two remain behind to ask about the machine. Vorg turns it on, showing Lt Andrews and Claire Daly on the ship, talking. He then shows an Ogron in another setting. Then he begins the sales pitch on the Drashig, telling them that they’re the most evil creatures in the universe. The aliens ask if they’re recordings, but Vorg says they’re living in miniaturised environments inside the machine. He then shows them the Drashig, but we don’t get a good view of it.

Back on the ship, the cycle is repeated, the dinosaur has shown up, and Jo and The Doctor go back in the saloon, where Major Daly and his daughter Claire are. Again, they get spotted. The Doctor points out to Jo they have no prior recollection of their meeting before.

Vorg demonstrates that he can manipulate elements, and turns up a dial, making Lt Andrews more aggressive when he arrives to find the stoaways. This apparently is meant to amuse. Shirna realises that The Doctor and Jo are new to the ship.

Lt Andrews and The Doctor engage in a boxing bout, The Doctor winning. Andrews recovers and gives chase, firing at the fleeing stowaways. Andrews and Major Daly give chase. (This is the running scene, so it is, in fact, Doctor Who.)

Jo and The Doctor get back to the strange metal plate, and start using the magnetic core extracter, but Andrews and his men arrive, and ready to shoot the stowaways.

Vorg tells the aliens that he can’t leave it on for too long or the specimens might start to injure each other, and he dials the setting down. Suddenly, Andrews and Daly walk off, talking about dinner, wondering “who the devil are those two?”

The Doctor and Jo open the plate, finding a shaft beneath. Underneath, they find alien technology, some sort of ‘filter circuit’. They’re no longer in the ship but inside the workings of the ‘scope’ itself.

The superior alien returns, declaring the Lurmans’ papers are a forgery. I’m very confused and wonder if the recording I have had a scene spliced in? The other aliens tell their superior that the scope has living creatures inside it, which is a violation with inter-stellar rules.

The lead alien brings in an “eradicator detatchment”, several of the Functionary aliens with a laser rifle. They blast the scope, to no avail. Inside, Jo and The Doctor, crawling through circuitry, are rocked about violently. The superior alien is informed by one of his subordinates that the lifeforms inside would have been destroyed – the eradicator was intended for organic matter, not inorganic – and he says that the job is done.

Inside the SS Bernice, the occupants react to the extreme heat, a side effect of the eradicator. Andrews and Claire go for a walk, as Daly sits down to read again.

Jo and The Doctor recover from the intense heat.

Vorg and Shirna discover that the video of the machine is very fuzzy/wonky, a result of some damage from the heat. We see a Cyberman inside the machine.

The tribunal consult; it seems they believe that the Lurmans are spies. One complains about President Zarb disbanding the army and other things; obviously, at least the one member of this tribunal is not happy with Zarb’s reforms.

The aliens hold a weapon to Vorg’s head, threatening him, claiming if there is a transmitter, he’ll be killed. One of them pokes around in the scope, and pulls out the TARDIS, which grows to regular size. The tribunal are quite paranoid; one of them, Kalik, is preying on the fears of the other two. Vorg tries to insist that the scope is escape proof.

The Doctor and Jo saw through a lock, opening a door and entering a cave. It leads out into a hilly, slightly marshy terrain. The Doctor says they need to take a look around (which makes no sense.)

The scope starts beeping and the aliens want to know why. Circuit 5 has an alert, she activates the viewer for that circuit, which is where the Drashigs are. On the screen, they see The Doctor and Jo, and Vorg says they’re as good as dead, once the Drashigs get their scent.

As they turn to leave, Jo hears a sound. She and The Doctor turn as a giant worm-like creature with a big nasty mouth pops out of the marsh – a Drashig. Amazingly, we don’t get googly eyes from Pertwee… and the credits roll.

Yeah, really not enjoying this as much as the others. It’s worth noting this episode had a different theme, a more synthesised version of the theme music. It really wasn’t very good and I can see why they went back to the original.

 

 

Episode 3:

The Drashig passes right by them, as it seems to be hunting them by scent, not sight – it’s following their trail back to the cave.

The tribunal, especially the subversive one, seem VERY interested about the Drashigs.

Jo and The Doctor get back to the cave, but outside are three Drashigs. Jo gets stuck in the marsh, and The Doctor uses the sonic screwdrive to ignite the flammable marsh gases to hold the Drashigs off.

Vorg reaches in and bats away at the Drashigs, allowing The Doctor and Jo to escape through the cave and back into the circuitry. Once there, they rest, The Doctor saying “I’m beginning to feel the centuries, myself.” This is the first time Pertwee’s Doctor has made a statement about his age in centuries and not thousands of years.

The tribunal debate what to do – the highest ranking one, Chairman Pletrac, is panicking and wants to deport them and the machine together, immediately. The other two insist that he should go to his superiors for consultation – that is the proper procedure.

Drashigs have broken out of the circuit into the interior of the machine, pursuing The Doctor and Jo.

Kalik and the other remaining tribunal member discuss what will happen when the Drashigs escape; Kalik plans to use this as part of his plans to lead a rebellion against Zarb.

The Doctor and Jo return to the SS Bernice, looking for rope to descend a long shaft in the interior of the machine. Andrews and Major Daly find her, though not The Doctor, and take her in.

Kalik explains how a disaster with the Drashigs would turn popular opinion against Zarb.

A Drashig bursts into the cargo hold, where The Doctor is. He gets knocked down by debris. Shortly after, Andrews and crew members arrive with rifles and open fire.

The chairman has returned from consultation with Zarb, saying that a dispensation has been granted and they Lurmans and their machine will be deported. The TARDIS will be jettisoned into space, unless the Lurmans claim it. The chairman notices that the Functionaries are not attending the eradicator. He demands to know why and when Kalik admits that he dismissed them for their break, Pletrac says he will be under investigation once the tribunal is dismissed.

Major Daly shoots a Drashig on the ship, then returns to the saloon for a drink, much like he does post-dinosaur sighting.

Andrews gets dynamite and throws some into the machine proper, destroying the power circuits. Vorg and Shirna notice it, but Vorg doesn’t have a handbook to consult how to fix it.

Jo, who was being held in the saloon under the eye of the Dalys, watches as they forget everything and go back into their pre-programmed routine. They suddenly notice her.

The Doctor is back in the machine, scaling down the rope. He sees the Drashig that Andrews killed with the dynamite.

Jo tries to get them to remember shooting the monster, but it’s no good. Claire, however, seems to have some reaction. Major Daly and Andrews rush after her when she takes off.

The Doctor finds a way out of the machine, and Shirna screams (not sure why as he’s tiny) and he passes out… and the credits roll.

 

 

Episode 4:

(Oh, thanks goodness. I’m ready for this to be over.)

The Doctor returns to normal size, as Pletrac says the alien must be eradicated. Kalik and his cohort arrive to say he does not have the authority, only the tribunal after a vote may have the authority. The Doctor gets up and puts them in their place. However, Pletrac gets a great line: “The tribunal will not tolerate insolence from unauthorised life forms!”

The Doctor asks what planet he’s on and he learns he is on Inter Minor, not Metebelis 3, the blue planet of the Acteon Galaxy. He finds the TARDIS, pleased to see it, and then the miniscope. He begins to bully them, threatening them with consequences of allowing an illegal machine. He demands they allow him to help those in the machine and he will forgive their transgression.

The tribunal votes against destroying “the tellurian” (The Doctor). Vorg thinks The Doctor is a fellow carny. As they talk, Vorg offends The Doctor by referring the occupants of the scope as “livestock”. They tell The Doctor that the life support systems in the scope are fading and he realises that he’s under a tight time frame.

The two conspirators in the tribunal discuss the sabotage of the eradicator and agree to plant the missing piece in the Lurmans’ luggage, to blame them if need be.

The Lurmans see the side panel of the scope shifting and, fearing the Drashigs, try to leave, but Pletrac stops them, saying they have to stay there.

The Doctor learns that Vorg won the machine and has no idea how it works or how to use it.

The conspirators talk; Orum, Kalik’s associate, is a nervous nelly, worrying about the danger to himself when the Drashigs get out. He has a great line: “One has no wish to be devoured by alien monstrosities, even in the cause of political progress!”

The Doctor has rigged up the scope to the TARDIS, in hopes of getting back in the scope so that he can save Jo and the day. Pletrac tries to stop him, but Vorg beams him in. However, Pletrac opens fire with his weapon, preventing any chance of The Doctor returning. Oh noes!

Jo is in the cargo hold, yelling into the machine for The Doctor, who arrives and takes her off with him.

The machine is overheating; inside the circuitry, Jo and The Doctor are struggling to get out. On the SS Bernice, everyone is passing out.

Several Drashig have escaped the scope; when Pletrac tries to use the eradicator it does not work, but Vorg, who has found the missing component in his bags, rushes to it and puts it in (he used to be in the military it turns out and used a similar weapon then.) He uses it to blast the Drashigs.

The Doctor and Jo collapse in the tunnel inside the machine. Vorg flips the phase two switch (having repaired it before the Drashig escape) and everyone inside the scope are returned to their places, Jo and The Doctor arriving with Vorg and company.

On the SS Bernice, Major Daly is in bed, finishing his book. Claire comes to see him, to say good night. He says he just finished it, saying it’s the longest book he’s ever read in his life. Claire agrees that it seems to be a very long trip, and seems to recall things, but then dismiss it with a shake of her head.

The major crosses through the 4th on his calendar, the day officially over.

Vorg begins running a carny game on Pletrac, after Shirna says they have no way to earn a living. The Doctor and Jo smile at this and then depart in the TARDIS. Pletrac, Vorg and Shirna watch in surprise, the latter smiling broadly… and the final credits roll.

Okay, it wasn’t all that bad. Just a lot of annoying bits here and there. I apologise if I was extra ranty this serial. This is one I won’t ever revisit, I’m sure. Vorg and Shirna were amusing, it was great to see Ian Marter – Harry has always been a companion I liked.  

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