Here we are, a new season, The Doctor on his own, well… he and K-9 Mark II. I honestly doubt that I’ve seen this serial; if I have, I’m sure it was either incomplete and so long ago that I may as well have not seen it. Then again, I had no recollection of PLANET OF EVIL by title and that turned out not only to be one of my favourite serials, but one I had recalled a lot of key elements.

Episode 1:

The Doctor lays on the floor of the TARDIS console room with K-9 Mark II. He says they’re going on holiday. K-9 seems excited about this and The Doctor gets up, still talking about how much fun they’re going to have, when the lights go out.

Suddenly, the walls of the console room are backlit and the doors open. Outside is a great light, with a powerful, even holy effect. A voice, ghostly, booming, but not threatening, says, “Your presence is required.” The Doctor asks who is addressing him, but seems to know it as “Guardian”.

The Doctor steps through, entering a brightly lit landscape. A chair and table are there, under a large umbrella. A almost foppish man in white appears and says The Doctor has been chosen for a vitally important task, concering the Key To Time.

The Doctor says he’s heard legends and myths, but the Guardian says it is no myth. He says it is a perfect cube which maintains the equillibrium of time itself. It is made up of six pieces that are scattered and hidden throughout the cosmos. When assembled, the key is too powerful for anyone to possess.

The Guardian tells The Doctor that occasionally it is necessary to “stop everything, for a brief moment” when forces threaten the balance in the universe. Such a moment is approaching and it is necessary that the segments are found and brought back to the Guardian “before the universe is plunged into eternal chaos”.

The Doctor tries to suggest other Time Lords for the task, but the Guardian is adamant. It seems he wants The Doctor to volunteer, but if our hero doesn’t, “Nothing will happen to you. Ever.” Seems quite the implied threat there, don’t you think?

The segments can be in any shape, form or size. The Guardian tells him he will be given a locater and an assistant to help find them. The Doctor goes on a rant about assistants, how much trouble they are.

Before allowing The Doctor to leave, the Guardian informs him that he is the White Guardian. He tells The Doctor that he has a counterpart, the Black Guardian, who also seeks the Key To Time, but for an evil purpose.

He must not get it. Doctor, at all costs, you must prevent that.”

The White Guardian disappears, warning him to beware the Black Guardian.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and finds his assistant, Romana, awaiting him. She says the President of the Supreme Council sent her. (Um… isn’t The Doctor the President of the Supreme Council of Time Lords?) She hands him a device, saying she was instructed to give it to him; it is the core to the Key To Time.

Romana is haughty, and when The Doctor tries to put her down by remarking on her lack of experience and youth, she brings up that she scored much higher on the final exams at Academy than he did.

Romana instructs him where to plug the core into the TARDIS console and The Doctor is horrified to learn that she modified his console by putting an interface there for the core to be plugged into.

You put a hole in my TARDIS?”

There’s a lot of jockeying back and forth between the two. I’m not going to quote or even cover it. Mary Tamm (who just died recently, sorry to say) plays a very aloof and cold Time Lord (which, honestly, most of them are supposed to be, so it’s fitting.)

Once plugged into the TARDIS console, it gives the TARDIS the coordinates for each segment. Once they land it will allow them to hone in on the segment, in whatever form it may be, and once brought it contact, it will cause the segment to revert to its proper form.

(I know I’ve only ever seen one or two of the serials associated with the KEY TO TIME storyline – which I believe goes the entire length of season Sixteen. So this is very exciting for me, not having seen Romana’s introduction before.)

As they continue to banter and not-quite argue, The Doctor realises the coordinates for the first segment have changed already.

On a snow-covered turret/tower/fortress top, two men dressed in furs climb up onto it. They remove a cover, not unlike a manhole. A bell tolls and one of them says, “Curfew,” the other agreeing and saying once it stops, “we’ll drop the meat.”

Inside, a ritualistic dimming of the lights is performed by a man with a staff adored by a bird in flight. The lights dim automatically when the staff is brought near each. The men bow before a crown and several orbs, reminscient of the Crown Jewels.

A leg of meat is thrown down the hole. A rope ladder is dropped down.

Doors are barricaded by the man with the staff; outside the room with the crown and such, torches flicker. Another man pulls a rope and inside, a door slides open, a monster behind it.

The younger thief complains to the elder, but in the end goes down. The older one stays above, after making sure the younger one has the “jethrik”, whatever that is – it’s very important to what they’re up to. When he reaches the bottom of the ladder, the creature is sedated, if not actually asleep – seems the meat they dropped was drugged.

He enters the room with the crown and such and uses a glass cutter to open the case.

Romana teases The Doctor for sulking, saying it’s ridiculous for someone as old as he is. He argues that he’s not old. She scoffs, “759?” He retorts that he’s 756. “That’s not old, just mature.” She accuses him of losing count.

He’s quite adamant that this isn’t going to work. She says he’s suffering from a “massive compensation syndrome,” and might use him as a case study for her thesis, but he says he’ll show her – which is most likely what she was trying to get him to do in the first place. Well played, Romanaofthelongname.

The young thief seems to be putting something inside; I can’t tell if he took something first and is replacing it or not. The elder thief contacts him via a wrist-communicator, telling him that the Graff is arriving and he’s going to intercept him.

The Graff is greeted by the elder thief, who presents him a scroll (his credentials, apparently). The Graff complains about the bitter wind. The thief says the Graff was supposed to come discreetly, not escorted by guards (who wear what appears to be full plate mail much in the style of Olde England. The blend of technology and ancient weapons/dress here is rather interesting.)

The elder thief (or whatever they are), Garron, explains that the locals are a primitive, simple people, and might easily be panicked. The Graff, eager to get inside, agrees, and the guards are sent back to their ship. Garron, the Graff and the Graff’s right-hand man, head to shelter.

As they leave, the TARDIS materialises, unnoticed. The Time Lords exit, Romana complaining of the cold. The Doctor establishes three ground rules – do as he says, stick close to him at all times and let him do all the talking. He also says her name is too long (it’s Romanadvoratrelundar) and he tells her, “By time I’ve called that out, you’d be dead.” He tells her, much to her dislike, that they’ll shorten it to Romana. When she complains, he says, “It’s either Romana or Fred,” and she opts for Fred, but he calls her Romana anyways.

The Doctor walks into a trap, while talking of “expecting the unexpected”. Guess that’s the comedy moment. Glad we got that out of the way.

Garron explains to the Graff that Ribos has two seasons – Icetime and Suntime – each lasting thirty-two Earth years. The Graff says if he buys the planet, he doesn’t plan on spending much time here. Garron seems to be trying to sell the planet to the Graff.

The Graff wants to know if the inhabitants are aware of other worlds and civilisations, to which Garrons says they are not. He says there are a high demand for “unspoiled” planets. He leaves some documents for the Graff (who is not interested in the 10 million asking price) to read and says they will talk in the morning.

Looking through the papers, the Graff and his assistant find a minerological assement. The Graff is astounded to see that jethrik (remember that?) is listed in the minerals on the planet. He explains to his man that it is the rarest mineral in the universe.

Okay, I’m sensing a con job, aren’t you?

The Graff sees in the paperwork that the conglomerate selling the planet retains mining rights, so he says it’s not a mistake, that they know about it – though why this makes him still want to buy it, I’m not sure.

Garron listens in to their conversation via a bug of some sort, played on his wrist comm device. Hearing someone, he closes it and adopts the mannerism of a watchmen, calling out “Four o’clock and all’s well,” as The Doctor and Romana walk by.

The Doctor recognises the man’s accent as being from Earth; Romana says Ribos is a “protected class three” planet, forbidding any Earth aliens from being present. (All signs pointing to con job high.)

The Graff and his associate discuss “the plan”, winning back his crown. The Graff says they could take a lifetime using Ribos to train an army to take back his rightful domain, or they could mine the jethrik and buy an army in much shorter time. His associate warns of going outside “the Alliance”.

Using the core, Romana and The Doctor make their way past a snoring guard, to the crown chamber. The Doctor unlocks the door and they enter. The room is filled with relics. Romana follows the core to the case with the crown and the jethrik that was placed there.

Seems that it is morning, and a guard arrives atop the turret/whatever, with a bag (presumably of food for the monster.) The young thief approaches him, saying good morning (well, saying “top of the morning to ye”.)

The Doctor works at getting in the case as Romana complains that it’s taking too long.

The young thief/con man (Unstoffe is his name, we’ll use that from now on) gives the guard something to drink, a strong drink (and from the guard’s already slurred words, spiked with something stronger). The guard declines finishing the bottle off, saying any more and he’d not be able to do his task.

The guard falls prey to the spiked drink and passes out. Unstoffe takes a horn from the guard and blows it.

Hearing the horn, Romana slips into the area with the slumbering monster. Just then the guards arrive to lower the door. Romana tries to crawl through, as the monster is beginning to waken, and The Doctor half crawls under the lowering door, trying to stop it (really, why not just grab her arms and pull her through?)

As they struggle, each half in one room and half in the other… the credits roll.

Okay, so far I mostly like the episode. Romana I is an interesting companion; I enjoy the by-play between her and The Doctor. The world of Ribos is interesting and I like the meddling Earthlings and the conspiracy and the con job and all that.

Interested to see how this KEY TO TIME story plays out. I have recollections of some elements that could be spoilery, so I’ll keep them to myself for the nonce.

Episode 2:

When the guards realise there’s something obstructing the door being lowered, they raise it, fearing it might be the Shrivenzale (the monster). The Doctor and Romana slip out. They hear the guards and The Doctor says they have to hide, though they spend a lot of time arguing about hiding.

The captain of the guard notices the bar on the door is off; the other guards don’t seem to think it a big deal. They enter, just after The Doctor and Romana hide (though not very well.) The captain of the guard gives his staff to a guard to light the domes while he inspects the door to the Shrivenzale’s pen.

After the lighting, the captain still seems a bit suspicious. As he pokes around (somehow not finding the hiding Time Lords), Garron comes in and kneels down, giving thanks for a safe journey. The captain questions him and he says he’s newly arrived, “from the North” (which is what he told the Graff and his associate to say were they questioned about where they came from.)

Garron hands over a pre-arranged pass and then asks a favour from the captain, saying he has an associate with a large amount of money that needs to be securely housed. Garron unsubtly offers a bribe and the captain finds it acceptable.

Romana and The Doctor (hiding very poorly overhear all of this. Both Garron and the captain leave and when the remaining guards are busy not doing their jobs, the Time Lords slip out.

Garron checks in on the Graff and his associate; Garron brings up the Graff’s time on the battlefront and how highly regarded he is for it, but this angers the Graff, saying he wasn’t regarded well when he returned from the war to find his half-brother on the throne.

Sholakh, the Graff’s advisor, calms down his master. Garron and Graff begin to haggle.

The Doctor and Romana argue (I’m guessing this is a theme) – The Doctor suspects Garron of being after the segment, too. He almost lets slip about the Black Guardian to Romana (she’s not supposed to know about that part, apparently.)

Garron tries to assure that the mining rights is a non-issue, saying Ribos is too primitive right now for any mining company to bring in the technology to mine until they are advanced to “grade two” status. As they haven’t even developed a telescope yet, that’s thousands of years off.

In the relic room, Garron goes on about the craftmanship of the pieces; the Graff and Sholakh have noticed the cluster of jethrik (but are trying not to alert Garron.) The Graff asks about the jethrik, trying to be nonchalant, and Garron says he wouldn’t know, but calls over one of the guards… who happens to be his associate, Unstoffe, in disguise.

Playing the simple guard, Unstoffe tells them it’s “scringe stone” and how a century or so ago the entrance to the mine was lost from the glaciers moving and the like. He even gives a “my poor old dad” story, complete with a rough map. Talk about the hard sell.

Meanwhile, The Doctor and Romana have entered and are listening in from the other side of the relic case. For a room full of holy relics, strangers can walk in awfully easy.

The “guard” goes off duty and Garron tries to tell the Graff not to take the story seriously, but The Doctor and Romana chip in, saying that they felt his story rang true. When questioned if they’re locals, The Doctor says they’re from the North. (Now, THAT’S funny.)

After Garron, the Graff and Sholakh leave, The Doctor says the jethrik is the largest lump he’s ever seen. Romana quickly realises that The Doctor did not believe the guard’s story and she says, “But he had such an honest face.”

Romana, you can’t be a successful crook with a dishonest face, can you?” – The Doctor

The Graff offers eight million opeks to Garron. Garron says he will have to go elsewhere to contact his clients, and requires a deposit of two million. The Graff takes offense, but Garron plays it down. The Graff says he might be able to come up with one million, as he doesn’t carry that sort of money around with him.

Sholakh seems to question whether Garron would take the money with him, but he says it would be kept here, with the captain of the guard.

The Graff says this is satisfactory and sends Sholakh to fetch the money; Garron goes to accompany him to the city wall. While they are gone, the Graff finds a listening device, but returns it to where he placed it.

Romana tells The Doctor they have a “negative empathy” when he won’t spell things out for her and is catty about it.

Garron gives Unstoffe a good shaking, saying he went too far with his story. Garron says this is a hit and run job, no sticking around trying to sell the map, they could get locked up taking risks like that. He warns Unstoffe they have to be careful – the Graff is a tough military man and they don’t want him getting suspicious. Before they split up, they discuss noticing the Time Lords (not that they know them as such, I’m just trying not to type “The Doctor and Romana”… though I just did, d’oh!)

The Doctor shows Romana the shaft used to access the relic room at night. She argues the con job is no business of theirs, seeking the segment of the key is more important. The Doctor tells her they’ve got to come back for the jethrik and the money and they’ll be waiting for them when they do.

The Graff shows the returning Sholakh the listening device. They step outside their quarters and discuss why Garron would bug them. The Graff wonders if he is all that he seems. He tells Sholakh to keep an eye on Garron, saying if he is leading them false, he will die.

Garron, Graff and Sholakh bring the money in to the relic room and the captain secures it. When the captain needs to sign a receipt, Garron holds the keys for the captain and… couldn’t tell, but I’m sure he stole the key off the ring or made an impression. (Though with the Graff and Sholakh standing right there…)

The captain chases them out, saying he has to let the Shrivenzale free.

That night, The Doctor and Romana watch as Garron and Unstoffe throw meat down the shaft. The Doctor tells Romana to watch them, as he slips off, planning to get down there before they do.

Garron gives Unstoffe the key that he palmed and the young thief/con man slips down the ladder, jumping when the Shrivenzale roars.

The Doctor tries to sneak past the sleeping guard, but he is caught. The Doctor tries to say he has permission, and pulls out a stop watch, trying to hypnotise the guard.

Unstoffe enters the relic room and starts cutting the glass.

The Doctor trances the guard into slumber.

Unstoffe recovers the jethrik and the million opeks.

The Doctor removes the bar to the door and uses his sonic screwdriver to enter, but Unstoffe slips out behind him and bars him in. He runs out, and the sleeping guard wakes, blowing his whistle.

The Doctor slips through the Shrivenzale’s lair. Up above, hearing the whistle, Garron urges “Unstoffe” to hurry, wondering what’s wrong. He’s rather surprised when The Doctor pops up, saying almost everything went wrong. Garron finds himself surrounded by The Doctor and Romana both.

The Doctor, Romana and Garron head back to the TARDIS, but the Graff, Sholakh and the Graff’s guards are waiting there. The Graff gives the order to execute them, and the guards take aim… and the credits roll.

This episode is high camp at times, sometimes almost (but not quite) too much. Still, it’s fun.

Episode 3:

The Doctor and Garron plead for mercy/try to talk their way out of it (not, respectively, necessarily) and then there’s a little physical banter between the Graff and The Doctor, but Sholakh urges the Graff for discretion, and he agrees, ordering them to be taken to their quarters to be dealt with there.

The captain of the guard determines that the money has been stolen. As he examines the case of relics (missing only the jethrik, which he apparently never noticed was placed there in the first place), the Graff charges in, demanding to know about the stolen money.

The captain says he has sent for “the Seeker”, a visionary who can find the thief. The Graff isn’t too impressed, but doesn’t say as much, but explodes when he sees the jethrik has been stolen.

Needless to say, this is news to the captain, who denies knowledge of the scringe stone.

Sholakh questions The Doctor and Romana about the core to the Key To Time; seems Romana was about to blurt out what it was, but The Doctor prevaricates instead.

Garron’s wrist comm starts beeping and he makes a dash but is stopped by two of the Graff’s guards. Sholakh realises there’s “another” accomplice, and he says they’ll get them and the whole “dirty gang” will die together.

In the city, Unstoffe hides, trying to contact Garron.

Romana tends to the minor injury on Garron’s arm; the con man praises The Doctor and Romana for making a nice arrest of him, and espouses the opinion that it’s a shame that nobody will hear of it and they’ll all die together instead.

Garron has a great line about dying – “I’ve always said it’s the last thing I want to do.”

When Garron asks them what their game is, Romana blurts out about the Key To Time. (sigh) The Doctor says never mind that, and pulls out a dog whistle and blows.

The TARDIS door opens and K-9 peeks out, asking, “Master?”

In the city, Unstoffe is given shelter by one of the squatters in the “bone pits”. A guard questions the man who gave him shelter. The guard recognises the squatter as “Binro the Heretic”, once a renowned name in Shur. The guard leaves after threatening Binro, who tells Unstoffe it’s safe.

The Seeker is a sort of shaman-woman, painted face and arcane dress, who uses bones to find the culprit. The Graff and Sholakh scoff amongst themselves. She says he is in the “place of fires”, but the captain says his men has already searched the concourse.

The Graff says they will accompany them and if the thief is found, they will recover the money and the jethrik. He instructs Sholakh to tell the guards to prepare as they may have to fight their way out of the city.

Garron regales the Time Lords with his life story. (Just came to realise – Romana is notable in that she is the first Time Lord companion to The Doctor since Susan.) Romana begins to panic because there are people planning to kill them and he’s just “chattering”.

Listen, when you’ve faced death as often as I have, this is much more fun.” – The Doctor

Garron informs Romana that “without jethrik, there’d be no space warping”, and it is considered the most powerful element in the universe.

The Doctor wonders why the Graff is so interested in buying the planet, even before he thought there was a jethrik mine here. Garron realises that they don’t know about the Graff, so he fills them in – he was once the tyrannical ruler of Levithia, who went off to the Frontier Wars, and when the war ended, the residents wouldn’t let him come back.

Outside their room, Sholakh instructs the guards on the thief and the concourse and how they’re going to go in and kill everyone. He leaves one guard there to kill the prisoners once the combat starts.

All of this is overheard by the prisoners, who try to come up with a way to escape or warn Unstoffe. Garron’s wrist comm is broken and he can’t use it. However, Garron pulls out the listening device, saying it is on the same frequency. The Doctor takes it and Garron’s two-way and starts tinkering.

Unstoffe thanks Binro, who says he helped him because he knows what it’s like to be hunted. Binro explains his heresy, saying the little lights in the sky at night are not ice crystals, as is the common belief on Ribos, but suns with their own worlds. Unstoffe says it’s an “interesting theory”, not revealing that he is from another world himself.

Binro says he’s taken measurements and has determined that the world circles the Sun, explaining the seasons. The common folk believe that Ribos is a battlefield between the Ice Gods and the Sun Gods and the weather shifts to reflect whom is winning.

Binro reveals that he was tortured (his hands are mangled as a result, and he is unable to work, thus the life of a squatter) and forced to publicly recant his beliefs.

Sympathising, Unstoffe tells Binro that he is from another of the worlds. He tells him that, one day, in the future, people will tell each other, “Binro was right,” and the old man takes great joy in this.

The Doctor works on the device, saying they will have no way of knowing if it works or not.

K-9 arrives and takes out the guard outside the prisoners’ location.

The Doctor gets the two-way working, but only as a one way. Garron gets on the device and tells Unstoffe that he’s in danger, that the guards are on the way. Binro says they must take refuge in the Catacombs.

The unconscious guard is dragged into the room and the prisoners escape. Garron gives directions to the Concourse.

In the Concourse, the Seeker performs her ritual again. She’s melodramatic, I’ll give her that. Sholakh and the Graff watch on.

To access the Catacombs, Binro leads Unstoffe through the Hall of the Dead.

Romana asks The Doctor why they don’t go to the relic room now that everyone’s looking for Unstoffe. He tells her that it’s not in there any more and tells her to look at the core/tracer, which indicates the direction of Unstoffe; she realises it was the jethrik.

The Seeker announces the target is “no longer in this place” and is in the Catacombs. The captain tells the Graff that the thief has gone to the Catacombs and will die there and the matter is over. The Graff disagrees, vehemently.

The captain says his men will not go into the Catacombs for the Graff’s gold. He says they are the home to the long dead and the Ice Gods.

Binro leads Unstoffe into the Catacombs, telling him that it is said the Ice Gods live there. They hear the growling of a beast; Binro says it sounded like a Shrivenzale, but the ones here are much larger than the one guarding the relic room.

The Doctor, Romana, Garron and K-9 enter the Hall of the Dead, using the tracer. K-9 detects pursuit behind them and they hide in the walls.

The Graff and his men come down the hall. The Doctor knocks a skull out of his hiding place and the Graff and his men hear it. The Graff says they have him now… and the credits roll.

Kind of a “meh” cliffhanger there.

Episode 4:

The Doctor blows the dog whistle, getting the attention of the shrivenzale, who lumbers in. The Graff and his men hide from the beast and then regroup. Sholakh brings up a past experience they had (during the Frontier Wars, apparently) on the planet Freytus, when they had two legions searching a labyrinth for the enemy, saying it will take just as long as it did there (and they spent a year without the sight of the sky, so it took a while, apparently.)

Sholakh goes on to say that they should have brought the Seeker with them. The Graff realises the wisdom in this and they set back to collect her.

Unstoffe realises Binro needs a rest and they stop and Binro asks him about space travel. I like the old heretic.

There’s some banter that I imagine is supposed to be funny, when at best it’s mildly amusing, as The Doctor, Romana and Garron decide what to do. He sends the two of them onward after Unstoffe, while he goes back to follow and keep an eye on the Graff; he sends K-9 after them to keep an eye on them.

Binro holds the jethrik as Unstoffe tells him that, with the right knowledge, that rock has the power to move them across the universe. He explains it belongs to his friend, Garron. Unstoffe is very concerned for his friend, Garron. He talks about this was supposed to be their last job together. Binro offers to go back and search for Garron. Binro says there wouldn’t be much risk to him, nobody notices an old heretic.

Binro tells Unstoffe that for years he was jeered and derided, so much that he began to doubt himself… and Unstoffe came along and told him he was right all along. He shuffles off to go look for Garron, happier than he ever has been.

Before Binro leaves, Unstoffe gives him his wrist comm, to prove to Garron it’s not a trick.

Back at the city, The Doctor listens as the Graff and Sholakh confront the captain about the Seeker. The Graff decides to teach the primitives a lesson, as he’s not getting his way, and blasts one of the guards. The captain is sent off to fetch the Seeker.

The Doctor slips off, returning to the Graff’s chambers, where the sleeping guard lies.

Romana and K-9 get separated from Garron and the Time Lord realises that he’s lifted the tracer from her.

Garron finds Unstoffe with the tracer.

The Seeker does her ritual again, but says they shall not reach him, death stands between them. She gives in to pressure from Sholakh, but says all but one of them will die in the attempt. (The Doctor has joined the group in the armour from the one guard, so I’m sure it will be him.)

Garron reveals that he stole the tracer and abandoned Romana in the Catacombs, much to Unstoffe’s discontent.

Binro is captured by the Graff’s men. They see the wrist comm and take him along with them as they go deeper in. The tail guard has a scarf trailing from beneath his cape (told you.)

The captain has his men bring a cannon, instructing them to pack it with shot and ready for anyone returning from the Catacombs. Talk about overkill (though, after seeing one of his men blasted by energy, I guess I don’t blame him.)

The Seeker goes wild, saying the one they seek is here as the group walks into the chamber where Garron and Unstoffe await. Binro runs forward and the guards shoot him in the back. He dies, asking Unstoffe if he was right.

Unstoffe is shot and ends up throwing the bag of jethrik and gold to the Graff. The Graff demands to know where The Doctor and Romana are, but Garron says they’re not his accomplices but security agents. Garron tells the Graff that they’ve gone to report to the Alliance, and the Graff will be nothing but a common criminal after that.

The Graff, enraged, has the two con men lined up against the wall for a firing squad. Garron has a wonderful line, “Unstoffe, my son, I was going to make a touching speech, but my throat is too dry.”

Suddenly, a shrivenzale arrives. Sholakh gives orders to attack the beast.

Romana hears the blaster fire and asks K-9 to trace the location.

At the Hall of the Dead, the blaster fire is heard. The captain orders his men to take cover and he lights the fuse on the cannon, saying he’ll close the Catacombs forever. The cannon goes off, and all through the Catacombs, areas of the roof collapse.

Sholakh is crushed by rocks and dies, just after he hands the jethrik to his master. The Graff swears he’ll avenge him, that he’ll bombard the planet until it is just a “stinking hole in space”. He takes his gold and the jethrik and departs.

Garron and Unstoffe both have survived, but they’re penned in by rocks. K-9 blasts a tunnel through to free them and Garron gives Romana the tracer.

The Graff shoots the Seeker. His one remaining soldier, the last of his Levithian Invincibles, stands there. The Graff asks if he was with him on Skarrn, and when the soldier says, “No, sir,” it is obviously The Doctor.

The Graff goes on, ranting about so many battles and the various places. The Graff says all but one are doomed to die and hands him a beeping device, obviously some form of explosive. He says there is no greater honour than giving his life in the service of the Graff Vynda-K and hugs him.

The Graff wanders off and hears the sounds of battle. He calls out to Sholakh, calling him to him and yells for the charge, wandering off, obviously completely mad.

The guard counts, “three, two, one” and there’s an explosion from whence the Graff went. The Doctor takes off his helmet and holds up the jethrik.

Okay. How did that happen?

Back at the TARDIS, Romana and The Doctor say farewell to Garron and Unstoffe. Garron asks to hold the jethrik one last time and he pockets it, swapping it out with a regular stone, but then The Doctor swaps it out from him, unnoticed. K-9 follows the Time Lords into the TARDIS.

Unstoffe says they’ll have to go straight, now that they’ve lost the jethrik and the Graff’s money. Garron reminds him that the Graff’s ship is there, “Stuffed with eighteen years of loot.”

The TARDIS dematerialises and Garron begins to crow about swapping the jethrik, but when he pulls out the ordinary stone, he realises he’s been out-deviousnessed.

Oh, Unstoffe, is there nobody you can trust these days,” Garron cries out as he and Unstoffe walk off.

In the TARDIS, The Doctor offers Romana the chance to use the core on the jethrik, to make it reveal its true form. They hand the core back and forth, insisting the other do it. Romana eventually does it while The Doctor watches and the stone becomes a metallic piece of angles.

Simple, wasn’t it? Only five more to go,” The Doctor says, looking at Romana. She nods… and the final credits roll.

Okay, am I the only one who wants to see the future adventures of Garron and Unstoffe? This was a fun serial, for the most part, minus some over-campiness and the not funny bits that were supposed to be funny.

Romana is interesting. I think I like her? Interesting casting – the captain of the guard is played by Prentis Hancock, who was in two Jon Pertwee serials, SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE and PLANET OF THE DALEKS and more recently as Salamar in PLANET OF EVIL. I knew I knew the face but I couldn’t place him.

The season-long storyline is something different for DW at this point and I’m very curious to see how it plays out.