No idea if I’ve seen this. Let’s hope it’s better than CITY OF DEATH.

Episode 1:

A group of people move through the forest. A horn is blown and a man falls to his knees sobbing, at the edge of a pit while the others stand about him, some gesturing formally, arcanely. There’s a roar/growling from the pit and the man’s sobbing intensifies.

He is pushed into the pit, screaming as he falls.

On the TARDIS, K-9 (not voiced by John Leeson, for some reason) is reading Peter Rabbit from a book that The Doctor is holding for him. Romana pulls in a bin full of items that’s she’s cleared out of “hold number four”, complaining that he’s got a lot of junk. The Doctor, of course, is more interested in Peter Rabbit.

In the junk bin, they come across a Mark III emergency transceiver; it turns out that The Doctor removed it because he was tired of being called by Gallifrey all the time for help.

The Doctor tells Romana to plug it in. Suddenly, the TARDIS tilts horribly until she removes it. As The Doctor and K-9 argue over the fault of the equipment or not, they realise they’ve landed.

The Time Lords exit, leaving K-9 behind (this seems to happen a lot.) They find themselves in a jungle. The Doctor finds a ginormous part of an egg shell. He says it’s semi-metallic and the shell is alive. Romana scoffs.

She scoffs a lot, lately. She moves around, exploring the shell, while The Doctor listens to the shell, realising the shell is transmitting the signal they heard when the transceiver was plugged in. While he messes around with it, he watches as several… rocks or plant-spheres roll towards him and pounce on him.

He calls out for Romana but another figure arrives instead. More arrive; the first two have swords and the third a whip. The man with the whip calls off the rock-plant things. A woman arrives and stops them from killing The Doctor – these people are the ones who took the man to the pit in the opening sequence.

She identifies the things that pounced on the Time Lord as “wolfweeds”, saying they were specially grown in the Lady Adrasta’s nurseries. She demands to know why he is in the Place of Death.

She demands to know what the TARDIS is, what it is used for. She determines that the Lady Adrasta will want to see them. The huntsman says his wolfweeds sense trouble, and they lock The Doctor’s wrists and heads in a bar (I forget the term for those things) and drag Romana along with them as they depart.

Someone watches them from hiding in the jungle. Several men, seemingly primitive watch and then, when the time is right, spring and attack. They grab Romana as they run off. The Doctor wants his captors to go after Romana, but the old woman declines.

Torvin, an elder of the tribal people, is in his tent going over some metal pieces (quite excitably – apparently metal is a commodity of high value) when the raiding party brings the swords they grabbed and Romana to him. Torvin says to kill her, as she’s not made of metal.

The other bandits argue, saying they should vote on it. Torvin says he’s all for democracy.

The Doctor is brought into a large estate. He’s told to wait in a foyer and is about to escape, knocking down two guards just before Lady Adrasta calls out to him. She removes the manacle bar thing.

She asks what he made of “the object”, saying some of the finest minds on Chloris (guess that’s the planet) have been trying to “unravel the problem”. He realises she’s talking about the “egg”. He tells her he’s more concerned about Romana.

She says she’ll send a troop of guards to find her. (The Lady Adrasta is played by Myra Frances, who despite the fact that I haven’t seen anything listed in her roles at IMDB, seems VERY familiar. She’s also rather pretty.)

Romana is tied to a post in the bandit tent. The bandits vote to kill her. Romana gets them talking and they finally realise that she’s not one of Adrasta’s ladies in waiting. She pulls rank on them, telling them she’s a Time Lord and is not used to such treatment. She gets them all to sit down, but when she pulls out the whistle to call K-9, they grab it from her. She gets them to blow through it for her.

K-9 responds and departs the TARDIS.

Adrasta questions The Doctor about his thoughts on the egg shell; he questions her about a piece of metal or stone or both hanging on the wall.

The Doctor tells her that the shell is screaming, calling out for something. He postulates it might be for it’s “mummy”, and then wonders out loud how big the mummy might be. Adrasta brings forth her engineers, Doran and Tollund, who have been eavesdropping behind a curtain.

The engineers scoff at The Doctor’s postulation about the nature of the shell; Doran feels it is a remnant of a building, perhaps a temple. Tollund points out that any bird big enough to lay an egg of that size would have a wingspan of at least one mile.

The Doctor points out that birds aren’t the only creatures that lay eggs.

When he turns to his mistress, saying The Doctor is a fool, Lady Adrasta criticises Doran for not detecting that the shell was alive.

Well, to be fair, I did have a couple of gadgets which he probably didn’t, like a teaspoon and an open mind.” – The Doctor, “defending” Doran.

Disappointed in Doran’s failure, she has the engineer taken away. He begs her for mercy. The Doctor asks where they are taking him, and Adrasta says he will see, saying that she knows he’s holding back and feels a demonstration will loosen his tongue.

K-9 arrives at the bandit camp to rescue Romana. (I hate the voice of K-9 in this serial.) When the bandits try to keep K-9 (because he’s made of metal), K-9 stuns Torvin. Romana and K-9 depart.

The Doctor accompanies the group to the pit, as we saw in the opening sequence. Adrasta makes a gesture, splaying her hands wide, to either side of her face. Again, one guard blows the horn. Doran begs and falls to his knees. The Doctor argues for mercy for Doran, and the horn is sounded again. Doran is shoved into the pit.

He crawls back, his face full of fear – something is growing green and it illuminates him. The growling and shlurping and shuffling noises get louder as Doran crawls backwards.

Romana and K-9 arrive at the pit. A guard tries to seize Romana and K-9 stuns him, sending him into the pit. The wolfweed attack K-9, covering him. Adrasta says he’s dead and Romana sobs. Um, ok.

Adrasta says that now she has them both, The Doctor is bound to be cooperative. The Doctor approaches Romana, hugs her with one arm, touching his nose, giving her a signal.

When he turns from her, Adrasta asks, “Well, Doctor?” In response he leaps to the pit, grabbing the rope on the winch and descends rapidly into the pit… and the credits roll.

Well, it’s not anywhere as insipid as CITY OF DEATH, so that’s a good thing. I’m not entirely sure I think this is going to turn out to be a good serial altogether, but it’s early yet.

Episode 2:

Rewatching the end sequence, I’m struck how much I really don’t care for Romana II that much. I thought I liked her from days of yore…

The Doctor leaps down into the pit. Romana rushes to the edge of the pit and she can see him, clinging on. Nobody else looks and they don’t see him.

REALLY? Oy, vey. This is not promising.

Romana insists that they go down after him, but Lady Adrasta says she will not send her guards, nor allow her to go after him. She says the only thing keeping Romana alive is that she’s The Doctor assistant and might know what he knew of the object in the Place of Death.

Meanwhile… oh, really? The Doctor has a hammer and the spikes climbers nail into the rocks and is doing just that. Then he pulls out a book, “Everest in Easy Steps”, but it’s written in Tibetan. (Now, wait a sec, at least one previous Doctor, the Third, spoke Tibetan, why can’t he read it? I thought the TARDIS translated words, too, for that matter.)

This is getting dumb, fast.

Oh, god, he just pulled out another book – TEACH YOURSELF TIBETAN and is translating step by step.

Romana is still arguing with Adrasta. She turns to K-9, but he’s been coccooned by the wolfweeds. When Adrasta realises that K-9 is metal, she orders for the guards to bring K-9 and Romana both. Before she leaves, Adrasta moves to the pit’s edge and says, “Pity you were such a fool, Doctor, I could have used you, too,” and kicks dirt into the pit. Somehow, she doesn’t see The Doctor hanging there, and she walks off. The dirt hits The Doctor in the face and knocks him from his perch, to the bottom of the pit.

There, he finds the dead guard. He calls out (in a whisper) for Doran. Crawling about, he finds the body of Doran. Then, behind him, he hears noise, shlurping/shuffling/grumbling.

Back at Adrasta’s, Romana asks about the creature. When she asks what they know about it, Adrasta says her researchers fall into two categories – “Those who have gotten close enough to learn something about it… and those who are still alive.”

Adrasta brings up again the shell, demanding to know what Romana knows about it. When Romana gets smart about it, Adrasta strikes her for her cheek. The guards bring in the “curious tin animal”, and Adrasta gives the order to break him up for metal scrap.

Again, it seems metal is precious with all factions here on Chloris.

The Doctor explores the caves, getting some slime on his hand. He comes across the creature, which appears to be a… wow, that’s unfortunate. It’ looks like a big blob with a penis-like protrusion. No, really, it does. Someone in the prop/effects department was having a laugh.

The Doctor backs away from the giant penis, slipping down a tunnel, where he bumps into some man who cautions him to silence.

Romana agrees to help, but says if they don’t stop bashing on K-9, they won’t learn anything. She tells Adrasta that K-9 knows everything. Adrasta says this makes Romana unnecessary, but the Time Lord (Lady?) points out that, without her, she won’t be able to get the information out of K-9.

The man in the caves tells The Doctor to follow him, before the monster returns. They end up in a cave that the old man seemingly has turned into an abode. He introduces himself as Organon, astrologer extraordinary. It seems he made a “slight error” in a prophecy made for Adrasta.

He made a prophecy for her, saying she would receive a creature from beyond the stars; this is apparently a regular act he’s done at “all the courts on the planet”. Adrasta didn’t like when he was vague in answering her questions and had him thrown in the pit.

The Doctor explains he’s from beyond the stars, which delights Organon. The Doctor asks if Adrasta is frightened of someone from beyond the stars, and Organon agrees. The Doctor says she wasn’t frightened of him, so she must be expecting someone or something else.

Back at the bandit camp, Torvin has finally recovered from being stunned. He says they’ll have to leave right away, saying Romana could reveal their location and Adrasta could be preparing a raid to get their metal.

He suggests that if the guards are going to ransack their camp, the bandits should raid the palace, because most of the guards will be on a raid. There’s a delightfully funny bit where Torvin has to spell out the reasoning and the plan. And by delightfully funny, I mean not one bit.

Organon explains the presence of lamps in his abode as explaining the area used to be a mine before it was tapped out. Again, we’re reminded that metal is a very scarce commodity. Adrasta owns the mine, so all the metal that was mined from it is hers – apparently it’s the only mine on the planet. (okay, that’s a bit silly.)

The monster makes its presence known, though I’m not sure if it’s growling or snoring. They discuss it and Organon says it’s the only one on the planet – he claims to be one of the few who have traveled.

The creature finds them and the penis-like protrusion reaches in towards them.

Romana gets K-9 unwebbed; whispering, she asks if he can stun the guards, and he indicates he can, were he mobile. Adrasta urges Romana to hurry and demonstrate the ability of her animal. Karela, Adrasta’s advisor (the woman who was leading the hunting party that caught The Doctor and Romana), speaks to her liege lady, saying she doesn’t trust them. Adrasta concurs, but says she has a need for them.

Romana lifts up K-9 and points him at the guards and he stuns several of them, but others take K-9 and Romana captive. They set K-9 down in the corner, and he lowers his head. (That’s actually almost clever.)

The big green, glowing monster and it’s penis come in. Organon grabs a candle and burns the… er… protrusion. The creature withdraws. The Doctor says the creature’s skin resembled a cereberal membrane. He goes out to examine the creature.

Organon says he wouldn’t do such a crazy thing, but then follows any how. He catches up to The Doctor as he skulks through the tunnels.

Lady Adrasta interrogates K-9. (the voice actor is HORRIBLE. It just sounds so very wrong.) Adrasta learns about the ability of the TARDIS to travel in time and space and speaks of using it to raid other places and times for metal.

Karela suggests going into the pit to ensure that The Doctor is, in fact, dead. She says he seemed a very clever man and might have found a way to survive. Adrasta agrees, saying they will take K-9 – she apparently wants to use him to kill the creature.

We see a large blob-like mass in the cavern, glowing green. Pulsating. There’s dramatic music. The scene is pointless.

Adrasta’s party enters the pit, through their own private door in the palace.

Organon advises The Doctor to caution as they skulk about.

Adrasta’s party is in the caves; the Lady orders Karella to send guards to scout ahead. (Again, what’s with the chain of command of orders by villains in this show? Adrasta tells Karella who tells the Guard Master to take two guards to scout ahead.)

Organon asks what The Doctor is going to do when they find the monster; he says he doesn’t know. He has a plan but isn’t sure how to apply it. They step into a room that glows green and approach the even larger mass there. From another entrance, Adrasta’s scouting party enters, too, and opens fire.

The Mobile blob we’ve seen before seperates from the mass.

Despite Organon’s pleas, The Doctor walks forward and the mobile thing moves forward, enveloping The Doctor, who fell to the ground, trying to back up… and the credits roll.

This serial is seeming hit and miss, more miss than hit. Again, still better than CITY OF DEATH. The cliffhanger here was pretty decent.

See you Friday for the conclusion! 

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