THE MUTANTS

Episode One

The MutantsSue: Hey, it’s… Monty Python man! Write that down, Neil. That’s a good one. Has anyone ever made that connection before?

We are introduced to Christopher Coll as Stubbs (who looks like Peter Purves and sounds like Ernie Wise, apparently) and Rick James as Cotton.

Sue: Bloody hell, a black character in Doctor Who. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Does he have a decent role in this?
Me: Yes, heaven help us.
Sue: Neil! You can’t say that!

Meanwhile a mysterious package has arrived for the Doctor at UNIT HQ.

Sue: A squashed football? What’s that all about?

The Time Lords have decided to send the Doctor on another secret mission.

The MutantsSue: So he’s a Time Lord hitman, now?
Me: He’s like a Time Lord postman, I think.

Jo is delighted when she finds herself on a ship that’s flying through space. So the Doctor punctures her joy with a pedantic lecture about geostationary orbits and space stations.

Sue: What a complete arse.

When two groups of opposing characters converge in a corridor to spout exposition about the current socio-political situation on Solos at each other, Sue tunes out.

Sue: I’m lost already. I like the costumes, though. You can’t go wrong with silver and black.
Me: The costume designer, James Acheson, will go on win to several Oscars.
Sue: I’m not surprised. The costumes are the most interesting thing about this story so far.

As Cotton and Stubbs pass the time playing chess, Sue thinks she’s spotted a gap in the market.

The MutantsSue: I could make a chess set like that for you, if you like. I’ve got some metal piping lying around somewhere. We could sell them online.
Me: I don’t think there’s any demand for replica chess sets based on The Mutants, but I’ll check, just in case.
Sue: I see what you mean about the black character, now. He can’t act for toffee. Is it too late to black somebody up? I’m joking! Do not put that on the blog, Neil.
Me: Okay. I won’t.
Sue: Moving swiftly on, let’s see if I’ve got my head around the plot yet. Okay, so the men who are dressed in the fetching black and silver uniforms are rounding up the mutants, yes?
Me: Yes.
Sue: So it’s a bit like the X-Men?
Me: Yes, it’s exactly like the X-Men.
Sue: Oh, look! (Suddenly singing) “Love is like a butterfly, as soft and gentle as a sigh. Something something la-la-la something satin wings…”
Me: Yes, very good, it’s Geoffrey Palmer. Well done.
Sue: You’re very tetchy tonight.
Me: I’m sorry. Just ignore me. It’s nothing.

Who am I kidding? Of course it’s something. I’m watching The ****ing Mutants! But I don’t want to prejudice her, so I blame post-Christmas ennui instead.

Sue: Why does this bloke have the number 58 sewn into his uniform? Is that his age?

When the Doctor and Jo gaze upon the planet Solos, Sue is reminded of something vitally important.

Sue: We have to eat that lemon meringue pie in the fridge tomorrow, or it will go off.

The Doctor doesn’t know who to deliver his package to.

Sue: Why didn’t the Time Lords put a name and an address on the football? Are they trying to be awkward on purpose?

The MutantsAn Earth Administrator tells his militaristic Marshal that the planet has decided to pull out of Solos, and the Solonians will be granted their independence. The Marshal doesn’t take this news very well.

Sue: This is pretty heavy for the kids. The politics, I mean. I can see the parallels with apartheid, and the end of the British Empire, but would children be interested in that? I don’t think so. The themes are very adult. It’s good, though.

When the Administrator makes a keynote speech to an audience comprised entirely of Solonians, a young upstart named Ky decides to talk over him. When this tactic fails, Ky leaps to his feet to demand independence from the evil alien Overlords.

Sue: If you just sit down and shut the **** up, he’ll give it to you! This Ky guy is really getting on my nerves.

However, before he can deliver the good news, the Administrator is assassinated by a Solonian. The room is thrown into chaos and Ky runs away. He bumps into the Doctor on his way out and the mysterious football begins to open.

Sue: That wasn’t bad at all. Having said that, I always tend to like the first episode because everything is new and interesting. Let’s see how I feel when we reach Episode Five.

 

Episode Two

The MutantsKy tells Jo his people will be worried about him because he’s very, very important.

Sue: This Ky guy’s ego is out of control. But he is very easy on the eye, so I’ll give him a break. Jo will set him straight, just you wait and see. I’m not mad about what Jo is wearing this week, though. It’s too butch. She does, however, have lovely eyelashes. It must have taken her ages to do those.

As Stubbs and Cotton pursue Ky and Jo across the desolate plains of Solos, Sue spots a flaw with the Overlords’ communications system.

Sue: Was it really such a good idea to have these characters speaking to each other with masks on? I can’t understand a single word they’re saying.
Me: It’s as if we’re watching a Christopher Nolan film.

Cotton removes his mask so he can talk more clearly.

Sue: Actually, could he put the mask back on, please? He sounds better with his mask on.

The MutantsThe Marshal takes command of the Skybase and kills the Solonian assassin. But when he turns his gun on Varan, the Marshal misses and Varan escapes to the Skybase’s herbarium.

Sue: Are they growing marijuana in there? That would explain why the guards are so laid back in this story.

A scientist who’s trying to alter Solos’ atmosphere with “a giant cocktail shaker”, and who dismisses the genocide of an entire species as a side effect of his experiments, gets to feel the Doctor’s wrath.

Sue: I like it when Jon Pertwee gets angry. He’s a pretty good actor when he’s enraged.

The Doctor and Stubbs end up in the herbarium with Varan.

Sue: Oh dear, there’s another boom in shot. That’s two stories in a row. Somebody needs to have a quiet word. I’ll be looking for microphones all the time now.

The episode concludes with Varan attacking the Doctor as he tries to make his way off the Skybase.

Sue: You know, this isn’t bad at all. I’ve seen a lot worse. Why are you looking at me like that, Neil?

 

Episode Three

The Doctor subdues Varan with the old finger-on-the-chest trick.

Sue: He should do that every time. It never fails. Why doesn’t Matt Smith use his finger like that? It’s definitely the way to go.

Ky and Jo are resting in some caves. Sue anticipates a snog but gets some colourful lights instead.

Sue: A firework display? Actually, I’ve just realised they’re filming this scene in a real cave. They usually do this sort of thing in the studio, don’t they? This is much more impressive.

And then we get our first glimpse of a Mutt.

Sue: It’s a giant cockroach. I like its tail.

When Jo makes a run for it, she finds herself in a cave awash with psychedelic colours.

The MutantsSue: Have you put some acid in my tea, Neil? You know I hate it when you do that.

Jo witnesses a mysterious apparition in a silver suit.

Sue: The LSD is really starting to kick in now.

The Doctor finally delivers the Time Lords’ football to Ky.

Sue: Will Ky have to sign for it? And can the Doctor leave as soon as he gets Ky’s signature? Job’s a good ‘un. Three episodes. Over.

We are told that the seasons on Solos can last for centuries.

Sue: It’s like Game of Thrones but…
Me: But with less incest. Yes, we know.
Sue: Tetchy, tetchy.

The Doctor, Varan and Ky argue about the best way to stop the Marshal.

Sue: Varan looks like he should be fronting a heavy metal band.

The Marshal decides to shut everyone up – including Stubbs and Cotton – by gassing them to death.

Sue: What a git! But I do like how he’s ready for some impromptu karaoke with that portable microphone holder of his.

The Marshal’s explosions have sealed the caves and the gas is closing in…

Sue: That still wasn’t bad. There’s some dodgy acting, but the script is sound enough. Why are you looking at me like that, Neil?

 

Episode Four

Our heroes are approached by a humanoid figure in a silver suit. But who – or what – can it be? Nobody knows!

Sue: It’s a man in a radiation suit. Any fool can see that.

The MutantsThe mysterious figure leads our heroes to safety and removes his helmet.

Sue: It’s Duncan Goodhew.
Me: Is it still 1980 where you live, Sue?

When Professor Sondergaard explains what he’s been doing in his secret laboratory, Sue can barely understand him.

Sue: Is there a competition for the weirdest accent in this story? It’s very close if there is.

The Doctor and Sondergaard analyse the stone tablets they extracted from the Time Lord’s football.

Sue: Would it have killed the Time Lords to have included some instructions? This is worse than 3-2-1. Are they watching this back on Gallifrey? Are they having a good laugh at the Doctor’s expense?

Even though the roof is starting to cave in, the Doctor continues to decipher the tablets with Sondergaard.

Sue: Why doesn’t he put the tablets somewhere safe? Just stick them in your pocket and leave! Why are they putting themselves in unnecessary danger? It’s just an excuse to split the characters up again, isn’t it?

The Doctor deduces that the tablets refer to a radiation chamber, so Sondergaard leads him to a cave bathed in Quality Street lighting.

The MutantsSue: Fringe.
Me: This is nothing like Fringe.
Sue: I’m talking about the fringing around Jon Pertwee’s cloak. I’m sorry, Neil, but it’s terrible.

The Doctor retrieves a gem from the arms of a glowing statue.

Sue: It’s Raiders of the Lost Ark on really powerful hallucinogenic drugs. I’m starting to lose the plot. What the hell is going on?

The Marshal is livid when he learns that an Earth Investigator wants to poke his nose into his affairs.

Sue: Is it the Master? He’s cutting it a bit fine if it is.

The Marshal corners Varan and shoots him. The gunfire breaches Skybase’s hull and Varan is sucked into the vacuum of space.

Sue: They’re trying. They’re trying really hard.

 

Episode Five

The MutantsJo, Ky, Stubbs and Cotton escape from the rapidly depressurising chamber.

Sue: Is that even possible? Wouldn’t they be dead by now? Wouldn’t they freeze to death? This scene borders on insanity. I’m not talking about scientific accuracy, either. I’m talking about the ambition required to even attempt a scene like that in 1972. It’s madness.

The Marshal ramps up his mania to 11.

Sue: Ah, it doesn’t say 58 on his uniform, after all. It’s the letters SB. Now I know what it stands for: Stupid Buffoon.

With events rapidly spiralling out of control, Ky uses the opportunity to make another ill-timed speech about Solonian independence.

Sue: It’s turned into Malcolm X-Men, now.

The Doctor and Sondergaard don’t understand the significance of the green gem, so the Doctor returns to Skybase to analyse its properties.

Sue: The direction is very flat in the dialogue scenes, but now that we’re outside again, it’s not so bad. This scene with the Doctor being chased through the fog is pretty good. I don’t understand your problem with this story. It isn’t that bad. The monsters look okay, the plot is interesting, the sets are nice – I would have preferred some proper carpentry, but you can’t have everything – and the Doctor isn’t offending me too much. This is easily as good as The Sea Devils.
Me: You what?
Sue: If they’d repeated this story instead of The Sea Devils when that cricket match was rained off, you would have pretended to be a mutant cockroach in the school playground. It’s because you never saw this when you were a little boy that you’re dismissing it now. Well, that’s my theory, anyway.
Me: Whatever.

Stubbs is killed in a fire fight, which, even I have to admit, looked pretty cool.

Sue: Noooo! Not Stubbsy! Anyone but Stubbsy!
Me: Even I’m choked up by that.

The MutantsJo, Ky and Cotton are locked in a thaesium storage chamber. Cotton tries to explain the ramifications of standing next to that much radiation. In short: they’re all going to die.

Sue: This is impossible to watch. I don’t think I’ve seen acting this bad since Nicol’s nativity play in 1997.
Me: She’s never forgiven you for brutally panning her performance. She’ll be in therapy for years.
Sue: Nicol was brilliant. She was the best actor in the whole thing. It was the shepherds who were the problem. Look, will somebody please stop Cotton talking!

 

Episode Six

The MutantsEarth launches an enquiry into the Solos affair.

Sue: What are the investigators wearing on their heads? That’s a terrible look. No one is going to win an Oscar for that.

The Doctor describes the Marshal and Jaeger as two of the most heinous villains he’s ever encountered.

Sue: Worse than the Daleks and the Cybermen? Really? The Marshal is a decent bad guy, but I can’t see him invading London.

A Mutt rushes into the room and all hell breaks loose. The Marshal uses the opportunity to murder the poor thing at point-blank range.

Sue: There was no need for that! SB equals Sadistic Bastard.

Ky transforms into the next stage of Solonian evolution.

Sue: It’s Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Or as Cotton so eloquently puts it: “Great, innit?”

Sue: They killed Stubbsy but they let Cotton live. What were they thinking?

Super-Ky floats down a corridor like an ethereal Christmas tree decoration.

The MutantsSue: Is Ky Kosh now?
Me: If you like.

Super-Ky murders the Marshal for being a massive twat, and everybody lives happily ever after. But what will Cotton do now?

Sue: Go to drama school, I hope.

Incredibly, Cotton is put in charge of the Skybase.

Sue: God help them all.

The episode concludes with another outing for the increasingly wearisome “Doctor who?” joke.

Sue: But people would say that, wouldn’t they? It’s only funny in a universe, which has a television show called Doctor Who in it. In this universe it’s a perfectly reasonable question. Oh, it’s finished.

 

The Score

Sue: I enjoyed that. Yeah, it wasn’t bad at all. The plot was interesting, the designs were very good, and some of the performances were excellent. The bloke playing Cotton was appalling, but I can look beyond that. It’s two episodes too long, obviously, but it was definitely above average.

7/10

 

56

Comments

  1. Matthew Kilburn  January 10, 2012

    Does Sue know yet that she is now the fearless leader of the rehabilitation of this story, facing down the might of Salman Rushdie and Paul Theroux, and armies of fans who read the novelization first?

    • Simon Harries  January 10, 2012

      Loved the book as a nipper… but I suspect that unlike other fans, I barely watched the video. I saw it once in the 90s and then saw it again when the DVD came out, and I didn’t mind it that much. In my case, familiarity had not bred contempt and I was able to chuckle at some of its charms.

    • Alex_The_Geek  January 10, 2012

      I read the novel first it was the second novelisation I’d ever read so I’ve always assumed its good

  2. Simon Harries  January 10, 2012

    Rick James can’t act. We all know that. What surprises me is that no-one ever moans about James Mellor’s performance in The Mutants. His turn as Varan is one-note… E flat minor at a guess. I see he was in The Onedin Line, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Dr Finlay’s Casebook, Z Cars and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, but the Solonian warlord must have been his dodgiest role…

    • John G  January 10, 2012

      He is pretty woeful, but can you blame him stuck in a wig like that?

      • PolarityReversed  January 13, 2012

        Odd resemblence to David Walliams…

        “We’ll die for independence!”
        “I want that one.”

      • Gabriel  January 13, 2012

        In “Snakedance” they put Martin Clunes in a drag costume, including a gold lame skirt, but he still gave a very good performance.

  3. Robert Dick  January 10, 2012

    Hurrah – The experiment is currently at the point where I was born.

    I’m post-Mutants with Time Monster rising.

  4. gangnet  January 10, 2012

    I hope Sue isn’t too sick of “Doctor Who” jokes, as they seem to be under the impression that they can get a whole new direction for the show out of it. (Does anyone understand that? They imply that they want to return the Doctor to being less godlike and more in the shadows, but knowing his name will destroy the universe?)
    (On a semi-related note, why do people who mock the singing in the Gunfighters have such tolerance for the sing-songy omnipresent Children’s Chorus of late? That’s the most embarrassing thing since Paradise Towers.)
    The Marshall always struck me as an effective villain. One expects salt shakers and cyborgs to be leveling planets, but the sheer ordinary humanity of the Marshall is what made his plans so horrific. The idea that a guy who isn’t particularly noteworthy in any way can be the cornerstone of genocide is what makes the possibility so horrifying.
    But I never understood why it was so important for the Solonians, with all their godlike powers, to go back to being humans in the fall. Was cold their weakness? If only the Marshall had had a fire extinguisher. (Don’t know much about how they work, but “Inferno” assures me they emit an icy blast in the Doctor Who universe.)

  5. PSanders  January 10, 2012

    Yay! I hoped Sue would see sense and I was right. As Pertwee 6-parters go, The Mutants stands up pretty well – interesting plot, excellent design overall, colourful, not stuck in the grey Home Counties – even the quarry looks good! Yes Rick James is poor in this – one of the most stilted Who performances ever – but dear me if a bit of crappy acting and a slightly saggy script are such an offence we may as well give up on Doctor Who forever! Much more interesting than The Sea Devils (which is still fun but very traditional). I enjoy The Time Monster, but I can see why that story gets slagged off so much, but why all the hate for The Mutants? Thanks Sue!

  6. Bryan Simcott  January 10, 2012

    I adore the Mutants both book and TV episodes.

    They tried , the production team really pushed the boat out and went for it, I assune they ran out of money and had to resort to the extras who can talk category for Cotton.

    The Mutants themselves are one of the best monster designs in the history of Doctor who (all of it)

    Its nice when someone can see past all the fan gossip, tales, myths etc and see the real thing (as much as possible)

  7. Nathan  January 10, 2012

    I was watching Doctor Who at this point, but have no recollection of either this or the next story, and yet I can’t believe I missed it for 3 months. Similarly I have met few people who remember it from their childhoods either.

    Which leads me to the conclusion that a) they were never approved for broadcast and never shown (which is a bit fat fetched but having seen them now can quite believe or, more likely b) We all suffered some kind of mass post traumatic stress disorder from watching them both together over a period of 12 weeks!

  8. Paul Mudie  January 10, 2012

    I hadn’t seen this one before it came out on DVD, and I was quite pleasantly suprised by it. I suspect it would have bored me to tears if I’d seen it as a nipper, but I think it stands up quite well today. It’s certainly more gripping than The Time Monster…

  9. Dave Sanders  January 10, 2012

    “It’s turned into Malcolm X-Men, now” is the best one-liner in ages.

  10. BestBrian  January 10, 2012

    A 7? 🙂 I never minded this one too much. It’s an ambitious tale, a bit convoluted, with some poor acting, a boom mike in shot, and an imperious Pertwee in high moral dudgeon; ie, the quintessential Who episode. Thanks for starting my day with a smile, as I can just picture the True Whovians tearing at their garments in disgust at Sue’s questioning of their Received Wisdom.

    It’s not life, or death, it’s Doctor Who, and sometimes it’s a bit shit, but it’s always entertaining (well, except for “Fear Her”).

  11. Chris Lindsay  January 10, 2012

    I only saw The Mutants for the first time last year and was pleasantly surprised given its shaky reputation. An ambitious story and with a good political moral – I genuinely don’t understand why it’s become a magnet for fan hate. So the production values stumble a bit and some of the performances wobble – that is nothing new in Classic ‘Who! There are far duller, blander tales – I’m really rather fond of this one. A “7” seems about right.

  12. Iain Coleman  January 10, 2012

    I, too, saw this one for the first time quite recently, and was pleasantly surprised. Evidently i am far from alone. It seems the fan consensus is that the fan consensus is wrong – which seems something of a paradox.

  13. Alex_The_Geek  January 10, 2012

    I don’t suppose there is any chance of a Wife In Space special for the Doctor Who Experience?

    • Daru  January 10, 2012

      Yes! Got to happen!

    • Lewis  January 11, 2012

      I asked Neil on Twitter and he said there’ll be an update of some kind! 🙂

    • James C  January 11, 2012

      Someone needs to sneak some wife in space merch into the shop.

  14. encyclops  January 10, 2012

    I don’t think I’ve watched this since I was in my early teens, but at the time it was one of my favorites. The monsters were great, the independence plot didn’t bore me at all, and the cyclical evolution thing was pretty new and cool to me. Then again, I also loved “The Horns of Nimon” at the time, and after a recent reviewing I can, um, see why it’s not so highly regarded by grownup fans. I’m looking forward to seeing this again soon, even more so now.

    I wonder if I would have loved “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” when I was 12 or 13? I’m thinking probably not. And I sure didn’t love it as a grownup fan.

    • encyclops  March 19, 2012

      I finally rewatched this, and I think 7/10 is a pretty good call. I wouldn’t go higher, particularly in light of episode 5 which is flat awful (something unbelievable even for this show happens every few minutes, and it’s a classic example of the bad kind of padding). I love the Ky = Kosh remark; spot on, and a little embarrassing (see also Ghost Light).

      I’m glad someone mentioned District 9 a little ways down. I kept thinking of that all through this story. I’d remembered more mutant-hand-hiding in this than there actually was, perhaps conflating it with one of my favorite stories from a season coming up, but even so the echoes are really strong, aren’t they? District 9 is prrrrrOBably the higher artistic achievement, but this is a lot more pleasant. And I never get tired of John Hollis.

  15. solar penguin  January 10, 2012

    Despite all its flaws, this story has some of the greatest cliffhangers of the whole Pertwee era. It’s a good thing fan opinion is finally swinging round in favour of this story after all this time. Let’s hope it gets to enjoy its own Solonian summer!

  16. BWT  January 10, 2012

    “Recieved Wisdom” from those who so much more knowledgeable than a mere pleb such as I told me this was shit of the smelliest order. As a result (and like “The Gunfighters”) I avoided this one for years. What can I say now?

    I bluddy LOVE “The Mutants”; it perfectly sums up Pertwee In Space in such a way that this story could only happen in his era. Maybe. Anyway – as Brian Simcott points out above – the Mutants themselves are one of the best monster designs seen in the show; the Pertwee years seemed to produce excellent results in this area from time to time (Axons, Draconians, Autons, Giant Penises).

    T-shirt slogan:

    There are so many excellent quotes from Sue this week…
    – “Why doesn’t Matt Smith use his finger like that? It’s definitely the way to go.”
    – “Have you put some acid in my tea, Neil?”
    – “Fringe.”
    – “It’s turned into Malcolm X-Men, now.”
    – “Look, will somebody please stop Cotton talking!”
    – “It’s Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

    And even Cotton…
    – “Great, innit?”

    But – and this is a first (but hopefully not last) – I believe this time the t-shirt slogan belongs to a reader/poster…
    BestBrian: “It’s not life, or death, it’s Doctor Who, and sometimes it’s a bit shit, but it’s always entertaining.”

    Quoted for truth.

    • BestBrian  January 10, 2012

      Golly, thanks BWT. 🙂

      • Rollocks  January 11, 2012

        “It’s not life, or death, it’s Doctor Who, and sometimes it’s a bit shit” would make a great DW t-shirt full stop.

  17. John G  January 10, 2012

    “Actually, could he put the mask back on, please? He’d sound better with his mask back on.”

    Cruel, but there is no denying how bad Rick James is in this story; his performance is certainly enough to guarantee him a dishonourable place in the Who Hall of Wood alongside Reg Lye, Jenny Laird and Leee John. However, like Sue I think this is a decent effort overall. The plot is complex and involving, with something to say, the Marshall is an effectively loathsome villain and the Mutts are some of the best designed creatures ever to appear in the show. I’m not so keen on the space station sets, which look very cheap and flimsy, and the script does frequently ask too much of the technology available at the time. Nevertheless, this is probably Baker and Martin’s best work for the show (not that that is saying a great deal, admittedly) and I don’t understand all the hate directed towards it. Indeed, compared to what’s coming up next, it looks like a veritable masterpiece…

    • BWT  January 10, 2012

      Oi – leave Reg Lye alone! By his own admission he should have listened to his mother and become a gasman anyway… 😉

      • John G  January 10, 2012

        I wonder if he would have made a good chef…

  18. Glen Allen  January 10, 2012

    Can we stalk you and Sue at Dr Who Experience? Do let us know what time you’ve booked and I’ll get stalkers…sorry fans to stare at you and point 🙂

    • BestBrian  January 11, 2012

      Maybe you could arrange for minstrels to serenade her with her own special stalker song. 🙂

  19. Simon Harries  January 11, 2012

    I expect that at the Experience, Sue will behave rather as Salvador Dali’s wife Gala did, when Russell Harty came a’calling with his “Aquarius” film crew: enigmatic and reluctant to be photographed, though she may relent and throw you a fleeting smile from behind a closing door 🙂

  20. Tristan Alfaro  January 11, 2012

    I’m also one of those who hadn’t seen The Mutants until the DVD release (although I read the novelisation as a kiddie winkie). It’s not as bad as fan lore makes it out to be but it’s not brilliant. As usual it suffers from being too long, but the set design and and the location filming are unusually good. It’s probably one of many Who stories that work far better being watched one ep a week rather than all in one go.

    I’d love to see a sitcom starring an odd couple of the Marshal and that bloke out of Nimon who always yells “weakling scum!”at people.

    • John S. Hall  January 11, 2012

      I’d love to see that sitcom too! 😀

    • BWT  January 11, 2012

      Not a bad idea – madcap Graham Crowden and straight-man Paul Whitsun-Jones would work well together. Unfortunately dead men don’t usually make good comedy – deadpan at best…

      • Simon Harries  January 11, 2012

        Oddly enough, Paul Whitsun-Jones did turn up in an episode of the sitcom Father Dear Father, some time in the early 1970s, playing a hideous American businessman in a Stetsun who turns up and “whoops the ass” of Patrick Cargill. One of his best roles was James Fullalove in the original 1950s episodes of Quatermass.

  21. John S. Hall  January 11, 2012

    Count me in as another supporter of “The Mutants” — sorry, Nick!

    I can totally understand your frustration with this story — heck, Pertwee himself said in his autobiography “I Am The Doctor” that he had absolutely no memory of recording this story — but it’s not nearly as bad as some of his other six-parters that I could mention.

    Yeah, Rick James couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, and the guy playing Varan is pretty one-note as well, but the Marshall makes up for it with his scenery chewing. (I remember ages ago in his assessment of this story, that Trey Korte in his “Who Without Pity” dubbed him “Marshall Cartman”…)

    Also, you should mention to Sue that the Skybase’s triangular walls will become a semi-regular regular of “Doctor Who” sets from hereon in, so that she can keep an eye out for them… 😉

    Cheers, JohnH

  22. John S. Hall  January 11, 2012

    Also, if Sue has an issue with CSO fringe and cod acting, I can only imagine what she’ll say about Metebelis Three in “Planet of the Spiders”… :rolleyes:

  23. Thomas Bush  January 11, 2012

    Nice of JohnH to point out the triangular walls which were used in several DW stories. I hope that Sue will able to spot the recycled props and costumes later on.

    • John S. Hall  January 11, 2012

      In that case, Thomas, she should have a field day with “Destiny of the Daleks”… 😀

      The triangular walls also make regular appearances in BLAKE’S 7 too, IIRC. Mostly in Servalan’s office, I think!

      I seem to remember reading that the person who designed these triangular walls was gobsmacked to find out how often they were re-used over the years.

      • Jazza1971  January 11, 2012

        Yeah, I remember them in Blake’s 7 too. The triangular wall has had more screen time than Paul McGann. The triangular wall is cannon!

  24. Jason Miller  January 11, 2012

    Very good stuff. I always love it when Sue’s opinions don’t conform to 30 years of institutionalized fandom! And the novelization of this story is brilliant, as were so many of Dicks’ interpretations of good Pertwee-era scripts soiled by weak production….

    • John S. Hall  January 11, 2012

      Very true!

      And unfortunately I experienced most Pertwee stories via novelisations long before I actually saw most of them, so as a result, a lot of his era suffered in my view… :-/

  25. Frankymole  January 11, 2012

    “Butterflies” is quite a clue really, as the Solonian life-cycle and Ky’s emergence as a “superbeing” is supposed to be similar…

    One joy of “doing the marathon” is supposed to be finding oneself forced to watch supposedly “dud” stories (in order and in the context of preceding stories) and having the chance to re-evaluate them… though maybe it doesn’t always work!

    I wonder if this one was more boring in black and white?

  26. Marty  January 11, 2012

    It’s great to see The Mutants with a fresh look. The last time I saw it it was on UKTV, with ad breaks in it. I guess I’ll have to get the DVD to get the full LSD trip experience.

    Sue’s meringue comment made me laugh.

    Sue’s gone very specialist, noticing boom mics in shots all the time. Or is this a regular thing is she noticing mics in shot in other programmes?

    One of the things I’ve wondered about this story is…the name Cotton…did they deliberately name him to draw a link between Cotton Farmers and black slaves?

    • Gabriel  January 13, 2012

      I read that Cotton was written to be a Cockney, and–if I remember–Stubbs was supposed to be black instead.

  27. Russell Watson  January 11, 2012

    I’d never even really heard of this one when the DVD was being released, so I thought I’d give it a go. Got it online & have to say I really enjoyed it. I’d had no idea it had such a poor reputation. i’d maybe have gone as far as an 8/10.

    Sea Devils edges this one though.

  28. Sparklepunk  January 11, 2012

    I know that I must have seen all the Pertwee episodes, because they were played through quite a few times on the PBS station that I watched them on and I always tuned in for Pertwee, but I don’t have any memory of this episode at all.

  29. Newbunkle  January 11, 2012

    Mutt eventually went on to land a role in District 9.

    • BWT  January 12, 2012

      Along with the Nucleus from “The Invisible Enemy” – no wonder they called them “Prawns”. Buitenverwachting, boet?

    • PolarityReversed  January 13, 2012

      And a cameo in Arf Meets Dr Shakespearenstein. “Alas poor Mutt”. One of my faves – groovy dancing too.

  30. William Keith  January 12, 2012

    I love “The Mutants” and never, never forget my Oxymask.

  31. PolarityReversed  January 13, 2012

    Sue: Would it have killed the Time Lords to have included some instructions? This is worse than 3-2-1.

    I have to have some of that. In the direction of our destination we lose our surprise and have a cuppa!:
    Towards – o + t = twardst
    Three must go, but all in a row, leaving me!:
    twardst – rds = twat
    That’s the name of an airline, plus the first letter of where you’ll be flying to if you can stay awake long enough to care!
    Canned applause and audience shots to cover the point where Ted explains to the contestants what the hell’s going on. Bin arrives on stage to rapturous welcome…

  32. farsighted99  January 30, 2012

    Okay, I liked this one too. Not that it didn’t drone on a bit in the middle (4 episodes max is enough for a story)… but hey. Considering it’s 1972 and TV quality at the time, I have to say this was good. First, I think it was probably pretty expensive to make. All those costumes (some better than others …); and the Mutts themselves were excellent! (actually for rubber suits, those were pretty well done); and the sets looked elaborate for the time (even though a bit on the side of silly by today’s standards, they really outdid themselves there). I don’t think the 8 year olds who were watching really cared all that much…

    I liked the scope of the whole story. It was about apartheid, ruining the environment, invasion of other worlds, etc. etc. And there was NO MASTER anywhere to be seen. Which was a good thing. He’s getting on my nerves a bit, I was expecting him to pop up somewhere, and he didn’t.

    I loved the Time Lord soccer message ball; that was just too good. Except how did they get it to open only for Ky when they didn’t have any of his DNA or anything? I guess it doesn’t matter, but I liked that bit. I also thought the metamorphosis idea of the Solonians was pretty cool, I didn’t see that coming; except for that last bit, when Rainbow Man emerged from his metamorphosis and immediately flew away (standing up, no less). That was a little hard to believe. I knocked off a point for that cheap resolution.

    That actor Rick James who played Cotton is like the worst.actor.ever that I’ve seen on Doctor Who (actually he may have been one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen… :D) Oh well, at least they tried for a bit of diversity there, in 1972 there wasn’t much of that. Anyway, he was just dreadful, surely they could have come up with a better black actor–like someone who could act. Personally, they should have killed him off and given Stubbs his big lines (who was a much better actor).

    And the signage couldn’t have been worse. They were all in that futuristic font (well, in 1972 I think they thought it was futuristic); and I loved the way they had different transporters (Star Trek, anyone? Beam me up Scotty?) for Solonians and Overlords. And that word, Overlord. Who wants to be called an Overlord? What a ridiculous name. And don’t forgot your Oxymask!!!

    The worst bit was the panto performance of the evil Overlord (the Marshal) on the SkyLab… He was a nutter if I ever saw one. He also had a bit part in The Smugglers a few years before. Anyway, he was hamming it up a little too much, chewing away the scenery. And then there was the “mad scientist”… but I suppose he was crucial to the plot.

    But they did have an ambitious story and they made a great attempt, so I say 7/10 (would have been 8/10 except for the Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors flying through the air at the end.

  33. Martin  May 22, 2012

    My least favorite Pertwee by far – an easy 3/10. About 4 episodes too long and lacking in any humor.