Sue: Louis Marks. I hope this doesn’t lose marks too quickly.
Me: That’s a pun. We don’t do puns, Sue.
Sue: But seriously, his name rings a bell. Should I know who Louis Marks is?
Me: He ran a profitable sideline selling toy Daleks.
Sue: Did he really?
Me: No. And to answer your original question, he wrote Planet of Giants and Day of the Daleks.
Sue: Oh dear. I actually recognise the names of people who have worked on Doctor Who.
Me: When you can recite transmission dates off the top of your head, that’s when you should start worrying.
On the planet Zeta Minor, a Morestran is tending to his corpse garden.
Sue: (Pointing at the grave marker) Did he just bury a seven-year-old child? How grim is that?
Me: I don’t think they brought any seven-year-olds with them on this expedition, but I could be wrong.
Sue: Is it the Thals? He looks like a Thal to me. And I’m sure I’ve seen that caravan before.
Professor Sorenson and a man named Baldwin are analysing some crystals they found on the planet’s surface.
Sue: Are they intergalactic drug dealers? Are they cooking up some crystal meth? It’s a futuristic Breaking Bad; they even have their own caravan.
Meanwhile, back at the Morestran base/caravan, the corpse gardener is spooked by something lurking in the jungle.
Sue: Just go back inside your caravan and lock the door. It’s probably safe in there. No! Don’t walk further away from it! What the hell are you doing, man?!
But it’s too late. The gardener is pinned by an unseen force and, screaming in agony, he simply disappears.
Sue: It’s another monster that cleans up after itself. You get a lot of those in Doctor Who.
Baldwin hurries back to the base through an impressive jungle set.
Sue: Are we on film now? This looks excellent all of a sudden.
But when Baldwin reaches a clearing, Sue sighs.
Sue: And now we’re back on video again. What a shame.
Baldwin disappears as well, but not before he pushes a very important button.
Sue: So the monster in this story is invisible. What would Doctor Who do without invisible monsters, eh? I’m surprised the BBC haven’t tried to sell you some invisible toy monsters, Neil.
Me: Who says they haven’t? I’ve got hundreds of them.
The Doctor and Sarah intercept Baldwin’s distress call.
Sue: The Doctor is overjoyed that there could be some danger involved. He’s a ****ing lunatic.
Also heading to Zeta Minor is a Morestran military ship.
Sue: This is very Star Trek all of a sudden.
As Commander Salamar barks orders to his subordinates, Sue excitedly points at him.
Sue: It’s him again!
Me: Prentis Hancock. He’s my favourite bad actor ever.
Sue: He hasn’t improved since we last saw him. Are you sure this lot aren’t Thals?
Sue casts a critical eye over the Morestrans’ costumes.
Sue: They’re probably very nice to wear if you happen to have a hairy chest. I’m surprised they aren’t wearing gold medallions. That way the Thals could throw their chains at the Cybermen if they got into a fight with them.
Me: They aren’t Thals!
Thankfully, not all the costumes are ridiculed by Sue.
Sue: Sarah Jane looks very nice this week. Practical but stylish.
The Sarah and the Doctor find the distress beacon in the Morestran caravan, next to Baldwin’s skeleton.
Sue: Okay, I’m a little confused. I thought the victims vanished? So why have they come back again?
Sarah returns to the TARDIS to gather some equipment, but the Morestran military lock her inside.
Sue: Use the manual crank handle, love.
When the Morestrans try to summarise the situation, most of it sails over Sue’s head, mainly thanks to Tom.
Sue: What the **** is Tom Baker staring at? Even when he doesn’t say anything, he’s still the most interesting thing in the room. I can’t take my eyes off him. What is he looking at?
Me: He’s probably giving the floor manager a hard time.
The Doctor and Sarah are sent to a detention cell, but Sarah quickly figures a way out.
Sue: Sarah is doing most of the heavy lifting in this story. I like it. But you have to ask yourself why the Doctor is having an off-day. He looks like he’s wandering around in a daze.
The episode concludes with our heroes escaping to a clearing, where they immediately run into…
Sue: A fat Predator.
The Morestrans tackle the monster with high-tech weaponry.
Sue: Their guns sound wimpy. They look good, but they sound like something you’d pick up at Toys R Us. And how is this monster killing everyone when it’s just standing there doing absolutely nothing? It isn’t even touching anyone.
The Doctor and Sarah leg it, and luckily for them, the Morestrans couldn’t hit a barn door with their wimpy weapons if their lives depended on it.
Sue: Are they the UNIT of the future? Which one’s supposed to be Benton?
The Doctor and Sarah hike through the jungle – on film no less.
Sue: I wish it could look like this all the time. I know it’s a budgetary thing, but doesn’t it make you feel sad? It’s so frustrating. Part of me wishes the whole thing was shot on video, that way I wouldn’t be disappointed when we keep switching back to it.
The Morestrans use an Oculoid Tracker to find the Doctor and Sarah.
Sue: How big is that thing supposed to be, exactly? There’s no sense of scale. It could be really tiny or there could be people sitting in it. So which one is it?
When the tracker hovers directly over the Doctor and Sarah’s heads, Sue finally figures it out.
Sue: Okay, this is pretty good, actually. Technically, it’s quite impressive. I’m not really into the plot yet, but it looks good. The direction isn’t bad, either.
When the Morestrans’ ship fails to get off the ground, the Doctor decides to tell them what they’re up against.
Sue: Tom’s great, isn’t he? You could give him practically anything to say and he’d make it sound interesting. I like the way he stares right down the camera lens at the audience. He’s practically daring us not to take this seriously.
Sorenson begs Salamar to let him take a few crystals home with him.
Sue: Sorenson looks like Eddie Izzard on a bad day.
Me: It’s Frank Spencer’s flying instructor, remember?
Sue: Oh yes, so it is.
And Freddie Jaeger isn’t the only actor she recognises.
Sue: His voice sounds very familiar.
Me: It’s Davros.
Sue: So it is! So is this where we find out what happened to his legs?
Me: No, it’s just the actor who plays Davros. His name is Michael Wisher.
Sue: I thought he’d be a lot older than that. Are you sure they aren’t Thals?
Me: I thought we’d already established that.
The Doctor places Sorenson’s crystals in an empty toffee tin.
Sue: We’ve got a Harrogate toffee tin just like that.
Me: I know.
Sue: Oh, so that’s why we have a Harrogate toffee tin exactly like that. It all makes sense now.
The Doctor volunteers to negotiate with the monster on the Morestrans’ behalf. However, this doesn’t go according to plan and the episode ends with him falling into a very deep hole.
Sue: Great cliffhanger. I haven’t got a clue what the Doctor was hoping to achieve there, but it was very exciting.
Me: I definitely remember watching that when it was first broadcast, and freaking out.
Me: I must have been obsessed with Doctor Who by then. That episode went out two days before my sixth birthday and the following Monday I was given a toy Dalek as my main present. It was the red one made by Palitoy (not Louis Marx).
Me: It could talk and everything. I bloody loved that Dalek. I can see it now. I can even smell it now. It’s like I’m back in the room with it, and not only can I remember the details of the room, I can still remember the feelings I had as I was playing with it. This feeling floats on the tip of my mind, but when I try to focus on it, it slips away. Being a Doctor Who fan really does allow you to time travel, you know.
Me: This is our 300th episode of Doctor Who (not including the recons).
Sue: Is that all? It feels like it’s a lot more.
Me: Fancy a dance?
Sue: Not really.
We are joined by Nicol and I do what I can to get her up to speed.
Nicol: Not anti-matter again! Are they still obsessed with that?
Sue explains to Nicol the Doctor has fallen into a hole that exists between universes. This is illustrated by Tom Baker being flung towards the camera on a Kirby wire.
Nicol: Right… Well, that definitely wouldn’t happen.
Sue: They’re trying, bless them.
Nicol: If he fell into an anti-matter universe (which wouldn’t technically exist), he’d cease to be as soon as he passed the event horizon. Everybody knows that.
The Doctor emerges from the hole unscathed.
Nicol: Right, that’s enough bad science for one night. I’m off.
Back on the Morestran ship, Professor Sorenson is doubled over in pain.
Sue: He’s suffering from irritable bowel syndrome by the look of it.
Sorenson’s eyes turn bright red.
Sue: That’s excellent; you could probably get away with that effect today.
Sorenson quaffs a steaming potion and returns to normal.
Sue: So this is basically Jekyll and Hyde in reverse. Although if you saw this when you were five or six, you’d probably think it was the most original story you’d ever seen.
Sarah tends to the Doctor, who is still unconscious after his trip to the anti-matter universe.
Sue: I still don’t understand how he got out of that hole. Did he just float out? They’d better explain that.
The Doctor says he survived thanks to a tin of anti-matter he was carrying with him at the time.
The Morestrans try to leave the planet a second time.
Sue: The front of their spaceship looks like a mobile disco.
Then Sue comes up with the perfect escape plan.
Sue: Why don’t they go back to the TARDIS and **** off? That’s what I’d do. Just let the ship crash. Job’s a good ‘un.
By this point, Sorenson looks awful. Like Killer Bob from Twin Peaks crossed with werewolf-Benton from Inferno.
Sue: He’s definitely on crystal meth. And I think he’s due for his fix.
As Sorenson notches up a kill-streak, Sue decides to forgive Mark Lawson. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.
Sue: Now this feels like it’s a horror film.
A couple of days ago, we watched Mark Lawson Talks to Mark Gatiss on BBC4, and in it Mr Lawson referred to Doctor Who as a horror programme. Sue dismissed this out of hand at the time, believing it was more an action-adventure show than anything else. But now she’s changed her mind.
Sue: This is pretty scary, actually. It looks like he’s drinking blood, and he’s obviously possessed by the devil. What time did this go out?
When the Doctor gets into an altercation with a Morestran, he punches him squarely on the jaw.
Sue: That was a canny punch. I take it this Doctor doesn’t go in for the old finger to the chest routine. That’s fine by me.
As Salamar discovers the Doctor and Sarah standing next to a corpse, he shoots the Doctor in the face.
Sue: You bastard!
The episode concludes with the Doctor and Sarah facing the unlikely prospect of being buried alive in space.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger. I can’t complain about that at all.
Salamar tells Vishinsky to pull the lever that will send the Doctor and Sarah to their doom.
Me: Why doesn’t he pull the lever himself? Why get into a fight with an old man over it?
Sue: He’s trying to make a point. He wants the old guy to have blood on his hands. Keep up, love.
The ship’s pilot is killed and everybody rushes back to the bridge. On his way out, Vishinsky pushes the lever back the other way, saving the Doctor and Sarah in the process.
Sue: That was a nice touch. He didn’t make a big deal out of it. I liked that.
Salamar finally loses his cool.
Sue: The problem with this guy is that he’s been ranting and raving from the moment we met him. He hasn’t got anywhere else to go. He’ll end up shrieking like a little girl at this rate. He should have ramped it up gradually.
Vishinsky gives the order to close all the hatchways.
Sue: Oh look, it’s the credits to Mystery Science 3000 Thingy.
The Doctor appeals to Sorenson’s better nature.
Me: Great scene, don’t you think?
Sue: If you say so.
Me: Do you have any idea what just happened?
Sue: Not really.
Me: The Doctor just convinced the bad guy to commit suicide.
Sue: Seriously? I thought he was giving him an opportunity to flush his drugs down the toilet.
Sorenson prepares to eject himself into space, but before he can pull the lever, the anti-matter part of him takes over.
Sue: The Doctor should have tried assisted-suicide instead.
Salamar is killed by the anti-man, but not before he unleashes the neutron accelerator.
Sue: Okay, so is everybody dead now? Right, just take the old guy, jump in the TARDIS, and leave.
The Doctor stuns the anti-man and drags him into the TARDIS.
Sue: The Doctor’s being a bit overly-confident if he thinks he can land the TARDIS wherever he wants.
Me: According to Big Finish, Sorenson and the Doctor enjoy several adventures together in the gap between the next two scenes. Although Sorenson is tied-up in them, which limits his role quite a lot.
As multiple versions of the anti-man wander around the Morestrans’ ship, Sue fails to see the point.
Sue: What do these things want, exactly? I don’t get it. How did this even happen? Was I supposed to know the flask of light would do that? Should I get Nicol? Maybe she can explain this to me.
Me: I really wouldn’t bother.
The Doctor lands the TARDIS next to the pool of anti-matter on Zeta Minor (which impresses Sue no end), and then Sorenson falls into it.
Me: You know, I have absolutely no memory of this episode at all. Either I missed it or…
Sue: It’s shit. That’s why you can’t remember it. You blocked it out.
Sorenson miraculously returns to normal, and the crew fall over themselves to welcome him back.
Me: He killed loads of people and now they’re queuing up to shake his hand. They should lock him up.
Sue: It’s called ‘diminished responsibility’, Neil. For example, if I killed you now, I could use this experiment as an excuse. Yeah, I’d definitely get off with it.
Sue: That was average. It was on for a six or a seven at one point, but the last episode was a huge disappointment. I was bored by the end of it. The plot didn’t really make sense, and I had no idea what was going on with the multiple-monsters. The guy who played the commander was hopeless, and I couldn’t care less about the rest of them. Tom was pretty good, and the jungle was nice. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the jungle, I might have scored it lower.
Sue and I will now be taking a few weeks off to recharge our batteries and –
Sue: I’m happy to carry on. I think you’re making too much fuss out of a few negative comments on the blog. I couldn’t care less what people think or write about me. And if you dish it out, you have to be able to take it.
Me: But somebody called you a sour faced **** –
Sue: I’ve been called a lot worse. By you. It doesn’t bother me.
Me: Well, I need a break even if you don’t.
Sue: Actually, I would like to say something: I never claimed to be an expert when it comes to Land Rovers; it’s not like I’m going to appear on Mastermind with Land Rovers as my specialist subject (I’d probably pick the history of building regulations in the UK 2002-2012). I just like Land Rovers and the UNIT Land Rovers looked like Defenders to me. I couldn’t give a toss about what they were called in 1975 – it’s still the basic Defender shape. Not that I give a shit, of course.
Me: Right, that settles it. We are definitely taking a break.