EPISODE: Planet of Evil Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 406
STORY NUMBER: 081
TRANSMITTED: 27 September 1975
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet Of Evil
On the planet Zeta-Minor Braun plants a grave marker for a fallen comrades while another two men gather samples in a cave. Braun radios to call them back to base before night falls but Professor Sorenson wants to stay to pursue a rich seam. Baldwin leaves Sorenson behind but back at their base a creature comes for Braun who disintegrates. Baldwin too is caught and killed when he returns to base. The Doctor & Sarah come out of the Time Vortex 30,000 years too late and hearing the distress call materialise in the jungles of Zeta-Minor. A spaceship approaches Zeta-Minor where Vishinsky describes it as the last planet in the known universe. Controller Salamar tells Vishinsky to head up the landing party even though they don't have enough fuel to survey the planet first. The Doctor & Sarah find the graves and the seemingly deserted base. The Doctor wonders where they are theorising that the expedition was killed before help arrived. Sarah returns to the Tardis for some equipment and while she is gone the Doctor finds Baldwin's body. As Sarah enters the Tardis, it's found by the landing party. They have the Tardis transferred to the probe by transmat. The landing party find Sorenson who tells them he has made a vital discovery. Vishinsky quizes him on the expedition's losses but he is evasive. They find the Doctor at the base. Sarah exits the Tardis finding herself on the Morestran spaceship and a prisoner of Salamar who interrogates her. In the cave where the samples were found a sound comes from the black pit in the middle. Salamar opts to land on the planet. Sorenson relates the story of how the members of his expedition were killed. Salamar, convinced the Doctor is responsible, has him taken for interrogation. But once reunited with Sarah they escape encountering an all but invisible monster surrounded by red energy....
Confession time: I've never been a huge Planet of Evil fan, but I'll try to approach the story with an open mind. This episode wasn't bad at all, but the base and the jungle reminded me somewhat of Planet of the Daleks, a previous story directed by David Maloney: in particular the door to the base not looking unlike the back of the Thal shuttle. Essentially at this stage the Doctor is the number one suspect in the eyes of Salamar, the commander of the Morestran forces. It's only at the end that the creature stands revealed before us and even then we have no idea what it is!
"character development" is a high priority in this story so let's get the cast out the way before they start leaving us as the story progresses. Lead guest is Frederick Jaeger playing Professor Sorenson. Previously he was Jano in The Savages and will return as Professor Marius in The Invisible Enemy. Also in The Savanges was Ewen Solon, here playing Vishinsky, who was Chal. Salamar is played by Prentis Hancock, a veteran of the aforementioned Planet of the Daleks, where he was Vaber. He was also in Spearhead from Space as a reporter and returns in The Ribos Operation as the Shrieve Captain. We'll look at his most famous role outside of Doctor Who tomorrow. Louis Mahoney plays Ponti, returning to Doctor Who after being the newscaster in Frontier in Space. He also has a modern Doctor Who appearance to his name: he was the older Billy Shipton in Blink. Tony McEwan, who briefly plays Baldwin was a Redcoat in The War Games (director: David Maloney) as was Graham Weston, here playing De Haan, who was Russell. A veteran of not one but two previous David Maloney stories is Michael Wisher, playing Morelli. He was in The Ambassadors of Death as John Wakefield, Terror of the Autons as Rex Farrel, Carnival of Monsters as Kalik, provided Dalek Voices during Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks, Death to the Daleks & Genesis of the Daleks, where he also appeared as Davros and Revenge of the Cybermen where he was Magrik. In a later episode of this series he'll voice Ranjit. This story is his last Doctor Who appearance: he had another prior booking when asked to reprise Davros for Destiny of the Daleks and died in 1995.