Saturday 8 October 2011

320 The Mutants Episode Three

EPISODE: The Mutants Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 22 April 1972
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Mutants
Episode Format: 625 video

The Doctor & Varan struggle but resolve their differences as a firestorm starts. Kai blames the fire-storms on the Marshall's atmospheric experiments. He & Jo encounter Mutants in the caves. The Marshall insists Jaeger continues with his rocket preparation then gives Stubbs & Cotton a dressing down sending them to Solos to hunt for Varan & the Doctor. Varan & the Doctor rescue Kai but Jo has become separated from them wandering into a cave glowing with energy where she collapses and is found by a silver spacesuited figure. The Doctor gives Kai the container which opens for him revealing some ancient tablets with drawings on them. Kai recognises the symbols but cannot read it. Varan leaves to raise his people to fight the Overlords. Kai tells the Doctor that the scientist Sondergaard could read the language but he "disappeared" on the Marshall's orders. Jaeger observes temperature increases and an increase in the mutation rate on Solos as the planet moves into it's summer. The Marshall sends Stubbs & Cotton into the tunnels to search the caves. Varan finds his village empty apart from one mutating old man who he has summon his warriors. The Doctor finds Jo lying in a tunnel, and they bare in turn found by Stubbs & Cotton. The Marshall has the gas grenades fired and the explosives detonated sealing everyone within. Varan starts to show signs of mutation, and hears voices telling him to go to the caves but resists wanting to fight. Jo tells the Doctor what she has seen, recalling the figure that rescued her. Gas starts to reach the Doctor and his party who realise they are trapped!

Compared to the previous episode this one rolled along at a cracking rate with. It's helped by some decent location work in Chislehurst Caves. Indeed the marks the production team drew on the walls of Chislehurst caves can still be seen to this day. We get our first proper sight of the Mutant costumes here, with the chief Mutant played by John Scott Martin, long time Dalek operator. The Mutant costumes are superb work, essentially a humanoid insect and not dissimilar to the aliens in Star Fleet. One of the costumes will be recycled in the opening episode of Brain of Morbius.

Other locations used include Stone House Farm and a quarry site that's now under the Bluewater shopping centre! Some of the location shots of the Overlord guards pursuing their quarry make them look a lot like the Federation Guards from Blake's 7, only that the Federation Guards have much better head gear!

Some of the acting in this episode does leave a little to be desired though: Paul Whitsun-Jones' bluster throughout and hiding the explosives behind his back while talking to Stubbs & Cotton are straight out of a seventies sitcom handbook and it's no surprise to find several comedies on his CV. Garrick Hagon's accent can, at best, be described as "variable" and he keeps lapsing into something closer to his native Canadian tone which he'll later employ as the voice of Star Fleet's Captain Carter. Much comment has been made about Rick James' performance over the years: I find he comes over rather monotone and emotionless. We get another old mutating Solonian here too, played by Sidney Johnson looking so much like out It's Man from episode 1 that I'm tempted to say it's the same actor wearing the same costume, especially as nobody is credited for the role for the first episode!

The first 2 episodes of this story are Reverse Standards Conversions from 525 line NTSC Tapes. But from this episode onwards this story survives on it's original 625 line transmission master tapes.

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