Thursday 29 December 2011

402 Terror of the Zygons Part One

EPISODE: Terror of the Zygons Part One
TRANSMITTED: 30 August 1975
WRITER: Robert Banks-Stewart
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who Terror of the Zygons

After 32 episodes on DVD we're back on video for this four part story which, because it's not on DVD yet, is one of the main reason I still keep a working video recorder.

At sea an oil rig is destroyed. The Doctor and his companions have arrived in Scotland and hitch a lift on the road, being picked up by His Grace, The Duke of Forghill, who takes them to the Village of Tulloch where UNIT are operating out of the local pub. The Brigadier has been talking with Mr Huckle from the oil firm. On a local beach a survivor from the oil rig is washed up. The Brigadier explains to the Doctor about three oil rigs being destroyed. Radio blackouts occur just before the rigs are destroyed. Sarah speaks to the local pub landlord but their conversation is observed on a monitor screen by alien eyes. Harry finds the survivor on the beach, but both are shot by the Duke's gillie. The Doctor & Sarah are summoned the local infirmary where Harry has been taken as the aliens direct something under the water which attacks another rig. The Doctor examines some of the wreckage and deduces that it has been bitten into by making a plaster cast of from the damage. The aliens observing them decide the Doctor must be destroyed. Harry starts to come round, leading Sarah to summon the Doctor. But as she speaks on the phone one of the aliens appears in the corridor behind her....

Ah that's decent stuff. I criticised Revenge of the Cybermen for bungling their monster reveal but it's done a lot better here with little hints - eyes and hands - before the reveal at the end of the episode. Destroyed oil rigs might make log term fans of the show automatically think Sea Devils, but as we can see it's not them.
Back to the show comes our old friend Douglas Camfield following his heart problems and disagreements with Jon Pertwee on the set of Inferno. Also returning are Nicholas Courtney, as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and John Levene, as Mister Benton, making UNIT's traditional start of the season appearance. On debut here is writer Robert Banks-Stewart, who'd been writing for television since 1959 with Danger Man, The Avengers and Jason King on his CV. He'd go on to create detective dramas Shoestring and Bergerac. Banks-Stewart is the first debut author on Doctor Who since Robert Sloman and Barry Letts wrote the Daemons in 1971. Four seasons of Doctor Who have elapsed since then with the just older authors contributing to the show.

Appearing in this episode only are Hugh Martin, as Munro, who'll be back as a Priest in Vengeance on Varos and Bruce Wightman, as the Radio Operator, who was William de Tornebu in The Crusade and Scott in The Daleks' Master Plan. Yup, another actor that Douglas Camfield likes reusing.

This episode aired the last Saturday in August 1975. The previous Monday, a bank holiday, Tom Baker presented the BBC's Disney Time as The Doctor which included the Doctor being given a message by the Brigadier summoning his assistance.... which he'd already done in the previous story Revenge of the Cybermen.

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