Tuesday 3 January 2012

407 Planet of Evil Part Two

EPISODE: Planet of Evil Part Two
TRANSMITTED: 04 October 1975
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet Of Evil

One of the spaceship crew, O'Hara, attacks the creature and is killed by it. Salamar and Vishinsky investigate a power fault when Ponti reports that they may be under attack and Vishinsky finds the prisoners gone. Salamar blames them for O'Hara's death. The Morestrans launch the occuloid tracker to find the Doctor. The Doctor & Sarah investigate the cave with the black pit where they believe the creature came from but they are found by the tracker and captured. Ponti falls into the pit and the Doctor warns them they are interfering with things on this planet that they don't understand. Sorenson & De Haan retrieve Sorenson's samples which he believe will give the Morestrans a new source of power. Salamar puts the Doctor on trial and refuses to believe the Doctor's explanation for the deaths. The Doctor tells them to leave Sorenson's samples behind or they will never leave the planet. The Doctor explains to Sarah that the Morestrans actions may put the whole universe at risk. The Doctor steals some of Sorenson's mineral samples as the ship starts it's launch sequence. The ship malfunctions as they start to take off and they see the creature approaching the ship. The Doctor & Sarah are brought to the bridge as the crew attack the creature. The Doctor advises them to link their forcefield to the atomic accelerator which repels the creature. The Doctor returns to the cave to communicate with the creature but is dragged into the black pit.

I'm experiencing similar feelings to this story that I had before: annoyance at Salamar and complete non engagement with the plot. The monster's there, it's reasonably obvious that the Doctor hasn't killed the people and Sorenson's a bit loopy and yet ..... Salamar doesn't seem to have two brain cells to rub together and Prentis Hancock is basically rehashing his Vaber (from Planet of the Daleks) performance here.

While these episodes of Doctor Who were airing a new science fiction series was being broadcast directly opposite it by ITV, or was in some regions at least. Several years in development Space 1999 was seen as the other side's answer to Doctor Who. Set on a Moonbase, an element recycled from UFO which Space 1999 is very roughly a sequel too, the Moon is blasted out of orbit in episode 1 and the series tracks it's voyage round the universe and the crew's struggle for survival. In front of the camera Doctor Who actors Prentis Hancock (Salamar in Planet of Evil) and Ziena Merton (Ping Cho in Marco Polo) feature in a regular cast headed by American stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Guest stars include Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, Julian Glover (King Richard in the Crusade & Scaroth in City of Death) and Brian Blessed (Yrcannos in Trial of a Timelord). Johnny Byrne, future Doctor who writer of Keeper of Traken, Arc of Infinity & Warriors of the Deep, writes for the show during series 1.

However Space 1999 was seen as having problems and a major revamp preceded series two. In came experienced American producer Fred Freiberger. Out went Prentis Hancock and several other members of the cast including respected actor Barry Morse replaced by, amongst others, the future Countess Scarlioni (City of Death) Catherine Schell. Many new writers were recruited including former Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks and future Doctor Who writers Pip & Jane Baker.

There are two sorts of Space 1999: Good Space 1999 and Bad Space 1999. These roughly equate to the first series and the second series. It must be a coincidence that the "bad" second year was over seen by the man who produced the inferior third series of Star Trek and had a script by the writers of Time & The Rani isn't it?

Space 1999 series 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD. In my opinion it's well worth your time & money. Episodes such as Breakaway, Black Sun, Earthbound, Another Time, Another Place, Death's Other Domain, Full Circle and Dragon's Domain are really rather good. Plus the model effects sequences look staggeringly good especially in high definition. As yet series 2 hasn't been released on BD and the DVD is, sadly, long out of print.

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