Monday 30 July 2012

615 Frontios Part One

EPISODE: Frontios Part One
TRANSMITTED: Thursday 26 January 1984
WRITER: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Frontios

The Tardis is dragged towards the planet Frontios in a meteor shower where one of the last groups of surviving humans shelter in the ruins of their crashed starship. The Doctor helps their chief scientist Mr Range in the hospital sending Range's daughter Norna with Tegan & Turlough to fetch some electricity generating equipment from the ship's now barred research room to light the hospital. Plantagernet and his security chief Brazen, believing that the meteor showers are the work of an enemy trying to wipe them out, accuse the Doctor of working for this unknown power. Another meteor shower strikes the planet and afterwards the Doctor can find no trace of the Tardis except for the hat stand that stood in the console room and assumes it has been destroyed.

Oh come on. Hands up who really thinks the Tardis has been destroyed? No. Don't we know from previous stories that it's virtually indestructible? One episode in and I'm already thoroughly disliking the vast majority of Frontios' residents with the exception of Mr Range & Norma. The story establishes that they left Earth before it fell into the sun. Now we've already seen that incident in the story The Ark where a group of humans seek shelter on the planet Refusis. So I wonder did these humans have Monoids aboard their ship too, like in the Ark, that were all killed in the crash?

Recognise the helmets worn by the Frontios guards? They the Federation Guard helmets, minus the gas masks, from Blake's 7.

Before this story made it to the screen it was beset with tragic personnel difficulties. The designer assigned to the story Barry Dobbins committed suicide in July 1983 and was replaced by David Buckingham just a few weeks before recording. Then Peter Arne, the actor originally cast as Mr Range was murdered on his way home from a costume fitting, leading to the role being recast with William Lucas performing the part in the version that reached the screen.

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