Sunday 5 August 2012

621 Planet of Fire Part One

EPISODE: Planet of Fire Part One
TRANSMITTED: Thursday 23 February 1984
WRITER: Peter Grimwade
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set: The King's Demons / Planet of Fire

On the island of Lanzarote, archaeologist Professor Howard Foster brings a cargo of salvaged items up from an ancient wreck. In with them is a non rusted metal cylinder embossed with two interlinked triangles. He argues with his step daughter, Peri Brown, and confines her to the boat he is using. The Tardis picks up a distress signal, which Turlough recognises as being from Trion. He attempts to conceal the signal but Kamelion, connected to the Tardis computer, steers the ship towards it. On the planet Sarn the young new leader Malkon is having doubts about his role but his high priest Timanov assures him he is the chosen one and bears the mark of Logar, a pair of interlinked triangles, on his arm. Young unbelievers on Sarn go to Logar's mountain and come back with tales that their god does not exist. Challenging Logar to give them a sign the fires burn with renewed vigor in the temple and Timanov wishes to burn them in the fire for blasphemy. The Tardis lands on Lanzarote and the Doctor attempts to get a fix on distress beacon. Peri attempts to escape the boat by swimming ashore, but gets into difficulty and is saved by Turlough who brings her into the Tardis. He finds the cylinder from the sea shore and, recognising it as the distress beacon from Trion by the mark on it which he has on his own arm, attempts to sabotage it. Peri lies in bed recovering fitfully dreaming but as she does Kamelion assumes the form of her step father. The Doctor returns to the Tardis but as he does the Time Machine takes off by itself and the Doctor discovers that "Peri" and Howard are aboard. They land on Sarn, and are spotted by a lookout who assumes that they are "The Outsider", a promised representative of Logar. The Doctor & Turlough explore but while they are gone the Kamelion Howard announces that he now has full control of the ship and his featured shimmer and change into those of the Master.

Ah that's how to do a first episode. The interlinked triangle device crops up everywhere: On Turlough & Malkon's arm, on the Distress Beacon from Trion and on Timanov's ornamental necklace, promoting some link between them all. I'll come but to this point later but just how did the distress beacon from Trion get to the bottom of the sea? Turlough's origins are unexplored before now, beyond us knowing he was an alien stuck on Earth, but it looks like we might finally get some answers.

Listen closely to Peri's dialogue during the sequence where she's dreaming. Is it just me or is it insinuating a much darker side to her relationship with her step father?

Welcome aboard to actress Nicola Bryant (#thenicolabryant on Twitter). Producer John Nathan-Turner wanted an American companion to appeal to American fans. If I recall the story correctly Bryant successfully passed herself of as an American for the interview, a process helped by being able to imitate her then husband, and then had to maintain the illusion for some while despite not being from the US and in fact coming from Guildford! Variations to this story exist, and I'm not 100% sure which one is correct so I'm repeating the one I recall!

Stories also exist of the scenes of Peri swimming towards Papagayo Beach were interrupted by a nude German sunbather who first thought she was in genuine difficulty in the sea and came to her aid and then, discovering it was filming for television, proceeded to interrupt recording by walking in front of the camera.

This is the second time John Nathan-Turner has cast a foreign character as a new companion, following the Australian Tegan, almost certainly with an eye for attracting fans/money from that country. And several sources report that the Britishness of the show that appeals to foreign viewers!

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