Wednesday 8 August 2012

624 Planet of Fire Part Four

EPISODE: Planet of Fire Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Friday 02 March 1984
WRITER: Peter Grimwade
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set: The King's Demons / Planet of Fire

Peri flees from the scene. The Doctor restores Malkon using the Numismaton gas. Timanov gives his pendant to Turlough which he recognises as the key to a Trion communication device in the ship. He explains to the Doctor that the Misos Triangle is a Trion prisoner brand and he & Malkon are political prisoners from an attempted revolution. He then goes to the ship to summon help from Trion. The Doctor & one of the rebels, Armyand, go searching for the control room for the volcanic reactions. They find Peri who guides them to it where they find the shrunken Master who explains he had an accident while experimenting with a new more powerful Tissue Compression Eliminator. The Doctor steals the Master's dimensional stabiliser to replace the one the Kamelion Master stole from his Tardis but are driven from the Tardis by Kamelion who moves it into the flames to await the next surge of Numismaton gas that will restore his Master. Trapped by flames, Armyand takes the remaining Thermal suit and returns the circuit to Turlough who fits it in the Tardis. Kamelion is tempted out of the flames by the Doctor who induces the robotic equivalent of a heart attack in him and then, at Kamelion's pleading, kills him with the tissue compression eliminator. The Master is restored to full size by the Numismaton gas but the gas quickly reverts back to flame and consumes him. The Tardis arrives in the control chamber allowing the Doctor to escape back the ruins where they initially materialised. The Trion ship has arrived to take the surviving Sarns away but Turlough is told he can return home a free man and reluctantly parts company with the Doctor. Timanov elects to remain on Sarn and die with his city but Peri asks The Doctor if she can spend the remaining three months of her vacation travelling with him.

Yup, still good, enjoyed that. The story works as a whole, it makes sense, and Turlough gets something to do and some development in his final appearance. In fact he's been well served by his last three stories, which makes up for being a somewhat anonymous figure after the Black Guardian trilogy finished. His final story is far better a tale for him than Tegan's was. Mark Strickson emigrated from the UK after leaving the series and became a wildlife documentary producer & director. One of his main claims to fame was that he introduced Steve Irwin to the viewing public.

This is also the last appearance of Kamelion in the series: The prop was a functional disaster from day one. It's telling that he doesn't appear between his first & last appearances and the only times we see the Kamelion prop he's either propped against the console or lying on the floor. Perhaps a little more inventiveness, having him played by a variety of different actors and keeping the robot body hidden could have included the character in the show a bit more. The Doctor killing Kamelion seems a little out of character. Even though he's a robot he a is a sentient being..... even though Kamelion has tired of his existence as the Master's puppet surely the Doctor Should have been able to find some way to permanently break the Master's hold over him?

And in connection with Kamelion's death I'm wondering about the use of the Tissue Compression Eliminator in this story. The key word here is tissue implying organic/biological. Last episodes the metallic thermal suits got shrunk, this episode it's Kamelion. I don't see either of them having been made from organic structures. I'm not sure the explanation for the Master having been shrunk was necessary: didn't the Doctor booby trap his Tardis with the Tissue Compression Eliminator at the end of the King's Demons?

One is force to draw comparison between the planet names Sarn & Karn and the use of Numismaton Gas & The Sisterhood of Karn's elixir, distilled from flame deposits....

You might be wonder how the Master's Tardis is moved by Kamelion, given the Doctor took the Master's dimensional stabiliser to replace the one Kamelion stole. Simple: Kamelion uses the on he stole to enable the Master's Tardis to move.

And finally: back to the question I asked in part 1: How did that Trion distress beacon get into a ship wreck off Lanzarote?

The Trion ship captain, Lomand, will be familiar to viewers of The Sweeny where actor John Alkin played DS Tom Daniels.

My main memory of the book, written by the TV story's author in 1984, was that it wasn't that easy to get and that my copy was bought from the Doctor Who shop in London. It was released on video in 1998 and on DVD as part of the Kamelion Tales Box Set with Kamelion's initial story, The King's Demons.


  1. John Alkin also had the regular recurring role of Barry Deeley QC in the long running Granada TV series Crown Court through out the 1970's.

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