So the Master has been busy since he escaped the Axon ship in his Tardis. He has gone to his home planet and stolen vital information regarding a Doomsday weapon hidden on the planet Uxarieus. He therefore goes to the planet in disguise. When the Time Lords realise what has happened they temporarily allow the Doctor to use his Tardis again to go and stop the Master.
This story is especially significant because it marks the first proper off-world adventure for the Third Doctor. On this planet of Uxarieus, there is a feud occurring between the IMC (Interplanetary Mining Corporation) and a group of human colonists who have both been granted access to use the planet. Obviously they can’t coexist and so the Master poses as an adjudicator between the two.
The supreme weapon which the Master wants to find was actually created by an ancient species who have an underground city on the planet. The primitives themselves don’t look especially convincing, particularly ill-fitting masks that they all wear. But the species themselves have pretty interesting features. They are all slightly telepathic and so don’t need to talk. They are completely green and carry spears as opposed to guns. It is an interesting design. Perhaps where the look of the story does fall short (literally), is when we are introduced to a guardian of the Doomsday weapon. He comes out of the wall on a little throne and is basically a tiny puppet. It made me really admire the acting skills of particularly Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado for playing the scenes completely believably even though they were acting opposite a really poor puppet. There are also the machine which the IMC have been using to scare off the colonists. It looks a bit like one of the War Machines but with a claw on both of the arms in order to make the colonists believe a wild animal is killing their friends. It just looks completely impractical and not really believable. Other than that I think that the story looks really good. Seeing an alien landscape in colour for a change is particularly rewarding as well as the Master’s Tardis interior and the model shots of the rockets. Superb.
Although the story does follow the same format of the other serials in this season to some extent, it does offer slight variations on it. Obviously it’s not on Earth for a start, but there are smaller things. For example the Master is present and teams up with the Doctor, but we are introduced to him already quite far in his plan rather than watching him right from the start. And the Master hasn’t exactly made an alliance with the enemies in this story as he usually does; he is just serving himself.
Since the story isn’t set on Earth, none of the UNIT staff are present. Only the Brigadier gets to make a brief appearance right at the start and right at the end. It’s really good that the writers were trying to make the series as varied as possible. They were lumbered with the ‘exile to Earth’ concept by the previous team and they really make the best of it.
I really enjoyed this story, a lot more than I thought that I was going to. It’s one that I had only ever seen the first episode of before. So getting to watch all six parts was satisfying. It uses the format of two forces (the primitives don’t feature too much) on a planet locked in combat with the Doctor coming in to help the underdogs. The story takes that format and makes it appear to be not as done to death by the series as it has been. That made me sound really pessimistic, but it is a really good serial. For that reason I’ll be awarding it six ‘terrifying’ robots out of ten.