“Mission to the Unknown” – Story #019

DW19 + 21

Jael’s Judgment:

(Still not sure why Tony makes me give these grades. We looked back and my average is something like a B-. So right there, if a C is average, I am obviously not grading accurately.)

Alright, let’s get on with it.

This was an odd story. Only one episode and no Doctor. How many Doctor Who stories are there with no Doctor? The characters/voices got a little confusing for me. I wish we could have watched the story, but alas it was an audio only. I kept wondering what the Varga plants looked like.

Gardeners beware: While recently discussing the reoccuring adversaries of the Doctor with my brother, I realized how often plants evolve into threatening, sentient beings. Or other creatures are taken over by plants to become plant/animals. Never really the same types of beings, so they are not a specific reoccurring enemy. But man, watch out for those plants!

Overall, OK story. But probably not needed to understand future stories. I am guessing William Hartnell needed a break.

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

The first one episode story and the only one for MANY years.  We are used to one-parters in present day Who, and when they are a two-parter that means something special to us; so it’s strange to “see” such a short story early on and WITHOUT the Doctor.  This was a teaser (or something we may now call – albeit incorrectly – a prequel) to the upcoming story, “The Daleks’ Mater Plan”.

I don’t know that there is much to talk about, so here are some interesting notes about this awkward story:

From the TARDIS wikia:

Terry Nation wrote this episode partially as an attempt to develop and sell the idea of a Dalek television series divorced from the larger Doctor Who universe. The proposed series would have followed the adventures of the Space Security Service, an elite organisation tasked with hunting Daleks. This approach can be seen in short stories and comic strips written for 1965’s The Dalek Outer Space Book (cover dated 1966). An unmade pilot titled The Destroyers was written, but the series concept was never sold. The Destroyers was later produced as an audio play by Big Finish Productions.

Since the story “Planet of Giants” was originally meant as a 4 part story but was edited down to a 3 part story, this left a one episode hole in the contract with the BBC and Doctor Who production team.  The original cast (speculation here) already fulfilled their contract and were too expensive for the show, so they decided to take Terry Nation’s idea and do a one-off teaser for a future story.  Since they would use the sets in the 12 episode story, this meant that there was very little addition cost associated with the production.

With all of this said, William Hartnell is still credited as “Doctor Who” because his contract said he would have lead credits in all episodes, even if he did not appear.

Notes:

Varga plants only on Skaro, they take over the brain and tell you to kill and you become half plant.
Now to warn Earth of the Daleks coming.
I’d like to see this jungle set; wait, actually I wouldn’t, the sound is probably better than the props.
Cory is really infected by the plant, not good.
  • Story Grade: C
  • Short, very short.  This isn’t a bad thing, but a 25 minute episode of Doctor Who without The Doctor can only go so far.  This was a great initial run for the Tardisodes and “prequels” that we get today (even if they weren’t directly because of this fluke of a story).

 

Thank you, Verity Lambert.  This was her last story/episode as producer.  We Who fans owe her all of our thanks for bringing this show to us.  Without Verity, we would not have this show, plain and simple.  Thank you to the BBC as well, they broke the stereotypical mold by going with a young female to run a show.  I am sure that the conditions were far from perfect, and she was probably given Doctor Who because they wrote off the show, but you have to start somewhere.

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