Thursday, 18 October 2012

Story 26 - The Savages

In which the TARDIS materialises in what the Doctor claims to be a time of great peace and prosperity. The ship has landed on a planet which has two civilisations - the technologically advanced Elders, who live in a beautiful city, and a savage tribe which lives a simpler existence in a rocky valley nearby. The Elders' ruler, Jano, welcomes the travellers. They know of the Doctor and have followed his journeys. Jano believed that he would one day visit their world. The Doctor and his companions are showered with gifts. He is curious to know the secret of this society's success. Steven and Dodo take a guided tour, whilst the Doctor stays behind to confer with the Elder council. Dodo falls behind and gets lost - coming upon a laboratory presided over by scientist Senta. She makes a horrifying discovery.

She sees a captured Savage having their life force removed. The Doctor has learned from Jano that this is the secret behind their perfect civilisation. They have been draining the energies of the Savages to maintain themselves. The Doctor argues against the immorality of this system and demands it stop at once. Jano ignores him, and decides to drain his energies and intelligence for himself. He absorbs more than just his life force, as he is also imbued with some of the Doctor's mannerisms and morality. Steven and Dodo escape the city and meet the Savages' leader, Chal. He protects them from Elder guards Edal and Exorse who are hunting for them.

Jano leaves the city, and makes contact with Chal. The 'Doctor' part of him is stronger than his original personality and he now has the Doctor's outlook on life and his morality. Steven and Dodo get back into the city and free the Doctor. Jano and Chal lead a band of Savages into the city. The Elders will never change their ways through dialogue and debate - they must be forced to change immediately. The laboratory is attacked and destroyed. The Doctor recovers, and helps with the destruction. The Elders and Chal's people will work together to create a new society - each benefiting from the strengths of the other. The Doctor recommends that Steven, as a neutral, would make an ideal new leader. Steven accepts and stays behind.

This four part adventure was written by Ian Stuart Black, and broadcast between 28th May and 18th June, 1966. The director is Christopher Barry.
Sadly, it no longer exists in the archives. The soundtrack is available, as well as a few moments of super 8 film footage taken from the screen on transmission. This includes Steven's farewell.
It is the first story not to have any individual episode titles.
Fittingly, as it is his final appearance, it is a strong story for Peter Purves. With the Doctor drained of energy, Hartnell has little to do in the latter half.
Main guest star is Frederick Jaeger as Jano. He takes on the Doctor role after absorbing his life force. He captures many of William Hartnell's vocal and physical mannerisms. He was coached in this personally by Hartnell. The other main guest artist is Ewan Solon as Chal. He was well known for his role as Inspector Maigret's sidekick, Lucas, in the 1960 BBC TV series.

The central premise of the story, like Galaxy 4, is 'don't judge by appearances'. The Elders appear to be cultured, intelligent, civilised beings - but they exist only through the parasitic abuse of the Savages. The Savages are only the way they are because of generations of exploitation - which has prevented them from developing further.
The story is far from original - being a bit of a Sci-Fi cliché  It is a concept that will be mined interminably by future series such as Star Trek.
Episode endings are:

  1. Dodo screams as the dishevelled figure of a Savage lurches down the corridor towards her.
  2. Senta begins the transference process on the Doctor. This will be their greatest achievement yet...
  3. Steven and Dodo are struggling along a corridor with the semi-conscious Doctor. They are enveloped by gas.
  4. After bidding Steven farewell, the Doctor and Dodo depart in the TARDIS.

Overall, a solid, workaday story but nothing very special. It is significant mainly for the departure of Peter Purves.
Things you might like to know:
  • The original title for this story was "The White Savages" - which would have opened a whole can of racially stereotyping worms. Good job they saw sense and stuck with the title they used.
  • Frederick Jaeger and Ewan Solon will be reunited in Doctor Who. Both star in The Planet of Evil (1975). Jaeger is Professor Sorenson, and Solon is Vishinsky.
  • Steven Moffat wasn't the first writer to pen a tale in which everybody lives. No one dies in this.

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