In which the Doctor - in his second incarnation - travels with Jamie to the Camera space research station in the Third Zone. They are on a mission for the Time Lords - the Doctor tasked with trying to dissuade the station's head of research, Dastari, from proceeding with time travel experiments. Scientists Kartz and Reimer have built a prototype time capsule. The Doctor has the TARDIS relocate away from the station by remote control. Dastari refuses to bow to pressure from the Time Lords. A short while later, the station comes under attack by Sontaran warships. Jamie flees into the infrastructure but the Doctor is captured. The Sontarans are in league with Dastari and one of the Androgum servitors who work on the station. She is Chessene, and she has been genetically augmented by Dastari. She is brilliant, but ruthless. She is always accompanied by a sadistic Androgum named Shockeye. He is a chef, who craves new food experiences. He would like to find out what a human tastes like.
The assault on his earlier incarnation is experienced by the Sixth Doctor, who is on a fishing trip with Peri. The Doctor believes that it is possible for his previous self to die - the intervening lives would simply fade away. Peri prompts him to take some action, rather than wait fir his fate to catch up with him. They travel to the Camera station. The computer defence systems attempt to kill them. Evidence has been left to implicate the Time Lords in the attack. The Doctor and Peri enter the infrastructure to disable the defences, and find Jamie. From him they learn that the attackers were Sontarans.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor forges a mind link with his previous self. He recognises a familiar peal of bells - those of the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The arrival of a Sontaran spaceship in the countryside outside the Spanish city has been witnessed by a British actor, Oscar Botcherby, and his friend Anita. Oscar had been collecting moths when the craft flew overhead. Dastari, Chessene and Shockeye carry the unconscious Second Doctor to an isolated hacienda, whose elderly owner they kill. With them is Sontaran Group Marshal Stike and his second in command Varl. The Sixth Doctor, Peri and Jamie arrive nearby and meet Oscar and Anita, who tell them of the strange goings on at the hacienda.
The Second Doctor learns of Dastari and Chessene's plans. The Kartz-Reimer capsule is able to dematerialise into time, but its pilots do not survive the journey. Time Lords have some genetic component which allows them to safely travel through time - and Dastari intends to operate on the Doctor to identify this. Peri arrves at the house, pretending to be looking for accommodation suitable for students, in order to have a look around. Chessene allows her to see the Second Doctor, as she can read minds, but is satisfied that Peri does not recognise him. She does detect some deception, however, and Shockeye decides to capture Peri in order to eat her.
She is rescued by the Doctor and Jamie. Dastari decides that there is another way to identify the Doctor's genetic component - by turning him into an Androgum. Shockeye is knocked out and genetic material removed to inject into the Doctor. Later, when he wakes up, he finds that the Androgum- Doctor knows of all the local cuisine, and the pair decide to head into Seville to sample its gastronomic delights. The Doctor, Peri and Jamie give chase. Chessene decides that the Sontarans are no longer needed, so uses a toxic gas to try to kill them. Varl perishes, but Stike survives, badly wounded. He tries to flee in the Kartz-Reimer capsule, but it only advances his injuries. He returns to his ship, but it has been sabotaged and it explodes. Dastari and Chessene then follow the others to Seville. The errant pair are traced to the restaurant where Oscar and Anita work. Shockeye murders Oscar after an argument about payment of their massive bill. He flees back to the hacienda, leaving the Second Doctor whose Androgum influence fades - since Dastari had not had the chance to make a second augmentation that would have made it permanent. All are captured by Chessene and Dastari and taken back to the hacienda. The Sixth Doctor reveals that a time capsule can be primed and made safe just by a Time Lord using it. he agrees to operate it, but then sabotages it. The Doctor kills Shockeye using some cyanide left behind by Oscar, which he used to kill his moths. Realising he has created a monster, Dastari turns on Chessene and is killed. She tries to leave in the capsule, but is destroyed by it. The Second Doctor and Jamie depart in his TARDIS, which is summoned by his remote control device. The Sixth Doctor and Peri face a long hot walk to their ship.
This three part adventure was written by Robert Holmes, and was broadcast between 16th February and 2nd March, 1985. As such it is the first six parter since The Armageddon Factor (in terms of story length).
Robert Holmes was issued with a shopping list of elements which producer John Nathan-Turner wanted him to include. Patrick Troughton had first been sounded out on a more substantial return to the programme back during the making of The Five Doctors. The story order for this season was amended to suit his availability. Frazer Hines had hoped to have a bigger role in the 20th Anniversary story, but could only be released from Emmerdale for a brief cameo. Now he was free to take part fully. JNT also wanted a foreign location. Originally this was going to be New Orleans. Famed for many things, New Orleans is also known for its cuisine. The Androgums were devised to reflect this - the name being an anagram of gourmands. A US shoot proved far too costly and impractical, so a location closer to the UK had to be found. This turned out to be Seville. The city only features very briefly in a bit of a runaround in Part Three. The hacienda took ages to find. It was in the process of being sold to a member of the Hearst family - who bought it specifically for a bit of solitude, so there was no guarantee that filming would have been allowed to go ahead.
Another shopping list item was the inclusion of the Sontarans.
Filming was not trouble free. First of all, Chessene's wig failed to arrive on time, so cast and crew enjoyed a short holiday. SFX crewmembers had to drive overnight to obtain the explosives needed for the explosion of the Sontaran ship. The actors playing the Sontarans suffered terribly in their costumes in the heat. This also caused Shockeye's make-up to slide off frequently. A day's filming had to be redone when it was found that the film was damaged. When JNT saw this later, he realised it had actually been quite usable.
The themes of meat eating and cannibalism run through Season 22. Cannibals had appeared amongst the horrors of the Varosian Punishment Dome, and the Rani had scorned mankind's eating of animals when challenged about her amorality. The season finale will see Davros providing corpses to be turned into a foodstuff. These themes are obviously quite upfront in this story. Some of the violence on show appears wholly gratuitous. Specifically, the brutal stabbing of the likable, comedic character of Oscar. His blood might be green rather than red, but Stike's death is quite protracted, and we later see Shockeye carrying his dismembered leg.
Principle guest artists are obviously Troughton and Hines, but joining them are Jacqueline (Servalan) Pearce as Chessene, Laurence Payne as Dastari, and John Stratton as Shockeye. This is Payne's third and final appearance in the show, having played Johnny Ringo in The Gunfighters and Morix in The Leisure Hive. Oscar is James Saxon, like Gary Cady in the previous story late of the comedy Brass, and Anita is Carmen Gomez. The Sontarans are Clinton Greyn (Stike) and Tim Raynham (Varl). Greyn had been seen in State of Decay.
Episode endings are:
- In the space station infrastructure, Peri is attacked by a wild animal. Her scream distracts the Doctor who is hit by a blast of toxic gas from the station's defences...
- Peri is pursued by Shockeye through the Spanish countryside. She trips and falls, and the Androgum looms over her...
- The Doctor and Peri face a long walk back to the TARDIS. They decide to adopt a vegetarian diet from now on.
Overall, it a bit of a bloated mess. Robert Holmes and script editor Eric Saward were unhappy at the final results and questioned the logic of JNT's shopping list approach to story telling. The Sontarans are underused, and Seville hardly features. Most of the story is set in the hacienda and its environs, which could just as easily have been a big house in the home counties. Troughton and Baker share only a few minutes of screen time together, and Troughton isn't partnered by Hines for much of the story either - the very things fans wanted to see.
Things you might like to know:
- The main extra on the DVD for this story is a piece by Production Assistant Gary Downie on the location work. (Downie was JNT's partner, as I'm sure you already know). He mentions the help he received from the Spanish wife of one of the British consular officials - and she gets a cameo as the lady who throws the flower to Dastari. Her name is Mercedes Carnegie, and she lent Carmen Gomez her costume. Anita was originally going to wear the dress that Mercedes wears in her cameo.
- Oscar's restaurant is called Las Cadenas. The real location was called Las Dacenas - they just shifted two of the letters around.
- I've called the space station "Camera". This seems to be the most common name for it, but other sources have it as "Chimera" - which does tie in with Dastari's genetic work.
- Humans are referred to as Tellurians - a name coined for them by Holmes way back in Carnival of Monsters.
- The Sontarans are supposed to be a cloned race. They've always differed from story to story - including the number of fingers they have - but usually there is some consistency within an individual story. Stike towers over his deputy (and most of the rest of the cast).
- Tim Raynham got his part by writing to JNT directly, simply asking to get a role in the series.
- Some notable lasts here. Last story to be directed by Peter Moffatt. Last to be scored by Peter Howell. Last overseas shoot of the classic series. Last appearance of the Sontarans in the classic series, and the last appearance of Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor and Frazer Hines' Jamie. The latter does have the potential for a return in the new series.
- Part Three's broadcast coincided with the BBC announcing that they were unhappy with the levels of violence in the programme, and with the unlikable aspects of the character of the current Doctor. The news story broke just after the second episode had screened. The initial press release suggested that the series had been axed, and the BBC had to do a quick turnaround and claim that it was merely being "rested" for a few months. It has been claimed that the original intention was the right one - it was to be axed - but the BBC relented due to popular outcry.
- Regular readers will have read my piece on The Five Doctors already - so will know that Robert Holmes reused elements from his unused script for that story. (Basically, the Cybermen would have abducted the First Doctor to find the Time Lord time-travelling gene).
- Time to mention Season 6(b). I did a whole post on this just after my review of The War Games. Basically, I still hold to this theory myself. How else can the Second Doctor be going on missions for the Time Lords, and be dropping Victoria off somewhere confident that he could pick her up again afterwards? The other theory doing the rounds is that he has been pulled out of his time stream by the corrupt Time Lord hierarchy that will feature in Season 23 - to be dropped back later with his memory wiped.
- At one point Chessene cautions against killing the Sixth Doctor, as it will bring down the wrath of the Time Lords. This is the same Chessene who plans to dissect the Second Doctor, who is specifically working for the Time Lords, cell by cell.
- Why do the Sontarans want time travel - when we have seen that they already possess it?
- A well worn convention story has Colin Baker and Frazer Hines playing a trick on Nicola Bryant. Instead of sprinkling a small amount of water on her face to revive her, they tipped a whole pitcher of water on her.
- A couple of fans recreated the Second Doctor and Shockeye's appearance on the road near the hacienda - when they hijack a vehicle to travel into Seville. They found themselves facing the Hearst security team. Fortunately they remembered the filming 10 years before, so let them go on their way.
- Clinton Greyn and Tim Raynham would recreate their Sontaran roles, along with Colin Baker as the Doctor, in a section of the popular entertainment show Jim'll Fix It. More on this shortly...