Geekbat Tunes

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown

Serial Title: Mission to the Unknown
Series: 3
Episodes: 1
Mission to the Unknown
Doctor: NONE!!!!
Companions: NONE!!! But our main characters are Marc Cory (Edward de Souza) and Gordon Lowery (Jeremy Young)

On the planet Kembel, Jeff Garvey, human astronaut, awakens in the jungle with the knowledge that he must kill. His unaware companions, Marc Cory and Gordon Lowery, are his intended victims, working to repair their downed spacecraft.

Cory manages to shoot and kill Garvey before he can carry on with his intentions, and explains to a shocked Lowery that Garvey had been stung by a Varga plant (extracting a Varga thorn from him)- a deadly toxin-producing, semi-sentient plant that induces homicidal tendencies... native to the planet Skaro.

As Garvey's body becomes a Varga plant, Cory explains to Lowery that he is a Space Security Service agent with a license to kill; he is now drafting Lowery to his secret mission, the reason they were sent to this planet- to find the Daleks, who have been conquering numerous planets of late, and have been spotted in this are. Cory believes they're here, and is tasked with finding them.

Elsewhere, in a Dalek city representatives of the Seven Planets arrive for a meeting with the Daleks.

Cory and Lowery set up an emergency beacon and prepare to record a message for it- when the Daleks appear, attacking their spacecraft and obliterating it. Cory and Lowery slip into the jungle unnoticed, but Lowery is stung by a Varga thorn- he tries to suck out the poison and doesn't tell Cory- a reasonable if unfair-to-Cory response based on how Cory dealt with Garvey.

The meeting between the Daleks and the representatives of the Seven Planets goes well; they agree to a mutual conquest treaty, setting out to conquer Earth and it's galaxy as a united front. Cory is able to overhear, notices that Lowery is becoming a Varga plant and kills him (nice guy...) and records a message warning of the Dalek threat to be transmitted by the rescue beacon. Before he can insert it, however, Daleks attack and exterminate him, then return to the city. The beacon, and the dropped recording at Cory's (corpse's) feet go unnoticed, however...

Hard to critique this one- the characters are around too briefly to get to know them- especially as voices in a series of snapshots, as they are; without a performance to see, no one leaves a strong impression. The storyline is more or less a prologue to the coming 12-part epic "The Daleks' Master Plan", so it's very simple and there isn't much to say about it- it's simply setup.

The re-creation does well, though- through use of jungle-bound Dalek closeups from The Chase, a surprising amount of this Serial/episode is in motion, and the flashing-light/dialogue syncing is very well done for the most part. Yet again, Loose Cannon does a great job in redeeming a Serial with very little to work with initially.

The one outstanding thing- and the one that fills my veins with fire at it's loss- is the fantastic alien menagerie, the representatives of the 7 worlds- there's that guy that looks like the Thing from the Fantastic Four, as portrayed by 60s makeup, whom my wife describes as having the Rockbiter's voice from the Neverending Story... then the MOGUERA-ish drill-headed guy with cool diamond-slit eyes (I like to imagine they're red) and so many others; a lot of work went into these guys, and I'm infuriated that we can't see more of it than a few grainy stills- this work deserves to be showcased! (NFS: Yeah seriously...that was what made this episode actually watchable...the alien counsel, cause they were all SUPER wow looking!!!) Hopefully, they will be well-represented in The Dalek Master Plan (next up on the viewing list at the time of this writing) but even then, there are some irreparable losses; the Thing is played by a different actor there, so Rock-biter voice will never be seen in all his glory unless- or until, I hope- this serial/episode is found and restored!

This episode is very unique among the annals of Doctor Who for so many reasons- first (and only, 'till the New Series) stand-alone single-episode serial, first not to feature the Doctor, one of only 3 totally-lost serials (though one of hundreds of totally-lost single episodes)... it's simply not as special, unique, or fantastic as an episode so unique has right to be... it doesn't stand out much on it's own. I think I'll reserve judgement, though, 'till I've seen The Daleks' Master Plan- as it hardly seems fair to judge one without the other.

Great moments:
The first appearance of that rock guy. And the Dalek destruction of the human spacecraft. I guess.

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