Geekbat Tunes

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death

Serial Title: Ambassadors of Death
Series: 7
Episodes: 7
Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Companions: Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Britain’s space program’s third ship to Mars (you remember when that happened, right?) is nearing its intended target- Britain’s second ship to Mars, which has been in trouble and communicating erratically. In mission control, that genocidal maniac the Brigadier (okay, henceforth, how about we pretend that abomination never happened so that I don’t have to hate the Brig for life?) watches as the rendezvous goes horribly wrong, and the capsules are cut off by a terrible noise. The Doctor soon arrives with Liz, having heard the sound on the live TV broadcast- when it comes again, he identifies it as a message of some sort, of non-terrestrial origin. And what’s more- it’s being answered. The signal is triangulated to a nearby warehouse- and when UNIT investigates, they find themselves engaged in a running firefight with plainclothes military troops. Meanwhile, in the space center, technician Taltalian pulls a gun on the Doctor and attempts to steal the recording of the message the Doctor has. He’s thwarted, and runs off.

The capsule, Recovery 7, returns to Earth, and UNIT escorts it back to the center when they discover that it’s locked from the inside and they cannot get in. However, a military raid by more of the plainclothes troops steals the capsule away. The Doctor gives chase to the truck (lorry) in Bessie and manages to get the capsule back. However, when the capsule is opened, it is revealed to be empty, save for a tape recorder playing back faked recordings of the astronaut’s voices over the radio. The interior is also highly irradiated…

Army General Carrington has the three space-suited figures, removed during the raid (he’s been responsible for the military actions thus far) and are irradiating them further; as per him, they need radiation to survive. Sir James Quinlan, Minister for Technology (FOR Technology, mind you, not ‘of’- clearly his job is to represent the province of ‘Technology’ in parliament and govern it wisely) introduces the Doctor to Carrington, who feeds him a false story about a contagious form of radiation that the astronauts had been infected with, necessitating their enforced quarantine.

However, the three suited figures are abducted by a violent criminal that kills the scientists attending them- and he himself is found, dead and irradiated, in a gravel pit sometime later. Someone has abducted the astronauts without a trace and killed all the witnesses! In fact, this man is Lennox, a disgraced Cambridge professor (I sense Liz back story coming up!), who maintains them with high radiation. His partner, a thug named Reegan, abducts Liz to assist Lennox. Taltalian also works for him, and sets a bomb to kill the Doctor- but is himself killed by it, the timer having been set to ‘0,’ despite what he’d been told- another witness eliminated.

One of the astronauts appears at the space center, demonstrating a deadly and lethal explosive touch. Quinlan is killed, and when the Brigadier tries to intervene, the astronaut is proved to be bulletproof. It escapes… and so does Lennox, back at the secret holding cell. These astronauts are not astronauts, but alien beings who have taken their place. Liz and Lennox have built a device capable of communicating with them (though not understanding them) and forced one of them into this raid under threat of cutting off the radiation… they themselves under threat from Reegan to accomplish this. Now, Lennox’s conscience has got the better of him, and he defects to UNIT for protective custody… but there are agents on the inside, and one slips a radioactive canister into Lennox’s cell, killing him in a fit of poetic justice before he can testify.

The Doctor decides that the answer to all of this madness must lie with the other capsule (the one Recovery 7 was initially sent to rendezvous with) still up in orbit, having been towed there by the recovered capsule. Recovery 7 is fitted to a new rocket, and the Doctor decides to take it up using the new M3 variant fuel, a powerful accelerator. Reegan attempts to sabotage the launch by flooding the tanks with M3 variant (instead of a small additive amount as planned), making the launch far more powerful than anticipated and killing the Doctor with the increased G-forces. The Brigadier manages to drive Reegan off before he can finish (though he gets away); the launch is rough, but the Doctor survives.

As he maneuvers to investigate the other capsule, however, both ships are dwarfed by a gigantic alien craft that takes him aboard. There, he finds the three missing astronauts, in hypnosis to believe that they’re simply in post-mission quarantine back on Earth. The aliens of the craft demand the return of their ambassadors on Earth within one day, or they will destroy the planet. These ambassadors (the three in the suits) were sent to Earth to broker a treaty between this unnamed race and mankind, but their abduction has seriously jeopardized this agreement.

Immediately upon landing, the Doctor is abducted by Reegan (WHAT NINCOMPOOP IS OVERSEEING SECURITY FOR UNIT?!?!?!) and taken to Liz, and to his employer- Reegan is working for Carrington. As it turns out, Carrington was an astronaut on the first Mars mission, where they met this alien race- not native to Mars, but likewise exploring the planet. (Lucky for him he didn’t run into any Ice Warriors…). In what was meant to be a peaceful contact, one of the aliens returned the handshake of Carrington’s partner, Jim Daniels- and the unexpected explosive touch killed Daniels instantly and gruesomely. The traumatized Carrignton, convinced that these beings were of the purest evil, then falsely accepted their sincere apologies and made arrangements for them to travel to Earth and sign a treaty (the second capsule’s mission all along, which only seemed to go haywire because only Carrington knew about the planned loss of communication and astronaut-swap) all under false pretense; believing this treaty to only be a prelude to invasion, Carrington laid these plans to capture the ambassadors and coerce them into violence (what he believes to be their true nature anyway), revealing their ‘hostile intentions’ to the world at large and allowing him to wage war against the aliens, rather than letting the world be ‘duped’ by their peaceful intentions.

Carrington takes one of the Ambassadors to wreak havoc at mission control on live television, planning to unmask their hideous appearance and galvanize the world against them. The Doctor and Liz (kept on as replacements for Lennox) are put to work on an improved communications device- the Doctor instead rigs up a morse code transmitter and sends an SOS to UNIT under the guise of testing the alien translation device. The Brigadier- arrested by Carrington for opposing his insane agenda- pulls off an impressive escape, and frees a handful of his UNIT men. Short on transport, they ride to the rescue in Bessie and shoot their way in, arresting Reegan and freeing the Doctor and Liz. The entire group races to mission control with the Ambassadors, where the Doctor uses their impervious nature to smash through Carrington’s troops and demolish his defenses. Carrington is forced to stand down, and is taken under arrest. The last ambassador is rescued, and the three are returned to their people in exchange for the astronauts- the Doctor remembering NOT to shake their hands as they depart.

The Ambassadors of Death was, perhaps, slower than it ought to be. Don’t get me wrong; it was a good conspiracy/spy/mystery story, with plenty of espionage, and the space program junkie in me simultaneously laughed and lauded the portrayal of a British Mars Landing program in the 1980s. The Doctor as an astronaut? Awesome. The Brigadier rocking some battle scenes? Right on, man! Mysterious signal triangulation? I’m down with that! 2-3 episodes shorter? Absolutely warranted. A little more abbreviated, and this one would have been spot on. As it is, its spy-thriller, government-conspiracy-you-can’t-trust-anyone, and ethereal ET-like strange alien visitors flavoring (complete with great ethereal music for the latter) are very strong and have a lot going for them; it’s just not as excellent as it could’ve been with some flab trimmed. And UNIT doesn’t look terribly competent between ignoring a prisoner with information and then letting him be killed while in custody (but hey, look, major Benton! He will grow in importance in the series as time progresses, I’m told), and the warehouse battle in which they make the defenders of the Chateau in The War Games look like a mash-up of the A-team and the Expendables being led by Rambo and executing a plan co-authored by general Patton and Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Though, to be fair, it wasn’t bad UNIT tactics, just bad scriptwriting and filming. UNIT soldiers were behind cover, with machine guns, and military training- losing against a mongrel mutt squad comprised of street-clothes soldier and petty crooks, firing hand guns from behind… nothing. They were standing right out in the open. Yet half a dozen UNIT men fall- mostly from suddenly standing up and running straight at the enemy, chest thrust forward and gun pointed at the ground, until they were killed, in the standard movie nonsensical soldier-death move- before a single one of their enemies is brought down. If they’d just staged things in the reverse- UNIT with no cover, the mongrel-mix behind boxes with superior weapons, it might’ve been believable. Likewise, the ridiculous bungling of the Mexican standoff between the Brigadier and an enemy leader- in which a soldier sneaks up behind him with a heavy swinging weight, and somehow in the ensuing scuffle manages to hit and knock over the Brigadier, disarming him of his pistol, while the barely winged enemy holds onto his with ease, putting both of them at his mercy, is just plain SAD. Yes, it’s necessary for the surprise moment where he drops his gun and surrenders to them despite having both of them unarmed and at his mercy, but this surprise turnabout could’ve been set up with much better staging that doesn’t make UNIT look like the squad drilled out of the Three Stooges for being too clumsy. All that said- and the major complaint (other than the pacing) for the serial now aside, the Brigadier almost singlehandedly makes up for this with an awesome stalwart display of fighting machismo and skill (if I used the term Bada… errr… Bad-bum, then it would most certainly apply here)- firing his pistol thrice- straight out to his left, forward, and out to his right, and apparently felling one man with each shot, sending the first tumbling down the stairs in-frame behind him. Likewise, his escape from armed guards and fighting prowess in the final episode’s combat really suggests that the rest of UNIT is just slowing him down. So, a bad episode for UNIT’s competency, but a great one for the Brig.

There are a lot of little bits and notes, so forgive me if I jump around a bit more than usual. Let’s start with the visuals…
The models are all very good. Nicely detailed, Apollo-mission looking (not sure if they’re originals, kit-bashes, or just straight-up builds of an off-the-shelf-but-somewhat-inaccurate Apollo command/service module model), which is a major plus to me.

That said… the capsule wobble visibly on their strings in space, something that there’s no excuse for in 1970. The rocket liftoff has a terrible animated flame and really stiff, fake-looking 70s bluescreening that was roughly on par with the Star Wars Holiday Special- it somehow manages not just to be fake, but ultra-fake. (Though it’s an awesome sequence and they did a great job with the Doctor in G-forces) The main screen in mission control, though nicely done, suffers from major blue screen fringing and breaking up around the railings, giving it away rather plainly. On the plus side, the mini pop-up screen with a venetian blind transition on is executed flawlessly. Also excellent is the alien spaceraft model (if a bit 2D-cutout-moving-around-the-screen looking, it’s still a very cool design that reminds me of a cousin of the later Sycorax ship in the New Series Christmas Invasion) and the model of the interior was very, very well realized. The bluescreening of the Doctor walking along the corridor was flawlessly done for the time, and while obvious as bluescreening to modern eyes, it holds up incredibly well for a period effect, and the angle of plane-matching up to the floor is spot-on. This is easily the best effect I’ve seen in Classic Who thus far, and creates a fantastic, expansive alien environment. 

Not so fantastic? The alien’s killer touch, which is just a flash-frame of red using that paintbrush from MS Paint that has pixelly starburst coming off the sides, like it’s supposed to be a spray or something. Except, you know… done long before MS Paint was around. Still, it looks cheap. Practical effects for the aliens are FAR better- excellent (only occasionally glimpsed, heightening the alien feeling) makeup, practical explosions well-timed and well-filmed, a seamless telekinetically-lifting-the-gate effect at the end… these are all pulled off fantastically, and really sell the alien ambassadors. And one last practical effect, the James-Bond-ish cargo truck (errr… Lorry) that changes it’s plates and then it’s sidewalls… doesn’t come off quite so well, as the jump-cut transition tricks also have significant background changes that ruin the effect. (Plus, it’s never explained in the end… is this army technology…? Alien…? How did they change the appearance of the truck instantaneously? Do they have holograms in this world, and we’re never told about it?)  Much better jump-cut effects accompany the Liz/Doctor time displacement scene, and the near-perfect ‘displacement’ scene with the tape recording, which looks FANTASTIC- a testament to Pertwee’s miming ability, it really creates a believable effect of Pertwee simply pulling the disc out of the air. Major kudos. Likewise, good miming work for Bessie’s ‘Anti-theft device’ (a fun and very whimsical Doctor scene, as detailed below).

And lastly, on a visual note of another kind… this is the first of Third Doctor lost episodes. However, unlike the Hartnell and Troughton missing episodes in which all video is lost, only the color prints were lost for some Third Doctor stories. This means that the serial fluctuates back and forth from black and white to color, sometimes fading mid-scene, often cutting disorientingly along with a change of location- we just pop from a black and white scene in a field to a sudden color interior; it makes for a very odd viewing experience. It doesn’t affect the watchability, just makes things slightly surreal. (And just this month, the new colorized version is being released on DVD at long last!)

This was also a strong episode for the audio… sort of. It premieres the ‘rising whine’ sound that any viewers of the New Series will know always leads into the opening credits and ending credits, a high-pitch piercing… I don’t know, it’s too sharp a sound to call a whine. Let’s call it a… ‘Pirr.’ You know, like Christopher Eccleston regenerates into David Tennant, and he says a great line about new teeth, and then: “Where were we? Ah, yes… Barcelona.” Pirrrrrrrrr… bad-dur-um-dum, Dun-dun-duh-duh-duh, dun-dun-duh-duh-duh, dun-dun-duh-duh-duh, DUN-dun-duh-duh-duh… whooooo-eeeee-ooooooo, weeee-ooooo-oooo… dum dum dum, DUMMMMMM-dum dum… you know, the ending credits music? Yeah, it’s that sound. That totally starts here. (Who fans call it 'the scream.') Unless they changed it for the DVD or something. The next serial will tell. As does the clever practice of cutting straight to the credits, no fade (We’ve gone from ‘Hold awkwardly on a long shot while next episode’s title is superimposed over the actors holding position for way too long’ to ‘hold the shot for too long and fade out on it’ to ‘run end credits over the last shot and fade it out pretty quickly’ to ‘awkward half-second fade to black, then fade in the credits’, and now ‘jump cut from cliffhanger moment directly to credit title card’, which is very effective at increasing the cliffhanger tension.) And the practice of doing the opening credits, showing the cliffhanger recap, then cutting to the serial title, and finally to the resolution- a nice solution for the format. (Sadly, retrospect has demonstrated that this was a one-time experiment in this serial- a pity, as I like this format best of all! Still, the next serial will go right back to the ‘opening sequence followed by a long title card and credits showing the serial title and then finally cut back into the cliffhanger from last week and its resolution’ format. Rats!)

(Speaking of the aforementioned cliffhangers, they have these down pat- the Third Doctor serials have had some of the best cliffhangers I’ve seen. The end of Episode Two, as the Doctor spouts nonsense phrases into the radio and receives the same static replies from the astronauts, the camera dollying in on his face, his expression growing more tense, the music building in a slow, low rumble, until his head snaps up and he tersely announces “All right, cut it open!” in almost a cold fury, is a sight to behold- magnificent in that it’s not a cliffhanger from danger or a sudden revelation, but simply from the tension of the situation and fantastic acting. A description is guaranteed not to do it justice- do yourself a favor and go see it in-context! I literally exclaimed out loud when I saw it. (Note from Future Andrew: And essentially a cliffhanger unrivaled until Colin Baker almost 20 seasons later- and even then, more or less a tie! This is one of the best cliffhangers of all time!))

Also, this serial is notable for its music. Sometimes good… and sometimes utterly horrible. What’s with the jaunty organ music for all of the space capsule shots during a tense rendezvous? Seriously, what is UP with that? Tonally inept, to say the least, but unintentionally hilarious in its juxtaposition. Most of the score falls into this so-good-it’s-bad category; it’s not bad music, just bad music for the scene it’s attached to.  Still, parts of it are quite good, such as the aforementioned ethereal ET/Mac and Me/etc. theme for the aliens, which is otherworldly and slightly magical- the perfect ‘aliens with incredible powers walk among us’ wonderment for this story.

Then, there are stunts and performances:
During the bizarre assault on UNIT, we are treated to a truly cool helicopter sequence (the Jihad has ended! Hoorah!) in which a UNIT man tries to break inside, riding on the strut before being thrown off- something I can’t see BWW accomplishing on its budget!

The Time Displacement bit at the beginning, though a little silly, is a fun little bit to remind us that Time/Space travel haven’t left us for good, just taken a little vacation. Nice touch!

The Liz chase in a water treatment plant… or park… or something… was well done, if a little clumsily choreographed. It was fun. Likewise, while there’s nothing especially standout about the assault on the fuel depot, it was nicely executed with some good stunts and a solid ending chase/finale.

Whether intentional ironic humor or unintentional bad writing humor, I liked the running gag that the order to shut the gates always comes to the checkpoint seconds after they’ve waved the vehicle-to-be-stopped through.

And the best bits were definitely in the last episode- the Doctor’s gambit of pretending to build an alien comm. device and building an SOS telegraph instead (a signal my lovely wife recognized immediately) was intelligent and funny, a deftly written twist subtly conveyed and brimming with humor; major kudos. And in the much less subtle, brazenly comedic vein, the notion of having all of the transport seized, followed by the suggestion “Well, sir, there’s always the Doctor’s car…” The expression on Lethbridge-Stewart’s face, followed by the immediate jump cut to armed UNIT cavalry riding to the rescue in Bessie, was absolutely and utterly priceless. (Secondary kudos to acknowledging the fact that having your car all shot up in the escape might adversely affect its performance!)

And last in the potpourri, a few conceptual complaints…
So, this is UK Mission Control. Because England has always had such great space ambitions. Now, I know we find out this is hardly their first launch- 3rd at least heading to Mars- but, really? Three people in one room is their mission control? If you watch Apollo 13 or From the Earth To The Moon, you see row after row of technicians at computer stations- 3-4 banks of them, each with a different section to monitor… and what you don’t see is the entire rooms of people receiving the same telemetry, working for each of those men and communicating by radio. Each of the dozens of controllers at Houston is like the Electoral College member for a US state- one person representing many, many more. It takes hundreds to man a rocket flight, and here they have… like, 3? Then again, perhaps that’s how it works when it’s modeled after a Parliamentary system?

And they’re even more short-staffed, because one of the three is a certified IDIOT- he continues to insist that the SPECIFIC SIGNAL WITH PICTOGRAPHIC DATA ENCODED IN IT THAT REPEATS EXACTLY AT SPECIFIC INTERVALS is random static. So, not exactly a rocket scientist, then… which is precisely whom you would want to have staffing mission control.

Oh, and they only have one computer? A singular one, so that sabotaging it will put a serious dent in the investigation? I know at the time computers were rare, but this is MISSION CONTROL FOR A MARS MISSION. Surely there must be more than one computer? It’s certainly too technologically early for a virus to be on the network…

They also decided to go Russian-style and have the capsule land on land, out in the middle of a field. Not really a complaint, just an interesting note. And they did remember the Service module/capsule difference, showing a Service module in orbit, but just a capsule on land, implying an orbital jettison. So, points for that. That the hatch was sealed and couldn’t be opened without cutting through with a welding torch? And they just had to put it on a truck (tumbling around the astronauts inside who-knows-how-badly) and haul it back to base (Mission control, the launch facility, forensics, and astronaut training seem to be all combined into one facility- they weren’t in real life) to do anything with it? This is almost as poor design as the controls (see below); in real life, capsule hatches were sealed from the outside, and I’m pretty sure designed to be opened from the outside in case of emergency. You know, in case the astronauts are incapacitated, you’d kind of want help to be able to get to them? Unless they’re saying the aliens sealed it in a way it wasn’t designed to be?

Finally, the interior design of the capsule as the Doctor is preparing to go is simply atrocious; the astronaut cannot physically reach the controls without unbuckling, getting up, and walking over to them- they are far out of arm’s reach, and impossible to get to while on their back. This is the equivalent of making your airline cockpit out of a stretch limo cabin, with the pilot seated at the back, and the control stick on the front wall, so that while seated, the pilot cannot actually fly the plane. It’s so absurd that words fail me on how absurd it is. Oh, wait… as absurd as UNIT’s combat skills in the first few episodes. Yep, that about describes it.

Anyhow, gripes aside, we did have a wide cast of memorable characters.
They range from the minor (the three hypnotized astronauts who can’t see their true surroundings are effectively creepy just for how normal they’re acting in bizarre surroundings), to small (the crazy bearded guy who sabotages the computer and threatens the Doctor at gunpoint- and then meets a pretty impressive explosive end, and the poor incompetently-handled defecting scientist who knew Liz, who more or less dies from UNIT neglect) to major… like our crazy general.

While a bit of a cliché, he works as a character- someone who saw a best friend killed instantly and brutally by a single touch of an alien being, who now wants to defend Earth from them. His methods get a little over-the-top and start to fly in the face of all logic, but that’s what obsession does, and his motivation for that obsession seems reasonable (I think this is what the Doctor says he ‘understands’ at the end). What makes him so unhingedly-disturbing toward the end is just how normal he can act sometimes; there’s no clue to his madness until he completely wigs out. He makes a good villain, feeling only slightly stale in ‘stock character’ terms, but having fairly good presence for the series. His thugs are a little more bland and unremarkable, antagonistic enough that you’re glad to see them get their comeuppance, but not terribly memorable.

The Brigadier has little to do until the last chapter or two, bungling things pretty badly near the start (okay, he was up against a conspiracy, but he shouldn’t have neglected a defecting prisoner with valuable information so long, especially when potential informants have been getting assassinated so commonly in the last day or two). Still, he proves to be the ONLY competent UNIT soldier in the first battle, saves the Doctor’s rocket (partially), and really takes charge, putting on an impressive one-man show of a daring escape and strong combat in the final chapter. Not so much character development in this one, unfortunately- something badly needed after his character was run into the ground in the Silurian serial. Hopefully some needed character development will come his way soon. Regardless, he seems mostly back to his Spearhead-self; if a little less open-minded yet again, he is at least fully behind the Doctor.

Liz is likewise well-served in ‘moments,’ but not as much in character; however, her dynamic varies by having about 1/5 character development, 2/5 action, and 2/5… absence. In other words, a greater proportion of character-moments-to-memorable-scenes, but at the cost of having less time in the serial overall. Regardless, in addition to a good chase, some decent ‘convict the bad guy you used to know who has a conscience and just needs a little nudge to return to the side of good so play on his conscience with repeated pleas while you’re both captured and working under the nose of the bad guys’ scenes (a cinematic convention first designed by a Sir Lawrence Wicktenshire in 1653 whilst out pheasant hunting, passed on to his heirs in the hope that cinema would one day be invented to employ his idea to proper usage, and imported to the Americas from the Wicketnshire estate by Charlie Chaplain in 1909, for the sum of $32.97, the modern equivalent of 1.7 Billion dollars.), Liz also has a number of good moments with the Doctor. Aside from the slightly silly slapstick time-displacement bit, there’s a really sweet moment near the beginning, when the Doctor is glued to the TV despite himself, watching the Martian-orbit rendezvous, when Liz brings him over something to drink and joins him, very much like a parent or sibling looking out for his health. It’s a little thing, but implies a great depth of relationship (that we haven’t really seen evidenced or warranted based on only 2 previous serials, but let’s not let that quibble stand in the way of sentiment) that really nuances this Doctor-companion (or, in this case, Doctor-assistant) relationship.

And, of course, the Doctor himself. He is a jack-of-all-trades in this one; brave, confident, gallant, diplomatic, authoritative, clever- a well-rounded action hero. He is in-control (with a fantastic scene involving Bessie’s anti-theft device in which he single-handedly thwarts the bad guys, leaves them helpless, rescues the space capsule, and saves the day- when an entire UNIT battalion couldn’t accomplish the same), canny (with his disappearing tape trick, for instance, as well as his masterful SOS gambit), funny (zooming in with Bessie right under a closing security gate, and arriving into the control room insisting to someone off-screen “Well, I simply don’t HAVE a pass, my good man- I don’t believe in them!”), brave (action-hero-ing it up by becoming an astronaut), investigative, cautious, and friendly (in his investigation of the alien craft and handling of its passengers), compassionate (not only to the captured ambassadors, but also to the soldiers he warns out of their way during the ending siege, and even to the poor, deluded villain at the end), and has several powerful acting moments- especially the intensity of the aforementioned tour-de-force cliffhanger “Cut it open!”

Overall, Ambassadors of Death (a great title) is a lot of fun and good moments stretched out just a little too long. I can’t point to any particular elements as extraneous- perhaps all of the cuts back to the villains before Liz joins them?- it just felt a little padded. Not to War Games levels, certainly; I just felt the pacing could be a bit tighter. That said, it has a number of great set pieces, and plenty of elements that make it worth watching.

Great moments:
The launch and alien spacecraft, the improvised SOS, the Brig’s escape, Bessie to the rescue, the Brig’s pistol-prowess, the ending assault on mission control, and UNIT to the rescue… in Bessie.

3.75 (or three and three-quarters) out of 5 “Shoes!” for this serial (I am fairly sure that most of my shoes for the last decade have been worn to the point of being ‘three-quarter shoes’ before I replaced them), which contains a number of 4-star pieces, it’s just a little… slow. Even so, the cliffhangers alone make it well worth checking out.

No concrete numbers for this serial, but the presence of a UK space program and the antiquity of Morse Code suggests a more futuristic ‘1980s’ time period far more than it does a contemporary 1970 setting. So, this is the first that really supports a ‘near future’ date in tone- though perhaps it simply takes place a decade after the last one, explaining why the events of the wretched Silurians serial have so little impact in this story.

1 comment:

  1. the anbassadors of death, 10/10