Doctor Who #274: Inferno Part 1

"You're liable to wake up Old Nick going that deep."TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD. First aired May 9 1970.

IN THIS ONE... They're drilling farther than they've ever drilled before. An accident creates a green werewolf. And the Doctor just there to leech power for his TARDIS console.

REVIEW: The weird editing on the opening credits is gone, thankfully, but we're still getting some special titles in this one. Gorgeous volcanic eruptions aren't just a bold use of color, but they seem to promise (or threaten) something for the story's characters down the line. And indeed, Dr. Stahlman is the prototypical scientist meddling with things he doesn't understand, drilling to the Earth's crust with no regard for safety. Can't tell yet if he's criminally negligent or if he has some darker agenda, but if there's a bad idea in the Whoniverse, it's to drill into the Earth. Not with everything the 2012 viewer knows is down there. And in fact, he releases some kind of ooze from down below, which turns the nicest guy at "Project Inferno" into a green werewolf. Nice trick to show poor Slocum being human and friendly in the opening scenes, so that we quickly bond with him and may be horrified at his savage murder of anyone who sees him in his mutated form.

This is Part 1, so we spend some time getting to know the guest cast, and a varied bunch they are. Sir Keith is the bureaucrat trying to hold the project together (I just realized, it's Jago from Talons of Weng-Chiang!), and in his ineffectual sparring with Stahlman, I think we should see a mirror of how the Doctor so often mistreats the people in charge. Sir Keith is sympathetic and Stahlman a humorless jerk, but isn't that how this Doctor has come across in the past three stories? In its year of color rebirth, the show seems intent on scratching at its own veneer, making its heroes as ambiguous as its villains. Sutton is the other reasonable man, a drilling expert who knows what's what and doesn't want to become a civil servant, but he's also hopelessly sexist (it's just like an episode of Mad Men). Petra is a strong woman who won't take his crap, but her loyalty may be misplaced (so she's Liz to Stahlman's Doctor, then).

Whether or not Stahlman has a secret agenda, his homologue the Doctor, does! An annoying consultant he may be, but he's also taking power from Inferno to get his TARDIS console started. This second thread is how the serial will fuel its seven episodes, with the Doctor moving to a parallel universe (see Theories), but not yet. Just weird distortions for now (epileptic viewers, beware). UNIT is also in the mix, the Brig and Benton (now a permanent member of the team), investigating the strange murder(s). It's lovely how Benton fixes up a temporary office, complete with the Brig's old army photos, and of course, that gives the Doctor the chance to trade some friendly barbs with the Brig. Liz doesn't get a big role this time, but the Doctor's affection for her is evident and makes their friendship rather delightful to watch.

In trying to get the console working, the Doctor hits a wall and finds himself in "limbo". Modern viewers may recognize the "Void" found in between universes (from Doomsday, etc.). It would seem that the Time Lords have blocked the Doctor's access to the time vortex, but he seems to have, by accident (a power surge), found a place the console can still travel to.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Another good start, though obviously, the parallel universe thread is more intriguing than the werewolf element (yes, I know they're not really werewolves). Interesting guest cast, and some good moments for the regulars too.


Jeff R. said...

I've always thought that the entire second season of NuWho was basically an elaborate spinning out of this story. So yes, keep an eye on the void, parallel universe, demons and devils, Torchwood/Unit parallels, etc....

Siskoid said...

There's a case to be made for Doc10's biggest influence being Doc3!

(Just as I think Doc2 is stamped on Doc11.)


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine