Doctor Who #324: The Mutants Part 5

"We'll all become un-people, un-doing un-things un-together!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired May 6 1972.

IN THIS ONE... Jaeger poisons Solos, the Doctor cleans Solos. The Marshal captures Jo and friends, they escape, the Marshal captures them again.

REVIEW: I'm going to assume the Skybase's missiles were, in fact, cluster bombs, because that's the only way I can explain the rather localized and tepid bombing their produce. Truly, The Mutants isn't going from strength to strength, but from weakness to weakness. The model work for the investigator's ship is blurry, making it look even cheaper than it actually is. And those guards I was making fun of yesterday for their terrible aim? You can add to the list laziness, turning your back on prisoners, aiming very very slowly to allow Mutts to jump them, and distressingly bad acting. I can't believe these guys were allowed to kill Stubbs, in a most awkwardly staged scene too (where people crouch over Stubbs in the line of fire and nothing happens to them).

That's annoying, but so is the Marshal, quickly growing into a ridiculous mustache twirler who, just as he's about to do something smart (like executing the heroes before they do anything else), then does something dumb (like asking the guards to leave so he can explain his plans in front of them). He's poisoned his colony by mistake, but it doesn't convince him to leave as he's been ordered to. So it's a good thing the Doctor's magical science can fix the planet, and also a good thing he failed to kill the Time Lord. Turns out Jaeger isn't completely on his side, but that's what happens when you threaten your allies. And even more stupidly, he forces the Doctor to sign off on his attempts at genocide as "extraordinary measures", but as Earth has ordered him to pull out, that sarcely matters! He's lost the plot completely.

Thankfully, the episode has some redeeming features. Chris Barry's direction continues to be energetic, in particular in the short chase through the mists. The Doctor shows some wit in the laboratory scenes, livening up what could have been bog standard technobabble. And Jo finally gets to do something, bluffing the Marshal, leading an escape attempt, and alerting the authorities... before getting captured again. Thaesium radiation death trap? That word sounds familiar. Ah yes, it's the same radiation found in the Solonian caves. Contrived? Oh, don't let me go negative again.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Some wit on the part the Doctor and Jo finally doing something saves this episode from a lower mark.

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