Doctor Who #342: Frontier in Space Part 3

"Now that's stealing, you know?" "That's what I'm in for. Got a trouble maker, have we?" "That's what I'm in for!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.10 1973.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor goes to jail... ON THE MOON! And the Master shows up.

REVIEW: This serial's cosmic joke continues. The Ogrons (who can't pronounce any words through their masks) break the Doctor and Jo out of jail, and they're ONCE AGAIN immediately recaptured. I've lost count, folks! In this episode, The Doctor is sent off to the Moon's version of Guantanamo Bay, and while I wouldn't say his stay there is without incident, it's STILL another near-pointless diversion since the Master shows up on Earth (the high collar fashion suits him) to capture our two heroes for his own ends, so any Lunar escape attempt will surely be followed by another example of this particular dance. At this point, I'm looking for how this is part of some kind of theme, but I'm coming up empty.

In spite of these shenanigans, the episode does have something to offer. As with Part 1, there's some engaging world-building going on. English seems to have deteriorated over the next 500 years, but rioting seems to still be a popular activity. With political prisoners sent to a remote prison without trial, and a populist Peace Party hoping to overthrow a fascist government, this Earth is probably closer to ours than we'd care to admit. The President of Earth seemed so nice, too. But she can afford to be with cohorts like General Williams running the nastier part of the show. Note the opening scene where she gets massages and messages from underdressed ladies, and how she offers Williams a glass of wine when he comes a-calling. This is how the 1% lives, hedonists on top. I also like how there's a suggestion these two were once involved, as something "happened" that put an end to their friendship, but not to their trust in one another. Is Williams' seeming threat that she can be replaced rather a warning? Certainly, neither of them want an election with this Peace Party thing in the wings. (Is it getting harder and harder to fix an election?)

Jo gets a nice black judo outfit and gets to stare down the Master, but it's the Master who's the real star this time. He blows up a mind probe with his will, as promised in Part 2, in a well-executed sequence that ramps up the tension with sound and visual overlays, while contrasting it with the Doctor's calm voice. It takes the edge off yet another instance of people not believing the truth. At the Lunar prison (neat set), he entertains with his irreverence and charm. I'd have bought into a Doctor-in-prison serial, but sadly, though I'm sure the information gained during his stay will become relevant later, it's really just a pitstop on the way to story's end, and quick access to a cliffhanger when the "trusty" Cross betrays the Peace Party leader and the Doctor (who gets a shot at escape instead of a party member rather too easily).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Doctor's great in his guest-starring role on Prison Break, and the world of the 26th century continues to be detailed, but I'm wondering when we'll pick up the plot again.

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