Doctor Who #472: Underworld Part 1

"We're on the edge of the cosmos, the frontiers of creation, the boundary between what is and isn't, or isn't yet, anyway. Don't you think that's interesting?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD. First aired Jan.7 1978.

IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS lands inside a ship at the edge of the universe, soon to become the center of the very planet it's looking for.

REVIEW: Baker and Martin return for the second time this season, and as usual, you might take exception to their understanding of science, but you can't fault how big and bold their ideas are. And once again, K9 is a useful member of the team, not just a mobile gun or an unwanted companion told to stay in the TARDIS (one day, that role'll belong to Nyssa). The big idea du jour is that of a ship on a 100,000-year quest to become the very planet they hope to find by getting trapped in an imploding nebula (remember, the Racnoss made Earth the same way). It gets bigger. The ship is from Mynios, an early civilization that destroyed itself with well-meaning "help" from the Time Lords (it's what brought about the non-interference policy), and is looking for another ship carrying their genetic race bank so they can start anew. They even have a form of rejuvenating regeneration that can be used on their crew a 1000 times over, pacifier guns that can roofie even Leela, and comfy couches on their bridge. Big. Ideas. And good news, the effects for them are pretty good!

By making the Time Lords god-like figures in Mynian mythology, there's a reason for some of the crew to distrust the Doctor, and his aloof and slightly skewed demeanor does come across as particularly untrustworthy. We know he's not screwing with them, he's bringing real solutions, but the Mynians are totally in their rights to think of him as a trickster god. (And tricksters can be helpful too.) The Time Lord connection also helps justify their name, an obvious reference to Minos, king of the lost civilization on Crete, because there's every chance the name was disseminated across space and time. And I can't quite resist the fact their species name sounds like "Minions". Oh, Time Lords, your egos are showing...

This is Anthony Read's first real turn as script editor (he was credited as such for The Sun Makers, but Holmes wrote the script for it) and his direction away from Gothic and violence, and towards letting Tom Baker's innate charisma carry the show, is well under way. The Doctor and Leela correspondingly get a number of comedy moments to enliven the space opera action. The Doctor's painting the TARDIS while Leela is impishly pushing buttons (all bad ideas, but rather amusing). The Doctor shushes Leela who immediately shushes K9 (best use of this Baker tic I've ever seen). The Doctor excited at the prospect of the nothingness at the edge of known space. Though the Doctor doesn't usually endorse Leela's violence, he still wakes her from her pacified state by reminding her of who she is. She becomes very aggressive after that, as if the emotions she was denied have to burst out in a single burst. And she sulks, aware that she was violated. Nice moments.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A strong set-up (they often are) with good effects, adequate design, bold ideas and fun character moments.



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