Doctor Who #519: The Creature from the Pit Part 4

"It was written in the stars."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.17 1979.

IN THIS ONE... Lady Adrasta is killed, but the Creature's people have shot a neutron star at Chloris.

REVIEW: Though the episode ends on a fairly high-note, with crazy epic concepts worthy of a Martin and Baker script (Fisher always seems to be emulating SOMEone), you still need to wade through the first two-thirds of this thing, inhabited by those stupid, stupid characters from Part 1 through 3. Lady Adrasta is such an irritating character, her own man the Huntsman finally turns on her with very little prodding (he has the best hat anyway), and she's killed in the first 10 minutes. The villain of the pieces is (mercifully) dead, but the show must go on with a couple of tacked-on moments of jeopardy. One of these has the metal scavengers seem to steal a crucial piece of the Creature's ship, but they think better of it even after knocking Organon on the head (as a punchline). Adrasta's vizier, Karela, HAS taken the photon drive, but it's not a big complication because she heads straight to the scavengers' tent and orders them about (living in a matriarchal society, they tend to obey her for no reason just as they did Romana). So when the Doctor walks in, well, it was the only set left. By that time, she's killed the leader of the scavengers who only gawps at the steel blade she used, the unnecessary death of a clown. How powerful is K9's laser that he can turn metal into ash and force the economy to collapse? It's just stupid. And don't get me started on people talking in view/earshot of others without being heard or being surprised if they are.

When it comes to the Creature (Erato), however, things are looking up. Its communicator thing uses the larynx of whoever is touching it to speak. It was a high ambassador come to trade vegetation for metal until betrayed by Adrasta, and now its people have shot a neutron star at Chloris' sun in retaliation. Big ideas, and not hampered too much by the monster's design, which we see little of. They've gotten rid of its appendages anyway. The solution is pretty insane science, by all accounts, and the effects crazier still, but it's well paced and reasonably exciting. It involves Erato's shell-ship weaving aluminum around the neutron star while the TARDIS strains to keep it in place with a tractor beam, which at the last moment can't be switched off, almost leading to a collision. I liked these bits. Maybe I was starved for entertainment though.

The regulars do their best to keep things alive (the "yes" scene springs to mind), but the dialog tends to be pretty ordinary. Organon gets most of the jokes, but when he's not paired up with the Doctor, they fall a little flat. At least there's the scene where the Doctor writes him off for dead when Adrasta says she'll kill the astrologer if the Time Lord doesn't cooperate. But Adrasta's there too, so it's a bit of a wash. I'll say this: At least Tom Baker doesn't voice Erato all the time, the talking stick given over to Adrasta, Romana and K9 on occasion. Like Midsummer Night's Dream's Bottom, the fourth Doctor doesn't need any more opportunities to play every role.

VERSIONS: The Target novelization is filled with jokey footnotes, and with the monster in your imagination instead of on the screen, it's much better reading than viewing experience.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Some fun outer space stuff at the end, but the human characters are so stupid as to drain all my interest in the proceedings.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The script has some big ideas hiding in it, but badly-written, badly-acted villains and Doctor Who's worst-designed monster muck everything up. We can take shelter in the comedy, but even that tends to fall flat.



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