Doctor Who #94: Devil's Planet

"For the moment we do nothing. And by doing nothing, we do everything. Do I make myself clear?"TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 3 of the Daleks' Master Plan, of which only a brief clip survives. As usual, I've looked at a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Nov.27 1965.

IN THIS ONE... The heroes leave Kembel with the Daleks in pursuit. They momentarily land on the convict planet Desperus before taking off again.

REVIEW: The best parts of this episode are definitely the ones that feature Mavic Chen. The guy is so cool, he insults the Daleks right under their eyestalks and they don't even notice, highlighting their mistakes and deflecting unwanted attention onto Zephon who dies for the privilege of getting owned by the Guardian of the Solar System. I wish we had the video so we could see Zephon's supposed allies stepping away from him. "You're on your own, buddy, don't go naming us in your alliance." It's Survivor Kembel and the tribe speaks with Dalek disintegrator guns.

Sadly, the rest of the episode is... well, it's The Chase, isn't it? The heroes fly off Kembel with Daleks on their heels, this time leaving the TARDIS behind (how sound is that idea?). As in The Chase, this creates the need for boring Dalek tracking scenes, and the predictable "missed them by THAT much" ending. Worse still, most of the action on the heroes' side is flicking switches and bafflegabbing. Though the Doctor has always been a man of science, and it's been strongly inferred he's the TARDIS' inventor, it's under Terry Nation's control that he's built up his reputation as a super-engineer. Here he creates a makeshift forcefield to keep the natives at bay. It's something that - whoever started it - is still a strong component of the Doctor today. However, it's also often the dullest element of the show. The other characters don't get very much to do. Steven is impatient to do something, Bret gets on with it, and Katarina is commended for keeping her mouth shut. Poor thing.

The stolen Spar's destination is the planet Desperus (Nation tells us it's a place of despair), and it's a swamp where Kembel is a jungle. They sound about the same. It's also a prison planet, but not as pleasant as Australia, it seems. Scenes with caveman-like convicts fighting over a knife are all well and good, but the Spar leaves before very much can happen. (One of the convicts does manage to get aboard ship and shows up at the start of the next episode - we'll talk about him then.) Devil's Planet shrugs off its set-up even quicker than the locations in The Chase did. Hardly worth the trouble.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Mavic Chen continues to fascinate, but the adventure serial stuff is sketched out so summarily as to leave you cold and disinterested.

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