"Did your Overlord masters send you to hunt me?" (Ky gets pleonastic)
IN THIS ONE... Brightly colored caves! Firestorms! The Mutts attack!
REVIEW: While the plot is nothing to write home about and full of obvious padding, I've got to give credit to the production team for trying quite hard to create a WORLD out of it. The walls aboard the space station are high and curved. Varan's village has great big huts in it. The firestorms are fearsome light shows that look quite beautiful as the spring off the station from the planet's atmosphere (its orbit must be pretty low). And even the mines are lit with red, pink, blue and green to give them a stark, graphic quality. The Mutts, finally seen in their full glory, are fairly well realized and expressive insects/crustaceans who might have made fun recurring enemies had they been used in some other kind of story (you know, where they were more advanced and hungry to conquer Earth).
Visually, the only thing that doesn't really work is the strange chamber Jo stumbles into - the place of sleeping, presumably - which is just horrid CSO work. Musically, it's quite eerie and haunting, and the amorphous humanoid figure she sees there is a striking visual, but yeah, the environment is rubbish. I'm talking a heck of a lot about the sets, locations, costumes and effects because, well, the characters don't get up to much that's interesting. Ky has a few repetitive speeches about "his people". Varan isn't very helpful because, well, everyone is his enemy (even himself). Even after the Doctor's opened the Time Lord box, he can't seem to read the stuff written on the artifacts within. It's nice of the Time Lords to restore the Solonians' culture and all, but they should have included a decoder ring. And Jo, well, Jo is rendered unconscious again. That's twice in a row, if you're counting the episodes.
Only the Marshal really makes a difference, treacherously planning to blow up the mines with the Mutts, Ky and the Doctor inside. (Calling it a solution to the Mutt problem is a bit on the nose though, isn't it?) Oh, and Stubbs and Cotton too, since they're stupid enough to leave their com links open when they cozy up to the Doctor this time. What we are starting to figure our for ourselves (because the characters sure aren't) is that maybe the Marshal's experiments AREN'T behind the firestorms and mutations (sounds like a post-apocalyptic role-playing game). Jaeger says Solos has been in spring for at least 500 years and it seems to be entering its summer. I've read lots of science fiction, so I can guess maybe the storms and Mutts are just part of the planet's natural cycle. I'm not saying it makes complete SENSE, mind you. But I can see where this is heading.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - It's very pretty, but there's really very little to recommend here aside from the look.