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Old 12-26-2013, 02:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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220: Underworld

Doctor : 4th (Tom Baker)
Companions : Leela (Louise Jameson)
Series : 15
Originally Transmitted: 7th – 28th January 1978

Underworld like most of the best Doctor Who's (and a lot of the worst ones) steals it's ideas from somewhere else. Underworld is Doctor Who does Jason & the Argonauts.

The story goes that centuries ago the Time Lords gave some of their powers to a race called the Minyans. The Minyans worshipped the Time Lords like Gods, but due to the technology given to them they began a long bloody civil war that ended up with the destruction of the planet Minyos. The Minyans launched two ships, one called P7E with the entire race bank of their species onboard and another called R1C to locate the first and to colonise a new planet using a crew who would use technology from the Time Lords in the form of regeneration sunbeds. The crew would spend their entire lives searching for the P7E, regenerate and then do the same again over & over again following the signal from the P7E for many thousands of years.

The Time Lords think to themselves 'Screw this' and adopt a strict policy of non intervention of other life forms from that moment onwards (The Doctor himself is caught and tried by the Time Lords for breaking this rule during his 2nd incarnation, found guilty, forced to regenerate and is exiled to Earth.)

The Doctor & Leela arrive onboard the R1C and we first see the biggest problem facing this story.

You see the studio set for the interior of the spaceship is one of the biggest and best during the original series run. It's big, it's intricate and it looks like a big budget 1970s spaceship interior.

Unfortunately at that time in the UK inflation was running at around 30%. Doctor Who would only get a fraction of that percentage added to it's budget each year, so they were constantly trying to do more up to date special effects (Star Wars had just come out a few months earlier) for less and less money. The result of this being after the fabulous spaceship set was built they realised they had no money to film the rest of the episode.

What they did to remedy this situation was to film the entire rest of the story on green screen. Now in the age of CGI that wouldn't be so much of a problem but back in 1977 when this story was recorded the best they could manage is imposing a few painted pictures of caves as a backdrop. Also added were a few polystyrene rocks & some stone painted on cardboard flats scattered around the place to make it look a bit more three dimensional. So you have loads of actors who looked like they were glowing and whos limbs would disappear when they would accidentally move a few inches to the wrong place.

Back to the story, the Tardis lands on the R1C and the Doctor and Leela meet the Minyans, a rather pathetic bunch following this signal looking for this other ship. They have this rather annoying trait of telling the Doctor that 'The quest is the quest' every 30 seconds or so.
They take the ship through a nebula

The ship soon finds itself in great danger when rocks begin sticking to it. The Doctor realises the gravity from the ship is causing the formation of a new planet that the other ship had the same thing happen to it. They find this planet and discover the Minyans mining the tunnels as slaves for fuel and food (Do they eat rocks?) to the mighty Oracle and his henchmen the Seers who actually look pretty cool.

The Doctor learns that at the centre of the mines in a place called The Citadel that the Oracle & the Seers were created to protect it. The Doctor looks at a map of the tunnels & sees they're the shape of a tree (tenuous Jason & the Argonauts link) and that the trunk is the P7E they've been looking for.
The Doctor gets the race banks they've been looking for, blows up the Oracle & the P7E and frees the slaves onto the R1C with the race banks so they can continue to look for a new planet to call home.

I should point out that reading that 2 paragraph synopsis makes it sound a lot better than it actually is but if you like watching boring people in spacesuits repeating the same line over and over again for 90 minutes this is the episode for you. I consider Louise Jameson & Tom Baker to be the most talented actors that the show has ever cast in it's entire history and not even they can manage to save this borefest.

As always there's always at least one good thing about a Doctor Who story and here's the only good bit of this episode. The Minyans carry ray guns, but not your normal ray gun, these guns are pacification guns.
As the Doctor is travelling with a primitive cavewoman who will pull her knife out to defend him at a split seconds notice you can see what's going to happen. So enjoy this scene where the usually aggressive warrior like Leela gets hit by one of these guns and suddenly starts acting like she's smoked too much weed at Glastonbury.


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