Thursday, 7 April 2011

19: Mission To The Unknown - An UnDoctored Episode.

Written by: Terry Nation.
Companions: Marc Cory.
Monsters/Villains: Daleks.
Brief Synopsis: Space Security Service agent Marc Cory is investigating a possible Dalek sighting on the planet Kembel.
Rating: 8/10.

When the Daleks came for the 70 planets in the Ninth Galactic System,
I remained silent;
I was not in the Ninth Galatic System.

When they came for 40 more in the Constellation of Meros,
I did not speak out;
I was not even near the Constellation of Meros.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

As my wonderful Wondering companion and sweetheart Katie points out there is a clear connection with Mission To The Unknown/The Daleks Master Plan and The Second World War. The Dalek menace is raging on the edges of the galaxy and Earth is not too fussed until they learn that they too will soon become embroiled in the war, and of course the Daleks are the Nazis.

It's a beautiful day today so it seemed like a perfect day to watch Mission To The Unknown. This single episode story was created to fill in the recording gap left when the earlier episode Planet of The Giants was cut an episode short, from four to three. It also acts as a prelude to the twelve part epic The Daleks Master Plan. Sadly only a few clips of this story remain so we watched johnnyfanboy's youtube recons, and very good they are too, thanks for these great reconstructions.

In the episode we take up from where the cliffhanger left off with Jeff Garvey awaking and chanting 'kill, kill, kill.' He doesn't survive long as Space Security Service agent Marc Cory takes him out, realising he has been poisoned by the thorn of a Varga Plant; an animal-like plant that looks like a giant cactus. If poisoned by one a person develops the urge to kill and eventually transforms into Varga themselves. Katie rightly points out that this is a truly scary concept, turning into something else, and true to form Doctor Who will use this many many times in the future.

Garvey transforming into a Varga Plant.
Cory reveals to the Captain of the mission, Gordon Lowery, his true reasons for coming to Kemble. He is investigating a sighting of a Dalek Spaceship in the area. Marc Cory is clearly based on James Bond, Lowery even says fearfully, "Space Security Service, licensed to kill." Although I really enjoyed this episode it does feel strange going from the Doctor as leading man to 007. The episode is only 25 mins in length and we've gone that long without Hartnell before and we will again. Katie on the other hand, said "it isn't really Doctor Who though, is it? He's not in it so they shouldn't really call it Doctor Who." Katie also pointed out that for the 1965 audience watching this for the first time it must have been very odd that the Doctor just wasn't there, they would have then had to wait 5 weeks before they learnt what reference this episode had to the show they were watching. Even in the new series with Russell T Davies Doctor-lite episodes the Doctor makes some appearance.

Jermy Young as Lowery and Edward De Souza as Cory.
The Sighting of the Varga plants confirms Cory's suspicions, as they are indigenous to just one planet. Skaro. The Daleks discover Cory and Lowery and destroy their ship. Lowery befalls the same fate as Garvey as he too is poisoned by a Varga's thorn and despatched by Cory. 

The Daleks meet with six rather interesting looking aliens, forming an alliance to conquer the galaxy. One of the aliens, Malpha says "This is indeed an historic moment in the history of the universe. We six from the outer galaxies joining with the power from the solar system, the Daleks. The seven of us represent the greatest war force ever assembled. Conquest is assured!" So it wasn't incredibly original of Steven Moffat to create an alliance at the end of season 5, Terry Nation did it back in 1965. There is a lot of speculation in this episode as to which alien is which. If you're playing along at home maybe you too would like to play: Name That Alien. The names are: Malpha, Trantis, Sentreal, Beaus, Gearon, and Warrien. See if you can match the name to the alien. Cory doesn't escape this episode either and before he is able to send a distress signal to warn Earth, he too is killed. Exterminated by the Daleks. This story also marks producer Verity Lambert's last episode. She was a wonderful woman and did so much for so many people.

R.I.P Verity Lambert (1935-2007).
And here's what Katie thought in her own words: 

As a newbie Doctor Who fan who only started watching after the new series began in 2005 I thought it might be difficult getting into the classic episodes. However, when you have a boyfriend as well informed and passionate about the Doctor as I do that's really not a problem! Emrys is very generous and does a lot of hand-holding and guiding for me whenever we watch classic Doctor Who, always answering my questions no matter how ridiculous or naive they may be to a seasoned Doctor Who viewer, and this helps a lot. So when he asked me to watch (well, mostly listen) to one of the lost episodes I was up for the challenge, and I actually really enjoyed "Mission To The Unknown". 

I found Cory, Mark Cory (see my 007 licence to kill reference? Good grief I'm witty!) a really strong leading man, even if his speeches often erred towards the dramatic, and the Vargas and their slow killing methods made them good quality villans. And then of course you have the Daleks plotting to take over the world, and with them you can't really go wrong. Although personally I would never form an alliance with a Dalek, I'm sure they would just try and screw me over at a later date... I did miss the Doctor in this episode and I do think there must have been a lot of confusion in the audiences of the 60s as to where this story fitted in to the grand-Doctor-Who-scheme of things, particularly because of the rather pessimistic ending (the Alliance will take over the Solar System! Mwa ha ha ha!) but all in all I enjoyed it, and would give it a solid 8/10. I should watch more of this classic Doctor Who...

Katie and I in The Who Shop in Upton Park.
And a very happy blogging boyfriend smiles a wide smile. Thanks for reading and also make sure to go over to Tachyon TV and check out Adventures With The Wife In Space, a wonderful blog along the same lines as my own, except with the rather wonderful twist of a fan bringing his wife along for the ride. I never miss it. Thanks Sue and Neil, this ones for you.

Join me next time for The Myth Makers.

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