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Doctor Who; The Mutants - An entertaining adventure with a bit of a message from the glory years of Who
on 23 February 2011
Even though he was the Doctor long before I was born (Peter Davison was my first Who), Jon Pertwee has firmly established himself as my favourite of the lot due mainly to his presence and persona, and the interesting and intelligent scripts he was given. Received fan wisdom has it that this story is a bit of a dud, but only in comparison to other Pertwee stories. The worst of the Pertwee years is still miles ahead of some others, so in absolute terms this is actually a pretty good and entertaining tale, with, as is usual for a Bob Baker and David Martin script, a strong message and some interesting concepts.
It is a complex story, with several threads running through it. The two main lines are first the cruel oppression of a planet and it's inhabitants by the Earth Empire in the form of a deranged Marshall, culminating in an attempt at genocide. The second is the mysterious plague afflicting the locals, and their gradual mutation into... what? The Doctor and Jo are thrust into the middle of all this by the Time Lords, who want a message delivered. The Doctor has to suss out the mystery of the mutations, prevent the genocide and deliver the message. All in a day's work!
There is more than enough here to fill the six part run time adequately. The exploration of the evils of apartheid and the Doctor's revulsion at such ideas is well done and not too overpowering. The scientific ideas presented are interesting and never totally unbelievable, which is another thing I like about this era of Who. And Pertwee managaes to talk about particle reversal for a whole six episodes without ever changing the polarity! The basic idea behind the mutations, and the way the Doctor solves it is an interesting and well laid out tale. All in all I really enjoyed this adventure and the 6 episodes flew by.
This is a two disc special edition from 2Entertain. As usual the picture quality is the best possible (The Who team are really leading the way in how classic TV should be restored and presented on DVD) and the two discs are stuffed with interesting extras. The info text is informative, with discussions of the history of South Africa through to the frustration of the Director at the set builders. The second disc is packed with various documentaries, including a fascinating look at the history of black actors in Dr. Who over the years.
An excellent presentation of a very entertaining and thought provoking story. 5 stars