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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2011
It's perhaps appropriate, given this adventure's underlying message, that The Mutants seems to have changed in the near-40 years since its first broadcast - and only for the better. Long-vilified by seasoned fans, here it emerges on DVD (and immediately after fellow miserable outcast Meglos) looking slightly mad, very spangly and all rather good fun.

There are no utterly-lost Pertwee adventures (technical issues still affect the future DVD release of classics like Ambassadors of Death, Mind of Evil, The Daemons and The Dinosaur Invasion, for now), but critical cold-shouldering means The Mutants is in some ways the closest we come to such a creature. It's shaping up as a vintage year for Pertwee fans, with Terror of the Autons, a revised Day of the Daleks and Three Doctors, plus swansong Planet of the Spiders, all in the DVD pipeline, but these we know and love. For many, the rummy six-parter presented here is undiscovered country and, coupled with unavoidable low expectations, means pleasant surprised lie ahead.

It's got a loose, relaxed, undercooked (but sometimes overheated) feel, and unfolds in a charmingly offhand manner, developments seeming to surprise the cast as much as the viewer in a way that keeps the adventure effervescent and wards off typical six-parter fatigue.

The lead himself is in fine form (and has the third Doctor even looked quite so swankily third-Doctor-ish?). Pertwee mixes a strange, Troughon-esque feyness and amused distance into his usual impressive performance, as the still-officially-exiled Doctor is suddenly whisked off by his Gallifreyan gaolers to the year 3000, and tasked with sorting out trouble at t'Skybase, an Earth Empire-run space station (the exteriors of which, at least, are spiffily done) that's orbiting high over turbulent planet Solos at a time of flux with apparent cosmic implications.

Relishing his return to off-Earth adventure, but resenting his errand-boy status, Pertwee's urgent, imperious, impatient Doctor switches moods slickly here as he bears down on new problem after new problem while his mission endlessly changes shape. His hilariously-efficient, explosive dispatch of sort-off-baddie-scientist Jaegar (Who fave George Pravda), after the Doctor quickly sizes him up as first necessary help, then a nuisance, then nothing more, is one of the great Pertwee moments no one ever talks about. They should!

Space-and-time travel always brings the best out in companion Jo Grant, we know, and Katy Manning shines in shrewd mode, showing Jo as not just a blinky-eyed little kitten-face but someone evolving into a smart improviser in the image of her Doctor. She pulls, of course, and her scenes with Solnian rebel Ky (proto-Johnny Depp Garrick Hagon; he's on the commentary track) hold much sub-textual fun, especially when Solos' poisonous atmosphere makes Jo feel a bit, er, faint...

For the admission fee you also get a fine, watchable supporting cast: Geoffrey Palmer shimmers in (and out a bit too soon, alack); John Hollis is a striking, stranded scientist and helpmeet dressed in Anita Roddick cast-offs; and Christopher Coll charms as a Scouse space security guard. Fans have often poked fun at Rick James' performance as Skybase servotor Cotton, but I dunno... it has a certain memorable charm.

Tristram Cary's squelchy, squonky, synth-heavy soundtrack (already out on CD, but better heard in context here) adds another layer of distinctiveness, providing as it does the precise sound of ropey-but-head-spinning CSO effects. There's a genuine sense of weirdness crackling throughout all six episodes that never fails to beguile and is undiminished by repeat plays.

By year's end, all of season nine should be out on DVD; from the fug of Accepted Fan Wisdom, The Mutants could well have emerged by then in a new light and deserving place among the best of the Pertwee years.

Oh, and it's a deliberate nod to Monty Python at the start, by the way.
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on 3 February 2016
Don't remember seeing this one as a kid - so I downloaded it onto the 'Fire' on a slightly inebriated whim to watch over Christmas, not without some trepidation, having often seen this listed high in the 'worst classic 'Who' stories' listings. It's also true that six part adventures from the Pertwee era can drag a bit, especially in an age where they can be watched in one sitting. Despite all this, I thought it was great. Definitely breaks the traditional Pertwee mould of Earth based, U.N.I.T adventures with the Master lurking on the scene (essential as the elements were of course) Maybe The Brig, Benton, Yates and The Master himself were given a few weeks off as none of them feature - and this is also a fairly rare trip for The Doctor and Jo in the TARDIS and away from his Earth exile (even if it is on a Timelord orchestrated mission - something that always hacked off Pertwee's Doctor royally). The plot is scatty but never dull, there's some superb characters in this story and the monsters aren't that bad either. Not at all as bad as I had been led to believe.
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on 31 May 2004
I have a lot of time for Jon Pertwee. Like Peter Davison, he is a moral and serious Doctor with a humane and caring quality I always enjoy. He also shares Davison's heroic streak. And as one of my favourite Doctors, I find I can happily watch most of his stories, and enjoy them, even the most derided efforts, like The Time Monster or Monster of Peladon. But The Mutants is a tough one to sit through, I have to confess. The acting and production values are no worse than usual and in some parts is quite good. There's an intelligent SF plot about a race who change drastically to adapt to their environmental changes. There's a socal satire with a potent point to make about the black and white seperatism in South Africa, another worthy element. Paul Whitsun-Jones, who guest stars as the Marshal, is a top actor and makes a distinctive character of the main villain. But...and this is a hard thing to have to admit, the Mutants somehow comes accross as tedious and boring, long winded, uninvolving and flat, not all the time, but most of the time. Many of the supporting characters are singularly uninteresting and fail to engage or be likeable, the action, while competent, is all routine and lacks any kind of suspense. There is little or no wit and no sense of cliff hanging suspense or danger. It is sad, but true, that this is a workmanlike and worthy story which largely fails to entertain or engage on almost any level at all. The writers have a great idea, but they are just treaing water in the shallow end of the pool, and six episodes is way too long!
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on 11 January 2014
I really enjoyed all of the Jon Pertwee era of Dr Who as it demonstrates the social and economic matters that where occurring during the early 1970s, and how appetite movements within South Africa. As in the 1970 adventure `The Ambassidors of Death' in shows that not all aliens or monsters are evil, and in case of the Solosan Mutants they are the victims of the evil, sadistic and closed minded Marshall played brilliantly by Hammer Horror classic actor Paul Whitsun-Jones to the best cameo appearance by Geoffrey Palmer as the Solos Administrator who wants Solos to become Independent.

In this story, we have a blend of actors from all area of the UK who acted with great pathos especially from another Welsh Hammer Horror Actor John Hollis who played Hermit Scientist Sondergaard, Northerners James Mellor who portrays Solos Warlord Chief Varnon and Christopher Coll as Security Chief Stubbs to the overseas actors, please step forward Canadian Actor Garrick Hagon as Ky, the Solon Rebel who wants the Earthlings or the `Overlords' to stop bombing and polluting Solos with evil chemicals created by Professor Jaegar played by Polish actor George Pravada to Stubb's pal and fellow Security Guard Cotton played with great easy by West Indian actor Rick James. There is some reviewers said that Rick James's acting wasn't up to scratch, but in my personal view, this could have been Rick's first acting job, and he could have been nerves could have been on his mind acting with more experienced actors, but despite that it still an outstanding story, so I award this a full `five' stars.

But one thing, I would love to see the completed version of Tom Baker's Doctor Who 1979 unfinished and incomplete adventure `Shada'. I do apologise about mention again and again, but in my opinion I think that 3D realistic CGI is needed, and Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, John Leeson, Christopher Neame, Daniel Hill and the other cast members of 'Shada' could be done by using the same method by combining live which includes Acting Extras to portray the Main Cast in reproduced and replica costumes with blue masks for the realistic CGI animated faces to be added on, and the Timelord Prisioners on 'Shada' in matching late 1970s sci-fi prison outfits and 1970's style wigs (the same techniques as the re-vamp Star Wars Movies), blue screen and digital enhanced voice recording technology to 3-D Animate and Construct Tom Baker's missing and incomplete 1979 adventure `Shada' instead of bone-idle, lazy, lacklustre, pathetic and incomplete 1992 VHS version released by BBC 2E.

Iain Levine out of his own pocket had already had the completed version of `Shada' completed with both Lalla Ward, Christopher Neame, John Leeson (who is providing the voice of K-9, instead of David Briarley), Dennis Hill and the other cast member. Iain Levine employed a voice over actor who impersonated both Tom Baker's and Dennis Carey's voices, so the project was already done. It was only some closed minded person form BBC E2 who put a stop to it, it could have been the high fee from the Douglas Adam estate or the animation wasn't up to scratch, but a lot of Whovian including myself are curious of finding out what `Shada' would have been like if the 1979 strike never happened, and they are pleased that his televised completed adventures are now released, but to me and several Whovians feel that the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who is only 96% complete.

For all long-term Whovians, please start an on-line petition campaign on `E-Mail', 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' to ask Planet55\Quintas Entertainment to bring out the full and complete 3D animated version of 'Shada' to be released as a 'Special Edition' DVD to mark a tribute to writer Douglas Adams and producer Graham Williams, and to celebrate Tom Baker's 80th Birthday for 2014, come on BBC E2, please listen to the long-term fans for ONCE!!!
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on 10 March 2012
1972's The Mutants is a Doctor Who story that has been marred throughout its life. The story has consistently been voted the worst of the Pertwee era offerings. I don't mind admitting that I was part of that ban wagon, the overall execution of Bob Baker and Dave Martin's second script was dire. The CSO was terrible, the acting poor {Cotton!!!} and the sets unappealing. However, since the 2011 BBC DVD release of this story, I have enjoyed it a lot more and perhaps am starting to view the story in a different light. By no means will it ever be one of my favourite stories, but I think the mantle of the worst Doctor Who story in Pertwee history is a little harsh.

First off, the digitally remastered picture quality helps immensely in trying to enjoy this story. Secondly, both Jon Pertwee and Katy manning with the assistance of Paul Whitsun-Jones, George Pravda and Geoffrey Palmer help to save the performance side of events, the Doctor and Jo reveling in the fact that they are out amongst the stars for the first time in a while, furthermore, the story's main villain, the Marshal, is a fantastically realised character form Whitsun-Jones. George Pravda provides a brilliantly ignorant scientist and Geoffrey Palmer is just as good as it gets full stop. I also liked Garrick Hagon's performance as the rebel leader Ky, his angered portrayal is another pro to add to the growing list of attributes about this adventure.

The realisation of the Mutts is fantastic, they are portrayed as the monsters of the piece but are in fact just normal Solonians going through natural changes. Although the studio sets are quite dull and I am no fan, the location filming is excellent, the caves creating a certain amount of atmosphere that plays out well, the scenes with the CSO caves aren't as successful but none-the-less get the job done.

The BBC DVD release is the reason why I am viewing this less-than-classic story in a new light, the Doctor Who Restoration Team have as ever done a brilliant job in restoring and remastering these episodes for release onto DVD. The release's flagship documentary is fascinating to say the least, "Race Against Time" coming in at nearly 40 minutes is a brilliantly constructed piece of television, new series companion Noel Clarke narrates why there were so few Black actors in Doctor Who during the classic series and in television in general in the 20th century. An excellently produced doc that opens ones eyes to the inner workings of the BBC. As ever, there is the traditional "Making Of" documentary included on the release, as always it is very entertaining and enlightening. Cast and crew sit and discuss this controversial story.

Overall then, The Mutants will never rank highly in my books, its by far no classic but neither is it a bottom of the list failure. The BBC DVD release has bought out this story's redeeming features and it certainly has gone up in my estimations since. The acting is to a high standard from the main characters and the location filming only adds to the incredible atmosphere that the Mutants has to offer. 8/10. Recommended, especially for the DVD bonus content.

Thank you very much for your time in reading my review of The Mutants, its greatly appreciated.

M.B.
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2010
There was a period where I dismissed a lot of Pertwee stories as tedious, cheap-looking padded nonsense, but since watching them again on DVD I've really begun to enjoy them, especially with the extras revealing just how experimental some of the effects were for the time and the sense that Barry Letts was actually trying to develop a narrative arc for the Doctor over his tenure.

I watched "The Mutants" again recently and I loved it. This is Pertwee era doing a rare full-blooded space SF adventure, with no UNIT, no Master or Daleks. Instead it's cool spaceships, barren planets and really well done insectoid aliens. The plot is intelligent and thought-provoking and it's nice to see Jo and the Doctor away from dreary 1970s England and by themselves on an adventure. It starts with the mystery of a Time Lord gift and opens up into an intelligent critique of South Africa and British colonialism. I even enjoy the 70s vision-of-the-future sets.

Sure it's long at 6 episodes, and as per usual a few of the performances are a little wooden, but I don't care. Pertwee in space!
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on 18 April 2007
I thought this a fantastic story. It had an excellent well-paced and rather menacing build-up of "what's going on"-ness with the sense-of wonder of a strange world. Pretty good acting overall, and reasonable effects / production values (at least for the time). Jo gets a quite good part in this, driving some of the action rather than just being useless. Superb story, with several intertwined sub-plots. Various moral dilemas of progress versus the "savages", post-imperialist politics, and even the Martial (an imperialistic Viceroy figure)is misguided rather than evil to start with, though he's evil by the end after going bonkers. Good ending too, with something of a twist, albeit a little convenient. This was the high spot of the first series I was ever allowed to watch as a little boy, though Day-of the Daleks which began this season also great. I watched it again nearly 40 years later and found it stood up well - obviously given the production limitations of the time.

Great stuff.

Hywel
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on 2 February 2011
The Three Doctors, The Daemons, Day of the Daleks, all gimmicky, all fan favourites, all basically nonsense.

Then we have the Mutants. It feels more solid a story than perhaps any other since Inferno, for my money it seems way before its time. This story would not be out of place in 1983 or 1988 and staring Sylvester and Sophie.
The politics, the sheer imagination of the design work, the inevitable dragging out of the Marshall's will to power all scream quality.
I have to confess that I am a fan of this story. The premise is fascinating and very 'deep' it's a type of science fiction we have barely seen before or since in DW. An alien race itself as the protagonist, antagonist, plot and theme.

The acting does have a few weak spots,( Cotton,) but who, of the mainly white audience of Dw could act convincingly, a part written with the rhythms of west indian regional speech, " Great Innit he just ups and clears off" sic, in a cockney accent. It's the rhythm man, not the acting.

Visuals, put yourself in the mindset of 1972, and the effects seems really ambitious, and convincing, with special praise to the model work, set design, and the manufacturers of bicycle pumps.

Music. Speaking as a fan of Tristram Cary's Dead Planet score and Malcolm Clarke's Sea Devils music. I absolutely love the alien ambience of the soundtrack. I always say that it's the mood, pace and tone of music that counts, which is why Death to the Daleks does not work. The views of Solos through the porthole and the firestorm scene as the explosions impact on skybase are particularly beautiful and intimate, whilst conveying the silent expanse of space.

This is a cracking story that, like the War Games, just gets better on repeated viewing, ( You'll always find something new to love about it.) The levels of violence seem to make this a companion piece with Colony in Space, another Pertwee alien- planet saga.

The extras are pretty good, but the docu about Race in Dw is extremely interesting and sobering. Even, despite Terrance " Up the Empire" Dicks comments, it's impossible to think of DW as ever siding with the imperial power and not with the oppressed. It is lovely in a time of PC values to think of the Doctor, way back in 1972, as the alien judging no'one, assessing the situation on its merits, helping the innocent and taking up the banner of freedom from imperialism.

Right on Doc!
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on 9 December 2010
This story comes from the "exile" period of Jon Pertwee's era on Doctor Who.

Yes, he travels to another planet but he is, in this story, an intergalactic DHL man as he is asked to take a message from the Time Lords to the planet Solos. So why is this an interesting tale?

Well, it's not the "delivery boy" plot that's for sure. Basically, this story is an allegory on two issues. Firstly, this story deals with the way the Earth Empire sees any planet as fair game and their territory (for this read the history of the British Empire). The second allegory and was more contemporary was the theme of Apartheid. The non-mutated Solonians fear their mutated counterparts, whilst the Earth Empire, in the form of the Marshal, uses this as an opportunity to build a power base.

This story falls into the category of a story with a message which formed part of the Barry Letts' era. Granted, the costumes and the special effects are dated but we look at this with the benefit of things such as CGI and modern prosthetics.

The only real downside is the story's pacing and this story could have been done in four episodes rather than six.

The extras look interesting, particularly the Noel Clarke hosted "Race Against Time".

Overall, a good package for this story, but minus a star for the reason of the story's pacing.
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on 10 September 2013
A story about Imperialism and Apartheid, and the oppressed masses are starting to mutate into monsters, and the Dr has a box to deliver that explains that the mutation is part of the planet's natural cycle, because the cycle has been disrupted by the imperial Overlords on Skybase, so the Time Lords have sent him with the box to sort things out...

It's not the most clearly focussed of scripts, but as usual from the Bristolians it's packed with ideas, and most of them work, it's just that they're not all tied together particularly well.

On the plus side, Paul Whitsun Jones is doing sterling work as the Marshall - all porky, black uniformed megalomania - a walking, talking statement of how being an Overlord gets you big dinners, and he's corrupt, cruel, homicidal, cynical and wildly deluded - an unhappy mix of megalomania and psychosis. It's not the most subtle performance, but very watchable. Meanwhile George Pravda seems to be trying to wring some interest out of the little that the script offers him - his one good line 'Your regime should give him plenty of scope'. It's not Mr Pravda's finest hour.

Meanwhile the Marshall's two sidekicks both decide to be good guys instead, and the one played by Christoper Coll is very effective, but the one played by Rick James isn't. Some have accounted this to the way the lines are written, but I'm not sure that I can see any great difference in style between Cotton's lines and Stubbs's. It just sounds to me that Rick James isn't delivering them very well. I can't see any narrative reason for Stubbs to die when he does - if it were me, I'd kill off the one with the dodgy delivery.

But the rest of it is well-played - Geoffrey Palmer is particularly good - and the design is very effective, I like Skybase particularly, inside and out, and the costumes are good pretty much across the board, Overlord and Solonian alike - the only exceptions being the Investigator and his two aides in their copper coloured hoods, which look like they've just come from investigating Flash Gordon (possibly in silver underwear).

And the zap effects look good too, and the Hyperion in space, and even the CSO isn't that bad, so why do I hesitate to give it even three out of five?

OK, in the first place, while Skybase looks great, the surface of Solos is dull - Buddleia and a smoke machine - it's a considerable relief to see a bit of blue sky at one point.

Then there's the story (as mentioned above); it doesn't hang together particularly well, and the Dr's own place in it is far from clear; once he's delivered the box to Ky, he then has to decode the tablets for him - without any help at all from Sondergaard, who's supposed to be the expert - then he has to help repair the damage done by Jaeger, then make a report to the Investigator... It's rather as if he comes to Solos and does odd jobs.

The cliffhanger to Episode Four is stupid. If you blow a hole out of the side of a space station, all the air gets sucked out of the room and all the people inside are sucked out too and they suffocate. They do not lie on the floor, struggling half-heartedly until they decide they can get up and go out through the door.

And then there's the Mutants themselves, and I think this is probably the biggest problem of them all; while they look great, and took a good deal of hard work to play (John Scott Martin described it as being like 'a life sized scampi and rubberised, so it's devilish hot inside'), they don't do a great deal as they don't get used enough; very simply, there are not enough Mutants in The Mutants.

And yes, that first shot; since Monty Python had already established 'It's...', perhaps they might have done it a bit differently.
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