Doctor Who has been on (and off) the air since 1963, with a myriad of adventures showing the Doctor and his companions traveling to endless corners of the universe.
(Daily Doctor Who #56)
But do you know where they haven’t traveled? Into my other favorite science fiction media properties, that’s where!
But what if they had? What if somehow, this had been possible? What stories would it have been cool to see the Doctor interacting with?
In this series of posts, we’re going to make some suggestions. Thirteen suggestions, in fact…one for each Doctor. The idea is to find something for each that, even if there was no real way for to have happened, was at least remotely possible from a time-frame point of view. So, no meetings between the Third Doctor and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, for example.
So, starting in the series’ earliest days, I present my first fictional crossover idea…the meeting between
Lost in Space
It’s been remade a few times (and I really enjoy the current Netflix series), but the original Lost in Space was created by Irwin Allen, and all about the Robinson family and a few other characters, having been knocked off course on their way to Alpha Centauri and winding up in the depths of space with no way home. The show starred Guy Williams and June Lockhart as Drs. John & Maureen Robinson, along with Mark Goddard as Major West, and Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright, and Billy Mumy as the Robinson’s children Judy, Penny and Will. Stealing the show much of the time was Jonathan Harris as Dr. Smith, a cowardly saboteur who had caused the Robinson’s troubles in the first place. Rounding out the cast was the Robot (played by Bob May and voiced by Dick Tufeld).
The show debuted in September 1965, which is around the same time as the third season of Doctor Who kicked off. At the time, the Doctor (William Hartnell) was accompanied by Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) and Steven Taylor (Peter Purves), but I’m going to cheat and make our crossover episode come out earlier that year, around May. That’s when the Doctor and Vicki were still traveling with Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill). The reason I like these two for this story is because they are two of the only companions who were also “lost”–they’d been stuck with the Doctor and wanted to return home, but were unable to, so I thought that would create some interesting dynamics with the Robinsons.
The story would be a standard four-part Doctor Who adventure which would thus act as a bit of a “backdoor pilot” for Lost in Space–introducing the new characters and concept in another setting that audiences were enjoying, to set them up for their own forthcoming show. So…
Doctor Who: Lost in Space
(Lost in Space would become the overall accepted title for the whole story, even though individual episodes would be known as Lost in Space, The Underworld, The Scheme and Liftoff.)
The adventure would start with the TARDIS finding the Jupiter 2, already adrift from Dr. Smith’s sabotage. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki meet the Robinsons as well as the trapped Dr. Smith, and course there is great confusion as to who everyone is and who is responsible for the sabotage. Before anything can be established, the Jupiter is caught in the gravity of a planet and is going to crash. The chaos causes the Doctor and his companions to get separated from the TARDIS, but the Doctor is able to help the Jupiter to land successfully.
However, the planet is infected by a mysterious radiation, and everyone is desperate to get the Jupiter spaceworthy again. Until this is done, the TARDIS will not be accessible (it could be jammed up behind the servos for the landing gear or something–the TARDIS always had to be inaccessible during this period, or the Doctor would have probably just left.). Special material is needed to help repair the ship which seems inaccessible until another crashed ship is sighted in the distance.
The Doctor, Ian, John Robinson and Penny go to check it out, but they are taken captive by a trapped space-pirate who is hoping to steal any valuable that the Jupiter has to offer.
Meanwhile, back at the Jupiter, the Robot senses an unusual power reading coming from a nearby rock formation. June and Major West have other priorities in terms of repairs, and so Will decides to take the Robot to investigate, with Vicki accompanying.
They discover a race of devolved humans–extended exposure to the planet’s radiation has caused them to revert to savages. In escaping, Will and Vicki inadvertently lead the savages to the Jupiter, and they begin to attack it. Dr. Smith fearfully tries to escape, but is nearly killed in the process, before being saved by Vicki and Will. Barbara works with June, Major West and Penny to try to protect the ship.
Realizing there’s danger, the space-pirate attempts to take off again with the Doctor and his party on board, but Ian, Judy and John wrestles control of the ship from him and it ends up crashing near the Jupiter, scaring away the attackers.
His ship now badly damaged, the pirate agrees to work with the Robinsons in order to repair the Jupiter so that they can all escape (using parts from his own craft). During all of this, Barbara has bonded with June Robinson, and been talking to her about the value of family, and hearing from her how even if there family is “lost” and separated from both earth and Alpha Centauri, there is a deep security and peace that comes from being together with her husband and children–as long as they are together, they are never truly alone. Barbara finds herself looking at Ian in a new way.
Dr. Smith realizes that the pirate has lots of valuable plunder on his ship, and he makes plans to take it for himself, attempting to reprogram the Robot to help. But the Robot suddenly attempts to kill him! It turns out that the pirate has already reprogrammed the Robot to kill everyone so he can take the ship for himself, but the Doctor is able to outwit him and turn the Robot back to its original programming. Smith is humbled by the experience.
The pirate flees the Jupiter but ends up killed by the savages.
Finally, the Jupiter takes off. Once the ship is off the ground, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki will only have a few minutes to get into the TARDIS before the damaged section of the ship that is in breaks away and it is lost. Quick goodbyes are said, and the travelers make their way across the threshold. Vicki almost doesn’t make it, but with the help of Will and the Robot shes saved and the travelers are able take of safely.
The Jupiter 2 manages to get away from this world, and head off to try to figure out how to reconnect with Alpha Centuari. The Robinson’s express their hopes that their new friends will travel safely, and that their friends Ian and Barbara will eventually find their way home.
Suddenly, there is a new fault in the ship’s sensor systems, and John Robinson realizes that he will have to go outside the ship to repair them…. (thus, slotting all this in, hopefully, with the plot of the first episode of Lost in Space). Come the following September, viewers can tune into this new series and see their adventures, with little or no reference to the Doctor or the TARDIS.
And back on the TARDIS, the travelers reflect on what has happened and hope that the Robinson’s will eventually find their way where they are looking to go. The Doctor says that they are sure to have many perils before them, but that thanks to their intelligence and resourcefulness, he is sure they will do well.
Barbara expresses gratitude that both sets of travelers–the Robinson’s and the TARDIS crew–have the benefit of traveling with people they know and love. And then subtly, and unnoticed by the others, she takes Ian’s hand. (Well, as long as I’m doing this, I’ll just take the story where I want to take it!)
Cue the title, “Next Episode–The Executioners” (the first episode of Ian and Barbara’s last story, The Chase), as well as theme music and credits.
Next up: The Second Doctor and…?