Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #130)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the third season’s second story…

Mission to the Unknown

Unusually, this single-episode story, which served as a prologue for a later (but not immediately subsequent) epic known as The Daleks’ Masterplan, didn’t feature any of the regular cast for the show. William Hartnell is still credited as the lead character, but he does not appear. Instead, the story stars Edward de Souza as Marc Cory, and also features Barry Jackson and Jeremy Young. Written by Terry Nation and directed by Derek Martinus.

Since this is a one-part story, there aren’t any other individual episode titles, but the story has also been known at times as Dalek Cutaway.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

The episode doesn’t exist at all in the BBC archives, but it was interestingly recreated with a 1960’s-era vibe by students at the University of Lanchasire in 2019. Because it features no recognizable characters, it provided a unique opportunity for these students–for someone like me, their re-creation can serve as a nearly completely believable replacement to the missing original episode. You can see it here.

Watching it, the whole thing appears to be a gripping little one-off thriller. Because it feature side-characters and was a lead in to something bigger, it can go a long way to establishing the Daleks as the vicious threat that they are supposed to be–as even though there is hope at the end with Cory’s recording, there is no happy ending.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

Re-creation or not, it’s hard to take the little cabal of aliens that appear at one point seriously at all–somehow, having so many different sorts of cheaply-made up aliens all appearing together just seems to highlight the poorer aspects of production at the time. Also, I think the idea that Varga plants don’t just drive their victims crazy, but turn them into Varga plants is just a step too far to accept.

Catch you next time!

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