February 29, 2024

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Doctor Who “Planet Of Fire Part 4”

The Fifth Doctor. "Planet of Fire," Final Episode.

Well, time to say goodbye to another companion, and almost the Master.  Actor Anthony Ainley’s contract ran out, and this one was intended to be the Master’s last appearance, but then he came back the following season as the Master always does:  completely without explanation for how he survived the last death trap.

But let’s look at Turlough for a minute…

Turlough in many ways is the exact opposite of every companion stereotype.  Whereas most companions were generally honest and kind, he was sneaky and devious, and yet, once his initial assignment to kill the Doctor was taken care of, he was never really evil.  Heck, even when he was supposed to be killing the Doctor, he was never really evil.  He may have been furtive, sneaky, and devious, but he did all those things in the service of whatever the Doctor was doing.  Whatever secrets he kept, he kept them for his own reasons and still did what he could to help the Doctor.

And, if we ignore how the Black Guardian initially took Turlough under his wing with the promise of getting the lad back to his home planet, we get a lot of information about him in this, his last episode.  The branding on Turlough’s arm was put there by the leadership of Trion after Turlough’s father had been on the wrong side of a civil war.  Turlough’s father and brother Malkon went to Sarn where the father would have become the new leader on the penal colony except he died in a crash.  Turlough was sent to an English public boarding school because it was seen as the best way to punish a kid like him.  But now Sarn, a planet set up to worship a god who was really just a regular guy in a fire-proof suit running the volcano machine, is going to be a very bad place to live, forcing Turlough to call to Trion for help, knowing full well he’ll be a prisoner for the rest of his life.

Instead, well, he isn’t.  By the end of the episode, an officer from Trion informs Turlough times have changes, and political prisoners like Turlough aren’t treated the way they used to.  He can go home a free man with his brother.

So, really, that…actually works.  Was it a lot of information about a character to dump all at once over one or two episodes?  Sure.  Did it explain everything about him?  More or less, aside from why he initially just wanted to go back to his home planet even when he apparently couldn’t.  And he and the Doctor can part on good terms.  As for actor Mark Strickson, he still like many former Doctor Who  actors does the audio plays, but has also since moved behind the camera as a producer.  His big find?  He discovered Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

As for the rest of the episode, it’s a little silly.  The Master, due to an accident with his own cellular reducer, is maybe six inches tall and actually tries threatening Peri when she finds him.  Instead, she chases him around his own TARDIS.  That’s why he was using Kamelion, and he came to Sarn to first use the special fires there to get back to his normal size and then use it to take over the universe or something.  The healing part works, but the Doctor leaves the Master to presumably burn to death after the Doctor followed through on a request from Kamelion to destroy the robot.  So, Kamelion is gone, the Master is believed dead yet again, and the Doctor has a new companion in Peri.  After seeing the Fifth Doctor spend his time with multiple companions, each of whom held a distinct role in the team he assembled, he’s back to the single companion model with Peri.

And, just in time I suppose.  We said goodbye to Tegan in the previous serial, to Turlough in this one, and to the Fifth Doctor himself in the next one.