June 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Doctor Who “Mission To The Unknown”

One weird, stand-alone episode...

Well, that was different…

So, a little background:  for the first two Doctors, the series ran for 50 episodes a year, or basically an episode a week.  Every so often, there might be an episode where a member of the main cast, up to and including the Doctor, will be either absent or barely in the episode.  That would be a time when the actor in question was on a holiday and had a week off.  Everyone deserves time off once in a while after all.

What makes “Mission to the Unknown” so unusual is that, well, the entire cast had a week off.  This was a one-off episode that didn’t feature the Doctor or any of his companions.  The Daleks are hanging around, and the script does come from Dalek creator Terry Nation, but the Doctor isn’t anywhere to be seen, even in the opening and closing moments of the episode.  No TARDIS, no companions, just a couple human characters trapped on a world full of Dalek plants that, if they infect a person, will cause the person to behave in a much more murderous fashion.

However, there’s another thing that makes this particular episode interesting:  like many others of this era, it was lost, but oddly enough, this one didn’t get an animated recreation.  Why would it?  It’s a one-off with none of the regular characters from the series.  It has a protagonist, one Mark Cory, who does not appear in any other episodes.  He is a secret agent of sorts, planted in a crew with two other men who don’t know he works for someone else, and when the other two are infected by the plants, Cory shoots them both dead, one early and one later.  Cory himself dies when the Daleks catch him and before he can send off a warning message.  Meanwhile, the Dalek Supreme makes a deal with some other hostile alien races to form an alliance for the purpose of conquering, oh, everything else.

It is really weird seeing Daleks making alliances and treating other races as equals since, in general, they don’t really do that sort of thing.

But if this episode is so odd, how did I even see it?  Well, it got remade by some university students in 2019 with some participation from some of the surviving actors (including the fellow who played Cory, who introduced the episode), and it was released to the Doctor Who YouTube channel where it still is today.  Given the budget of the old show, it probably wasn’t that hard for a bunch of college students to recreate the episode in black-and-white and with a similar level of special effects.  It actually looks fine for the most part.  The episode does end in a cliffhanger that was resolved, I suppose, the next time the Doctor and the Daleks clashed.  That wasn’t even the next serial, but it doesn’t look like the next two exist, and that means there’s a whole short-lived companion I haven’t seen and know next to nothing about.

Regardless, that’s the Doctor Who fluke that exists on YouTube, remake by college students, with some assistances from the people who made the show in the first place.

As for tomorrow, as I try to put off moving onto the short-lived Jodie Whittaker era as long as possible to keep from having to find something else for the noon timeslot, well…stay tuned.  I have a few more odd time-wasters and backtracking things to go.

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