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081 – Planet of Evil
Doctor Who serial
Planetofevil.jpg

The Anti-Man manifests himself.
Cast
Guest stars
Production
Writer Louis Marks
Director David Maloney
Script editor Robert Holmes
Producer Philip Hinchcliffe
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 4H
Series Season 13
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast September 27–October 18, 1975
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
Terror of the Zygons Pyramids of Mars

Planet of Evil is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from September 27 to October 18, 1975.

Contents

Synopsis

The expedition to Zeta Minor began with eight men. Seven were murdered. One survived - but he was not the murderer. The Doctor lands on the planet at the same time as the expedition's rescue team, and is immediately taken prisoner - the suspected murderer. But even stranger things soon begin to happen...

Plot

Development

The plot was deliberately conceived by Philip Hinchcliffe, Robert Holmes and Louis Marks as a mixture of the film Forbidden Planet and the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In addition, Marks had been reading science magazine articles about antimatter, and decided to write a story incorporating the subject. Hinchcliffe, in the first season in which he could commission new material, planned to move away from the "rubber-suited alien" theme, which he felt was clichéd. For this story he proposed having three separate monstrous elements: Sorenson's transformation, the anti-matter monster and finally the planet itself, claimed by Sorenson in episode 1 to be conscious of his group's motives.[1]

Outline

The TARDIS picks up a distress call and the Doctor and Sarah arrive on the planet Zeta Minor. There they discover that a Morestran geological expedition has fallen prey to an unseen killer and only the leader, Professor Sorenson, remains alive.

A military mission from Morestra has also arrived to investigate. At first they suspect the Doctor and Sarah of responsibility for the deaths of the expedition members, but the culprit is eventually revealed to be a creature from a universe of antimatter, retaliating for the removal by Sorenson of some antimatter samples from around the pit that acts as an interface between the two universes.

The Morestrans take off in their ship, but it is slowly dragged back towards the planet due to the antimatter on board. Sorenson himself becomes infected by antimatter and gradually transforms into antiman, a monster capable of draining the life from others.

The Morestran commander, the increasingly unhinged Salamar, attacks Sorenson with a radiation source but this only causes him to produce multiple anti-matter versions of himself, which soon overrun the ship. The Doctor finds the original Sorenson, takes him back to the planet in the TARDIS and throws both him and his samples into the pit, fulfilling a bargain he earlier made with the anti-matter creature. Sorenson reappears unharmed, and the Doctor returns him to the Morestran ship, which is now freed of the planet's influence.

Cast notes

  • This is the final appearance by Michael Wisher in Doctor Who.
  • Frederick Jaegar (Professor Sorenson) and Ewen Solon (Vishinsky) both previously appeared in The Savages, in which they played Jano and Chal respectively.

Continuity

  • This is the first story to feature the Fourth Doctor behind the console of the TARDIS. The TARDIS console room had not been seen on-screen since the Third Doctor serial Death to the Daleks (1974). A refurbished TARDIS console makes its television debut in this story.
  • The spin-off novel Zeta Major by Simon Messingham, part of the Past Doctor Adventures line, is a sequel to this story.
  • The plot for the 2007 episode "42" bears some similarities to this story.
  • This marked the last appearance of the Fourth Doctor's original red jacket.
  • In a rare moment, the Doctor uses a blaster against an opponent. This contradicts his statement made during "Pyramids of Mars" that he never uses firearms. Further contradictions of this statement are throughout the series.
  • The Doctor quotes from Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, and says that he met William Shakespeare prior to the bard taking up writing. If taken at face value, this would suggest that the Doctor met Shakespeare prior to the events of "The Shakespeare Code", set in 1599.
  • The attachment of two discs to the front of the TARDIS to teleport it on to a spaceship was seen again in "The Poison Sky".

Production

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 27 September 1975 (1975-09-27) 24:02 10.4
"Part Two" 4 October 1975 (1975-10-04) 22:30 9.9
"Part Three" 11 October 1975 (1975-10-11) 23:50 9.1
"Part Four" 18 October 1975 (1975-10-18) 23:43 10.1
[2][3][4]

Despite the jungle setting of this serial, the shoot was entirely studio bound, and designer Roger Murray-Leach built an intricately detailed jungle set. The BBC was so impressed with it that they kept photographs of it for several years as an example of excellent set design and producer Philip Hinchcliffe recommended that he be nominated for an award for this work.

The original script had Sorenson dying after falling into the pit, but Hinchcliffe ordered that this be changed, as he felt it would too grim an ending for "the little ones", and because he saw Sorenson as a victim of the planet's influence rather than an evil man in himself. [5] Instead, a scene was added in which Sorenson is released from the pit, cured of his anti-matter contamination.

The most visible reference to Forbidden Planet is the anti-matter monster (Mike Lee Lane), which is sometimes invisible and otherwise is seen as red outlines. It bears a close resemblance to the film's "Creature from the Id". The monster is invisible in the filmed sections of the serial (where a wind machine was used to show its progress), and as outlines in the video sections (created with CSO).

Outside references

The story was inspired by the movie Forbidden Planet and Robert Louis Stevenson's novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the DVD commentary Elisabeth Sladen, in a discussion about Forbidden Planet's influence from Shakespeare's The Tempest, compares Sorenson/Antiman to Caliban.

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and The Planet of Evil
Series Target novelisations
Release number 47
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Mike Little
ISBN 0-426-11682-8
Release date 18 August 1977
Preceded by Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius
Followed by Doctor Who and the Mutants

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in July 1977 as Doctor Who and the Planet of Evil.

Broadcast, VHS and DVD release

  • The serial was repeated on BBC One in July 1976, daily (Monday-Thursday)(05/07/76 to 08/07/76). This story was released on VHS in January 1994.
  • This story was released on DVD on 15 October 2007.
  • The DVD includes a commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Hinchcliffe and Prentis Hancock, which was recorded on Friday 26 January 2007
  • Also included is a 25-minute documentary, A Darker Side, in which Hinchcliffe and designer Roger Murray-Leach return to Ealing studios and recall the planning and production of the story. Hinchcliffe is also taken to the BBC production files to muse over original production documentation. The serial's director, the late David Maloney appears in the documentary, in an interview first conducted in 2003 for the Serial Thrillers documentary. Baker, Sladen & Hancock also appear. The documentary was produced by Ed Stradling. A second, shorter retrospective feature on the DVD, Planetary Performance produced by Steve Broster, featuring Baker, Sladen & Hancock along with Graham Weston and Tony McEwan, discussing their performances in the story. An Easter egg is included, entitled Hidden Hinchcliffe.
  • All four parts of the episode were reshown on UKTV Drama from the 28th January 2008 to 31 January 2008, with one episode showing each day at 5pm.

External links

Reviews

Target novelisation

References

  1. ^ "A Darker Side" documentary on the making of the serial (BBC DVD 1814)
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Planet of Evil". Outpost Gallifrey. http://gallifreyone.com/episode.php?id=4h. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "Planet of Evil". Doctor Who Reference Guide. http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_4h.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Planet of Evil". A Brief History of Time Travel. http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/4h.html. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ "A Darker Side"

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