Doctor Who: Season 13, Episode 5

Planet of Evil: Part One (27 Sep. 1975)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
7.9
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The Doctor and Sarah answer a distress call and find themselves on Zeta Minor, the last planet of the known universe, where a Morestran expedition has gone missing.

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Title: Planet of Evil: Part One (27 Sep 1975)

Planet of Evil: Part One (27 Sep 1975) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Frederick Jaeger ...
Ewen Solon ...
Prentis Hancock ...
Graham Weston ...
Louis Mahoney ...
Ponti
Michael Wisher ...
Terence Brook ...
Tony McEwan ...
Haydn Wood ...
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The Doctor and Sarah answer a distress call and find themselves on Zeta Minor, the last planet of the known universe, where a Morestran expedition has gone missing.

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27 September 1975 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The decision was taken to film the jungle scenes at Ealing Studios using 16mm film instead of building a set in BBC Television Centre and using videotape. This was done on the advice of designer Roger Murray-Leach, who stated that an alien environment could be better achieved on film instead of on video in a television studio. See more »

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The Doctor: You and I are scientists, Professor. We buy our privilege to experiment at the cost of total responsibility.
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Science Fictitious
8 August 2014 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

The Doctor and his companion Sarah arrive on the planet Zeta Minor, the "last planet of the known universe", in response to a distress call. They discover that the call has been made by a geological expedition from the planet Morestra and that all but one of the geologists have been killed by some unknown person or creature. Matters are complicated when a Morestran military mission also arrives to investigate and they immediately suspect the Doctor and Sarah of responsibility for the killings. It turns out, however, that the planet lies "on the boundary between our universe and the universe of antimatter", and the true culprit is a creature from the antimatter universe, annoyed by Sorenson's removal by of some antimatter samples. (That may sound scientifically dubious, but there is a reason why the genre is called "science fiction"; the "science" is often fictitious).

"Doctor Who" is not normally thought of in serious literary terms, but this serial has some impressive literary antecedents. The scriptwriters admitted to having been influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and the film "Forbidden Planet", which was itself influenced by Shakespeare's "The Tempest". (At one point the Doctor says that he once met William Shakespeare himself- a pity that their meeting was not incorporated into any of his adventures). The antimatter creature can therefore be thought of as the equivalent of Caliban and Sorenson, who after becoming infected by antimatter is himself transformed into a monster, is a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure. Like Jekyll, he is an idealistic scientist whose idealism leads him to ignore the possible dangers inherent in his work.

The characterisation runs deeper than in many "Doctor Who" serials. Besides Frederick Jaeger's Sorenson there are also Prentis Hancock's Salamar, the arrogant, fire-eating Morestran commander, and Ewen Solon's Vishinsky, Salamar's wiser, more level-headed second-in-command. It seemed strange that Salamar had been given command of the ship ahead of Vishinsky, clearly much older and more experienced, but we never learn much about the structure of Morestran society. It is quite possible that on their planet (as in some Earthly societies) promotions are made on the basis of social status rather than age, experience or ability.

Together with Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor was the incarnation with whom I was most familiar during my childhood. Both played the character as an eccentric English gentleman, but Pertwee (perhaps taking his cue from Peter Cushing's "unofficial" Doctor of the two spin-off feature films from the mid-sixties) stresses his gentlemanliness, whereas Baker places greater stress on his eccentricity, possibly influenced by Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor. The Fourth Doctor is characterised by a quirky, offbeat, often irreverent sense of humour and an eccentric dress sense, particularly those famous scarves, but is also capable of great seriousness, as in his discussions with Sorenson.

Most alien planets visited by the Doctor, particularly during the sixties and seventies, bore a curious resemblance to a quarry, probably because that is where the serials were often filmed. With "Planet of Evil", however, the set designers appear to have used a bit more imagination. Zeta Minor looks genuinely exotic, a world of jungles full of curious plants. The antimatter monster is similarly imaginative. He (or she, or it) is no mechanical marvel like the Daleks or a flesh-and- blood creature like the Ice Warriors but a shapeless being, sometimes invisible and otherwise seen only as a series of red outlines. It is touches like these, combined with the depth of characterisation, which make "Planet of Evil" one of the more original, thought-provoking adventures in the series.


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