Inferno: Episode 1
- Episode aired May 9, 1970
The Doctor and UNIT investigate strange happenings at a top secret government drilling project headed by the pompous Professor Stahlman.The Doctor and UNIT investigate strange happenings at a top secret government drilling project headed by the pompous Professor Stahlman.The Doctor and UNIT investigate strange happenings at a top secret government drilling project headed by the pompous Professor Stahlman.
Inferno has a tremendous reputation and that is very well deserved, it is fabulous in almost every way. The brilliance of the story, script and acting is clear throughout and particularly in the famous portion of the story which involves an alternative reality with fascist versions of the Brigadier, Liz, Benton and guest characters. This highly entertaining aspect of the story brings out fantastic performances from Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John as villainous versions of their regular characters. When this alternative reality is brought in, it is Doctor Who at its truly magnificent best.
The story involves a scientific project lead by Professor Stahlman to drill through the earth's crust which runs into trouble due to Stahlman's refusal to slow down or take precautions and due to a mysterious green substance coming from underground which causes physical and mental changes to those who touch it. The Doctor throws in a whole new dimension - literally - when he accidentally causes the TARDIS console to transport him to a parallel universe where the same scenario is occurring but in a fascist Britain.
The entire script is superb, intelligent and believable with great dialogue delivered perfectly by the whole cast. Pertwee, Courtney and Caroline John are at their very best throughout whilst John Levene not only fully establishes Benton as an extremely good regular character he also plays the fascist version of Benton with gusto. There are great realistic guest characters played to perfection. Olaf Pooley (Stahlman), Christopher Benjamin (Sir Keith), Sheila Dunn (Petra Williams) and Derek Newark (Greg Sutton) could not be better. The story has a nice gritty, grown up science fiction feel but also has bags of action, stunts, thrills and fun.
The plot thread where people touch a substance emanating from beneath the Earth's crust and turn into werewolf-like creatures known as 'primords' is the least impressive aspect of the story in my opinion and even that is very entertaining. At first I disliked the primords subplot but after repeated viewings I realised it makes more sense than it first appeared. The substance affects the people physically and mentally at different rates depending on how much they touch. It drives them to seek extreme heat and to try to achieve the penetration of the earth's crust. They use the knowledge they had before being affected to help them. It is actually a fun idea providing a lot of thrills but the make-up effects were limited by the age and budget. That does not detract from the quality of this really fantastic story which I would put easily in my top 15 or 20 stories of all time. It is a true classic.
The vast majority of this 7 parter is truly special and it deserves the huge praise it receives.
My Ratings: All 7 Episodes - 10/10
Season 7 Review:
Season 7 was the biggest change in the show's history. A new colour presentation instead of black and white. A new Doctor with a very different persona. A new format with fewer stories which generally had more episodes. A new concentration on contemporary Earth. A new team helping the Doctor with the extensive use of UNIT. This all worked terrifically well thanks to the incredible writing, acting and production. It simply is one of the best seasons of Doctor Who (both classic and new series) of all time. Near perfect magic.
Season 7 average rating: 9.34/10
- Sep 21, 2014