Doctor Who – Planet Of Fire (BBC DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B- Episodes: B-
more housekeeping activity shoehorned into the 4 episode adventure, Planet of Fire, than any respectable Doctor Who serial should have to bear
and, unfortunately the story is worse for wear.
In addition to the demise of Kamelion and the departure of Turlough,
there is also the introduction of new companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) and
the apparent annihilation of the Doctor’s old nemesis and fellow Time Lord, the
Master. Finally, Peter Davidson himself
had decided that this would be his final season as the Doctor and Planet of Fire was the next to last
episode in which he would appear.
these elements, it is amazing that the story came together at all. Part 1 opens on the planet Sarn, where the
local natives revere Logar, a god to whom they periodically sacrifice
unbelievers via the Cave
of Fire. On the Tardis, Kamelion, the Doctor’s robot
companion, links to the TARDIS' database core, which than picks up a distress
signal that sends the ship off to the island of Lanzarote on Earth. On Lanzarote, an archaeological team, headed
by Howard Foster, discovers an alien artifact which is the source of the
signal. Turlough rescues Foster's niece,
Peri (who, in a moment of spite, has taken the artifact), from drowning and
brings her back to the TARDIS. Kamelion
is revealed to be under the control of the Master once again and the ship is
abducted to the planet Sarn, where the Master is attempting to reconstitute his
shrunken form utilizing the gas in the Cave of Fire.
that’s just episode one.
discovered that a refugee ship from Turlough’s home planet, Trion, crashed on
Sarn and that one of the leaders of the local tribe may in fact be Turlough's
brother. There is a struggle for power
within the group, the Doctor and Turlough being assumed as the Outsiders come
to fulfill a prophecy of doom (the eruption of the local volcano, which is
imminent). Others assume that Kamelion,
taken over by the Master, is the prophesized Outsider. Finally, the Doctor works out that the Master
is attempting to heal himself utilizing Numismaton Gas. The refugees from the Trion ship were
actually escaped political prisoners and it is revealed that Turlough is
also. During the concluding struggle,
the Master is apparently destroyed in the gas fires (Anthony Ainley, who played
the Master’s contract was up and so he was dispensed with in a seemingly
permanent manner, though, of course, a new contract might provide a convenient
method of resurrection). At story’s
end, the Doctor kills off Kamelion, at Kamelion's own request, Turlough opts to
return to Trion, where all political prisoners have been granted amnesty, and
the Doctor has acquired a new companion in Peri.
be imagined, all this makes for some fairly frenetic plotting, the execution of
which leaves something to be desired.
The Master, in particular, seems to have been tacked on to the plot and,
though Ainley gives it his considerable best, his dialogue falls considerably
short of par. The abrupt ending of the
entire season caused a bit of a mess with the legendary electricians’ strike
looming large, and the overall quality of this episode suffers to the extent
that, for a four-part episode, it is average at best. The extras, too, are average, though long
time fans will enjoy the tribute “Remembering Anthony Ainley.” A second disc also has a special 66 minute edit
of the 4 shows; any reduction in length has to be counted as a mercy, if only
the extra disc didn’t jack up the price.
- Don Wentworth