Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Mutants (Story No. 63/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Mutants (Story No. 63/BBC DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: A



Bookended nicely by The Sea Devils and The Time Monster, The Mutants pits John Pertwee’s Doctor Who up against the horror of an autocrat gone mad.  When the usurping commander of the orbital research station Skybase One pursues a program of genocide against an alien planet’s mutant population, the Doctor and Jo (Katy Manning) must intervene.  Writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin explore some dark topics in this six-episode story, chief among them being the Marshal’s pursuit of racial purity, and his subsequent pogrom against a “lesser” race.  Irredeemably evil and beautifully played by actor Paul Whitsun-Jones, the Marshal arranges for the murder of the base’s true commander, takes control, then begins to enact his draconian policies against the mutant populace of the planet below.


Sent by the Timelords to deliver a message for a man named Ky (Garrick Hagon), the Doctor quickly finds himself in the thick of the action.  In addition to the able assistance of regular companion Jo Grant, the Doctor also enjoys the aid of a Skybase security officer named Cotton (Rick James), and the renegade scientist Sondergaard (John Hollis of Lobot fame).  James provides a notable, if controversial, performance as one of the first protagonists of color to appear in the series.  Although sometimes less than the ideal action hero, his Cotton renders invaluable assistance to the Doctor and Jo through the story’s six episodes.  Progressive fans who had long been calling for such a character to appear found Cotton’s character (and James’ performance) wanting, but the importance of this ice-breaking moment in the show’s history should not be overlooked.


The Mutants features excellent effects work, including some truly slick monster design on the titular characters.  Given budgetary constraints and the available technology, the transformation of the Ky character during the sixth episode also works fairly well, selling the idea that the mutants themselves might one day further evolve into ethereal super-beings.  Fans of Mr. Pertwee’s run on the show will find him at the height of his powers in this story--clever, dynamic, and heroic all in one.


The extras provided include an engaging documentary on the issue of race in the Doctor Who series.  Narrated by Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith in the modern series), the piece provides an unvarnished look at the show’s shortcomings in this area.  Among the topics discussed include the idea of there one day being a Doctor of color.  Other extras include commentaries and a second feature on the technical aspects of producing The Mutants.


While not regarded as a classic of the series, The Mutants provides plenty of thrills and high moments, and will be of special interest to fans of John Pertwee’s Doctor.



-   Scott Pyle


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com