Doctor Who – tape 1804

This recording starts quite a way before the programme, so we get a whole chunk of the Ray Brooks drama Big Deal.

Then, more from the Davison era of Doctor Who with Kinda. This is set a fair bit earlier than yesterday’s stories, as Nyssa and Adric are still on the Tardis crew, and Turlough hasn’t joined yet.

Oh look, the Doctor has built a Delta Wave augmentor because Nyssa keeps fainting. I wonder if it goes ding when there’s stuff?

Delta Wave Augmentor

And after Polly James yesterday, there’s another Liver Bird in this story, Nerys Hughes.

Nerys Hughes

The Tardis crew are on a jungle planet, where there’s an indigenous human population, and a small scientific survey team studying them.

Tegan starts getting a bit drowsy and falls asleep, and the locals come and put some flowers round her neck.

Sleepy Tegan

The Doctor and Adric find some kind of robotic sentry suit that takes them prisoner because Adric can’t resist fiddling with it. It’s no wonder everyone hated Adric when he was given such things to do.

Tegan starts having some odd dreams.

Scary Dream World

Nerys Hughes is the anthropologist studying the local people, the Kinda. She thinks they’re telepathic. But the other two on the team are a bit less understanding. “If the Kinda are so clever, how is it they didn’t build their own interplanetary vehicle and colonise us?” I think this is going to be a parable about colonisation and exploitation.

One of the other scientists has some kind of communal moment with two captive Kinda, and when he’s left in charge by the boss, he puts Nerys and the Doctor under arrest, assisted by the two Kinda, now toting guns.

In episode 2 we meet two more Kinda, but these talk, an old woman and a young girl. They can read the other Kinda’s minds, but they seem to be different. They refer to the colonists as ‘Not We’.

Hindle, the man left in charge of the outpost, has gone full colonial now, dressing up his captive Kinda in pith helmets. The programme isn’t taking a chance we might miss its subtext is it?

Full Colonial

Meanwhile, out in the jungle, the head man (“the old red faced one who shouts” says the young Kinda) arrives in his exo-suit, is given a wooden box by the young girl, and goes a bit strange.

Power Loader

The mad Hindle’s plan for keeping the dome safe is to raze the jungle to the ground for a radius of fifty miles to create a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around the dome.

Tegan is still in her dreamworld, talking to a man about something or other. Then they exchange an arm snake. This is, without doubt, the trippiest Doctor Who story I can remember.

Snake Arms

Once she’s got the snake, she wakes up, and has acquired a snake tattoo of her own.

The commander, Sanders, returns from the jungle, the only one to have done so. He’s looking a bit possessed. In the jungle, Tegan is, herself, somewhat possessed, and she meets a male Kinda, tells him she’s the Mara, then swaps snake tattoos again.

And Hindle gets the Doctor to open the box Sanders got while they and Nerys are in the cage. She screams when he opens it for another cliffhanger.

It’s a bit of a cheat, as inside in some kind of corn dolly which jumps out on a spring. But it’s a nice defusal of tension, as the power suddenly fades and something invisible starts affecting the three in the cage. It seems to be a message from the old woman and the young girl.

Surprise

The Male Kinda, Aris, can speak now, and their rules say he should lead the Kinda. But the old woman recognises the mark of the Mara. There’s a trippy dream sequence that appears to presage “the end of everything”.

The wise woman dies, but the young girl seems to be the same person.

There’s some lovely stuff going on in this story. Adric is force by the bonkers Hindle to go out in the exo-suit and deal with the Kinda, and Aris has his own wooden exo-suit in true cargo cult style.

Wooden Exo Suit

Aris, by the way, is played by That’s life presenter Adrian Mills.

Adrian Mills

The Doctor traps Aris in a circle of mirrors, making him think the mirrors are capturing his soul, and the Mara leaves him and manifests its true, snaky self. No great Doctor Who story can survive without a slightly sub-par monster model.

The Mara

It’s easy to see why this story is so well regarded. It’s packed with ideas, and there’s enough trippy pyschedelia to paper over any cracks on logic.

Interesting fact: There was a strange fan theory that Kinda was written pseudonymously by Kate Bush. This seems based mostly on the writer Christopher Bailey, sharing her initials (Catherine Bush) and not much else. Well, it was a bit trippy too and fans thought that might have been her style.

The story was well received enough that next series saw a sequel, Snakedance, and that’s handily next on this tape. This story is post-Adric, and the story immediately after Tegan returned to the Tardis after her brief stopover between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity. I wonder if they’ll give Nyssa a headache again this time to get rid of her?

No, in this case it’s Tegan who’s asleep at the start of the episode. But she’s have bad dreams, and the Doctor thinks she gave him the wrong coordinates for their current journey. It’s all looking a bit snakey. Perhaps she’s not entirely free of the Mara.

Snakey dream

Then, we’re with a very louche looking Martin Clunes, lounging on a sheepskin-covered chaise longue and staring thoughtfully at a snake statue.

Martin Clunes

His planet was one ruled by the Mara. But they thought the Mara was destroyed. The production team had fun with the planet’s decor.

Planet Decor

Tegan isn’t clear of the Mara, and it’s leading her to behave very strangely.

Tegan Mara

Meanwhile, the Doctor tries to find out more about the planet and its people. He realises that ‘The Great Crystal’ is what the Mara needs to manifest again, and Mara/Tegan is already colluding with Martin Clunes to obtain it.

Lon and Tegan Sitting in a tree H I S S I N G

Clunes is great in this. A lounge lizard as Doctor Who villain.

I like the way this story is using versions of British traditions, like Punch and Judy, and other cultural traditions. There’s something subtly creepy about enforced traditions, and I like the way the story is using these as part of the thing that might bring back the big monster. It’s all very Wicker Man.

Snakedancing

There’s a strange scene where the Doctor has to contact Dojen, who has the crystal, and there’s another slightly trippy sequence – it looks like it was shot in a studio, but the picture seems to have film grain. It’s a bit hard to tell with my off-air VHS quality, though.

I didn’t think it was possible for Clunes to become any camper in this story, but he manages it.

Camper Clunes

This story’s Mara is an improvement over the first, but not a huge amount.

Better Mara

Mind over matter triumphs, and the Doctor manages to prevent the Mara’s becoming, and destroy it finally.

Then, over the end credits, the continuity announcer decides it’s OK to tell us that in the next episode of Blake’s 7 “it’s time to say farewell to Gan.” I know these are repeats, but they are the first repeats since 1977, so there’s a good chance that much of the audience hasn’t seen it at all. That kind of spoiler is not acceptable.

He even repeats it RIGHT BEFORE THE PROGRAMME STARTS.

There’s a few minutes of Blake’s 7 before the recording stops, and underneath, another few minutes of a Carry On movie – Don’t Lose Your Head at a guess. Then that recording stops too.

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