The Doctor and Romana arrive on the planet Tara, searching for the fourth segment of the Key to Time, but this time around the Doctor feels he’s entitled to some vacation time. Romana goes on to find the fourth segment herself while the Doctor does some fishing, but this places them both in danger. Romana encounters the conniving Count Grendel of Gracht, a duplicitous duke who aspires to Tara’s throne, and he promptly takes her prisoner, apparently believing her to be an android. The Doctor, in the meantime, is found by a small band of men loyal to Prince Reynart, the rightful heir to the throne, who is in hiding due to Grendel’s machinations. Reynart has one defense – a perfect android replica of himself – which isn’t working. The Doctor accompanies Reynart’s men and his newly repaired android to the prince’s coronation while the prince himself waits in seclusion. But it gets much more complicated than that when each side tries to outfox the other with android replicas – and Count Grendel may hold the winning piece, for he intends to replace Princess Strella, unwilling to be forced into a marriage to Prince Reynart, with her identical twin: Romana.
written by David Fisher
directed by Michael Hayes
music by Dudley Simpson
Guest Cast: Peter Jeffrey (Count Grendel), Neville Jason (Prince Reynart), Simon Lack (Zadek), Paul Lavers (Farrah), Lois Baxter (Madame Lamia), Declan Mulholland (Till), Martin Matthews (Kurster), Cyril Shaps (Archimandrite), Mary Tamm (Strella)
Broadcast from November 25 through December 16, 1978
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: A dizzy double-crossing tale with more similarities to The Prisoner Of Zenda than you can count on both hands, Androids Of Tara is a case where the style and execution of the story have to outweigh the (borrowed) story itself. Michael Hayes’ fluid direction and some gorgeous location shooting help do the trick here, and it also helps that Tom Baker seizes the opportunity to ham things up a bit and give them character. There’s also a curiously tentative swordfight between Baker’s Doctor and Count Grendel – perhaps he’s just stressing the alien nature of his character by not fighting all that viciously, but hey, the Pertwee version of the Doctor would’ve been all over this guy.
An entertaining enough story, just not terribly original. Then again, when it’s set against the framework of the Doctor looking for various pieces of what amounts to a kind of holy grail, what is?