The TARDIS tumbles backward billions of years, alarming the Doctor and Sarah. But the Doctor is able to show Sarah the origins of her planet, from the formation of the solar system to the beginnings of life itself. But they’re not the only visitors from another time there – an alien named Megron has arrived to bring chaos to the young planet Earth, possibly even to disrupt the history of human evolution.
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), John Westbrook (Megron)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: This brief adventure, hailing from 1976, is the first-ever Doctor Who radio program, intended for an audience of schoolchildren learning about geology and the origins of the Earth. As such, it’s hard to really put this thing under the same magnifying glass as a four-episode, dead-serious television story.
The characterizations are a little bit off; the Doctor comes closest to sounding even remotely like he should, while Sarah displays the kind of scream-and-run character of past female companions such as Jo Grant – not really the kind of thing that Elisabeth Sladen’s character was known for. The Megron, played with an Omega/Eldrad-esque voice by John Westbrook, is a typical and somewhat silly villain – everytime the Doctor utters the word “order” (Megron’s a lord of chaos, y’see, so order is anathaema to him), Megron screams “Arrrrrggghhhh!” It’s good for a laugh at any rate!
The oddest break with established continuity is the appearance of a kind of “EVA pod” that can separate from the TARDIS, giving the Doctor and Sarah a more immersive view of the formation of the Earth. This device wasn’t really all that necessary in an audio format – and given how many other things were changed for the duration of this story, surely we could’ve just assumed that the TARDIS viewscreen had suddenly become larger.
It’s an interesting bit of history which surprised many by showing up in remastered form on CD alongside the recent reissue of the narrated audio edit of Genesis Of The Daleks – two slices of Doctor Who audio history nobody expected the BBC to go through the effort of restoring. But for the 20 or so minutes of fun that make up Exploration Earth: The Time Machine, it’s almost worth it since this one-off educational radio show hasn’t been heard since its original broadcast.