Mission To The Unknown

Doctor WhoA ship from Earth, piloted by three Space Security Agents, lands on the jungle world of Kembel for a scouting mission. Their recce soon turns into more than they’d bargained for – the local flora is capable of infecting humans and turning them into mindless killers, and one of the Agents is gunned down by his fellow officers in self-defense. Worse yet, they learn that the Daleks are massing a secret strike force on Kembel. The metallic monstrosities are planning to overrun Earth’s entire solar system, subjugate the human race, and from there take over the entire universe. In the end, only Space Security Agent Marc Cory is left alive, and he’s dying, infected by the mind-controlling vegetation of Kembel. He manages to fire off a distress signal to Earth – not a plea for help, since he will be dead by the time help can arrive, but a warning: prepare for an invasion.

Order this story on audio CDwritten by Terry Nation
directed by Derek Martinus
music not credited

Cast: Edward de Souza (Marc Cory), Robert Cartland (Malpha), Jeremy Young (Gordon Lowery), Barry Jackson (Garvey), Ronald Rich (Trantis), Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Gerald Taylor, John Scott Martin (Daleks), Peter Hawkins, David Graham (Dalek voices)

Notes: The master tapes of this episode were destroyed by the BBC in the early 1970’s, and no video copies exist. This is the only episode of Doctor Who in which neither the Doctor nor his companions appear.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Mission To The UnknownThe unique one-part adventure was forced onto producer Verity Lambert’s slate by the trimming of a previous episode from four parts to three. But there was only one hitch: no story was written, and with other episodes already in front of the cameras, a way had to be figured out to excuse the regular cast from the action.

By the time Mission To The Unknown, also referred to by fan historians as “Dalek Cutaway,” was even conceived, the epic-scale Daleks’ Masterplan 12-parter was already in the works. To fill the gap, the Doctor Who production team essentially turned the open slot in the schedule into a 25-minute teaser for the upcoming Dalek story. Dalek creator Terry Nation makes it interesting, if obvious, and one can also sense that he was feeling his way around the possibilty of a Doctorless Dalek series, an ambition he long held but failed to realize in his own lifetime. To some degree, Big Finish – the modern-day holders of the Doctor Who audio drama license – has closed the circle with the Dalek Empire audio series.

Naturally, Mission To The Unknown was wiped from the archives, just like most of The Daleks’ Masterplan. Enterprising fans who tape-recorded the audio of these episodes from their TV sets, however, have made this and other BBC audio-only Doctor Who releases possible. Mission To The Unknown was released as a bonus disc, rounding out the 5-CD set necessary to present The Daleks’ Masterplan in its entirety in audio form. I haven’t had a chance to plow through the six hours worth of Dalek exploits that make up the rest of the story, but on its own, Mission To The Unknown is intriguing, though as a teaser story it’s a little less than subtle. Still, I wish we could see it today. The lavish five-disc Mission / Daleks’ Masterplan audio set almost makes up for it, with such extras as scripts rounding out the portions of the Mission disc unused by the audio program.

Most intriguing…and unusual. One wonders what they could’ve done with single-part stories later in the series’ run?