The Mutants

Doctor WhoThe Doctor and Jo are sent on a Time Lord-mandated courier mission, shrouded in secrecy, to the 30th century. His cargo is a small container keyed to the bio-readings of a single being. The TARDIS – temporarily cleared for a single flight to the destination of the Time Lords’ choice – takes them to an Imperial Earth Skybase orbiting the planet Solos, a world whose poisonous atmosphere and proud natives are the only things that have kept the Earth Empire from completely overrunning it. As it turns out, the container the Doctor has brought is intended for Ky, a Solonian national who is on the wrong side of the law, wanted dead or alive by the tyrannical Marshal of the Skybase. Not only is the Doctor fighting the Marshal’s forces from the moment he arrives, but years of the Marshal’s dictatorship have made it unlikely that the Solonians will trust an outsider either – even if the future of their entire species depends on it.

written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin
directed by Christopher Barry
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Paul Whitsun-Jones (Marshal), Geoffrey Palmer (Administrator), Christopher Coll (Stubbs), Rick James (Cotton), James Mellor (Varan), Jonathan Sherwood (Varan’s son), Garrick Hagon (Ky), George Pravda (Jaeger), John Hollis (Sondergaard), Sidney Johnson, David J. Graham (Old Men), Roy Pearce (Solos Guard), David Arlen (Guard Warrior), Damon Sanders, Martin Taylor (Guards), Peter Howell (Investigator)

Broadcast from April 8 through May 13, 1972

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: If you thought the 1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Transfigurations, which hijacked The Mutants‘ plot of a race on the brink of a major evolutionary leap, was long and boring, beware of this six-parter. But, to be fair, The Mutants is far more intelligently written than Transfigurations. The only thing working against it is its sheer length, much of which is occupied by chase scenes. The Mutants also succeeds in setting up an elaborate political background for the story, allowing easy comparisons between the Earth Empire’s rule of Solos and very real situations of oppression, such as apartheid.

The MutantsThe cast is usually convincing in their roles, including Garrick Hagon (who went on to play the mostly-left-on-the-cutting-room-floor part of Luke Skywalker’s friend Biggs in Star Wars) and John Hollis (who later donned a shiny headpiece and spoke absolutely no dialogue as Lando Calrissian’s aide – also known in action figure circles as “Lobot” – in The Empire Strikes Back). And to give the prop department some credit, the Gallifreyan version of a Fed Ex overnight package is a very well-manufactured, intriguingly asymmetrical object. There aren’t enough of those in the world today.