Achilles Heel

Moonbase 3Rejected for a seat on Britain’s expensive, high-profile manned mission to Venus, astronaut Adam Blaney is stuck on Moonbase 3, heading up a research team – and, whether he consciously knows it or not, deliberately putting their experiments and their careers in jeopardy. One of his scientists worries about the state of his marriage since his wife remains on Earth, and the other is hesitant to jeopardize her career, worried that she’s washed up due to her age. Dr. Caulder, under strict orders to rush research whose potential revenue is needed to fund Moonbase 3, tries to keep Blaney and his team on task. Moonbase psychologist Helen Smith becomes a counselor to this team, but she fails to detect Blaney at the center of all of these problems; when he ends up starting a relationship with her, she’s even more blinded to the potential trouble. It’s only when she’s at the mercy of the vacuum of space that she realizes that refusing his advances could bring out a more dangerous side of him.

written by John Lucarotti
directed by Christopher Barry
music by Dudley Simpson

Cast: Donald Houston (David Caulder), Ralph Bates (Michel Lebrun), Fiona Gaunt (Helen Smith), Barry Lowe (Tom Hill), Edward Brayshaw (Adam Blaney), Ann Ridler (Kate Weyman), Malcolm Reynolds (Bill Knight), Nancie Wait (Dodi Knight), Peter Bathurst (Director General), Joanna Ross (Jane), Anne Rosenfeld (Lisa), Oliver Ford-Davies (Astronaut)

Original Title: The Gentle Rain

Notes: Moonbase 3 had already predicted the existence of a European Union (with Britain as a member nation), and here it identifies the currency of this body as the “eurodollar”; where Moonbase 3 is experiencing a budget crunch, Caulder complains that the American and Russian-funded Moonbases are blessed with far deeper pockets. Although the term that inspired this episode’s title, “Achilles’ heel,” includes a possessive apostrophe, the episode’s title does not include the apostrophe and is chronicled here as such. Writer John Lucarotti (1926-1994) was one of the earliest group of freelance writers to pen Doctor Who scripts in the 1960s, including the well-regarded historical story The Aztecs. All of his Doctor Who contributions aired in the 1960s, which makes his participation here a bit of a coincidence, since the then-current team of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks – both serving in the same capacities for Moonbase 3 – had not worked with Lucarotti on any produced Doctor Who stories. Actor Oliver Ford-Davies, making an early career appearance here as a nameless astronaut, is now better known to genre fans at Sio Bibble, governor of Naboo and advisor to Queen Amidala, in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

LogBook entry by Earl Green