“Pure brain a hundred foot across stuck at the bottom of a pit, oozing about and sitting on people. Not much of a life, is it?” – The Doctor
It’s hard to believe that this story and the previous one exist within the same season. This one is just not good at all, primarily due to the structure of the script but also with some poor acting, badly realized effects, and other problems. I do like a few bits here and there. The Doctor’s jump down the well at the first cliffhanger is well done. The character of Organon is played well, especially with some nice interaction between him and the Doctor. (“The future foretold, the past explained, the present…apologized for.”) Indeed, there are a few good general ideas in it—a vegetative world with trained killer plants where metal is a precious resource, a banished delegate misunderstood to be a monster—but all of that can’t hold up to bad production.
The first obvious problem is the appearance of the green blob creature Erato which they gave extremely phallic-looking protuberances. It’s almost embarrassing to watch. They try to both make it look massive and amorphous which the budget just doesn’t allow for so we get a confusing and badly directed long-shot scene between it and the guards. It also doesn’t make sense them being there but the others with whom they came suddenly being so far away there not there to see it. And why do they suddenly start helping Organon? The image of the Huntsman in an ill-fitting spandex cracking a whip at moving tumbleweeds just looks odd. Even our regulars don’t shine. Lalla Ward way overacts in the beginning moaning about K-9 making Romana look silly, and a lot of the Doctor’s actions just don’t make sense.
Then we have the bandits who were supposedly feared as ruthless by the other Cholorisians. They turn out to be uneducated oafs easily managed by Romana which might have made funny contrast, but then they make the group so buffoonish and incompetent that you can’t take them seriously. It’s like their in a totally different story. Indeed, a lot of the comic moments are over done such as when the Doctor hangs on to scaled the sides of the well; he pulls out a guide to Himalayan climbing and, discovering it’s written in Tibetan, proceeds to pull out a second book called “Teach Yourself Tibetan”. This is eye-rolling farce that takes us out of action not smart wit that adds to it.
The story itself also pretty much gets resolved in three episodes. We then have a whole other danger introduced out of the blue that just feels tacked on. Character motivations fall apart and again some silly effects. It’s just not very well put together over all.
Best (or worst) unsettling moment:
The wolf weeds scared me a bit as a child when they piled up upon K9. I’m not sure now if they are scary or silly.
It may not be the worst episode but it’s definitely one of the least well-written thus far. Oh, and I hate hearing K9 with the ‘wrong’ voice.