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Doctor Who: The Mutants - Episode 63

Jon Pertwee , Katy Manning    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Doctor Who: The Mutants - Episode 63 + Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon (Episode 61) + Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon (Episode 73)
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Jon Pertwee's Doctor is sent by the Time Lords to deliver a mysterious sealed container to an unknown recipient. So begins "The Mutants," the penultimate adventure in the ninth series of Doctor Who (1972), a run that also included "The Sea Devils" and "The Day of the Daleks." The Doctor and Jo (Katy Manning), find themselves on a space station belonging to Earth's crumbling 30th-century empire, while below the planet Solos is on the verge of independence, a situation the corrupt Marshal (Paul Whitsun-Jones) is at pains to avert. What follows is a tale of opposing factions, assassination, genetic mutations, and running around in caves. The story concerns the aftermath of empire, a topic very relevant in the Britain of 1972, and the devastating environmental effects of industrial development (though with the ecology movement then gathering force, the following year's "The Green Death" addressed similar topics far more effectively).

There are plenty of elements packed into "The Mutants," yet the story feels padded and, the mutant costumes apart, is not helped by weak production values. Though far from a classic, this is still an entertaining Doctor Who adventure with Geoffrey Palmer in a small supporting role and a startling homage to the Monty Python "It's" man. --Gary S. Dalkin


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "MUUUTT!!!!!!!" Aug. 19 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the Third Doctor's best episodes!
It is an action-packed 6-parter from Pertwee's golden period.
An empire is in decay and a world is left ravaged by the evils of colonialism. The Doctor goes against the ruthless Marshal of the planet Solos and works to uncover the mystery behind the monstrous mutation of the Solonian people. The Marshall rules Solos from his orbiting Skybase and will stop at nothing to prevent the weary Earth Empire from retracting and granting Solos its independence.
Those who liked Colony in Space and Frontier in Space will enjoy this epic Doctor Who socio-political thriller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very underrated 6-parter, on the evils of empires Oct. 31 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Upon seeing the old bearded man running towards the screen through the mist and bushes at the onset of the story, no, it isn't the "It's..." man from Monty Python's first season. Rather, it's a mutant native of Solos, derogatorily called "Mutts" by the Marshal of Solos.
The appearance of a small sphere resembling a cross between a basketball and a coconut is a three-line whip from the Time Lords to the Doctor, a task that's an emergency. The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Jo to a Skybase hovering over Solos in the 30th century Earth Empire. "Once [Earth] sacked the solar system, they moved on to pastures new. Solos is one of them, one of the last [to gain independence]. Did you ever read Gibbons' Decline and Fall?... Empires rise and empires fall."
They instantly fall in trouble. The Marshal, the blustering, stout colonial ruler of Solos with piggish eyes and expression, is stunned to hear that Earth is finally giving Solos its independence. "We can't afford an empire anymore. Earth is exhausted, finished, politically, economically, and biologically," says the Administrator (Geoffrey Palmer). In a panic, the Marshal has the Administrator murdered, then imposes martial law to continue his reign over Solos, which has been exploited for its thaesium. Ky, leader of the more radical natives, is not only framed for the murder, but the sphere is intended for him.
The Doctor, Jo, and Ky are befriended by two of the Marshal's guards, Stubbs and Cotton, who learn of the Marshal's plot and see Solos as a "stinking rotting hole" that should've been given independence years ago. The planet is grey, but that's nothing compared to the Doctor's description of 30th century Earth, "land and sea alike, all grey.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "No-one lives on the ground." Nov. 23 2003
Format:VHS Tape
After its reboot in 1970 with "Spearhead from Space", "Doctor Who" -- with Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks at the helm -- settled into a very successful Earth-bound formula, mixing together James Bond, a post-colonial social conscience, and bona-fide alien races that weren't monsters. A year later, with a permanent arch-nemesis in the form of the Master, "Doctor Who" could be relied on for one great story after another, every four to six weeks. "The Mutants", however, is without UNIT, and without Roger Delgado's Master, and thus is regrettably one of the weaker entries in Jon Pertwee's tenure as the Doctor.
It didn't have to be that way. "The Mutants" was directed by Christopher Barry, and the incidental music was composed by Tristram Cary. This team worked an another "Doctor Who" story also once known as "The Mutants" -- "The Daleks" -- in 1963, and that was the story which put DW on the map. This time, though, their work is less successful. Barry's direction takes a wrong turn as the story stops short for literally minutes at a time, with location footage and CSO blue-screen sequences that do nothing but put the audience the sleep. The music, so eerily discordant in "The Daleks", here does little more than annoy.
The story's heart is in the right place, as comedy writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin play it straight. Their story is set in the 30th century, in the decline of Earth's empire. Solos, a struggling colony, has made no advances in 500 years, and its population is still segregated, banned from Skybase but for the use of separate transfer portals. Jon Pertwee's Doctor was always at his best when indignant, and here he has a pretty hammy villain to point his finger and lecture at.
There are no monsters in this story -- no alien monsters, anyway.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very underrated 6-parter, on the evils of empires Oct. 31 2003
By Daniel J. Hamlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Upon seeing the old bearded man running towards the screen through the mist and bushes at the onset of the story, no, it isn't the "It's..." man from Monty Python's first season. Rather, it's a mutant native of Solos, derogatorily called "Mutts" by the Marshal of Solos.
The appearance of a small sphere resembling a cross between a basketball and a coconut is a three-line whip from the Time Lords to the Doctor, a task that's an emergency. The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Jo to a Skybase hovering over Solos in the 30th century Earth Empire. "Once [Earth] sacked the solar system, they moved on to pastures new. Solos is one of them, one of the last [to gain independence]. Did you ever read Gibbons' Decline and Fall?... Empires rise and empires fall."
They instantly fall in trouble. The Marshal, the blustering, stout colonial ruler of Solos with piggish eyes and expression, is stunned to hear that Earth is finally giving Solos its independence. "We can't afford an empire anymore. Earth is exhausted, finished, politically, economically, and biologically," says the Administrator (Geoffrey Palmer). In a panic, the Marshal has the Administrator murdered, then imposes martial law to continue his reign over Solos, which has been exploited for its thaesium. Ky, leader of the more radical natives, is not only framed for the murder, but the sphere is intended for him.
The Doctor, Jo, and Ky are befriended by two of the Marshal's guards, Stubbs and Cotton, who learn of the Marshal's plot and see Solos as a "stinking rotting hole" that should've been given independence years ago. The planet is grey, but that's nothing compared to the Doctor's description of 30th century Earth, "land and sea alike, all grey. Grey cities linked by grey highways across grey deserts. Slag, ash, and clinker. The fruits of technology." Hmm, sounds like 20th century Earth to me.
But the Marshal also has a dream to turn Solos's atmosphere into one breathable for humans and to heck with the Solonians. Experiments by his scientist Jaeger has caused pollutions that have caused the mutations among Solonians. At least, that's the ostensible explanation. "Genocide as a side effect? You ought to write a paper on that, professor," the Doctor angrily tells Jaeger. As for the mutants, they resemble giant, grey, large-eyed armoured insectoids.
Paul Whitsun-Jones pulls in a strong performance as the sadistic Marshal, accused by the Doctor as being responsible for "one of the most brutal and callous series of crimes against a defenseless people it's been my misfortune to encounter." Indeed, the Marshal ranks as one of the most heinous villains in Doctor Who's history. When told he is quite mad by the Doctor, he replies calmly, "Only if I lose." And George Pravda (Jaeger) would later play Castellan Spandrell in The Who story The Deadly Assassin.
There are three elements in this story comparable to The Empire Strikes Back. One, the navy blue uniforms and helmets of the guards are similar to that of the Bespin Guards. Two, the Skybase and Cloud City float above their respective planets. Three, John Hollis, who plays Dr. Sondegaard here, also played Lando Calrissian's bald android assistant, Lobot. And speaking of Star Wars, Garrick Hagon (Ky) played Biggs Darklighter, Luke's best friend from Tatooine who ends up being toast in the Death Star battle.
Also, this was the story Saladin Chamcha watches in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, only it was mistakenly called The Mutilasians.
Despite being criticized for its overlength and bad performances, this allegory on the fall of the British Empire and apartheid is thematic of British guilt in the 70's for exploiting native peoples, and a striking Pertwee story, well worth its six episodes. John Hollis, Rick James-no, not the Superfreak, (Cotton), and Christopher Coll (Stubbs) lend credible support. The mutants are effectively realized, with the Doctor and the lovable Jo still a great team.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "MUUUTT!!!!!!!" Aug. 19 2003
By Cole Kekelis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the Third Doctor's best episodes!
It is an action-packed 6-parter from Pertwee's golden period.
An empire is in decay and a world is left ravaged by the evils of colonialism. The Doctor goes against the ruthless Marshal of the planet Solos and works to uncover the mystery behind the monstrous mutation of the Solonian people. The Marshall rules Solos from his orbiting Skybase and will stop at nothing to prevent the weary Earth Empire from retracting and granting Solos its independence.
Those who liked Colony in Space and Frontier in Space will enjoy this epic Doctor Who socio-political thriller.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Un-people Doing Un-things Un-together Nov. 24 2011
By Nancy A. Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is an enjoyable story from the middle of the Pertwee era. While it is not highly regarded by many fans, I have always liked this story. The story basics are the Doctor receives an odd object, and tells Jo that it is an important message that must be delivered. Jo follows the Doctor into the TARDIS and they end up on an Earth Sky Base orbiting the planet Solos quite far in the future. The Earth Empire is declining - they can no longer afford to keep far-flung colonies such as Solos going, so control of Solos is being returned to native populations. Mucking things up are warring factions among the native populations, apparent mutations among the native population, the murder of an Earth government official, members of the Earth force that don't want to give up control of Solos, and atmospheric experiments to make the atmosphere breathable by humans.

This was done in the middle of Pertwee's 5-year stay in the role, and it shows. John Pertwee is very comfortable and commanding in the role. The relationship between Jo Grant and the Doctor has grown to become one of affection, trust and respect. The costume and set design were quite striking. Terrance Dicks as script editor, and Barry Letts as producer had really come in to their own by this time and had formed an excellent pool of talent to pull from. Christopher Barry returns as director and does a nice job keeping the pacing going. James Acheson designs the costumes on Doctor Who for the first time and hits a home run with the "Mutt" costumes. Bob Baker and Dave Martin have created a fascinating world for the Doctor to visit. There are some nice performances from the guest cast: Garrick Hagon as Ky a leader of the native Solonians; Paul Whitsun-Jones as the Marshall, a bombastic over-the-top and possibly insane officer in charge of the Sky Base; Christopher Coll as Stubbs a sympathetic officer on the Sky Base, and John Hollis as Sondergaard an Earth scientist who has been hiding out on Solos after having a disagreement with the Marshall.

What has always made this story stand out for me is the idea of a planet whose orbit is so long that the seasons each last approximately 500 Earth-years, and the species living on the planet have adapted by using metamorphosis to change for the season. I like the fact that the native population had no understanding of this process, similar to the caterpillar having no understanding of its becoming a butterfly. The issues being covered in this story are colonialism, and ecology, perhaps not terribly subtly, but I don't think that makes the ideas outdated.

The extras on the DVD are quite good. The usual making of documentary was quite fun, and the interview with James Acheson on his career designing costumes for Doctor Who was wonderful. I enjoyed the documentary about black actors in Doctor Who, or should I say the dearth of black actors in classic Doctor Who, but I don't think Noel Clarke was the best choice for narrator, I found his delivery to be on the dull side. The 1 minute extra from Blue Peter was odd, had nothing to do with this story, and probably would have been better as an Easter Egg. The production notes option of watching the story was interesting, and gives a glimpse of all the concepts that the authors had to cut out of the story.

Now to the commentary option-there is a large cast of characters on the commentary track, but they are cycled through so you're only dealing with 3 to 4 at a time. Of course when you have such strong personalities as Terrance Dicks and Katy Manning, they are going to dominate the conversation. There were some lively discussions, and there was a nice chemistry between Katy and Garrick Hagon on the commentary track, and there was an interesting dynamic between Terrence Dicks and Bob Baker. Unfortunately, director Christopher Barry isn't allowed to give as many comments as I would have liked, and sound supervisor Brian Hodgson and designer Jeremy Bear were rather overpowered by the rest as well. I must say however, after hearing Katy Manning highjack the commentary track to interview Brian Hodgson, I would like to recommend that 2 Entertain have her host an extra feature on sound and sound effects on Doctor Who. It was very obvious that she had a lot of knowledge, interest and respect for the work that Brian and his fellow sound artists did on the show and I think she'd be a great host for such an extra.

While not a perfect story, I think that Bob Baker and Dave Martin have created an interesting and rich world for the Doctor to visit. It keeps the pace going pretty steadily for all 6 episodes, and it gave the Doctor a chance to get away from 20th Century Earth. Go ahead get yourself some snacks, sit down in a comfy seat and be prepared for an interesting visit to Solos. Its.....
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SHINY, HAPPY PEOPLE Feb. 10 2011
By Thomas E. O'Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Nothing lasts, or ages as fast, as politics. It's always up front and always being crushed by the heel and at the same time; and with THE MUTANTS you can see this happening again and again over this (too long) six part series. The Doctor and Jo are given a mission to play ball with Ky, leader, rebel of a planet long held under the rule of Earth and soon to be given freedom. In the midst of this there are those who will hold onto power as long as they can, even if it means not only the death of the people they rule, but even the planet in question...it's politics, it's social commentary, it comedy, it's a moral, it's too often a snore.

And at the heart of it is a mystery no has bothered to explore...exactly what interest do the Time Lords have on Solos? Exactly why are they returning ancient tablets to a people who have long since forgotten who they are or even what they were (Ky's speech about how the world used to be is pure fancy on his part, he's too young to know exactly how Solos was before the Overlords came) and what are the Time Lords hoping to gain from it? At the heart of the mystery is the one thing we take for grated with Time Lords...regeneration; and it's here again as well. A race of people who at a certain time (be it from crisis or nature) change their nature, their bodies and become new people. The people on Solos appear to become a form of gods, gifted with great powers over nature and matter and seem to serve no purpose other than to provide a touch of Deus Ex Machina for the Doctor to help end the show on a peaceful note...and that's it; the Doctor's only role in this story appears to be playing the part of a mid-wife on behalf of the Time Lords.

This story, THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS and MAWDRYN UNDEAD (perhaps even THE MYSTERIOUS PLANET) are the only stories I know in classic WHO that deal with the Time Lords talents being granted, mocked and mimicked and it's a shame no one has done anything since with this idea and spun off a series or a one shot dealing with the aftermath of the events in THE MUTANTS.

Commentary is a mess here. As like the story itself there are too many players sitting in and bowing out over the course of the six episodes and their input is often uneven. I feel anything dealing with the prodcution of the show outside director, producer or writer should be given a 10min overview/interview separate from the commentary because that's just about how long you can stand to listen to it.

Not that I feel their input is not valid, but in the case of Brian Hodgson, special sounds supervisor, his work requires you to actually hear it and instead we have people talking over it and confusing musical cues with his sound effects and not being able to tell the difference between the two. His work, his history on the show would have been better served with a spotlight on the sound effects of WHO separate from the cast. The polite friction between Terrance Dicks and Bob Baker is amusing and again and again you can hear Dicks holding back the thought that maybe not doing this story would have been a good idea.

The rest of the special features follow the formula from before and the MAKING OF is actually very good as is RACE AGAINST TIME a look at WHO's very limited use of black actors in the series. I also feel that anything to do with BLUE PETER at this point should be collected into one feature or at least have some bearing on the story at hand; the short here (and it's very short) doesn't even feature anything from this story.

Text commentary is tight and worth the the time reading.

Overall THE MUTANTS is very much like a meeting of Parliament, its balance of camp and politics too often takes itself too seriously and last far too long and doesn't truly resolve anything; but sometimes the fuss makes up for it and that's what we have a lot of here in THE MUTATNS - fuss.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sojourn To Solos. Nov. 20 2010
By Armchair Pundit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Original airdate:- 8/4/72-13/5/72. Season Nine.

During the 25th century setting of "Frontier in Space" we saw the rise of the Earth empire, here in the 30th century setting of "The Mutant's" we see it's fall. Earth can no longer afford it's empire, so is withdrawing from it's acquisitions and giving them independence.
But here on Solos, the Marshal regards Solos as his own personal empire, and will not willingly, give it up!
~~~~
As most of the early reviews concentrate on the storyline, I'll concentrate on the design.
The Marshal, (all bluff and bluster) is well played by Paul Whitsun Jones who obviously went to the same acting school as Brian Blessed.
There is some good set design used in this story, Jaeger's lab for one, and a more realistic method of transmat into booths, not just anywhere which is usually depicted in some sci-fi shows. Unfortunately there's also some dreadful acting by the black actor Rick James which does spoil the story somewhat.
Looking at several stories from this era one can't help but noticing the superb imagination of the designers of the show, like Roger Murray Leach, sculptor John Friedlander and costume designer James Acheson.
Some design's like the Draconians, Sea Devils, original Davros mask, and my favourite the Mutants, made for me the early 70's a design golden age.
~~~~
On reflection I must say that I find this is a most interesting story in which it's not just the life-forms mutating, but the planet too in a way, as it goes from being a part of an empire to independence.
One can never be disappointed with a Bob Baker and Dave Martin script, as they put so much into them.
I've enjoyed this show for so long I think of it as a friend rather then a TV show, as I grew up it was always there for me like a reliable old friend, so long live the Doctor in all his incarnations - and the Whoniverse!
~~~~
DVD Extras.
00:02:55:18 The Mutants - photo gallery
00:20:36:21 Mutt Mad - the making of the mutants
00:01:35:07 (Blue Peter) (Clip from Blue Peter 1970's)
00:27:03:13 Dressing for Doctor Who - James Acheson (Featurette)
00:37:36:10 Race against Time (Featurette)
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