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
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›