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Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

This article is about the Third Doctor serial The Mutants. For the First Doctor serial of the same name, see The Daleks.
"Emergency! Emergency! Hull fracture in Section Three. Depressurise..."
―Tannoy
The Mutants
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 9
Story Number: 63
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Jo Grant
Enemy: The Marshal
Setting: Solos, 30th century
Writer: Bob Baker and
Dave Martin
Director: Christopher Barry
Broadcast: 8th April - 13th May 1972
Format: 6 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Sea Devils
Following Story: The Time Monster

Contents

Synopsis

The Time Lords send the Doctor and Jo on a mission to deliver a sealed message pod to an unknown party aboard a Skybase orbiting the planet Solos in the 30th century. They are quickly caught in a power struggle between the cruel Marshal of Solos and the young Solonian Ky over the future of Solos - a future that hinges on the contents of the message.

Plot

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Part 1

On the polluted world of Solos, an old man flees through the desolate remains of a forest. Screaming "Mutt! MUTT!", the Marshal of Solos chases the old man, followed grudgingly by Stubbs and Cotton. Stopping to pick the Marshal's dropped oxymask, essential in the toxic Solonian air, Stubbs and Cotton briefly lose their commanding officer in the thick mist. They find him standing over the corpse of the old man; the late Solonian has jagged deformities coming out of his back. The Marshal orders his men to log it: another dead Mutt.

Lunch?
Back on 20th century Earth, the Doctor and Jo are interrupted by the sudden appearance of a message pod from the Time Lords. The TARDIS is already programmed with its destination, and, despite his objections, Jo joins the Doctor in the TARDIS as it sets off for Skybase One, in orbit of Solos. Arriving in the Skybase's broom cupboard, the Doctor explains to Jo that they are at the end of the Earth Empire's reign.

At the Skybase's Transmat facility, Solonians are beaming up from the planet to attend a conference with the Overlords, the planet's colonizers from Earth. Ky arrives and is greeted by Varan. The greeting is aything but friendly, as Ky makes it clear he considers Varan to be the lackey of the Overlords. They argue over the status of the Mutts; while Varan considers them a disease to be weeded out, Ky considers it murder of his people. The argument escalates; when Ky accuses the Overlords of polluting his world and enslaving his people, he and Varan nearly come to blows.

The fracas is only prevented by the group being shepherded of to Decontamination (save Varan, who is sent to see the Marshal). Only one guard and one Solonian, Varan's bodyguard, are left in the Transmat lobby. The guard notices the Solonian is hiding his hand. Grabbing the hidden limb, the guard sees it is green and scaled; he screams for help, only to be killed by the mutated Solonian.

In their private conference, Varan is furious with the Marshal that Ky has been allowed to attend the conference. Wiser than his native representative, the Marshal insists that Ky not become a martyr. But he does have a plan for Ky, and needs a trustworthy Solonian from Varan...

Exploring the Skybase, the Doctor and Jo are attacked by the Solonian, and only escape when the Doctor cracks a door lock with his Sonic screwdriver. Stubbs and Cotton are dispatched to investigate the door failure. Finding the Doctor and Jo under attack, they shoot and kill the Solonian. They take the Doctor and Jo into custody.

With Varan's bodyguard shot dead and two trespassers found, the Marshal finds himself being dressed down by his superior, an Administrator from Earth. The Administrator has a bombshell to be dropped at the conference: the Empire is pulling out of Solos. Earth is at the point of economic, political, and environmental collapse, and an empire is a luxury they can ill afford at this point. The Marshal is livid, and believes this to be all the more reason their colonization of Solos is imperative; the Administrator scoffs, as this would require genocide of the already mistreated Solonians. The decision has been made; Ky will be getting all he demands. As the Administrator leaves the room, the Marshal summons Varan once more.

Before heading to the conference, the Marshal and Administrator stop to interrogate Jo and the Doctor. The Marshal believes them to be spies from Earth, sent to check up on him; the Administrator is more sanguine, concluding that whomever they are, it can wait until after the conference with the Solonians.

As the representatives of Solos assemble, the Marshal passes a small device to Varan; Varan passes it to his son.

The conference is being telecast throughout the Skybase, and the Administrator begins his speech to the Solonians. Watching the telecast together, the Doctor uses the distraction to overpower Stubbs and make his way to the conference with the message pod.

The Administrator's speech, though intended to be conciliatory, comes off as condescending and bombastic, and Ky disrupts it several times. As they shout at each other, Varan's son launches a dart from the device, striking the Administrator in the neck. The conference erupts into chaos, and the Marshal orders Ky's arrest. He flees the conference chamber, nearly colliding with the Doctor just outside the door. The momentary contact has an immediate effect on the message pod; it begins to open for Ky, its intended recipient.

But despite the Doctor's protestations, Ky continues to run, grabbing Jo as a human shield. He pulls her into the Transmat, as the Marshal orders his men to open fire. Their blasters turn the Transmat into a shower of sparks...

Part 2

The smoke clears, and the Transmat chamber is empty. Jo's safety may be shortlived, as the Marshal points out; she has no oxymask, and will not survive long on Solos without one.

At the Transmat's ground station, Ky and Jo materialise amidst klaxons. Dodging fire from the ground station's lone guard, they escape through an airlock into the polluted world. They are pursued by more troops, but this ultimately is to their advantage; Ky overpowers one and takes his oxymask.

High above in the Skybase, the Marshal has assumed command in the wake of the Administrator's death. He strikes a bargain with the Doctor; open the message pod, and the Marshal's men will attempt to save Jo. The Doctor reluctantly agrees, and is escorted to the Skybase's lab. The Marshal assigns his own scientist, Jaeger, to assist. Jaeger is put out by the distraction from his own work on the Solosian atmosphere, but complies.

The Marshal now turns to the loose ends of the assassination. He kills Varan's son with the same dart-gun, and then attempts to do the same to Varan himself. Varan escapes, but the Marshal declares him a Mutt and orders him captured and executed.

With Jaeger's reluctant help, the Doctor builds a particle reversal device to see the contents of the message pod. Stunned to see the process work, Jaeger realizes that particle reversal could convert the Solosian atmosphere to a more habitable one in days.

Seeking shelter in a cave, Ky explains his people's suffering to Jo. Meanwhile, Stubbs is joined by the Doctor in the search for Varan; when they think they have him cornered, Varan disarms Stubbs and nearly kills him. The Doctor's crack shot with a blaster takes the blade out of Varan's hand.

Having learned the truth about the assassination from Varan, Stubbs is now the Doctor's ally, albeit clandestinely. They lie to the Marshal, claiming Varan is dead; the Marshal, meanwhile, has coaxed Cotton into lying as well, corroborating the Marshal's claim that Jo has been found, and is in a hospital on Solos.

Their deceptions at an impasse, the Marshal shuffles the Doctor off to Jaeger's project on altering the Solosian atmosphere. Jaeger uses the Doctor's outrage at the proposed method - rockets launched into the atmosphere, killing all the Solonians as a "side effect" - to manipulate him into offering his particle reversal method as alternative.

Cotton speaks to the Doctor discreetly, explaining that Stubbs has brought him in on their side, and tells him the truth about Jo. The Doctor and Cotton devise a method to get the Doctor off the Skybase, then the Doctor turns the tables on Jaeger, using his enthusiasm for access to particle reversal to make him a patsy for the escape.

Stubbs informs Varan of the plan to get off the Skybase; though suspicious, he appears to agree. The Doctor overloads the Skybase power, stunning Jaeger in the process. He makes his his way to the Transmat, only to be grabbed by Varan. With his blade and the Doctor's throat, he growls, "Die, overlord!"

Part 3

With Varan still literally at his throat, the Doctor transmats to Solos. As the two emerge from the transmat chamber, the Doctor incapacitates his assailant with some Venusian Aikido. Extracting Varan's word as a warrior that he will take the Doctor to Ky. Despite the onset of a firestorm in the sky (a side effect of the Marshal's manipulation of the atmosphere), they set out into the Solosian night. Elsewhere on Solos, Ky and Jo are watching the same firestorm, before being forced to retreat deeper into the cave by a group of agitated Mutts.

After expressing his frustration with Jaeger by means of a cathartic yelling session, the Marshal orders his scientist to go ahead with the original, more genocidal version of the atmosphere modification plan. He then summons Stubbs and Cotton to his office; understandably, the two are apprehensive, what with their recent treason. They are dressed down, but the Marshal considers them not traitors, simply incompetent. He sends them down to Solos to pursue the escaped Doctor and Varan, flushing them out of the caves with gas grenades.

Varan's tracking skills lead them to Ky and Jo's fire. Despite Varan protesting that he will go no further, the two proceed deeper into the cave after Jo and Ky. Ky, meanwhile, is fending off a group of increasingly agitated Mutts. The Doctor and Varan's arrival helps quell the beastly melee, but Jo has fled deeper into the caves. She finds a chamber of light and sound, overwhelming her to the point of unconsciousness. A figure in a protective suit emerges, and moves to her side.

The Doctor finally succeeds in giving the message pod to Ky. In his hands, the pod opens, revealing a set of stone tablets. Varan and Ky, expecting weapons, are disappointed. Ky identifies the markings on the tablets as ancient Solonian writing, but says that no one understands them anymore, as the Overlords have destroyed their culture. Varan storms off in a huff, declaring that he shall lead his village in combat against their human oppressors. Ky and the Doctor, meanwhile, begin searching for Jo.

The Marshal begins deploying his gas bombs, and sends Stubbs and Cotton deeper into the caves after the Doctor. Monitoring them on his radio, the Marshal overhears their friendly greeting to the Doctor, then sets off an explosive to seal them in.

Varan returns to his village, finding it deserted, save for an elderly Solonian in the midst of transforming into a Mutt. He is horrified to see the beginnings of the transformation on his own arm, then hears a voice in his head, telling him to "go to the place of sleeping and light."

As Jo recounts her experience in the mysterious chamber, Stubbs reconnoiters, only to find the caves are sealed and the gas is closing in...

Part 4

Proffessor Sondergaard, I presume.

The figure in the protective suit emerges again, and gestures for the Doctor and his entourage to follow. He leads them to a lead-lined chamber deep in the caves. "Professor Sondergaard, I presume," quips the Doctor.

While the Marshal orders his men to continue sealing the caves, Sondergaard explains that Jo wandered into a chamber of intense radioactivity, and explains his lot in life. He believes that while there are normal changes in the ecosystem as the 500 year seasons change, Jaeger's experiments altered the natural balance.

The Marshal returns to the Skybase, and orders Jaeger to begin the bombardment of Solos with ionization rockets to change its atmosphere. Below, Ky opens the pod again to display the tablets, which Sondergaard attempts to translate. He declares them to be the Solonian equivalent of the Book of Genesis, but his attempts to scry meaning from them are interrupted by the cave's continued collapse. Ky, Jo, Stubbs, and Cotton head out to the relative safety of Varan's village, while the Doctor and Sondergaard remain to continue the study of the tablets.

The Doctor hits upon the meaning of the tablets - a calendar of the 500-year Solosian seasons - and interprets one symbol as referring to the radiation of the chamber. He and Sondergaard set off to explore further.

Varan is addressing his few remaining warriors, but is interrupted by a report of the approach of Overlords (namely Stubbs and Cotton). When Stubbs, Cotton, Ky, and Jo arrive, they are ambushed and forced to surrender their guns. Varan declares his plan for revenge, to attack Skybase using Stubbs, Cotton, Jo and Ky as hostages and human shields.

As they plunge deeper into the radioactive chamber, the Doctor is forced to leave Sondergaard when the radiation overwhelms his suit. At the heart of the chamber, the Doctor finds a glowing statue with a green crystal set in it, which he naturally pockets. He retrieves Sondergaard and leaves the chamber.

Aboard Skybase, the Marshal's plan is forced to accelerate, as an Earth Empire Investigator will be arriving shortly. Unbeknownst to him, Varan has already taken a transmat ground station and is beaming aboard.

The Doctor attempts to analyse the crystal he retrieved, but Sondergaard's equipment is too primitive. They, too, set out for Skybase.

The launch of the ionization rockets is imminent, but momentarily interrupted when Varan's incursion is detected. The Marshal orders the countdown to continue, as he assembles a squad to repel the intruders. They ambush Varan's warriors, slaughtering them with superior weaponry, with the Marshal personally dispatching Varan. Unfortunately, his blaster fire tears a hole in the Skybase's hull, blowing Varan out into the vacuum.

As the ionization rockets launch, the Marshal, Ky, Stubbs, Cotton, and Jo all cling for their lives, as the air of Skybase rushes out into space...

Part 5

Jo, Ky, Stubbs and Cotton struggle out of the depressurized chamber, only to find themselves arrested by the Marshal, and facing summary execution. The firing squad takes aim, only to be interrupted at the last moment by an irate Jaeger. Unconcerned with the welfare of the Marshal's captives, Jaeger is instead livid that his rocket barrage was a complete failure; due to poor maintenance and the Marshal's unreasonable timetable, the rockets poisoned the surface of Solos rather than ionizing the atmosphere.

Jaeger mentions the Investigator in passing, and Stubbs and Jo drive home the point: even with them executed, the Marshal's men are tired and want to go home; one of them will report the true state of the Solosian occupation. The Marshal seems unconcerened; if necessary, he will blow the Investigator's ship out of space. Jo bluffs the Marshal, claiming that the Doctor is the Investigator's advance party.

On the planet below, the Doctor and Sondergaard find the bombardment waning, but the damage done; the plant life is already contaminated by the ionization crystals. Sondergaard is too weak to continue, but he insists the Doctor go to Skybase, to solve the mystery of the green stone.

The Marshal returns to Solos, to capture the Doctor personally; he hopes that, using Jo as a hostage, he can persuade the Doctor to use his particle reversal techniques to clean up the environmental mess on Solos before the Investigator arrives. The troops track the Doctor through the mist, but he overpowers one and manages to flee to the transmat ground station.

The chase continues onto Skybase, where the Doctor finds his captive friends. He is about to release their handcuffs with his sonic screwdriver, when the Marshal steps out, springing the trap. Through blackmail, the Doctor's cooperation is secured.

The Doctor outlines his plan to Jaeger: use the transmat's macrophaser to effect particle reversal in swaths across Solos. This will, of course, necessitate shutdown of the the transmat system.

Jo slips out of her cuffs and disarms the guard. Cotton attempts to contact the Investigator's ship, but guards are already at the door. Luckily, Stubbs holds them off, and they are unwilling to fire on one of their own. The Marshal arrives, and demonstrates no such hesitation, spraying the room with blaster fire. Even as the Investigator is contacted, Stubbs is gunned down. Leaving his fallen friend behind, Cotton leads Jo and Ky to an escape; the transmat. They enter the transmat, only to find it offline; the Doctor's procedure has just begun.

Sondergaard has returned to the cave, and is nearly accosted by a guard, only to be saved by a Mutt. A group of Mutts has gathered, and Sondergaard explains what he has learned. He explains they have one chance: the Doctor.

Far above, the Doctor and Jaeger begin sweeping their particle reversal beam across the planet. It undoes the damage of the rockets, but the Marshal is not satisfied. He threatens Jo if the Doctor does not terraform the planet further. Just then, the Investigator's ship moves in to dock with Skybase.

Jo, Cotton, and Ky are kept as hostages to ensure the Doctor does not expose him to the Investigator. But Cotton realizes that the Marshal has ordered them held in the thaesium storage chamber, a chamber that will be flooded with radioactivity as soon as the Investigator's ship refuels.

Outside Skybase, the ship slowly moves to dock...

Part 6

The Investigator arrives, immediately suspends all troops loyal to the Marhsal, and begins his inquiry. But with Jo in his possession, the Marshal has an unwilling ally in the Doctor.

The fuel probe from the docked ship enters the thaesium chamber, and Jo, Ky and Cotton climb in hoping to escape the radiation by entering the ship. They manage to make their way to the inquiry, and, with the Jo safe, the Doctor can speak freely and accuses the Marshal of genocide. The Marshal erupts with rage, sputtering that the Mutts should be wiped off the face of the planet, which only serves to persuade the Investigator further.

However, the Investigator is obligated to due process, and insists on proof of the Doctor's claims about the Solonian mutation. Sondergaard arrives on Skybase, and attempts to corroborate the Doctor's claim. He is followed by a Mutt, whose presence throws the proceedings into chaos. In the brouhaha, the Marshal grabs a blaster and guns down the terrified Mutt. The violence persuades the Investigator to reinstate the Marshal's command.

While the Doctor, Sondergaard, and Jo flee, Cotton attends to Ky, who has been ill since their experience in the refueling chamber. He pays for his compassion, as the Marshal orders Cotton and Ky thrown back in the refueling chamber, despite the fact that the thaesium radiation is now at a lethal intensity.

The Doctor seals himself in the lab, and he and Sondergaard attempt to analyse the green stone. Putting it under the particle reversal machine, he realizes it must be the catalyst that allows the thaesium radiation to bring the Solonians to their next stage.

The Marshal blasts his way in, and orders Jo and Sondergaard thrown in the radiation chamber with Ky and Cotton, not realizing this is exactly what the Doctor wishes; with the combination of the stone, the radiation, and Ky, the mutation should succeed this time. He keeps the Doctor in the lab, to complete the terraforming.

Sondergaard gives Ky the stone, and the Solonian begins to change into a Mutt, faster than any of the previous transformations.

The Doctor continues to work under the watch of Jaeger and the Marshal, but uses the distraction of the Investigator bursting in to switch a pair of wires in the particle reversal device. The Investigator has just learned that he is now the prisoner of the Marshal, who intends to transform Solos into a "New Earth", and make the Investigator's crew his first batch of settlers. The Doctor points out to the Investigator that he did say that the Marshal was quite mad.

Ky's transformation completes, and he emerges from the larval Mutt stage as a glowing, telepathic and almost omnipotent being. He thanks Sondergaard for his help, and disappears, opening the door as almost an afterthought. The now godlike Ky floats through the corridors of Skybase, causing the guards he passes to fall dead as he goes.

In the lab, Jaeger throws the switch on the Doctor's device, only to be killed in the blast as his sabotage does its work. The Marshal trains his gun on the Doctor, but Ky appears and vaporises the Marshal, in retribution for his torture of the Solonians. Ky thanks the Doctor, and vanishes.

With Sondergaard staying on to help the Mutts complete their transformation, and Cotton appointed to oversee the withdrawal of the Skybase back to Earth, the Doctor and Jo head back to the TARDIS. With a terrible pun, the Doctor returns to his blue box...

Cast

Crew

References

  • Thaesium is a fuel mineral mined on Solos.
  • The Doctor is sent on a mission by the Time Lords.
  • The Doctor is more resistant than a human to the toxic gas on Solos and the radiation in the caves.

Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of; Independence and The Emergents.
  • This is not the only Doctor Who story with the title The Mutants - the first episode of the first Dalek serial was also entitled The Mutants by some, until the broadcast of this one.
  • Episode Six of this story is the first in the series' history to bear an on-screen copyright date.
  • This is the Geoffrey Palmer's second appearance in Doctor Who; he had previously appeared in DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians. He would go on later to appeared in the revived Series episode DW: Voyage of the Damned
  • Probably coincidentally, the opening scene of the story bears an uncanny resemblance to the Monty Python "It's..." openings.
  • The Skybase has a segregated Transmat, with one chamber for Humans and one for Solonians.

Ratings

  • Episode 1 - 9.1 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 7.8 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 7.9 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 7.5 million viewers
  • Episode 5 - 7.9 million viewers
  • Episode 6 - 6.5 million viewers

Myths

  • Author Salman Rushdie refers to The Mutants in his controversial book "The Satanic Verses" and implies that the programme's characterisation of mutations as evil just because they look different from human beings encourages racist attitudes. He thereby completely misses the point of the story, which in fact has an anti-racist message. This is a widespread misinterpretation of Rushdie's words, which instead refer to the treatment of the mutants as evil by some characters in the story. The story is clearly anti-racism and anti-colonialism.

Filming Locations

  • Western Quarry, St. Clements Way, Northfleet, Kent
  • Chislehurst Caves, Old Hill, Chisleshurst
  • Stone House Farm (caves), Lower Rochester Road, Frindsbury, Kent
  • Lime Grove Studios (Studios E), Lime Grove, London
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 3, 4, 4a), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • In his first scene in the story, Jon Pertwee says "I couldn't open it even if I wanted to" twice in rapid succession.
  • In Episode 3, Stubbs and Cotton wonder aloud if the Marshal is on to them. The camera moves to follow them, revealing a third guard standing less than a meter away, who is presumably deaf to their confession of treason.
  • The conversation about the gas that serves as the cliffhanger of Episode 3 and the opening of Episode 4 is a different take (or at least a different angle) in each episode.
  • Why do Sondergaard and the Doctor need to remain in the caves to work on the translation? They could just as easily do it in Varan's village.  They prefer to work without interruption.

Continuity

DVD, Video and Other Releases

Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Mutants

Released:

Novelisation

Main article: Doctor Who and the Mutants

External Links

  • Official BBC Episode Guide for The Mutants
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide detailed synopsis of The Mutants
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to The Mutants
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Mutants
  • The Tardis Library see here [1] and here [2] For video information on The Mutants
Season 9
Day of the Daleks  • The Curse of Peladon  • The Sea Devils  • The Mutants  • The Time Monster

This article uses material from the "The Mutants" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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