The Mutants

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This article is about the 1972 Doctor Who serial. For other uses, see mutant (disambiguation).
063 – The Mutants
Doctor Who serial
Mutants (Doctor Who).jpg
A mutated Solonian on the planet Solos.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Bob Baker and
Dave Martin
Director Christopher Barry
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Producer Barry Letts
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Tristram Cary
Production code NNN
Series Season 9
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 8 April–13 May 1972
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Sea Devils The Time Monster

The Mutants is the fourth serial of the ninth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 8 April to 13 May 1972.

The Mutants is also the title used by the production team for the series' second serial, which introduced the Daleks. To distinguish between the two, the earlier serial is usually referred to as The Daleks. Sometimes both stories are referred to as The Mutants, further distinguished by the production codes — (B) for the former and (NNN) for the latter.

Plot[edit]

In the 30th century, the Earth Empire is contracting and plans are being made to decolonise the colony world of Solos. The militaristic Marshal and other human soldiers, known as Overlords, rule it from Skybase One, an orbiting space station. The Marshal opposes the decolonisation plans outlined to him by an Administrator sent from Earth, and is also obsessed with eradicating the Mutants or "Mutts" that have sprung up on the planet below. The Solonians themselves are a tribal people, split between those who actively oppose the occupation, such as Ky, and those like Varan who collaborate with the imperialists. Indeed, the Marshal and Varan ensure the Administrator is murdered before he can confirm to Ky and other tribal chiefs that the Earth Empire is indeed withdrawing from Solos.

The Doctor and Jo arrive on Skybase One, their TARDIS having been transported there by the Time Lords. They have with them a message box which will only open for an intended recipient – and that is not the Marshal or his entourage – but seems to be for Ky, who has been framed for the murder of the Administrator. Jo and Ky flee to the surface of Solos, which is poisonous to humans during daylight hours, and this quickly affects Jo, but she survives with Ky's help. The Doctor learns from the Marshal and his chief scientist Jaeger that they are involved in an experiment using rocket barrages to terraform Solos, making the air breathable for humans, regardless of the cost to indigenous life.

Varan by now has discovered the Marshal’s treachery but events make him an outlaw on Skybase. The Doctor makes contact and together they persuade Stubbs and Cotton, the most senior soldiers to the Marshal that much is wrong on Skybase. He then flees to Solos with Varan, and at the thaesium mine where Ky and Jo are hiding he encounters many Mutts, who are not as hostile as they first appeared. The Doctor passes the message box to Ky, and it opens to reveal ancient tablets and etchings which are written in the language of the Old Ones of the planet. Help in avoiding poisonous gas released by the Marshal is provided by a fugitive human scientist, Sondergaard, who lives in the caves and knows much about Solonian anthropology. Sondergaard explains he tried to inform Earth Control about the Marshal's evil, but he was prevented and forced to flee to the caves, where the radiation seems to have affected him. He interprets the contents of the box as a “lost Solos Book of Genesis”, and the Doctor then calculates a Solonian year to be equivalent to two thousand human years, with natural changes in the population every five hundred years within the cycle. Investigating a more radioactive part of the caves, the Doctor thus deduces the Mutant phase is a natural part of the Solonian life-cycle.

Varan is by now becoming a Mutt himself. He hides this fact and leads a Solonian attack on the Skybase which results in his death and those of many of his warriors. On Skybase Jo, Ky, Stubbs and Cotton are captured by the Marshal, and Stubbs is killed in a failed escape attempt. The Doctor meanwhile has returned to the Skybase – without Sondergaard, who seems too weak following the radiation contamination. He instead returns to the caves to communicate with the Mutants and explain to them their change is natural and not to be feared.

The Doctor is now back on Skybase and surmises the Marshal to be mad. It becomes clear that the Earth Government has now dispatched an Investigator to look into the strange events on Solos. The Marshal’s rocket attacks have not terraformed the planet, but they have left a hideous environmental impact and he knows he must clean this up or face problems when the Investigator arrives. Under duress (the Marshal has taken Jo prisoner) the Doctor uses Jaeger’s technology to conduct a rapid decontamination of the planet’s surface. The Investigator arrives and demands answers, but is given more lies by the Marshal, supported by the Doctor. Luckily Jo, Ky and Cotton have escaped their detention and arrive in time to help the Investigator see the truth of the situation on Solos and the crimes of the Marshal and Jaeger. The Doctor accuses them of "the most brutal and callous series of crimes against a defenseless people it's ever been my misfortunate to encounter." Sondergaard now reaches the Skybase with some Mutants, one of whom scares the Investigator enough that he accepts the Marshal’s analysis that the creatures should be killed.

Ky now begins a process of mutation, but it is accelerated beyond the Mutant phase so that he emerges as a radiant angel-like super-being. He communicates with thought transference, can float and can move through whole walls. Dispensing justice, Ky eradicates the Marshal. Jaeger has been killed too and the Investigator now makes sense of the situation. Sondergaard and Cotton elect to stay on Solos to see the other Solonians go through the mutation process, while Jo and the Doctor slip away, their mission from the Time Lords complete.

Production[edit]

Working titles for this story included Independence and The Emergents.

The opening shot of the story features a bedraggled, hermit-like bearded figure (Sidney Johnson) shambling out of the mist towards the camera. Both fans and Jon Pertwee alike have compared the scene to the "It's" man at the start of most episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus.[1][2] The DVD release of the story also references this in the information text commentary.

A Solonian mutant was to appear in the later story The Brain of Morbius – it is killed in the opening scene, the Doctor (Tom Baker) commenting: "Poor Mutt."

The mines of Solos were filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Bromley.[3]

Cast notes[edit]

George Pravda had previously played Denes in The Enemy of the World and would later play Castellan Spandrell in The Deadly Assassin.

Geoffrey Palmer had previously played Masters in Doctor Who and the Silurians and would later play Captain Hardaker in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.

Outside references[edit]

This serial is mentioned in Salman Rushdie's controversial novel The Satanic Verses.[4] Authors David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker interpreted this as criticising the serial for alleged racist attitudes in their book Doctor Who: The Television Companion. Writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, as well as producer Barry Letts, intended for The Mutants to have an anti-racist message.[5][6]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
Archive
"Episode One" 8 April 1972 (1972-04-08) 24:25 9.1 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Two" 15 April 1972 (1972-04-15) 24:24 7.8 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Three" 22 April 1972 (1972-04-22) 24:32 7.9 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Episode Four" 29 April 1972 (1972-04-29) 24:00 7.5 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Episode Five" 6 May 1972 (1972-05-06) 24:37 7.9 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Episode Six" 13 May 1972 (1972-05-13) 23:43 6.5 PAL 2" colour videotape
[7][8][9]

In 2009, Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times stated that the serial was "peculiarly variable", with uneven performances and quality; he wrote that "the first episode is surprisingly leaden and unengaging, whereas episode four is one of the most stimulating and creatively innovative under Barry Letts' stewardship". He praised the design of the Mutants and some of the cliffhangers.[10] DVD Talk's John Sinnott gave the story two and a half out of five stars, calling it "terribly average" but "a solid adventure ... worth watching". He was critical of the acting, especially Rick James, and felt that overall it was too long and "a bit convoluted".[11] IGN reviewer Arnold T. Blumburg gave the story a score of 7 out of 10, writing that there was more to be appreciated as an adult to see "its role as a hard-edged indictment of the culture in which it was created".[12] Ian Berriman of SFX gave The Mutants three out of five stars, noting its ambition to tackle social issues but concluded that the execution was "bungled".[13]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Mutants
Series Target novelisations
Release number 44
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Jeff Cummins
ISBN 0-426-11690-9
Release date 29 September 1977

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in September 1977.

Home media[edit]

This story was released on VHS in February 2003 and on DVD on 31 January 2011.

The music from this serial was released as part of Doctor Who: Devils' Planets - The Music of Tristram Cary in 2003.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pertwee, Jon; Howe, David J. (1996). I am the Doctor. Virgin Publishing Ltd. p. 88. ISBN 1-85227-621-5. 
  2. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide. Virgin Publishing Ltd. p. 135. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  3. ^ http://www.chislehurst-caves.co.uk/Filming.html
  4. ^ Rushdie, Salman (1988). The Satanic Verses. Viking Penguin Inc. p. 405. 
  5. ^ Howe, David J; Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion. BBC Worldwide Ltd. 
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide". BBC. Retrieved 1 April 2009. 
  7. ^ Shaun Lyon et al (31 March 2007). "Carnival of Monsters". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  8. ^ "The Mutants". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  9. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (7 August 2007). "The Mutants". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  10. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (21 December 2009). "Doctor Who: The Mutants". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Sinnott, John (18 February 2011). "Doctor Who: The Mutants". DVD Talk. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Blumburg, Arnold T (8 February 2011). "Doctor Who: The Mutants DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Berriman, Ian (31 January 2011). "Doctor Who: The Mutants - DVD review". SFX. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]