Which One : The Elders versus the Savages.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Steven : Peter Purves
Dodo Chaplet : Jackie Lane
Chal : Ewen Solon
Tor : Patrick Godfrey
Captain Edal : Peter Thomas
Exorse : Geoffrey Frederick
Jano : Frederick Jaeger
Avon : Robert Sidaway
Flower : Kay Patrick
Nanina : Clare Jenkins
Senta : Norman Henry
Wylda : Edward Caddick
First Assistant : Andrew Lodge
Second Assistant : Christopher Denham
Third Assistant : Tony Holland
Savage : John Dillon
Guard : Tim Goodman
Written By : Ian Stuart Black
Produced By : Innes Lloyd
First UK Broadcast : 28 May – 18 June 1966.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor travels to a planet, where a race of technologically advanced humanoids and savage cave-dwellers live. The Elders are kidnapping the savages and experimenting on them and the Doctor intends to find out why.
Whats good : Morality piece. With interesting twist. Steven. Jano.
Whats bad : Beeb wiped the entire serial.
Review With Spoilers : The Savages is the 8th episode of season 3 and heralds the departure of companion Steven – and Dodo’s last full appearance.
The Tardis lands on an un-named planet and the trio are harrassed, by a group of spear-wielding savages. The Doctor is then directed to a nearby technologically advanced city; inhabited by the Elders.
The Doctor learns that the Elders abuse the Savages by kidnapping them and draining them of their lifeforce, which is then injected into the Elders to prolong their existence. The Doctor vows to put an end to this barbaric practice.
The Savages can best be described as a cautionary morality piece, of an oppressive majority of total-power – wielded over a weaker minority. The alien setting betrays some very Earthly themes.
The Elders are a technologically advanced race of beings, with a Nazi-esque superiority complex about them. They secretly use and abuse a lesser race of Savages – for their own ends.
Their citizens are warned never to leave the city, with the Savage threat completely overplayed by propoganda – to keep them willing prisoners. What happens to the Savages though, in the bowels of the city, is kept secret from the masses.
“Jano, since you have destroyed the power you held over Chal and his people, you realize now, of course, that you’ve got to learn to live together!” The Doctor
“Yes! But the fear and hatred of the past will only die slowly. We need someone like yourself as a mediator until we have become one people!” Jano
The Elders have discovered the science, of extracting the life-force out of a captive victim and implanting it into another; improving the Elder’s quality of life, health and verve.
The Elders maintain their supply of life-force – on tap, by capturing and kidnapping the Savages at gunpoint and returning them once completed; in a zombie-like state – or even dead.
The Savages on the other hand, are a reasonably intelligent humanoid race, who seem to have been previously exiled and are reduced to living in caves, wearing furs and defending themselves with spears and rocks.
The clever aspect of this setup, is that the Elder’s attempt to assimilate the Doctor’s life-force and resulting implant into the Elder leader; Jano. Results in Jano switching sides, late on in the serial (having unexpectedly assimilating the Doctor’s wisdom, morality and compassion aswell) and helping the Savages.
With the Doctor and Jano on the Savage’s sides and Steven capturing an Elder guard and stealing their high-tech weaponry – to use against the Elders. It makes for interesting shift in the balance of power – from Elder to Savage.
Steven gets a good part in this, leading the commando Savage force against the Elders. He even agrees to stay behind and help rebuild the society after the Doctor leaves.
The setup, power-play and concepts within The Savages, make it a simple yet interesting struggle for equality-type-piece; set on an alien world but with very Earthly origins.