Number : Season 7, episode 4 of 4.
Which One : Evil alternate reality.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Liz Shaw : Caroline Johns
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
Professor Stahlman : Olaf Pooley
Sir Keith Gold : Christopher Benjamin
Petra Williams : Sheila Dunn
Greg Sutton : Derek Newark
Bromley : Ian Fairbairn
Harry Slocum : Walter Randall
Private Wyatt : Derek Ware
Private Latimer : David Simeon
RSF Sentry : Roy Scammell
Patterson : Keith James
Written By : Don Houghton
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 9 May – 20 June 1970.
Length : 7 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : In the midst of a dangerous drilling experiment, the Doctor is thrown into an alternate reality; where a facist paramilitary UNIT, rule over a totalitarian society.
Whats good : Fun ‘parallel-reality’ tale. UNIT characters have fun, playing evil versions if themselves.
Whats bad : Green goo – ‘Primord effect’ isn’t explained. The Primords 50’s Werewolf look.
Review With Spoilers : Inferno is the fourth episode of season 7 – and the season finale and also marks the final appearance of companion; Liz Shaw.
Following some dangerous experiments – on the Tardis console, to unlock the Tardis’ time-travelling ability. The Doctor is accidentally thrown into an alternate reality. Where UNIT are a facist secret-police; presiding over a totalitarian state – and ran by the scar-faced, eye-patch wearing; ‘Brigade Leader’ – Lethbridge Stewart.
A drilling experiment (in both realities) to unlock new frontiers – in energy production from the Earth’s crust – threatens proceedings; as the resulting byproduct of the drilling; a green goo – which regresses people – into an animal-like ‘primordial’ state.
Inferno seems to parallel – the Original Star Trek episode Mirror Mirror, in which Kirk is thrown – into a similar alternate reality, with a warlike empire; ruled by an evil Spock. In Inferno, the Doctor becomes the Kirk character – and the Brigadier is the Spock character.
It’s a classic sci-fi scenario and shifts quite easily – into Doctor Who. The best thing about it, is that the other characters, get a rare opportunity to play baddies. Out of these, the Brigadier and Liz Shaw – seem to have the most fun, playing evil alternate version of themselves.
“Same time, same place, only a different dimension. It was a parallel world, Liz. Terrible things are happening there. Terrible things! It wasn’t this Earth, and yet it was. I didn’t go backwards into the past, or forwards into the future. I slipped sideways!” The Doctor
The best scenes are the ones, where the Doctor is first catapulted into this reality; and unaware anything has changed and runs into his alternate UNIT comrades – one-by-one.
Coupled with this, is the impending threat from the drilling project, which threatens to overrun the surface with lava – and spread a green goo; which reverts humans back to a primordial form.
The mechanics or reason for this green slime – is never really explained. Neither, is the ill-advised bizarre 1950’s B-movie – Werewolf look, which the infected characters – ‘regress’ into.
The ‘Primords’ (as they are known) are only really here, as a final act, to raise the stakes – as they multiply and overrun the drilling operation; also ticking the box as the episode’s token – “featured monster”.
But the real strengths of this episode, is in the alternate reality format – and the principal cast performances -as their evil other-selves. Alternate Liz Shaw, in particular – is highly effective – and some good interplay ensues between her and the Doctor. As the Doctor attempts to persuade her, to help stop the drilling.
Inferno is a fun and simple parallel universe tale, which works so effectively; due to the high standard of the supporting cast. The Primords are clunky and less effective – and the story didn’t actually need them. However, they are a minor distraction – in a fun (and entertaining) crossed-reality tale.
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