The Doctor, having been forced to look like Jon Pertwee, arrives on Earth and has a post-regeneration collapse. At the same time, meteors arrive, bringing the Uncanny Valley with them. The Brigadier, investigating the meteors, also discovers the Doctor, and is very, very puzzled indeed.
As it turns out, the meteors are in fact the Nestene Consciousness, which can animate plastic. This means Walking Mannequins, which are wonderful. And by “wonderful” I mean “incredibly creepy”. They attempt to kidnap the Doctor, who promptly escapes in a wheelchair. After dressing himself up in an opera cape, assuring the Brig he is in fact the Doctor, and discovering a pretty girl to follow him around, he thinks he’s found a way to defeat the Autons with SCIENCE.
Not that it lasts.
This was a perfect way to start out the Third Doctor’s run. It combined the Doctor’s usual zaniness with an unruffled certainty. It also changed the show quite a bit, as the Doctor is grounded and forced to work with UNIT. And he has a tattoo.
Bad decision for Pertwee, good decision for everyone else.
The Doctor, Liz, and the Brig arrive at a nuclear research facility, where they’re experiencing odd power outages and a strange illness that’s affecting the crew that investigate the cave system underneath. While the Director tries to impede UNIT, it becomes evident that the Deputy Director knows more than he lets on.
When they enter the caverns, however, they discover an ancient reptilian race that’s been in hiding, and it appears some members of their race have become aggressive. The Doctor must discover the source of the aggression before an all-out war begins.
This was a good follow-up. It established the friendly dissension between the Doctor and UNIT, and started his trend of preferring to take in the situation first. (Which doesn’t stop him using Venusian karate.)
The Ambassadors of Death
Mars Probe Seven, which is not the Mars Rover, has been lost, along with the two astronauts piloting it. A recovery probe has been sent under UNIT’s supervision, but when the recovery probe makes contact, it emits a strange sound that the Doctor suspects is a coded message. He and Liz arrive on site to investigate. He realizes a reply to the coded message has been sent from a nearby warehouse.
Meanwhile, General Carrington appears to have plans of his own, as once the recovery probe returns he detains the three astronauts elsewhere in an irradiated room. As the plot deepens, the Doctor must unravel the various threads to discover just what happened to Mars Probe Seven.
While I feel like the entire plot was a little too convoluted, it was definitely interesting. The actual twist wasn’t much of a twist, but it was part of the growing trend of having the more “alien” aliens being benevolent.
Also, it was hilarious watching Liz trying to run in her mini-skirt and boots. Wacky fun!
Above: An entirely practical outfit for leaping over fences and running through muddy fields.
Disco inferno! (It was the 70s. You could tell.) This was the first serial to introduce the idea of alternate realities, and the last serial with Liz as companion. Stahlman’s Gas is attempting to penetrate the Earth’s crust, because we all know that ends well. While UNIT runs security, the Doctor tries to use the nuclear power to get his TARDIS up and running. However, a toxic green slime is starting to change people into primitive, aggressive forms while Stahlman himself refuses to stop for anything.
While the Doctor messes around with the TARDIS, he is transported to an alternate Earth where England is under fascism (Liz stomping around in combat boots and the Brig wearing a Sinister Eye Patch), and Keith Gold, the project director, has mysteriously died. It appears the Stahlman project is farther ahead, and when the Doctor sees the results of the project on alternate Earth, he must do all he can to return to his universe and stop the same from happening there.