Doctor Who – Frontios

Quite shockingly, I only found time to watch one of my pile of classic Doctor Who DVDs in the last week, and it’s only now that I’ve got it together to mutter about it. First shown in January and February 1984, Frontios was written by the ever-opinionated Christopher H Bidmead, and stars Peter Davison as the Doctor, Janet Fielding as Tegan and Mark Strickson as Turlough. Guest stars include a remarkably young-looking Jeff (Drop the Dead Donkey) Rawle.

The story follows on from The Awakening, which I mentioned recently. The TARDIS is yet again having control problems, and is dragged down to the surface of the planet Frontios, occupied by some of the last surviving human colonists, in a time period rather more in the future than the Time Lords generally get involved in. And the colony has a problem. It’s being bombarded with meteors, apparently as an attack by an unknown enemy.

Naturally, it turns out that the enemy is within. Within the planet, that is – it’s infested by Tractators, large insecty things that, with their intelligent leader known as the Gravis, are using their powers of gravitational manipulation to smash the colony. That’s also how the TARDIS came to crash, and the forces being used are so great, that in defiance of all previous knowledge, the TARDIS is broken into fragments – utterly destroyed.

Lots of the usual running around and confusion follows, but it’s Turlough who, thanks to some suppressed racial memory from the history of his own planet, reveals the important detail that saves everyone[1]. If the Gravis is removed, the Tractators revert to being harmless burrowing monsters. Err, well something like that. So the Doctor manages to get the Gravis into the fragment of the TARDIS containing the console room, and tricks him into using his gravitational power to pull all the bits together, which made even less sense than the bit about the TARDIS being pulled apart, but never mind, it was all good fun, or something.

And in a final bit of making no sense, the Doctor decided that as the Tractators were harmless without the Gravis, then the Gravis, despite his enormous powers of gravitational manipulation, would be harmless without them, and dropped him off on a convenient empty planet…

Silly stuff, but nicely watchable, especially for Mark Strickson’s lovely over the top bit of recovering his memory of the Tractators.

Not a lot on the extras side this time. Apart from the usual commentary, production subtitles and the like, there’s just a making of documentary with members of the cast and crew.

[1] Apart from all the people killed by meteorites, being dragged into the ground, etc, etc