Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is sent by the Time Lords to deliver a mysterious sealed container to an unknown recipient. So begins The Mutants, the penultimate adventure in the ninth series of Doctor Who (1972), a run that also included The Sea Devils and The Day of the Daleks. The Doctor and Jo (Katy Manning), find themselves on a space station belonging to Earth’s crumbling 30th-century empire, while below the planet Solos is on the verge of independence, a situation the corrupt Marshal (Paul Whitsun-Jones) is at pains to avert. What follows is a tale of opposing factions, assassination, genetic mutations and running around in caves. The story concerns the aftermath of empire, a topic very relevant in the Britain of 1972, and the devastating environmental effects of industrial development (though with the ecology movement then gathering force, the following year’s The Green Death addressed similar topics far more effectively).
There are plenty of elements packed into The Mutants, yet the story feels padded and, the mutant costumes apart, is not helped by weak production values. Though far from a classic, this is still an entertaining Doctor Who adventure with Geoffrey Palmer in a small supporting role and a startling homage to the Monty Python “It’s” man. The video quality is variable, not because of a tape fault but due to the source material. —Gary S Dalkin