Great story,great cast,brilliant atmosphere. This is a real gem,the iconic partnership of Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah-Jane Smith is in full flow as they get invloved in the sinister going ons on in Zeta Minor.The late David Maloney was one of the best Who directors,he has been responsible for “The War Games”,”Genesis of the Daleks” and “The Deadly Assassin”,to name a few as well as “Planet Of Evil”.Roger Murray’s-Leach’s jungle set is great and contributes much to the menacing atmosphere of the story,the decision to shot the jungle scenes,on film,a great idea.Frederick Jaeger is superb as the tortured,obssessed Professor Sorenson,the scenes as he transforms to the Anti-Matter Creature a hoomage to “Dr Jekyll and My Hyde”,indeed other parts of the story very similar to “The Forbidden Planet” movie.Ewen Solon is a friendly reassuring face as Vishinsky,Space 1999 actor,Prentis Hancock’s Salamander is very similar to Vaber,the part he played in “Planet of the Daleks”,its a relief when he gets killed.A great classic from the gothic period of Phillip Hinchliffe’s tenure as the producer of Dr Who.
Another Tom Baker classic Planet of Evil borrows quite freely from the 1950’s classic sci-fi movie “The Forbidden Planet”, even down to the crew members of the spaceship having virtually identical uniforms, but is a damn fine Doctor Who story anyway. Some of the opening shots of a water-logged jungle world, all on film, would not look out of place on the new better funded modern series.The story is relatively simple – a geological expedition from the faltering Morestran empire has travelled to the remote planet of Zeta Minor to try and find new sources of energy to restore their empire to it’s former glories. One of the members of the expedition is attacked by an invisible entity and just manages to send a distress signal before succumbing. The TARDIS intercepts the distress call and arrives on Zeta Minor at about the same time as a military probe ship from Morestra. The Doctor and Sarah immediately become prime suspects, but the Doctor is sure something else is afoot…A creature from another universe, a universe of anti-matter, preciously guards the planet of Zeta Minor and will not allow any part of it’s removal, even down to the minerals the Morestrans desire.The scripts for the story are uniformly tight and quick moving, and David Maloney’s direction is slick and creative. The vast majority of the cast put in stirling performances, particularly Frederick Jaeger as the deluded Professor Sorenson, and the redoubtable Ewen Solon as grizzled veteran officer Vishinsky. Tom Baker and Lis Sladen are also on top form. As the previous reviewer noted, the idea of portraying the anti-matter creature as just a menacing red outline rather than a man in a suit is inspired and helps maintain the underlying feeling of alien menace. This is Doctor Who from it’s classic era at it’s very best.As ever with a Classic Doctor Who release from the BBC, it is packed with excellent extras. Tom Baker’s commentaries are always worth listening to as are the featurettes.This will be another fine addition to any Doctor Who collection.
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