Production Code: N
The Web Planet - 13/02/1965 17:40
The Zarbi - 20/02/1965 17:40
Escape to Danger - 27/02/1965 17:40
Crater of Needles - 06/03/1965 17:40
Invasion - 13/03/1965 17:40
The Centre - 20/03/1965 17:55
A strange power drain forces the TARDIS to materialise on the planet Vortis. There, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki become involved in the plans of the butterfly-like Menoptra to reclaim their planet from the parasitic Animus that is slowly enveloping it with its web-like domain, the Carsenome.
Joining forces with an advance party of Menoptra and the underground-dwelling Optra, the travellers manage to destroy the Animus, freeing the ant-like Zarbi and death-spitting larvae guns from its control and releasing the TARDIS from its influence.
Left alone in the TARDIS, Vicki panics as the ship lurches violently. She operates the controls and the dematerialisation sequence starts. Returning to the ship to fetch help for the web-ensnared Ian, the Doctor is horrified to find that it is no longer there.
The Doctor, Ian and Vicki have been captured by the Zarbi and taken into a control centre. Their attempts to communicate with the creatures fail. A hood-like device descends from the ceiling and the Doctor is positioned under it. A voice asks the Doctor why he has come to this planet now.
Ian and the Menoptra Vrestin try to escape from some pursuing Zarbi by squeezing into a fissure in a rock-face. The ground gives way beneath them and they fall. The Zarbi and larvae guns swarm around the fissure.
The Menoptra forming the spearhead invasion force arrive and battle with the Zarbi. Barbara and Prapillus are caught in the middle of the fighting and find themselves surrounded.
Returning to the Carsenome with the Menoptra's isop-tope device, the Doctor and Vicki are herded into a chamber where they are enveloped in a web-like substance sprayed from wall-mounted nozzles.
The TARDIS dematerialises from the surface of Vortis. Prapillus vows that the Earth people will never be forgotten and warns that the Animus must never again be allowed to take root on the planet. The main Menoptra force is contacted and summoned back to Vortis.
50s giant insect movies.
Capek's The Insect Play.
D-Day (the Menoptra invasion plans).
White's The Sword in the Stone.
The Lord of the Rings.
The Outer Limits episode The Zanti Misfits.
The Doctor : "Apart from rubbing our legs together like some sort of grasshopper, I doubt if we can get on speaking terms with them."
Prapillus : "The Menoptra have no wisdom for war. Before the Animus came, the flower forest covered the planet in a cocoon of peace."
Animus : "What Vortis is, I am. What you are, I will become."
Hetra : [Describes digging in one of Doctor Who's few attempts to show alien thought patterns.] "A silent wall. We must make mouths in it with our weapons, then it will speak more light."
The Doctor : [To Ian.] "Whatever power has taken hold of the TARDIS has taken your pen."
The Doctor : [Asking the Animus to lower its communication helmet] "Drop this hairdryer, or whatever it is."
Barbara : "I saw a flash behind one of those crags!"
The Doctor keeps specimens of creatures. He has heard of Vortis, and the Menoptra, but has never been there.
Vicki has acute hearing, hasn't heard of aspirin, and studied medicine, physics and chemistry at the age of 10, an hour per week, using a machine.
Ian once saw an ant colony eat its way through a house [he's been abroad, unless he meant that he saw this on TV]. His Coal Hill School tie is black with thin emerald stripes.
The TARDIS can be remotely controlled by mental power and prevented from taking off. Once Vicki accidentally realigns the fluid link, the take off noise is heard, and the light flashes as the TARDIS is dragged off by the Zarbi. [The Animus, from then on, has to prevent its departure.] The astral map has to remain connected to the ship [since it uses the TARDIS' navigation systems and scanner].
It is also a communications device and can [channel whatever TARDIS functions] change the allegiance of Zarbi control devices [telepathic circuits]. The ship carries Atmospheric Density Jackets, which work like spacesuits without needing helmets (see The Moonbase, Four to Doomsday). There is a hint that without power the TARDIS isn't indestructible [since the Animus' power blast is turned aside, the telepathic circuits took control of the weapon from the Animus, thus informing the Doctor that the power had returned].
Before the Animus arrived the Menoptra worshipped at temples of light and lived in flower forests, using Zarbi as cattle. The Optra are their subterranean evolutionary off shoot.
The Menoptra call the Animus 'Pwadaruk' and Web HQ 'the Carcinoma' [indicating that they see the parasite in medical terms].
The Animus absorbs many forms of energy, becoming stronger as it grows. It wants to invade Earth.
Young Zarbi are 'Venom Grubs', which can fire an [electrical] sting.
Vortis, in the Isop galaxy, now orbited by Pictos, [almost certainly in the far future as the Animus plans to 'take from man his mastery of space'].
The Menoptra captain Hilio is played by well-known actor Martin Jarvis in an early television role.
Barbara does not appear in Escape to Danger and Jacqueline Hill is not credited in the closing credits of that episode (a fact about which she later complained to the production team) as she was on holiday during the week when it was recorded.
The strange misty effect seen on the surface of the planet Vortis was created by smearing Vaseline on the camera lenses. (The effect was created by means of special filters fitted to the camera lenses.)
The butterfly-like creatures seen in this story are called Menoptera. (The correct spelling is 'Menoptra'.)
Ian Thompson's decision to play Hetra with a stilted French bandit accent is interesting.
'Zarbiiiiiii!' A Zarbi hits a camera with an audible thump in episode three, and a Zarbi abdomen clangs on the studio floor.
One of the imprisoned Menoptra, judging by its gestures, is merrily chatting to a Zarbi guard.
The Zarbi are scared of tiny dead spiders.
In episode two, when Hroonda is killed, his wings fall off.
For five seconds in episode two, nothing appears to be happening in 'Web HQ'.
In episode four, as Ian is buried in the rock fall, someone can be heard laughing.
Shadows are cast on the sky through much of the story.
Barbara gives Vicki an aspirin when she asks for a sedative.
Ian uses his tie as a belt.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - William Hartnell
Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton - William Russell
Vicki - Maureen O'Brien
Animus Voice - Catherine Fleming
Hilio - Martin Jarvis
Hlynia - Jocelyn Birdsall
Hrhoonda - Arthur Blake
Hrostar - Arne Gordon
Nemini - Barbara Joss
Prapillus - Jolyon Booth
The Menoptera: Vrestin - Roslyn de Winter
The Optra: Hetra - Ian Thompson
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - Robert Jewell
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - Jack Pitt
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - Gerald Taylor
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - Hugh Lund
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - Kevin Manser
Zarbi Operator/The Zarbi - John Scott Martin
Director - Richard Martin