Production Code: NNN
1 - 08/04/1972 17:50
2 - 15/04/1972 17:50
3 - 22/04/1972 17:50
4 - 29/04/1972 17:50
5 - 06/05/1972 17:50
6 - 13/05/1972 17:50
The Time Lords send the Doctor and Jo on a mission to deliver a sealed message pod to an unknown party aboard a Skybase orbiting the planet Solos in the 30th Century. Solos is due to gain independence from Earth's empire, but its Marshal is determined to prevent this. He arranges the murder of the Earth Administrator and, with his chief scientist Jaeger, plans to transform Solos's atmosphere into one more suited to humans.
Ky, a young Solonian leader, is falsely accused of the murder, and flees to the planet, taking Jo with him. The Doctor follows and joins them in an old thaesium mine. Ky turns out to be the intended recipient of the message pod, which opens automatically for him. Inside are stone tablets carved with ancient inscriptions.
The Doctor's party then meet Sondergaard, a human scientist leading a hermit-like existence in the mine while searching for a cure for the mutating disease that afflicts the Solonians. The Doctor and Sondergaard decipher the inscriptions, deducing that the mutations are part of a natural life-cycle in which the thaesium radiation plays a vital role.
The Doctor retrieves a crystal from a cave where the radiation is concentrated and returns to the Skybase to analyze it. He is recaptured by the Marshal and, with his friends held hostage, is forced to perfect the machine with which Jaeger plans to transform Solos. Sondergaard meanwhile gives Ky the crystal, which turns him first into a mutant, and then into an ethereal super-being - the ultimate stage of the Solonians' life-cycle. Jaeger is killed when the Doctor sabotages his machine, and the Marshal is vaporised by Ky.
Ky and his people, trying to escape from the Skybase, enter a transmat cubicle with Jo as their hostage. The Marshal orders his guards to open fire and the cubicle explodes.
The Doctor is on his way to the Skybase transmat cubicle when he is seized by the Solonian warrior chief Varan, who mutters 'Die, Overlord!'
The Doctor has found Ky and Jo in the mine caves but the Marshal is close behind. Stubbs and Cotton, two of the Skybase guards, go to search for the Doctor, but the Marshal orders the cave exits sealed and poisonous gas pumped in.
Varan and his warriors, together with Stubbs, Cotton, Jo and Ky, attack the Skybase. The Marshal is ready for them however and, in the ensuing skirmish, Varan is sucked through the exterior wall into space. As Jaeger launches the atmosphere reconditioning missiles at Solos, Jo and the others struggle to avoid being sucked into space themselves.
To ensure the Doctor's cooperation in convincing an Investigator from Earth that all is well, the Marshal places Jo, Ky and Cotton in the refuelling lock under threat of death. The Investigator's ship docks, and Cotton realises with horror that when it refuels the chamber will flood with thaesium, killing them all.
The Doctor and Jo return to the TARDIS, avoiding awkward explanations to the Investigator.
References to the book of Genesis.
References to Gibbon's Decline.
References to Fall of the Roman Empire.
Diamonds are Forever.
Star Trek's The Cloud Minders.
An allegory concerning south African racism and British colonialism in general.
The Doctor : [Speaking of Earth in the 30th Century.] "Grey cities linked by grey highways across a grey desert. Slag, ash and clinker - the fruits of technology."
Jaeger : "This planet as it stands is no longer of any use unless we make the atmosphere breathable."
The Doctor : "Even if it means wiping out every Solonian in the process?"
Jaeger : "Earth is fighting for its survival - the side effects are of no importance."
The Doctor : "Genocide as a side effect! You ought to write a paper on that, Professor."
The Doctor : "Marshal, you are quite mad."
Marshal : "Only if I lose."
The Doctor : [Silly speech about an anti-matter explosion turning them into an] "un people, un-doing un-things un-together."
"Die, Overlord, die!"
"We'll all be done for!"
[The Doctor appears to be working for the CIA.] He describes himself as 'a messenger boy' and his instructions as 'a three line whip'. He is able to stand considerable radiation (and the toxic atmosphere) and is qualified in 'practically everything'.
Thaesium is a rich fuel mineral mined on Solos. Ky states the Solonians were once 'hunters and farmers'. The soil of Solos contains a nitrogen isotope, sunlight producing a mist poisonous to humans. Solos has an elliptical orbit lasting 2000 years, with 'seasons' of 500 years. Each of these produces metamorphic changes in the Solonians.
Solos, an Earth colony [in the Nebula of Cyclops according to The Brain of Morbius,] the 30th century.
The Doctor notes that after Earth 'sacked the solar system they moved on to pastures new'. The Administrator describes Earth as exhausted 'politically, economically and biologically'. Solos has been colonised for 500 years, Earth running an apartheid policy (Overlords and Solonians have to use separate transmats).
Well-known comedy actor Geoffrey Palmer appears as the quickly assassinated Administrator in Episode One.
Christopher Barry felt that he had become 'typecast' as a Doctor Who director and, in order to avoid being assigned to the series again, let it be known within the BBC that he had had a serious disagreement with Jon Pertwee during the making of The Mutants - a claim that was in fact untrue. He eventually returned to the series to direct Tom Baker's first story.
Episode Six of this story is the first in the series' history to bear an on-screen copyright date.
Author Salman Rushdie refers to The Mutants in his controversial book The Satanic Verses and implies that the programme's characterisation of mutations as evil just because they look different from human beings encourages racist attitudes. He thereby completely misses the point of the story, which in fact has an anti-racist message.
The incidental music for the story's final episode was composed not by Tristram Cary but by Dudley Simpson. (Tristram Cary composed the incidental music for all six episodes.)
The Doctor plans to install a minimum inertia hyperdrive for Bessie (see The Time Monster).
The opening, with a hermit like figure shambling towards the camera is screaming out for an 'It's...'
When using Oxymasks, the Overlords' dialogue is frequently unintelligible.
The end of episode four is ludicrous: Varan, shot by the Marshal, falls against the hull of Skybase which disintegrates, sucking him into space (he doesn't explode in the vacuum). Despite the gaping hole, Jo, Cotton, Stubbs and Ky are able to walk away from the area once the pressure has 'normalised'.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant - Katy Manning
Administrator - Geoffrey Palmer
Cotton - Rick James
Investigator - Peter Howell
Jaeger - George Pravda
Ky - Garrick Hagon
Marshal - Paul Whitsun-Jones
Mutt - John Scott Martin
Old Man - Sidney Johnson
Skybase Guard - Martin Taylor
Solos Guard - Roy Pearce
Solos Guard - Damon Sanders
Sondergaard - John Hollis
Stubbs - Christopher Coll
Varan - James Mellor
Varan's Son - Jonathan Sherwood
Warrior Guard - David Arlen
Director - Christopher Barry