When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.
- Raymond Chandler
MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN
Me: So – secret agents. Bond and Danger Man were big, I guess. Although he always denied it, Patrick McGoohan might’ve been playing the same character in The Prisoner – and I guess it was the influence for Danger Mouse later on. Or Pantomime Horse is a Secret Agent.
Him: Can’t we just press play and get this started, rather than blabbing on endlessly about secret agents?
The titles come up and are followed with a creaky introduction from the wonderful Edward de Souza’s kitchen. He sets the scene nicely, settles a score and mentions the glorious fauna we’ll be meeting soon. Suitably prepared, we’re off.
Him: “Dr Who in an Exciting Adventure with Triffids”.
We recap. Garvey’s memory returns, he lifts his gun and moves off. This is stirring stuff, as the stock music has noticed.
Me: The music’s certainly more dramatic than I was expecting it to be.
We come across a crashed spaceship elsewhere in the jungle. Two astronauts, Marc Cory and Lowery, are attempting repairs.
Me: Oo – Union Jack there. Big Ben’ll get a mention.
Him: It looks like it says ‘UNIT’ on the top.
Me: It does. ‘United Nations’ – so it’s kind of the same thing in a different way.
|"Unfortunately, the Brig's in Geneva for the next few weeks."|
Garvey approaches, muttering “kill”. Taking this literally, Marc Cory does, shooting Garvey down like a dog. Lowery whines, and gets a manly slap from this episode’s hero. It’s okay, but Mission to the Unknown feels more like a trailer for a Dalek spin-off series, than an upcoming Doctor Who adventure. Just saying.
Marc Cory: A Varga thorn!
Garvey’s dead dog body lies there for a bit. Suddenly, his mashed hands begin to twitch.
Him: It’s alive!
Back on the ship, Marc Cory debriefs Lowery. Marcy Cory produces his Licence To Kill Space Security Service ID.
Me: It’s Zap Brannigan.
Him: No. No, it’s not.
Marc Cory reveals he’s hunting Daleks.
Lowery: The Daleks invaded Earth a thousand years ago.
Me: I’ll have to check that piece of Dalek history.
Him: Is the name of the episode Mission to the Unknown then? The single episode that is.
Me: It is. Or Dalek Cutaway in some circles.
Him: Oh. Wait – so, when it was shown on TV, it was called Dalek Cutaway?
Me: No. When it was shown on TV it was called Mission to the Unknown.
Him: Oh. But was it called Mission to the Unknown everywhere?
Him: Even in Germany?
Me: I’m not sure it was even shown in Germany. I’ll check t’records.
Him: Maybe it was called, ‘Mission to ein Bratwurst’ in Germany.
Me: Maybe it was, but I think you might be confusing pure mathematics and probability again.
There then follows a discussion about bratwurst which does nothing to further the commentary. I was hoping that I might be asked something along the lines of, “Why Dalek Cutaway?” But that didn’t happen.1 Anyway, it turns out that the Daleks are active again. Marc Cory mentions some places where they’ve been sighted, but Lowery points out that those’re miles away.
Marc Cory: That’s what we all thought.
Me: “Then we got better maps and found they were actually in Kent.”
A spaceship of unknown type has been spotted.
Him: “Made of wood.”
Worse even than that, it was a Dalek spaceship. The music points out that this is NOT GOOD.
Him: Someone’s got bad wind.
Me: That was also more dramatic than I was expecting.
Garvey’s feet twitch him to a standing position. We pull back and reveal that, from the waist up at least, Garvey’s gone full Varga.
Marc Cory thinks that the Daleks might be planning something from the base they’ve built on Kembel. Kembel itself holds the distinction of being the most hostile planet ever.
Marc Cory: People from other civilisations avoid it. I suddenly had a hunch that this might make an ideal place for any secret preparations that the Daleks wanted to make.
Him: What else are they going to do?
Me: Treat it as an unexploited tourism resource?
Lowery: Did you tell anyone else about this hunch of yours?
Marc Cory: (delighted) No one!
Me: Was that a good idea?
I can’t stop thinking about Meglos. As further proof to support his theory, Marc Cory points out that Varga plants are only found on Skaro.
Him: And in TC3.
Me: So, we know that the Gardener Dalek’s involved.
The Daleks make an appearance. They’ve set up a conference. Emissaries from seven planets are on the way.
Me: Told you. The Daleks have branched into the untapped area of Conference Organisation, Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Oh – and the Daleks have found Marc Cory’s ship. Some are sent off to destroy it. Back at the doomed ship, Vargas are approaching.
Me: You’d think that a cactus would be quite easy to outrun.
Him: Banana cacti.
Turns out that the Daleks genetically engineered Varga plants instead of developing electric fences. The Daleks prepare to attack the crashed ship from two directions.
Him: When’s this one set? Before or after Dalek Invasion of Earth? I bet it’s before.
Me: They said a thousand years after, but I’ll look it up properly for you, because the Dalek timeline’s more confusing than River Song’s hairdressing appointments.
Him: Doesn’t that mean that the Daleks in The Daleks should’ve known the Doctor?
Me: Yes. I’ll try and find out how that particular million-sided shape has been squared by fandom.
Me: That’s the one.
The Varga draw closer. Lowery has an idea, but Marc Cory soon puts a stop to it.
Marc Cory: They’ll only grow again as fast as you can shoot them.
Me: Bet they won’t if you’ve got a flamethrower.
Him: They might.
Me: Attacked by a burning cactus? Unusual way to go.
Him: There’s enough of them that you’d run out of flame in your flame thrower.
Me: I think if you got one going then you could use to set the other ones off. Fire’s quite keen to keep itself ‘alive’.
Marc Cory decides to record a message. A rocket arrives, so there’s definitely something going on. The reconstruction involves a picture of the Architect Dalek.
Him: He’s after his butterflies again.
Our heroes abandon the ship just before the Daleks find, and exterminate, it. In all the excitement Lowery gets jabbed by a Varga. He’s a bit put out by this turn of events.
Him: “I don’t wanna go.”
Me: It’s a bit grim.
The alien delegates have arrived. Malpha (Ben Grimm) expresses his concerns at the security arrangements.
Me: He looks great. Even if he sounds like a Hoptera.
Him: He doesn’t sound like a Hoptera.
The jungle pursuit continues. Back with the Daleks, an alien says something and I’m in fits.
Him: I’m going to pretend that I heard nothing.
Me: What did he say?
Him: “Earth raid”?
An alliance of evil is forged; a big war force assembled. They’ll start with Earth first.
Me: I like the Christmas tree.
Him: The Varga plants?
Me: No, there’s a Christmas tree among the delegates.
Lowery’s not coping with his Varga conversion very well.
Him: I think that the Varga plants are just trying to be friendly and they like giving people hugs. Lowery’s just having an allergic reaction.
Me: It’s quite harsh having him doomed from here on. Especially, as he’s a bit upset about it rather than stiffening his upper lip.
Surprising no-one, Lowery is killed by Marc Cory who promptly sets about dictating a letter. The Daleks hunt proves successful and Marc Cory is exterminated before he can launch the rocket he’s set up to carry his message.
Me: Clever, innit?
The message is left on the jungle floor as the Daleks and their new chums all start yelling.
|"We're... What's the plural for 'genius'?"|
Daleks And Their New Chums: VIC-TORY! VIC-TORY!! VIC-TORY!!!
We pan across the Alliance.
Him: What is that?
Me: That’s the evil Christmas tree.
Him: Do you ever see anything other than the eyes?
Me: It looks a bit like one of those toys you used to get, where you’d press down their heads and a few seconds later they’d spring into the air.
NEXT: TEMPLE OF SECRETS
The credits meander by.
Him: Yeah – it did give him a credit. I suppose it has to.
Me: Maybe he was disguised as the tree.
Verity Lambert’s final producer credit for Doctor Who is seen, followed by Derek Martinus’ deserved directing one.
Him: Nearly ‘Marinus’.
Me: Interesting. Thoughts?
Him: Wasn’t moving enough.
Me: I’m guessing that’s motion rather than emotion.
Me: Not enough weeping then?
Him: No. Not enough.
Me: Does it set up The Dalek Master Plan?
Him: It does and it’s better than just giving us The Dalek Master Plan.
Me: The only thing that would be daft to do now would be to change production team and spend four weeks showing an unrelated story.
Him: Don’t be mean. You’ve never made a TV show.
Me: That’s true. But if I didn’t love this one so much, then I wouldn’t be playfully teasing it.
Him: ‘So much’?
Him: I’m growing a Varga plant. I’m going to keep it next to the door.
Me: So it can go down the shops for you?
Him: No – so that it can invite guests in. With a big hug.
Me: That’s a very lazy way of building an impressive garden.
Him: Do cats turn into little Varga plants?
Me: They do. Bonsai Varga.
Him: And – do owls turn into flying Varga plants?
Me: No. That would be silly.
Him: It’s a shame there’s no Hi-Fi in that one.
Me: There’s a chunky tape recorder.
Him: Hi-Fi should’ve been one of those people on the council. Instead of the Christmas tree.
1. I’d done a load of research for this one that I didn’t get a chance to show off. Anyway, the reason that Mission to the Unknown is sometime known as Dalek Cutaway – or even Dalek Cut-Away - is because when (cont page 94)