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Doctor Who: The Mutants

"Un people, un-doing un-things un-together."

Dealing with themes of imperialism, apartheid, environmental issues and evolution, 'The Mutants' is certainly a story with ambition. In more skilled hands it could’ve been something of merit, but in Bob Baker and Dave Martin’s hands 'The Mutants' ends up being a great big plodding mess.

I'll get the good points out of the way first. Pertwee is terrific; for once his anger and scorn directed at people who really deserve it. The location sequences manage to look truly alien for once, even if the opening scene is right out of Monty Python. And as Doctor Who monsters go, the Mutts aren't that bad.

Now, on to the bad stuff. 'The Mutants' is the Third Doctor era at its worst. Six dreadful episodes of tedious storytelling, weak characterisation, clunky dialogue, questionable acting, pantomime villains, bland sets and horrendous CSO special effects. Just imagine an episode of Star Trek with all the fun bits removed, the amount of technobable quadrupled and the cast overacting in such a way that even William Shatner would find it excessively over the top.

Oh god, the acting. The regulars might be giving it their all but everyone else is either phoning it in or hamming it right up to eleven. As the Marshal, Paul Whitsun-Jones shouts his lines rather than speaks them. Thanks to his Ozzy Osborne hair, James Mellor's Varan is more like a washed up rock star than a mighty warrior. And then there is poor Rick James (not that Rick James, bitch), possibly the worst actor that has ever appeared on a British science fiction show (and that is really saying something).

Notes and Quotes

--Considering how tubby the Marshal is, Baker and Martin really missed a great opportunity by not calling the Controller instead.

--I’m not sure why they didn’t just give Katy Manning the week off. Besides being the occasional hostage, Jo has nowt to do.

--Geoffrey Palmer, last seen dying in 'The Silurians', appears Administrator in Episode One, and is quickly assassinated. He'll next be seen in 'Voyage of the Damned'.

--At the end of Episode Four, Varan blows a hole in the side of Skybase and is promptly blasted out into space. However, the explosive decompression has no effect on anyone else and they just crawl to safety.

--Salman Rushdie referred to 'The Mutants' in his controversial fourth novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie, completely missing the point of the story, implied that the story encouraged racist attitudes by characterising the mutants as evil because they look different from humans.

The Doctor: "Grey cities linked by grey highways across a grey desert. Slag, ash and clinker - the fruits of technology."

Jo: “I'm coming too.”
The Doctor: “That's out of the question. Bound to be dangerous, probably difficult.”
--When is it never dangerous and difficult?

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."

One Rick James out of four, bitch!
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. I do appreciate how the Pertwee era was the Anti-Star Trek. In Trek, yes, even though we almost annihilate ourselves, we get it together and create some unwieldy union of utopian anti-capitalism and militarism. In Doctor Who's vision of future Earth, we're just as greedy, imperialistic, oppressive, corrupt, and environmentally destructive as we are now, just now we've spread among the stars. Such nihilism is a bold choice.

    1. I missed commenting on your post here before, John. You are on point here for sure. It's a great contrast between two of my favorite sci fi shows. I admit that while I prefer the Star Trek future, the Doctor Who version feels more realistic, unfortunately.

  2. Rick James as Cotton was indeed awful. The most wooden performance I've ever seen in the show's history, I vastly prefer the ludicrous overacting of Graham Crowden's Soldeed in Horns of Nimon over this disinterest.

    This is not a great one, and between Rick James' abysmal performance, the Marshall's overacting, and the story being too long, it really overstays its limited welcome. Not my least favorite Pertwee story, but not far off.


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