A Shout-Out from the Satanic Verses
Today's new story, The Mutants, has the unique distinction of being the Doctor Who story that gets called out in Salman Rushdie's controversial novel The Satanic Verses. How's that for a weird bit of trivia? Where the previous story was about The Folly of the Military Mind, this new story is all about one of the show's most favorite tropes: The Brutality of Colonialism.
Let's talk about that.
The Mutants - Episodes 1 & 2
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
As the Third Doctor's third season rolls on, the show continues to break free from the constraints of the UNIT era. The TARDIS is not yet fully repaired, and the Doctor's post-War Games exile is still firmly in place, but for the third time (that's a lot of threes in this paragraph) the Time Lords send the Doctor off on a mission and thus into an adventure set away from Earth and away from the late twentieth century. In this case, the setting is the thirtieth century in the waning years of mankind's great intergalactic empire. Earth has colonized and mined the planet Solos near to exhaustion, and is just about to grant full independence to the planet's natives who have lived under Earth control for five centuries. The allegorical references to the latter days of the great British empire are troweled on thickly, but not in a bothersome way. The power dynamics are split between the human Administrator who seems to be a decent enough chap, the human Marshall, who is a petty and power-hungry bureaucrat, and the Solosian leaders who are stand-ins for East Indians, Zulus, or South Africans - take your pick.
Toss in a sub-plot about some strange random mutation happening to random Solosians, and another sub-plot about a scientist's efforts to terraform the planet's atmosphere into something less hostile to humans, and there is plenty of action and intrigue to go around.
Unlike the previous story, so far this six-parter doesn't seem padded at all. There really are enough characters and ideas to justify a six episode story, and the plot keeps cracking right along. Also, a number of the actors look quite familiar to me. One is played by the same actor who played the man in The Silurians who spreads the alien infection in the train station. Another, the main Solosian rebel, is played by none other than Biggs Darklighter himself, Garrick Hagon. A few others seem really familiar but I haven't quite been able to place them yet.
In any case, I am definitely enjoying this one much more than the last. Here's hoping the rest of the story lives up to the opening acts.
Companion(s): Jo Grant
Episode(s): The Mutants - Episodes 1 & 2
Steps Walked: 7,009 today, 1,093,065 total
Distance Walked: 3.64 miles today, 536.94 miles total
Weight: 265.84 lbs (five day moving average), net change -41.46 lbs