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Planet of Evil

Planet of Evil was the second story of Season 13 of Doctor Who. It borrowed heavily from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century novel Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, featuring both a planet and a protagonist that display a duality of nature.

Roger Murray-Leach designed the jungles of Zeta Minor to be imposing. He wanted to create a contrast with Star Trek, another popular sci-fi series, that often used abstract sets, unrecognizable to viewers that failed to appear threatening. The set was popular with the BBC’s prop department, which went some way to securing Murray-Leach forgiveness for inadvertently destroying several hundreds of pounds of stock scenery by making the jungle difficult to disassemble.


Episode 1

On a dark and distant planet, a spaceman named Braun steps out of a small base unit and plants a sign in the jungle. It carries the name and date of death of Egard Lumb. Unearthly howls echo around him and he points a rifle warily at his surroundings before returning to the base. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the planet, another spaceman, Baldwin, finds crystals near a pit. He hands them over to Professor Sorenson.

Baldwin receives a call from Braun; it is nearly night, and they need to get back to base quickly. Sorenson notes the vein they have uncovered in sector 5 is almost seventy percent pure. The last time they hit a vein this rich, Lorenzo died and the vein vanished. Sorenson says the planet is alive and took the vein back, but vows he will not be beaten again. Unable to persuade Sorenson, Baldwin leaves him. At base camp, Braun is attacked by an invisible force. He vanishes, screaming. When Baldwin makes it back to the base, he is also attacked, just managing to send a distress signal before he, too, vanishes.

In the TARDIS, Sarah wants to know what is wrong. The Doctor had promised they would be back in London five minutes before they left Loch Ness. The Doctor admits that they have emerged from the time vortex thirty thousand years too late. The TARDIS receives Baldwin’s distress call and the Doctor lands the ship. They emerge in the jungle, the Doctor tracking the signal with a small device. Suddenly, Sarah seems transfixed by a strange noise and stares straight ahead at something unseen until the feeling passes.

A probe ship approaches Zeta Minor, the last planet in the known universe. The ship’s controller, Salamar, assigns Vishinsky, the most experienced crew member, to lead the landing party. The ship has barely enough fuel to make the return journey — they do not have power for a scan before sending the party down to locate Sorenson and his team.

The Doctor and Sarah reach the base. They discover Braun’s almost mummified body on the ground. The base unit’s interior is dark. The Doctor surmises they are some months too late. Sarah goes back to the TARDIS to get his spectromixer so he can fix their position while he tries to restore the base’s power. When Sarah leaves, the Doctor discovers Baldwin’s body in the same mummified state.

Sarah makes it back to the TARDIS, entering as the armed landing party draws near. Vishinsky calls the probe ship, and Salamar orders the TARDIS brought to the ship and placed in quarantine. The landing party places a clamp on the TARDIS door, trapping Sarah, who has no idea what is going on. The police box is trans-matted away.

The landing party spots Sorenson who, although acting a bit strangely, assures Vishinsky he is all right and his theory about Zeta Minor has proven correct. He found the vital discovery last night in Sector 5. Sorenson believes Baldwin returned to the base, suffering from fatigue. He leads the party to it. Vishinsky asks about the other six members of his expedition. Sorenson is evasive about the exact number and concedes they have lost some people, but the important thing is that the mission is a success. When they reach the base, the landing party find the Doctor working on the systems next to Baldwin’s body. Sorenson is startled to see the corpse. He says Baldwin has been murdered… just like the others.

Sarah finally finds the TARDIS doors unlocked and steps out to find herself on board the probe ship. Salamar tells her she is in orbit over Zeta Minor and a prisoner of the Morestrans. Salamar contacts Vishinsky and tells him to keep a careful watch on the Doctor while he questions Sarah. Salamar does not believe Sarah and the Doctor just “picked up” the distress signal, as Zeta Minor is so remote.

The ship lands on the planet near the base. Sorenson says they had only been working a few weeks when the killings began, always at night. Salamar believes it is the work of alien infiltrators and suggests the Doctor confess before he is subjected to interrogation. When Salamar is told there is no sign of life anywhere else, he concludes the Doctor and Sarah must be responsible and gives the order for their execution.

However, the Doctor and Sarah are escaping through the window of the store room they are held in, whose magnetic locks are weak due to the power loss. The moment they step out, they encounter a semi-transparent, monstrous figure, its outlines glowing red, reaching out for them.

Episode 2

One of the guards, O’Hara, fires at the creature, but it grabs him and he vanishes, screaming, only for his body to reappear, drained and mummified like the others. The Doctor is not sure what the creature is, but tells Sarah he has a very unpleasant theory. Ponti, who heard O’Hara’s screams, informs Salamar that the base in under attack and they find the two time travelers missing. The Morestrans fire at them as they run away into the jungle.

Dawn breaks on Zeta Minor and the creature does not seem to like daylight. Vishinsky launches the oculoid tracker, a flying drone with a camera eye, to search the jungle for the fugitives. Meanwhile, Sorenson confirms that O’Hara died the same way as the other members of his expedition, through total dehydration — a kind of rapid freeze drying. Sorenson brushes off the deaths as irrelevant. His mission to Zeta Minor was to find a new source of energy to replace Morestra’s dying sun and he has succeeded. Sorenson demands that his mineral samples be taken aboard and they leave the planet immediately. However, Salamar says that alien forces must be found and eliminated.

The tracker finds the Doctor and Sarah near the pit in Sector 5, a dark pool with no reflection. A party arrives, led by Ponti, but as they search the two roughly, Ponti falls into the pit with a cry. The Doctor warns the rest back, telling them they are tampering with the balance of nature on the planet and it may already be too late. At the base, Sorenson gets De Haan to help load his canisters of refined ore onto the ship. Sorensen excitedly notes that six pounds of ore could produce heat equal to the output of their sun for three centuries; full scale exploitation of Zeta Minor would provide perpetual energy.

The Doctor implores Salamar to listen to him: Zeta Minor is the boundary between the known universe and one of anti-matter. In coming here, they have crossed that boundary. He warns Sorenson that if he takes those samples, they will never leave this planet, but Salamar orders the Doctor and Sarah taken to the quarantine area. Sarah suggests they simply leave in the TARDIS, but the Doctor says that the Morestrans are endangering the universe as well as themselves. He opens a canister of refined ore and takes a few crystals, placing them in an old toffee tin to test a theory.

The ship tries to take off, but the systems do not respond properly. The creature attacks the ship. The force fields are raised, but there is not enough power to repel its pure energy form. Several Morestran crewmen rush out to fire at the creature, but to no avail. It drains them one by one. The Doctor tells them to link the force field to the atomic accelerator. Salamar hesitates, but Vishinsky says they have to try and he reluctantly gives the order. This seems to work; the creature is driven back and vanishes.

The Doctor tries to reason with Sorenson; as long as the ore is aboard, the creature will return, and they will be trapped here. If they jettison the canisters and make clear their intention to leave empty-handed, they will be allowed to take off. The Doctor offers to communicate that intention to the creature. Salamar agrees to let him go alone, but launches the tracker to observe him. When the Doctor reaches the pit, the creature rises, engulfing the Time Lord. He falls into the pool…

Episode 3

The Doctor seems dead. Sorenson asks Salamar to take off, but Salamar wants the ore samples removed first. As they argue, Sarah slips out of the ship into the jungle. As De Haan and Morelli start to transfer the canisters, Sorenson sneaks into the quarantine area and takes one away.

The Doctor continues his seemingly endless fall through darkness, slowing until he is suspended, floating before the gigantic energy creature. When Sarah reaches the pit, she sees the Doctor climbing out, half delirious and falling in and out of consciousness. Vishinsky spots them on the tracker’s signal and goes to get them despite Salamar’s protests. In his quarters, Sorenson records his observations on the ore’s increase in flux activity, but something is obviously affecting him. He doubles over in pain, and his eyes glow red. He quickly quaffs a solution from a flask, and returns to normal.

The Doctor is placed in the ship’s sickbay. When he awakens, the ship is taking off, but Sarah assures him that the samples have been jettisoned. The Doctor relaxes. He had given his word as a Time Lord to whatever was in the pit. The ship’s systems start to fail as before, however, and the Doctor realizes he still has some antimatter ore in the toffee tin, which he used to survive the pit. Morelli is given the tin to jettison it, but as he turns a corner, he is attacked and drained. The ship has reached free space but drag is still increasing. The Doctor deduces that there must be antimatter still aboard.

A feral Sorenson drinks another dose of his infusion and returns to normal. Examining the body in the sickbay, Vishinsky discovers that Morelli was killed the same way, even though the creature could not have gotten on board through the force field. Vishinsky ejects Morelli’s body into space. On Sorenson’s advice, Salamar goes to the sickbay and accuses the Doctor again of causing the deaths. He demands they open up the TARDIS or be shot.

The ship is not making any headway. It hangs suspended in space despite the thrusters going at full power. The Doctor tells them they have reached the end of their elastic; it will stretch no further. In the sickbay, Sarah sees Sorenson double over in pain again. She starts to experience the same sensations she did on Zeta Minor. By the time she recovers, Sorenson is gone.

Sarah hears De Haan’s dying screams, and goes to investigate, crying out when she sees something feeding on the crewman. Her cry distracts Salamar long enough for the Doctor to punch him and leave the quarantine area. The Doctor reaches Sarah, who describes what she saw, a hybrid creature the Doctor dubs “Anti-Man”.

Salamar, recovered from the blow, finds the Doctor and Sarah over De Haan’s shriveled body. Before the Doctor can explain, Salamar shoots him and orders them taken to the ejector chamber. In his quarters, Sorenson takes another dose of the formula, but can no longer hold off the transformation. He collapses onto his bed, eyes aglow.

The Doctor and Sarah are strapped to the ejector trays. Vishinsky protests they have no evidence to execute them like this. He refuses to obey Salamar’s order. In the struggle between the two men, however, the ejection lever is thrown…

Episode 4

Reig, a crewman on the command deck, cries for help over the ship’s intercom as he is attacked. Salamar and his men rush out of the sickbay, allowing Vishinsky to reverse the ejector control before he too leaves. They find Reig dead in the same way. Salamar still rants that the Doctor caused this but Vishinsky snaps back that they were with them when Reig’s death took place. Vishinsky gives the order for a red alert; he is relieving Salamar of command.

Sarah helps the Doctor out of the ejector trays and tells him about what she felt before De Haan was killed. When the Doctor learns she was with Sorenson when that happened, he realises the professor has been infected with antimatter. His brain cells are being destroyed and he is descending to a brutish mental level, creating Anti-Man. He tells Sarah to pass the message to the command deck to seal the hatches and keep Anti-Man isolated.

As the Doctor goes deeper into the ship, the section hatchways close. He uses the sonic screwdriver to enter Sorensen’s quarters, finding the canister of antimatter ore. He also finds the bottle of Sorenson’s solution and that the liquid reacts with the antimatter. Sorenson, again normal, enters the room. The Doctor tells him that the solution — an oral vaccine Sorenson believes will protect him against anti-quark penetration — did protect him for a time. However, it set up a cycle of chemical change, hybridizing his tissues to the point where the next change could be the last. He reminds Sorenson that as scientists, they buy their privilege to experiment at the cost of total responsibility. He hands Sorenson the canister; he knows what he must do.

On the command deck, Salamar has taken the ship’s neutron accelerator. He intends to expose Sorensen to its radiation, even if it kills them both. Raving, he forces Vishinsky to open the hatch at gunpoint and goes off to hunt Sorenson. In the meantime, Sorenson is on his way to the ejection chamber, intending to jettison the antimatter and himself. Unfortunately, he transforms into Anti-Man again before he can throw the lever.

The Doctor finds the chamber empty and the canister abandoned. The ship continues to accelerate towards Zeta Minor; there are now two sources of antimatter, the other being Sorensen himself. When the Doctor finds that Salamar is hunting Sorensen with a neutron accelerator, he goes to stop him, telling Vishinsky to keep the hatches open.

He is too late. Salamar has found Sorenson and opened the accelerator’s shield. Anti-Man drains Salamar, but the radiation boosts his power. After finding Salamar’s body, the Doctor finds himself faced with multiple, semi-transparent Anti-Men like the creature on the planet, which he dispels by waving the canister of antimatter at them. He reaches the command deck and tells Vishinsky that Sorensen has multiplied. Even with the hatches resealed, the Anti-Men burn their way through. The intercom is filled with the screams of dying men.

The ship is fifteen minutes from impact. The Doctor takes a pistol and leaves the command deck. He works his way past more Anti-Men until he finds the Sorenson Anti-Man, whom he stuns with the pistol and takes into the TARDIS. He pilots the time ship down to Sector 5 on Zeta Minor as the Anti-Men start burning though to the command deck.

The TARDIS lands in Sector 5. The Doctor and Anti-Man are locked in a struggle on the edge of the pit. Anti-Man loses his footing and falls in and the Doctor throws the canister after him. On the ship, the other Anti-Men fade out of existence and the ship begins to pull away from Zeta Minor. Unexpectedly, the Doctor finds Sorenson, restored to human form, at the edge of the pit. He takes the professor into the TARDIS and it de-materializes just as the creature rises from the pit. Because the Doctor kept his word, Sorenson was released.

The Doctor returns to the ship for Sarah, but before they leave, the Doctor tells the still-suggestible Sorenson that he abandoned his anti-quark research for a source of energy derived from the kinetic forces of planetary movement. Sarah hugs Vishinsky good-bye. The Doctor notes they have an appointment in London, and they’re already thirty thousand years late.

In space, the TARDIS spins away to its next destination…


The Fourth Doctor
Sarah Jane Smith