The Moonbase was the partly-missing sixth story of season 4 of Doctor Who. It saw the reappearance and first redesign of the Cybermen, solidifying their place as one of the series’ key villains. This story was the first in Doctor Who history with sequences taking place on Earth’s Moon.
Episode 1 (Lost)
The TARDIS makes a bumpy landing after the Doctor manages to control its descent. The travelers observe the scanner and Polly says that they have landed on Mars after all. Ben disagrees and says it must be the Moon. The Doctor agrees. Annoyed that he failed to control the ship, he wants to move on straight away but is overruled by Ben and Polly, who want to explore. The Doctor reluctantly agrees and decks them out in space suits.
The travelers explore the surface of the Moon. They begin to lark about in the anti-gravity, but Jamie over stretches himself and knocks himself out. As the others go to save him they discover his unconscious body being carried away into a Moonbase. They follow and the door opens, welcoming them.
Inside the Moonbase a staff of workers are operating a series of consoles. One of the workers collapses, leaving marks on his face. Hobson, the controller, sends the man to sick bay to join the others who have come down with this virus — who include the base’s doctor. Ben, Polly and the Doctor are led in. Hobson allows Polly to go and look after Jamie in the sick bay but keeps the Doctor and Ben with him. Hobson explains that the Moonbase is a weather control station that keeps Earth’s weather in check. They are using a gravity machine called the gravitron to control the weather. As this is being explained another worker falls ill. The Doctor offers his services. The Moonbase contacts Space Control to inform them; Space Control reacts by quarantining the Moonbase. One of the crew informs Hobson that their latest communication with Space Control was listened in on by someone close to the base.
Down in the sick bay Polly is looking after Jamie, who is hallucinating about the phantom piper, his clan’s variant of the Grim Reaper. The Doctor sends Ben back up to the control room as he needs someone to be keeping an eye on the goings on up there. He does so and is allocated to work with Ralph in the storeroom. Once he gets there he discovers that someone has been stealing food. He is sent to do a job and while he is away Ralph is attacked by a metal hand. By the time Ben returns Ralph’s body is gone.
Back in the sick bay Polly discovers the Doctor investigating some silver paper. They are interrupted by Dr Evans, the base’s previous doctor, who wakes up and screams something about the silver hand before collapsing dead. The Doctor wonders what he might have meant and goes to report the death to Hobson.
Ben is reporting the disappearance of Ralph to Hobson when the Doctor comes to explain about Dr Evans’ death. Hobson refuses to report it to Space Control just yet as they will close his operation today. He goes down with the Doctor to observe Evans’ body.
In the sick bay Polly is helping Jamie to drink some water. He wakes up to see a figure behind Polly. She turns and sees it disappear through the door. She screams, alerting the Doctor and others. On exploration there is found to be nothing there. Hobson puts this down to Polly’s nerves. Hobson goes over to Dr Evans’ bed and finds the body gone. He asks the Doctor if he is playing a sick joke but the Doctor assures he isn’t. Hobson is informed of another crew member going down with the virus and leaves, telling the Doctor that he will be kicked out if he can’t find Evans’ body. The Doctor goes to explore whilst Polly leaves to fetch Jamie some water. He awakes to see a Cyberman approaching him — convinced that it is the phantom piper, he collapses.
The Cyberman goes to take another body, but as he leaves Polly witnesses the Cyberman’s exit. She screams, which alerts the Doctor and the others. Polly insists it was Cybermen but Hobson does not believe her due to lack of evidence. He sends guards out to scour the base for any signs. Hobson begins to suspect that the situation might be down to the presence of the Doctor and his friends as the situation has only escalated since their arrival. Ben reacts to this by saying they are more than happy to leave but the Doctor says they have to stay as he feels he should stay and protect the base from the evils of the universe. Hobson gives the Doctor 24 hours to sort out the situation or else he is to leave the Moonbase. Left alone, the Doctor says that he wants to analyse everything in the Moonbase. When asked if he is a medical doctor he says he took a medical degree in Glasgow in 1888 under Joseph Lister.
Back in the control room Hobson notices that the Gravitron is becoming faulty and is stopping them from being able to control the hurricane on Earth. The Commander of the Space Control contacts them and states that it is of the utmost importance they protect mainland America from this hurricane. Hobson sets about testing every part of the centre. The Doctor enters and begins to take samples from the crew as they go about their work. They begin to get frustrated as they find nothing wrong.
In the sick bay Ben leaves Polly to get some more supplies. When he is gone a Cyberman sneaks up to Jamie and Polly and attacks them both. He goes to take Jamie before deciding to take another body. The Doctor enters and nurses Polly back to health.
Unbeknownst to any one on the base, there is a hole in the food bay where at least one Cyberman is stowed away.
In the control room one of the engineers discovers a fault with one of the antenna. Hobson asks when it went awry and is told it tallies with the Doctor’s arrival. This makes him more convinced about the Doctor and his friends and goes to kick him off the Moonbase. As he does he is told by Ben that another person has been taken from the sick bay.
Two crew members prepare themselves to go out and check the antenna.
In the sick bay the Doctor explains to Polly that he has tested everything on the base and has found nothing. When Hobson enters, the Doctor acts like he is too busy to talk to him, pushing him out of the laboratory. When he tries to kick the Doctor off the Moonbase the Doctor pretends to have found something. As soon as Hobson leaves he tells Polly it was all a ruse and that he is nowhere. Polly suggests she goes to make coffee for everyone.
Out on the surface of the Moon the two engineers are attacked by Cyberman, stripped of their suits and taken away.
As the coffee is served to the crew the Doctor admits that he has no clue as to what is causing the disease. As Hobson and the Doctor talk one of the crew collapses — another subject of the disease. He is taken to the sick bay. As Hobson is about to drink his coffee the Doctor knocks it from his hand, suspecting that it is the sugar that is contaminating his crew. He rushes down to the sick bay and his suspicions are confirmed when he find a large neurotropic virus that attacks the nerves laced through the sugar. Hobson asks how it has been put there and the Doctor states it must be the Cybermen — Hobson says that his men have looked everywhere. Conspiratorially the Doctor asks if they have checked in the sick bay where they are now. Hobson says they didn’t have to as there is always someone in here. They begin to look around when they discover a Cyberman. It moves towards them.
Episode 3 (Lost)
Bob, a crew member, is killed by the onrushing Cyberman. The Cyberman links back to the Cybership. The Cybermen explain that the men that have gone missing are not dead, just altered, and that Jamie was left because his head was damaged in the fall, rendering him useless to the Cybermen. The Cybermen order Hobson to take them to the control room and tell Ben and Polly to remain in the sick bay.
In the Cybership the Cybermen are converting the members of the crew to operate under their control. They are placed into capsules for delivery back on the Moonbase.
In the control room the crew attempt to contact the engineers who went out to fix the aerial. There is no response. Their activity is disrupted by Hobson leading in the Cybermen. They explain they are to take over the Gravitron to destroy the Earth so as to eliminate any danger. They also explain that they gained access to the Moonbase under the ground.
Back in the sick bay Jamie wakes up and the trio talk about how to get the Cybermen. Ben speculates about radiation whilst Jamie suggests holy water. Polly takes Jamie’s idea and thinks about how nail varnish dissolves plastic and that the Cybermen’s control panel seems to be made of plastic. Ben and Polly mix together a number of solvents and place them in a spray. The trio leave armed with their corrosive liquid.
In the control room the old crew, now under the control of the Cybermen, are led in and take the places of the human crew controlling the Gravitron. The Doctor fiddles with a piece of machinery that renders the controlled crew temporarily useless. The Doctor speculates that they are under sonic control. He speculates that the Cybermen are having the controlled crew work on the Gravitron because they don’t like gravity. Sensing the change in weather, Earth attempts to contact the Moonbase, but the Cybermen order that there is to be no reply. Earth asks them to deploy a flare if they are under duress. One of the controlled crew collapses under the exposure to the thermo-nuclear power in the Gravitron, but the Cybermem makes him come back to life. As the Doctor begins to experiment with the Cybermen’s sonic control, Ben, Polly and Jamie enter, spraying their solvents which have the desired effects. The Cybermen crumble to the floor. The Doctor quickly removes the headpieces from the controlled crew, who are then rushed to the sick bay.
In the Cybership the waiting Cybermen note the lack of contact from their colleagues and prepare their weapons for invasion.
On the Moonbase, Benoit, a member of the crew, suggests he go out and look for the engineers that went missing. Hobson agrees but says he needs to be observed by another member of the crew. Benoit finds the suits and contacts the Moonbase. As he does he hears his crew mate warning him of the Cyberman, but Benoit doesn’t see a Cyberman until he turns and sees it directly behind him. The Cyberman attempts to shoot at him but his gun does not work in space vacuum. Benoit rushes off with the Cyberman in pursuit. Benoit is tiring and will be caught before returning to the Moonbase but Ben emerges from the airlock and throws a flask of the corrosive liquid at the Cyberman.
Back on the Moonbase, Hobson prepares for more assaults. They have located the Cybership. Hobson goes to look at it in the telescope and sees an army of Cybermen marching across the surface of the Moon towards them.
The Cybermen contact the Moonbase to tell them that they have surrounded them and that resistance is useless. Hobson is defiant and replies that they have blocked their point of entry. Hobson attempts to contact Earth and finds the signal has been jammed through the Cybermen interfering with the signal. The crew speculate that all they need to do is wait it out for the relief craft that Earth would send due to the lack of communication with the Moonbase.
The Cybership has picked up the imminent arrival of the ship and order the army of Cybermen to deal with that first before gaining entry to the Moonbase. One of the Cybermen transmits out a control signal which awakens Evans in the Moonbase sick bay. He knocks his guard out and leaves the sick bay. Evans manages to infiltrate the control room. He sneaks into the control centre of the Gravitron, knocking out the crew member and taking his place. The rest of the crew are delighted to see the relief craft approach but become confused when it begins to change course and accelerate. The ship is on a direct path heading for the sun. The Doctor suggests that the only thing that would have caused this would be some sort of deflection from the Gravitron. It is then they discover Evans in control of the Gravitron and guilty of diverting the ship. The Doctor sends Jamie and Ben to go to the sick bay to ensure that the other crew have not been reanimated and to barricade them inside. They guard outside but soon enough the crew awake and try to make their way through the barricade.
In the control room Hobson is using the tannoy to try to reason with Evans, but to no avail. They decide to rush him but are stopped by the Cybermen communicating with them, saying that the Moonbase is now under their control. They fire a laser into the side of the Moonbase, sucking the oxygen out. As the crew begin to suffocate Hobson and Benoit fix the hole using a coffee tray. Amongst the chaos, the Doctor notices that Evans has collapsed and moves him from the control room. To Hobson and the Doctor’s shock another Cybership lands and a weapon is unloaded from it. The crew dive for cover but the a Doctor stoically stands his ground. As they fire, the laser is deflected from the gravitational force of the Gravitron. This success gives the Doctor an idea. He asks if the Gravitron can be dipped so low it could have a bearing on the surface of the Moon. Benoit and Hobson say it has never been tried but they attempt it. With a few minor adjustments to the machine it is achieved, which sends the Cybermen and their ships floating off into space. Before Hobson has a chance to thank the Doctor, he and his companions have disappeared.
Borrowing some space suits to get back to the TARDIS, they see a ship fly overhead. The Doctor speculates that this will not be the last they see of the Cybermen. Once back at the TARDIS, the Doctor is curious to see what becomes of the Moonbase and elects to use his time scanner to see its future. Before he gets a chance to do this Polly, now stricken with fear, points out that a large claw has emerged onto the scanner.