Forcibly regenerated into a new body and exiled to the planet Earth in the 1970s (or was it the 1980s?), the renegade Time Lord known as The Doctor had a rather rough time of it starting the life of his Third incarnation. The knowledge of how to pilot his TARDIS – the fantastic ship capable of traveling anywhere in time and space – was psychically taken from him. And lest he be reckless enough to try and pilot it despite this, The Doctor’s TARDIS had certain key components removed that rendered it unable to travel!
Thankfully, Fate put an ill and injured Doctor into the care of an old ally – Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. The UK Commander of the military group known as UNIT, The Brigadier was charged with defending the Earth from alien menaces – a duty The Doctor had assisted him with once in his Second incarnation. After The Doctor once again proved his worth, a bargain was reached – in exchange for a laboratory, materials and a modest expense account, The Doctor would act as UNIT’s scientific adviser.
Now, with the aid of his lab assistant Jo Grant, “Dr. John Smith” has become UNIT’s foremost agent in dealing with the unusual. He serves as both scientist and diplomat as needed. And while the dandily-dressed Doctor considers himself a man of peace and culture, he’s always ready to step in with some Venusian Karate when necessary.
Recently, the Third Doctor’s Earth-bound exile was lifted. But before he could set out on new adventures, an alien invasion appears to threaten Earth! It’s the devious work of an old enemy – one who seeks the power to travel through time for his own selfish ends! Now, forming an uneasy alliance with his greatest enemy – the rogue Time Lord known as The Master – The Doctor and UNIT set out to stop this upstart mastermind!
I’m sad to see this series end and sadder still that this may be the last we see of Paul Cornell and Christopher Jones working together with these characters. Writer Paul Cornell recently announced that he would be curtailing his work with licensed properties in favor of original works. While I can understand the desire to seek new ground as a writer and look forward to his original work as a fan, it’s still a sad day for Whovians everywhere given the great works that Cornell wrote.
Still, if Cornell must go out it cannot be denied that he went out at the top of his game. This Third Doctor mini-series perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the Jon Pertwee era of the show. It gave nods to several classic stories and even set-up some of the events of episodes which would follow this one chronologically. Despite this devotion to the past, the story was still accessible to people who have never watched Doctor Who or those fans more familiar with the newer series.
Cornell found a perfect partner in artist Christopher Jones. Jones perfectly caricatured the likenesses of the original actors from the show whilst adopting an animated style that lent itself well to the high-action tone of Cornell’s script. The vivid colors of Hi-Fi provided the perfect finishes to the artwork, visually capturing the aesthetics of early 1970s Doctor Who.
I am sad to see this series go but I did love to watch the ending. It was a fitting conclusion to a fantastic mini-series that was a treat for fans of The Third Doctor and a wonderful introduction to the world of Doctor Who for newbies.