Saturday, 22 January 2011

061 The Web Planet Part 4: Crater of Needles

EPISODE: The Web Planet Part 4: Crater of Needles
TRANSMITTED: 06 March 1965
WRITER: Bill Strutton
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Web Planet

Vrestin & Ian find themselves in tunnels with cave paintings on the walls. They are swiftly surrounded by an alien race different from the ones we've seen so far. At the Crater of Needles Barbara and the dewinged Hrostar labour with man other captured Menoptra. Barbara is suffering in the thin atmosphere. The work they are doing provides the Carsinome with the raw material to grow. Hrostar tells Barbara that the invasion force is due to arrive soon. Communicating with the Animus the Doctor bargains for Vicki's life, he then starts to plan their escapes an alarm sounds. The Zarbi at the crater of needles round their prisoners up. Ian & Vrestin are captured by the lice like Optera. The Optera are being poisoned by the material the Zarbi are using to build the Carsinome which is penetrating into their underground dwelling. The captured Menoptra ask Barbara is her friends could be helping the Animus and have given away the invasion force. They worry that the invasion force will be massacred. They plot an escape from the crater to warn them. One of the Menoptra believes he can disabled the Larvae Guns. The Doctor examines the Animus' device which was used to immobilize Vicki: it's made of gold like Ian's pen which disappeared. The slaves overturn their remaining Zarbi guard and kill the Larvae gun by crushing it's underside against a wall. The Doctor immobilises the Zarbi control device, but the Zarbi & Animus overhear a transmission the Doctor was monitoring and discover where the Menoptra are due to land. The Optera believe Vrestin & Ian have come to invade, but Vrestin tells them that her people have come to free them. Ian deduces and explains that the Menoptra and Optera are a related species. The Optera are amazed at Vrestin's wings: they believe the Menoptra are their gods. The Menoptra invasion force arrives. Vrestin tries to warn them but the Zarbi attack. The Menoptra find their weapons useless against the Larvae grubs and many are killed. Barbara and Hrostar attempt to escape but are surrounded by Zarbi.

Not bad again, this story has picked up after two very poor first episodes. I like the way the costume designer has made the Optera costumes look similar in certain ways to the Menoptra costumes. When you think about it you can tell they're related species. The Kirby wire landing of the Menoptra Invasion force worked quite well too.

Making his Television debut is Martin Jarvis as Hilio, the Captain of the Menoptra Invasion Force. His long acting career brings him back to televised Doctor Who twice as Butler in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and the Governor in Vengeance on Varos. He also appears in the Big Finish audio drama Jubilee, the inspiration behind the new series episode Dalek, with his wife Rosalind Ayres who is, to the best of my knowledge, no relation to me!

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