OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 636
STORY NUMBER: 140
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 26 January 1985
WRITER: Philip Martin
DIRECTOR: Ron Jones
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos
The Doctor's body is taken to the acid bath to be disposed of while Peri is interrogated by the governor. The Doctor recovers and escapes but is recaptured by the scientist Quillam. Jondar & The Doctor are taken for execution while Peri & Areta are taken to be used for reshaping experiments. The Doctor stalls his execution by accusing Sil & the Galatron mining corporation of extorting from the people of Varos. The Doctor demands Peri & Areta be released but Peri is turning into a bird creature while Areta turns into a reptile as Sil takes enjoyment in their transformation. Quillam tells the Doctor & Governor that it's too late to reverse the process but the Doctor siezes a gun destroying the equipment controlling the experiment & the punishment dome and they return to normal as the Doctor & Jondar rush to rescue them. They escape into the punishment dome but Peri is separated from the others, recaptured and taken to the Governor but the Chief Officer, in league with Sil, takes control. He forces the Governor to make a broadcast expecting him to be killed by the viewers vote but the guard Maldak is swayed by his words and frees him helping him & Peri to find the Doctor. The Doctor, Jondar & Areta are pursued through the punishment zone by the Chief Officer & Quillam but the Doctor lures them into a trap where they are killed by deadly vines. Sil summons help from his home planet of Thoros Beta as he assumes control, but the authorities there cancel the invasion due to the discovery of ore elsewhere and order Sil to pay the Varosians whatever they ask for, solving all of Varos' financial woes at once. The Governor supplies the Doctor with Zeitron 7 he needs and he takes his leave as the Governor broadcasts to his people telling them of an end to the torture and executions.
That left me absolutely cold that did, couldn't engage with it at all. Escape get captured, escape again.... wander through corridors, throw in a splash of horror and have the Doctor set a trap luring someone to their death? Bad Doctor Who, done by the numbers with a bit of distasteful stuff added.
Sil letches over Peri in this episode as she is transformed so he gets added to the list of "people lusting over Peri" at #5. And Peri & Areta's transformation into creatures makes them this story's representatives on the "people turned into monsters" list. Jondar's rescue of these two marks the break between episodes 3 & 4 of the four part version.
I'm not having a lot of luck with director Ron Jones stories. Time Flight, Arc of Infinity, Frontios and this have all not really done it for me, with Frontios being the best of the pile. Given that I liked other works by the authors of the first three we must start to wonder about his direction. EDIT: He also did Black Orchid which I did like!
Vengeance on Varos is the first Doctor Who story written by Philip Martin, already a successful screenwriter by this point. His main claim to fame was writing the series Gangsters, starring Resurrection of the Daleks/Attack of the Cybermen's Maurice Colbourne. There is some indication that the series is a fave of Script Editor Eric Saward.....
Martin novelised his own script for Target books but it was massively late. Scheduled as book 106, between Timelash & Mark of the Rani for a Jan(HB)/June(PB) 1986 release it eventually emerged in June 1988 between books 128 Time & The Rani & 129 The Underwater Menace. It was released on video in May 1993 and was the first Sixth Doctor story released on DVD on the 15th October 2001. Unfortunately a fault means that the production subtitles disappear in episode 2 which has resulted in Vengeance on Varos being developed as a Revisitation release, due out 10th September 2012.