C019 Mission to the Unknown

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Three astronauts who aren’t The Doctor battle homicidal vegetables and Daleks while the latter plot to take over the galaxy.

This episode is an anomaly for so many reasons. First off, there’s no Doctor. Secondly, there are no companions. Thirdly, well, it’s essentially a standalone prologue to The Daleks’ Master Plan, which doesn’t immediately follow it.

NB: It is listed here as a Hartnell episode merely for logistical reasons and out of respect for the chronology.

Three human astronauts, possibly affiliated with the UN, find themselves on the planet Kembel for reasons only known to one of them. That guy is Marc Cory (played by Edward de Souza), agent with The Space Security Service, who has received reports of a Dalek spaceship being sighted nearby, and who has consequently lead his fellow astronauts to what is commonly known as the most dangerous planet in the galaxy, with no helmets, gloves, backup, training or clue of the terrible fate that – spoiler alert – is about to befall them, simply because he has a hunch the Daleks may be hiding there.

True enough, that they are. And they’ve gathered representatives of the six (or possibly seven) most dangerous species in the galaxy in the hopes of forming an alliance that will shatter Jupiter, Venus and the lunar colonies. Oh, and Earth.

And as though that’s not bad enough, they’ve brought a bunch of Varga plants along with them as well, to guard against possible human spies…

There are two versions of this episode out there, as far as we’re aware. Of course, there’s the Loose Cannon recon(struction) that is superb.
And then there’s an animated version that is simply stunning. It’s embedded here below. If you haven’t seen it, then please do treat yourselves.

Check out the Mission To The Unknown – The Levine Animation. It’s pretty amazing.

3 Responses to “C019 Mission to the Unknown”

  1. JD | @mariuskane

    Mission to the Unknown

    This is the one with one episode…. Maybe not strange nowadays but back then it was strange. No Doctor, No Steven, No Vicki… Oh hey it DOES have an up side. Called by any number of names this “Dalek Cutaway” was ultimately the prequel to Mission to the Unknown – or as we’d call it now… It’s a teaser trailer.


    No Vicki

    The Daleks are threatening again after their comedy antics in The Chase, they have a plan, and it’s less stupid than putting a motor into the planets core.

    Varga plants sound really nasty, pity we cannot truly see them in their gory detail.


    Terry Nation’s attempt at a “back door pilot” for an American Dalek only tv show serves only to confuse when trying to watch in order. .. It would have been better to have been shown AFTER the Myth Makers.


    I refuse to rate this episode as frankly it may not as well be an episode of Doctor Who, and instead I will roll my score into the overall for Daleks Masterplan… But irrespective of anything… no Vicki !!!! Go Terry!!!

  2. Peter Zunitch

    I’m glad the show had the guts to make a story that doesn’t have the main cast at all as a teaser to such an epic adventure to come, but I’m also glad they were smart enough to make it short. I do however think it would have worked better as a 2 part story where we could have gained more attachment to the characters and setting. It would have made all that more of an impact when they all are dead at the end. I also think it would have been better if they had to go to the city to try to hijack their communications array in order to boost their signal and get their message out. The idea that they just stumble on the recording in the masterplan in the middle of a massive jungle is just a little too convenient for me. He could have died in a more relevant location and that would have sat better.
    The vertical space ship is such a novel piece of nostalgia. I love it. The easily panicked, scaredy cat astronaut is a trope that I don’t particularly go for though, and there’s a lot of exposition that could have been done visually instead of verbally. I also wish we got just a glimpse more of the assembling of the council, even if we just saw ships landing or flying overhead from time to time.
    In the end though I really enjoy this story and think that the masterplan (and for that matter “The Myth Makers”) is better for having it around and in the order that it was broadcast in. 3.0

  3. Paul Fauber @wordsmithpaul

    Garvey awoke in the dangerous jungle dominating the planet Kemble in pain . He suddenly needed to kill and pulled his gun. Cory and Lowery were repairing Lowery’s ship, but acting on Corey’s agenda. Garvey watched them work and moved forward to kill Lowery. Corey shot him. Lowery was appalled, but understood when Cory found a deadly Varga thorn. As Garvey’s body transformed into another Varga plant, Corey drafted Lowery and revealed he was a Space Security Service agent with a license to kill. His mission had begun when a Dalek spaceship was seen in, “our system’. He came to Kemble on a hunch the Daleks had a base on the planet. The Varga plants, native to their home planet, Skaro, proved it. The black Dalek in charge of the base reported the delegates to the forthcoming conference would soon arrive. He also ordered of the ship they’d found destroyed and its occupants exterminated. Lowery’s ship was useless and he prepared a rescue beacon as a Varga plant approached One of the Dalek delegates flew overhead as the men worked. Before a warning message could be recorded, four Daleks destroyed their ship and a Varga thorn impaled Lowery. The ship’s destruction was reported as delegates arrived and the Daleks promised hostile forces on the planet would be exterminated. Thus, the Dalek alliance was formed to conquer the Earth and its solar system. As Lowery followed him, Corey insisted they send the message. Then, he realized Lowery had become a Varga plant and killed him. Daleks detected the message Corey recorded, and exterminated him before it could be sent.

    This episode was the only one in which none of the regular cast appeared, though William Hartnell was credited as the Doctor for contractual reasons. It set up the epic “The Daleks Master Plan”, by establishing the jungle planet Kemble, where the secret Dalek alliance was having a meeting to conspire. It also introduced the Space Security Service, the intended protagonists in an American series featuring Daleks that was never picked up. They would appear in “The Daleks Master Plan”, too. Space Security Agent Cory recorded, but could not send, a warning about the Daleks’ conspiracy after proving his instinctive hunch about the location of a Dalek base. To enable our series regulars to defeat the Daleks, they exterminate the Space Security team and destroy most of the evidence they were there.

    This episode is missing from the BBC Archives, but its soundtrack was included in “The Daleks Master Plan” CD release with Peter Purves providing narration around the dialogue. John Peel included it in his novelization of the Dalek epic, which comprised two books: “Mission to the Unknown” and “The Mutation of Time”. Both were recorded in audio form by Purves and actress Jean Marsh, who portrayed Space Security Agent Sara Kingdom in the forthcoming epic. Voice actor Nick Briggs portrayed the Daleks.


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