C067 Frontier in Space



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Interstellar war, a lunar prison break and Roger Delgado’s final appearance as The Master



The burgeoning human empire and the burgeoning Draconian empire are at odds when both parties accuse each other of violating their peace treaty with illegal acts of aggression and extreme prejudice against flour.

It transpires, however, that the Ogrons are behind the attacks, and the Master behind them, and behind the Master… some last-minute Daleks! When The Third Doctor and companion Jo Grant coincidentally materialise in the middle of the conflict, the Master shifts focus and decides to ruin their day.

Here's what we think

Ponken

@ponken

2.0

Nikulele

@nikulele

1.8

Here's what you think

11 Responses to “C067 Frontier in Space”

  1. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    “It’s a quirky script that goes in all directions,” remarks Barry Letts on the DVD commentary for this six-part serial. “You’re constantly being surprised, which is the mark of a good script. This is not full of clichés.”

    Indeed, this serial is one sharp turn after the other. The Ogrons return unannounced, which probably led people to the Daleks straight away. But then when it’s revealed to be a plot of the Master’s, it threw people off. Talking on the Master, when he steps into the office of Earth’s President in Episode 3, it was definitely a shock for sure. Though I appreciate the subtle reference to the Daleks with that logo on his chest.

    Meanwhile, the Doctor and Jo are in trouble yet again, seeing as they are captured and escape time and again in the usual runaround. Don’t get me wrong, the Doctor and Jo are wonderful, but this is possibly the most cliché thing in this story. It’s the padding issue that many six part serials suffer from. I did like the scene with the Master and Jo in the end where the Master is just being thwarted by Jo in his attempt to hypnotize her. It’s great!

    The Draconians are a fantastic addition to Doctor Who with even Pertwee himself citing them as his favorite aliens. Such a shame they have yet to return to the series. The Delgado Master is on form once more, and it’s great to see that he went out on a high after the abysmal appearance in “The Time Monster”.  Sadly we wouldn’t see him return as just months after this serial aired, Roger Delgado was killed in a motor accident in Turkey. I would consider this one of his best appearances since he arrived on the scene in Season 8 of the Classic Series.

    This serial, though it could indeed be considered filler, is definitely a great story. But, once you pair it with the following story, that’s truly when it becomes great. And oh, we’ll get to that! 3.8/5

    Reply
    • Trenton B

      BTW: for those of you in America, you can get both Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks on the Dalek War boxset.

      Reply
  2. Peter Zunitch

    Brilliant, fantastic story!

    Notable points:
    • A female president (Great role, great actress)
    • Draconians! (SO AMAZING! Bring them back please!)
    • A warning of, “Danger, Bulk Flour” (yes…it gets malicious when there’s a lot of it)
    • Holy furry shoulder pads! (…and wrist pads! and boot pads!)
    • Ogrons! (complete with blob-worshipping backstory)
    • Lots of sitting around in prison cells (great Doctor/Jo chemistry)
    • Political intrigue (and a noise the Doctor can’t hear)
    • Not the Master! … (oh wait, it IS the Master)
    • Not the Daleks! … (oh wait…it is the Daleks)
    • Jo overcomes hypnotic influence (twice)
    • A prison on the moon (and an activist pawn left to rot in solitary)
    • Space walks! (and interesting, yet clunky space ships)
    • Amazing costumes, locations and set design (except for the wrestling garbed guards with balls for ears)
    • Drashigs and Mutants and flashbacks (Oh my!)
    • The Doctor is shot! (but not by a very effective gun it seems)
    • Everyone just gives up and runs away (seriously, instead of claiming victory they panic and leave…including the Master, it makes no sense).
    • The telepathic circuts and a message to the timelords:
    “Hello? Timelord psychic reception, Borousa speaking….Haha fooled you. I’m not really here right now, but if the universe is burning then leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. [beep]”.
    “Um… it’s the Doctor again. This big war just broke out, millions dying. Go clean it up please. I’m going to have another of a lie down. This situation earns an urgency rating of 4.4. Thanks”

    Reply
  3. Matthew Dennison

    On just his second trip in the now functioning TARDIS, it’s clear that the Doctor has as little control of it as ever, this time narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a soon-to-be Ogronized cargo freighter. And so begins the absolutely fantastic Frontier in Space.

    I loved this story. Everything about it feels epic, from the galaxy-wide setting and political intrigue to the brilliant Draconians and Ogrons, two of the most “real” seeming aliens classic Who ever produced. The regulars are all on fine form and it’s all topped off with a genuinely surprising Dalek appearance. Even the terrible monster in episode 6 manages to be epically bad.

    A common complaint about Frontier in Space is that the Doctor and Jo spend most of the story locked up, but I thought this added to the tension. The TARDIS crew are helpless to influence events and are initially without allies. Well, except for a doddery old peace activist in pyjamas.

    The main failing has to be the Ogron-eater, the most laughable monster on Dr Who to date. It’s so bad that the ending had to be recut, leaving the final showdown between the Doctor and the Master as a confusing mess. Still, I’m glad that the final memory of Delgado on Dr Who is this, rather, than the dire Time Monster.

    A few other problems: General Williams sure got over his hatred of Draconians rather quickly. And, due to messing up the timing of episode one and never quite getting back on track, the cliffhangers are all rather lacklustre.

    Still, overall it’s fantastic. I’ll give it a 4.5.

    Reply
  4. Hello there

    First of all can I say that I absolutely love your podcast. I’m all caught up to the current ones, but I’m utterly heartbroken that I’ve only just discovered it. You’ve already covered most of the best the show has ever been (in my opinion). Pertwee and Tennant are my favourite Docs by miles.

    Anyway, onto Frontier in Space:

    I first saw this on a massive 2 VHS box set in the 90s which I ordered from the local Boots. This (for me) is one of Pertwee’s finest. It’s a space epic in the truest sense of the word.

    The highlights are:

    Roger Delgado is brilliant in this, especially when he’s reading H. G. Wells.

    The space walk is soooo good

    It seems that shoulder pads will continue to grow in size over human history

    We get to see a Pertwee sock!

    The lowlights:

    Katy Manning improvising..it’s cringeworthy!

    The ‘oh so scary’ Sainsbury’s bag monster.

    What does General Williams mean when he says “one dominant life form, a large and savage reptile”? The ogrons don’t look like reptiles…neither does the bag monster.

    This being Delgado’s last appearance as the Master ?

    Feel free to truncate this if you want.

    Laters, and thanks for the amazing podcast!

    Reply
    • Wouldn’t truncate it for the world. ;-)
      Glad to have you aboard, amigo!

      Reply
  5. Kyle Rath | @sinistersprspy

    WARNING! DRASHIGS IN REARVIEW MAY BE MORE THAN THEY APPEAR!
    Ooooooohhhh, political intrigue!! We hates the Dragonses, don’ts we Precious?
    And the nasty filthy Humans?
    Yes, Precious. We hates them too.
    But how will we get rid of them, Precious?
    The Master will do it, Precious. With Ogrons!! Lots and lots of Ogrons!! And a fat Scrotum Monster!
    But I digress.

    A political thriller where I feel actually invested in the outcome is rare in any show. But somehow the first 2/3 of this serial manages to pull me in.
    The Final Delgado Master serial (TRAGEDY!!!) is very possibly his best. The Doc and Jo continually locked up got old after a while, but the switch when General Williams realizes the depth of his own prejudice is fucking spectacular.

    The Draconian masks are the tops, and the debates between the senior members of both factions only enhanced the weight of the situation they were all facing.

    Does the Masters final attack on The Doctor have any lasting effects? Delgados’ passing shortly after this serial definitely impacted Pertwees’ decision to leave the role.

    2.8/5 – Drop the Scrotum Monster, the phoned-in Dalek, and anything outside of the Draconian/Human conflict, cut it to 4 episodes and this serial could have been one of the best of the shows whole run.

    Reply
  6. Arthur Fuxake

    As is often the case with six-parters, there’s evident padding, diversions and repetition throughout, although an engaging and ambitious serial nevertheless.

    Parallels are drawn with the international climate of the time and more than a nod to the traditional cold war spy thriller genre, but with a conciliatory tone that plays on popular (mis)conceptions.

    Great to see the show’s continuing concept of casually casting non-caucasian characters (Ha! Try saying that after several Malibu Spritzers, or whatever it is you guys are drinking this week…) This transition into contemporary cultural convention is further emphasised by the post-futuristic depiction of an extralocal female world leader …and long before anyone had even begun to consider the prospect of a woman at the helm of Britain’s own prime-ministership.

    The Draconians are an impressively realised and sympathetic alien race. One wonders why they were never revisited…

    The Master was also great and had some fantastic lines in what would sadly be Delgado’s final performance. How wasn’t he driven completely insane by listening to Katy Manning’s improvised verbal discharge I’ll never know!

    Professor Piehead, on the other hand, was a bit of a slag. I feel that if anyone else had come along on that moonbase, and complimented him on his pointy beard, he would have immediately taken them along on his jailbreak mission instead.

    An enjoyable space yarn with a cleverly unexpected Dalek appearance, a dumb-ass Ogron deity, MILF chapel hat peg shots, a flour (yeah, right!) cargo hijack, and not Christian Slater’s dad.

    4.0

    Reply
    • Hey there Fuxake,

      Really sorry that we missed your mini review on the show. I only just noticed it now, shortly after dropping the ep.

      I must congratulate you, not only on a spiffing review, but on a classic Fuxake email subject line as well: Full-Frontal in Space
      (FYI, alas, I tend to search for the episode title in our inbox when it’s time to read out the minis, which is why yours didn’t come up this time.)

      In any case, awesome mini! Keep’em coming! :-)

      Rock on,

      Ponks

      Reply
      • Arthur Fuxake (or Fuxake)

        It’s my own fault – I should’ve guessed it. No problemo, and it gives me an excuse to stop trying to come up porno titles anyway; I would’ve struggled with the next one “Planet of the Daleks” :-)

        Congratulations on another great show nevertheless. I was looking forward to this one.

        Reply
  7. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    The William Hartnell serial “The Daleks Master Plan” inspired sequels in both Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee’s eras. These sequels both comprised two stories with the second starting directly from the first and a different writer for each. The second Doctor and Jamie learned the TARDIS was taken from Gatwick Airport as they dealt with “The Faceless Ones” by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke, and tracked the ship down, to learn the true extent of “The Evil of the Daleks” by David Whitaker. The third Doctor traveled with Jo as the second sequel materialized.

    In the 26th century, space pirate raids raised tension between the Earth and Draconian empires because each suspected the other of masterminding them. After the TARDIS landed on a cargo ship with which it almost collided in hyperspace–never mind why the time space craft was there–a spaceship linked up with the cargo ship. Ogron pirates broke in to steal the cargo of flour and the TARDIS, while a sound caused the ship’s crew to see Draconians and Jo to see a drashig. The Doctor, who was immune, realized the sound was hypnotic and caused its victims to see their greatest fear. When a rescue ship arrived after the hypnotic effect ebbed, the Doctor and Jo were mistaken for Draconian spies. News traveled to Earth faster than the cargo ship and General Williams shared this wrong assumption with the planet’s President. She tried to expose Draconian subterfuge by inviting the Ambassador, the Emperor’s son, to help question the Doctor and Jo. Her plan blew up when the Doctor explained he didn’t work for anyone and a third party was trying to start a war that would destroy both empires. The Draconians decided to question the Doctor and took him, confirming the humans’ suspicions. His kidnapping dismayed the Doctor as well, especially when the Draconians accused him of working for General Williams. Upon escaping the Draconians, the humans promptly recaptured him. Rejoining Jo, she heard the hypnotic sound again as Ogrons attacked. The Doctor and Jo were recaptured again and the Doctor was interrogated with a mind probe before being shipped off to prison on the moon.

    Warrants arrived for the Doctor and Jo followed by a police commissioner, the Master. He told Jo his Ogron pirates brought him the TARDIS from the Earth cargo ship and she would accompany him to the moon to retrieve the Doctor. There, a professor who planned to escape heard Doctor’s story and decided to bring him along. The space suits awaiting them in an airlock had empty air tanks and they were both suddenly trapped as the air was sucked from the chamber. The Master rescued them before the prison governor condemned each to a year of solitary confinement, and dismissed their accomplice, who had set the trap. The Master blackmailed the Governor, threatening to support the Doctor’s demand for an investigation that could prove the Governor arranged to murder the would be escapees. Then, to quell the Doctor’s inevitable accusations of stealing his ship and being an impostor with forged credentials, the Master revealed Jo was with him. His prison ship was the Earth freighter from the first episode with a cell in the hold. Also, the moon prison paralleled the prison planet of Desparus, on which the Daleks crashed the Doctor, his companion Steven, Trojan handmaiden Katarina, and Space Security Agent Bret Vyon in “The Daleks Master Plan”.

    In the cell on the Master’s prison ship with Jo, the Doctor filed through the lock and exited the spaceship on his way to the flight deck. During a course correction that interrupted the Master reading “War of the Worlds”, the Doctor became separated from the ship, but jetted back to relative safety using his air supply. Upon reentering the ship, he found the flight deck deserted since the Master was investigating his escape. To recapture the Doctor, the Master put Jo in an airlock and threatened her with Katrina’s fate from “The Daleks Master Plan.” The Time Lords fought as Draconians linked up with the prison ship and came aboard. The Doctor persuaded them to take the ship to Draconia. He, Jo, and the Master were guarded in the useless cell as the Master sent his Ogron minions a distress call. On Draconia, the Doctor explained what was happening and revealed his 500 year old noble status, obtained after he cured a Draconian plague. The Master protested, stalling and trying to stir up the bad feeling between Draconians and humans. When his Ogron minions arrived, only Jo heard the hypnotic sound making them appear human to the Draconians.

    When the hypnotic sound subsided, an unconscious Ogron , whom the Doctor explained was too stupid to question, was revealed and everyone realized he represented proof that could quiet the saber rattling, which had intensified once Earth broke off diplomatic relations with Draconia. The Ogron was evidently also too stupid to figure out only the closed door of the useless cell made him a captive. Fortunately, Draconian guards remained. While the Doctor, Jo, and the Draconian Ambassador took the Ogron to Earth in the prison ship, the Master pursued; attacked; and sent Ogrons aboard. They rescued the Ogron captive and escaped with Jo as an Earth battle cruiser arrived. Back on Earth, the Doctor persuaded General Wiliams to lead a rescue mission to the Ogron planet after the General and the Draconian Ambassador realized the enmity between their empires was based on a misunderstanding. On the Ogron planet, the Master revealed Jo and the TARDIS would lure the Doctor there. He also failed both to hypnotize and use the hypnotic sound against her.

    Attacks ratcheted up interplanetary tension before Draconians attacked the rescue ship crossing the frontier into their space. The rescuers suffered damage the Doctor left the ship to repair after they outran the Draconians. Jo, meanwhile, used a spoon to dig her way out of her cell and might have escaped faster using the bowl as well. Regardless, she sent a distress call to Draconia and Earth the Master told her traveled only far enough for the Doctor, who was in orbit, to hear. The damaged ship didn’t land where the homing beacon directed and Ogrons were sent to capture its occupants. The arrival of a creature the Ogrons worshiped ended a short firefight and infuriated the Master. He told his minions their masters would deal with them and personally led the Daleks to ambush the Doctor and his allies, who could not surrender fast enough to keep their ship’s crew, except the pilot, from being exterminated. The Master persuaded the Daleks to let him keep the Doctor captive until after the Earth Draconia War. They agreed to exterminate him later and left for “their base”. In the cell, the Doctor used the Master’s fear box, which Jo had stolen, to scare their guard into releasing them. General Williams and the Draconian Ambassador returned to their respective worlds to report the Daleks were behind the interstellar tension. The Doctor was wounded as he activated the fear box to thwart the Master and Ogrons’ ambush for him and Jo. When he recovered, the Master was gone and Jo helped him into the TARDIS, which took off as he sent a telepathic message to the Time Lords.

    Writer Malcolm Hulke wrote this first half of the second sequel to “The Daleks Master Plan”, withholding the real villains until, and within, the final episode. Both stories featured great model work, but the conclusion of the 70’s space opera was sadly anticlimactic, despite the cliffhanger, and marked the last time actor Roger Delgado would portray the Master. The Daleks’ inclusion was far from the only continuity in the story. The Master employed mercenary Ogrons in the Daleks’ service and his hypnotic fear box made Jo see Drashigs and Sea Devils. Her ability to overcome both hypnotism and the Master’s device as well as escape captivity and work with the Doctor, while he did likewise, demonstrated how much she had grown since her debut, in which she was largely useless. She even said being hypnotized once by the Master was enough, referring to the same episode, also his debut, in which he employed his ability against every living human he encountered. The padding in the fourth episode included the Doctor telling Jo about his trial and her talking about the less than glamorous life she’d had strings pulled to live. Intelligence work was work instead of attending dinner parties with James Bond. In the real world, Producer Barry Letts and Hulke slipped environmental concerns into a newscast, mentioning new, enclosed cities in the reclaimed Arctic. To encourage real estate sales, the “family allowance” was “increased to two children per couple”. Despite the popularity of Doctor Paul Ehrlich’s book “The Population Bomb”, it seems sex still sells on 26th century Earth.

    Despite its padded, repetitive script,` the continuity within a thin but intriguing plot involving Daleks helped the story draw viewers in, along, and into the second half of this sequel.

    Reply

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