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Jackson and The Argonauts take Team TARDIS to a newly formed, largely green-screen’d planet

Leela is taking the TARDIS for a spin whilst the Doctor plays painter in his smock. They happen upon the gravitational pull of a brand new sun and thus cross paths with a similarly affected Minyan spaceship, who have been on a quest for one hundred, thousand, yeeeaaars. It seems the Time Lords royally fecked up the civilisation on Minyos and the Minyans are searching for a colony craft that contains the genetic material to restart everything on another planet. One they’ll imaginatively call Minyos 2.

However, the colony ship has accidentally turned itself into a planet over the last one hundred thousand years and the descended inhabitants have naturally split into worker and abuser factions. Said workers now spend their lives eating gravel and mining in the tunnels of the spaceship-planet. So you can bet your bottom dollar that Doc, Leela, K9 and the rescuing Minyan crew members will spend the rest of the serial running and fighting in fake tunnels to rescue the miners, overthrow the abusers and steal some genetic shit on the way.

Here's what we think of C096 Underworld

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what we think of C096 Underworld

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what you think 6 Responses to “C096 Underworld”
  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    “Underworld” blended a mythological quest with familiar elements. The Doctor, Leela, and K9 joined the Minyans’ quest for spaceship, P7E. After tracking the ship to a forming nebula at the Universe’s edge, they found the Oracle ruled P7E from the Citadel, to which Seers were admitted, but not slaves or guards driving them.

    Minyan leader Jackson paralleled Argonaut leader Jason, searching for the golden fleece. It hung on a tree a dragon guarded at the end of the world. P7E referred to the Underworld’s Queen, Persephone, and a map showed its layout resembled a tree. The Citadel’s force field was called a dragon. Other mythological references included the suspended Sword of Damocles in a ceremony the Doctor disrupted and Minyan names. Herrick’s echoed strong man and Argonaut, Heracles.

    The story looks dark because action occurred in tunnels rendered with Color Separation Overlay, the BBC’s 1970s green screen. Minyan shield guns were fantastic, but other familiar story elements seemed dull. The Doctor outwitted and blew up a megalomaniacal computer, switching bombs for the Minyans’ race banks. Seers being robots was unexplained apart from their typically high standing compared to slaves. Also, neither ambitious, cost saving special effects nor Greek mythological references enthralled viewers.

  2. Peter Zunitch

    It’s amazing how such a simple story could house such complex concepts. On the surface we get, find the target, overcome baddies, save people. Deep down we get the prime directive, pacification weaponry, star formation, euthanasia, gravity assist, the coolest one line about how a weapon works ever, overly literal artificial intelligence, oppression and not losing sight of who a leading body serves. All of these concepts and more are tackled with such a light touch they’re almost un-noticeable. As viewers we are torn because the single-mindedness of the quest and where it leads them is pure insanity, and yet we sympathize in its importance. It’s only made more interesting by a backstory that is mostly hinted at, but in most cases never directly discussed.

    Leela gets the award this week. From her emotional backlash after the pacification gun to the way she nurtures Idas. Her confidence is growing and she is more secure than ever. Heck she even touches buttons on the Tardis console like she knows what she is doing.

    The downside this week comes from the effects department, who failed to properly light the greenscreen and the people in it. The weapons fire is also dopey slow and totally inconsistent. They must have spent all their time on the space scenes, which are by contrast great.

    I love the world it building here. I could go on about this story but you know…wait for it…. the quest is the quest. I’m truly pacified, 4.2

  3. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club


    • “The Quest is the Quest!” is now my fallback argument in meetings when confronted with accusations of my general incompetence.
    • Interesting hints of a backstory on Timelord cockups and Timelord tech.
    • “Bring out the Gimp” baddies.
    • Ah, the old switch-the-gene-bank-with-a-hand-grenade trick. Touché Doctor! The Seventh Doctor nods in approval.
    • Hints of the Minyans having a disturbing eugenics / racial purity ideology? (Jackson wanting to kick the descendant slaves off his ship at the end) – though not explored further, presumably at risk of getting too interesting.


    • Familiar descendants-from-a-spaceship and rebel uprising themes, both done much better only a few stories ago.
    • I rarely take issue with ropey special effects – and the green screen effects are strangely hypnotic (when producers remembered to put the effects over the screen!) – but why didn’t the producers use a real cave, or make/reuse a studio paper mache cave?
    • Hide (badly) in the mine cart. Worse. Plan. Ever.

    Summary: a rehash of interesting ideas but not a great serial and certainly not a sci-fi upgrade of the myth as promised (we’ll have to wait a few stories before bonkers Horns of Nimon delivers in that arena. Drunkenness requested for that review please).

    A Tribute: No, not to the return of Leela’s dress, but to Dailymotion. With Britbox, farewell to watching Classic Who on an inverted, teeny tiny screen or at 1.5 speed with Croatian subtitles.

    Rating: 1.3/5 weird fetish-clad baddies getting zapped by an overly gleeful Herrick.

  4. Daniel aka Doctor in Waiting

    The quest is the quest. That sentence got old really fast. I had seen this story a long time ago and didn’t remember it fondly though the Tom Baker era has so many great stories it’s no wonder it sits in the obscurity of my memory.

    Expecting to be disappointed I found myself being equally excited and frustrated throughout this serial.

    Regeneration pod, insert one old woman retrieve beautiful young blonde. When will these be available from amazon?

    Some get some great Time Lord lore, that they helped less developed civilisations until they screwed up the Minyans and developed a non interference policy.

    The repeated use of Green screens for most of the on planet sequences. The background looks like a collection of crystallised rock from a fossil shop. Would anyone have objected to a reuse of the Wooky Hole caves from revenge of the cybermen. The result is unconvincing and uncomfortable to my eyes. I also found the swirling nebula was glazing out front the TV. Perhaps I need a epilepsy test?

    The special effects were mixed, even taking into account 1970’s technology the rocks forming a planet around the spaceship looked like painted popcorn.

    Overall I revelled in the exciting well paced story and felt the actors had invested in the roles they were playing. However the green screen special effects ripped me away being emerged in the story every time they were shown.

    2.8 quests out of five.

    Leon hope you enjoyed the close up of Leela prior to bracing for impact at the start of episode two where she pushes up her cleavage.

  5. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    Underworld starts by ticking several boxes in episode one – Leela demonstrating (or pretending to have) knowledge of how to use the TARDIS console, a great spaceship set, some decent guest actors (especially Alan Lake) and a cool shield gun. We’re all set up for what appears to be a decent story based loosely on Jason and the Golden Fleece.

    Alas, it quickly falls down from episode two onwards, largely due to the overuse of CSO. This is often cringeworthy in other stories, but at least it only lasts a couple of minutes, and you soon forget. Having three episodes of actors walking through the ‘scenery’ because they don’t know where it starts and ends just looks terrible. The Seers probably looked daft on original transmission, but now I just think of the Minions from Despicable Me – the fact that there is a race called Minyans in the story doesn’t help!

    About the only funny moment comes with Tom Baker ad-libbing ‘whatever blows can be sucked’, which makes you forget for a minute the amount of padding added by showing the smoke billowing clip again. And again. And again.

    Overall, there’s a good story in here somewhere, but it’s let down by poor execution and a budget low even by Classic Who standards. 2.5/5

  6. Peter J Zunitch

    Okay okay I’ll admit it. I was probably in a very good mood when I rated this. However i will tell you that this does get better with age (CSO and repeated shots notwithstanding).

    I think this is another case of a lot of the story going by In one sentence. If you blink you miss a ton of info. There are explanations of much of what you called out. Yes they are robots for example, the computer taking its prime function to protect the gene banks to the extreme, etc.

    I’m not saying people who disliked it should rewatch, but if you do you’ll probably like it a little bit better. At least the story.

    Anyway cant change my rating after the print, but maybe I should rewatch it myself someday with a glass of reality check on hand. Still, for some reason it’s a guilty pleasure for me.

    Thanks for a great podcast as always guys!

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