As most of you reading this will be aware, episodes one and three of this six-parter are available on the “Lost in Time” DVD set. I liked part one because it was the first part of the story and therefore was easy to follow, but the stories moved so fast in those days and so much happened in part two, the third part was somewhat more difficult to appreciate, making this serial all the more frustrating due to its incompleteness. Those of you who have seen it will recall that it begins with the TARDIS materializing on one of the runways of London’s Gatwick airport. As they are chased by airport security, the TARDIS crew (the Doctor, Jamie, Ben and Polly) are forced to split up.
In the Chameleon Tours hanger, Polly witnesses a murder. She later disappears, and when she turns up later she claims not to recognize her friends. In fact, she seems to have another identity entirely! It soon becomes clear that something hinky is going on behind the scenes at Chameleon Tours. They sell European package tours to young people, but the tourists themselves routinely disappear. The Doctor and Jamie soon discover the tour company has taken a strategy from Count Dracula’s playbook by having its clients write letters home in advance of their trips, and then posting them later from the destination countries to hide the fact that the travellers never arrived.
Not all of the victims’ families are fooled by this ruse, however, and the Doctor and Jamie soon become involved with a young lady named Samantha Briggs whose brother has gone missing from one of Chameleon’s tour packages. Behind the scenes, “behind the backs” of Anneke Wills and Michael Craze (according to Wills herself in a bonus interview disc), the BBC was seeking their replacement as the Doctor’s companion, a role soon to be filled by Deborah Watling. (But I’m getting ahead of myself.) The part was offered to Pauline Collins (Samantha), but she turned it down.
To make a long (six-part) story short, alien Chameleons have (in some inexplicable way) lost their individual identities, and the whole operation is set up as a ruse to abduct and usurp the identities of 50,000 young Earthlings. The “faceless ones” in question are in reality the “raw state” Chameleons waiting for a human form to mimic and adopt. The tour planes never reach their intended destinations, but instead convert to rocket ships mid-flight and transport the unknowing victims to a space station in Earth orbit where the switches are to take place.
After the Doctor discovers and thwarts the plan, Ben and Polly decide to stay behind when they discover that the date is July 20, 1966, the same day the sneaked aboard the TARDIS and began travelling with the First Doctor. No sooner do they take their leave, than the Doctor discovers that the TARDIS has been stolen from airport storage, leading directly into the next storyline.
NEXT: “The Evil of the Daleks”
Pauline Collins returned to the series many years later to play Queen Victoria in "Tooth and Claw".
"To make a long (six-part) story short, alien Chameleons have (in some inexplicable way) lost their individual identities, and the whole operation is set up as a ruse to abduct and usurp the identities of 50,000 young Earthlings."
I never really understood what the heck that was supposed to be all about.
The reason given was "due to an explosion." As my episode quide put it, "What kind of an explosion causes that?" I got the impression the "how" wasn't as important as the "what." Despite that hole, the story holds together quite well. It also happens to be Malcom Hulke's first Doctor Who writing credit (as co-writer).
JULY 20, 1966: I’m not the first one to notice this or point it out by any means, but this date was a very busy one for the Doctor, all told. In the morning, the First Doctor, having just defeated the War Machines, inadvertently took Ben and Polly aboard the TARDIS as unknowing stowaways. Later, the Second Doctor returned with them and defeated the alien Chameleons, then in the afternoon he and Jamie took on the Daleks. Quite busy, indeed, with the War Machines, the Chameleons and the Daleks all vying for domination of the Earth on the same day!
Watched Episodes One and Three last night (plowing my way through the "Lost in Time" disks). Not much to add except that the Chameleons might've chosen a more subtle name for their "front" company than "Chameleon Tours". What, was "We'renotsecretlyaliens Travel Company" already taken? (Actually, in the Doctor Who universe, maybe it was!)
I have my DVR set to record all new episodes of Doctor Who. while I was checking it last night, I was surprised to see it had piscked up two new episodes. Actually, it was epidoes 1-3 and 4-6 edited together. The whole thing (not just the missing episodes) has been animated, in color. there are so many scene changes, the plot is a lot easier to follow than listening to the audio (of episodes 2, 4-6) only.
It will be available on DVD October 20.
1)The Doctor yells “Scatter!”, and only Ben runs in a different direction.
2)There’s a scene where the actor playing Captain Blade walks into a room and the door handle comes right off in his hand, and he just sets it on a table and carries on, not missing a beat. Gotta admire someone who can keep their cool like that.
3)The thing is, whenever I hear the word “Commandant”, I think of Colonel Klink.
4)”Tonight on Plot Convenience Playhouse, Polly just happens to run into the heels’ base.”
5)You know, if a tour group said to me, “Here’s a post card we’ve pre-written for you to sign”, I’d be suspicious.
6)Kind of dimwitted of the Doctor and Jamie not to notice Polly being grabbed from right behind them.
Cliffhanger: There’s a guy with a weird head!
7)Hey, Jean Rock was Wanda Ventham, who was Thea Ransome in “Image of the Fendahl” and Faroon in ”Time and the Rani” and also she’s Benito Cummerbund’s mother!
8)The opening theme music changes arrangements between Episodes 1 and 2.
9)I kept waiting for the cops to notice that Jamie’s newspaper was upside down. I checked the tele-snaps version and that joke was in the original.
10)The Doctor and Jamie are shown to be reading the Mill Hill Times. I suspect an in-joke by the animators.
11)The in-jokes continue as one of the papers has an ad for Marinus Padlocks, a gag on “The Keys of Marinus”.
12)Also, the fourth line on the eyechart in the nurse’s office reads “FLOWDAB”.
13)Pauline Collins really lays on the “Liverpool” thick.
Cliffhanger: The Doctor’s being gassed! Or frozen! Or something!
14)Samantha wraps Jamie around her little finger pretty quickly. With all due respect to the memory of Deborah Watling, I suspect that Samantha might have made a better companion than Victoria did.
Cliffhanger: Inspector Crossland learns the secret of Chameleon Tours!
15)I feel that even by 1966, villains should have learned not to put their captives in slow-moving death-traps which leave them plenty of time to figure out how to escape.
16)A newspaper in the Commandant’s office rads “WAR MACHINES DEFEATED”. Considering that we later learn that it’s the same day that adventure ended, they must have rushed that extra out quickly.
Cliffhanger: The planes are being taken up into a spaceship!
17)”As you see, we’ve lost our identities.” I still don’t really understand what in the Blue hell that means.
Cliffhanger: The Doctor and Nurse Pinto are caught by the Chameleons!
18)The animator’s jokes continue as we see a sign for Magpie Electricals. (ref. “The Idiot’s Lantern”)
19)Also we see “Wanted” posters for the Delgado and Dhawan Masters, which makes zero sense continuity-wise.
20)Seems kind of stupid of the Chameleons to leave the human originals behind of they were so vital.
21)Also, what made them think that the parking lot was such an impenetrable hiding place? It strikes me as the worst possible hiding place.
22)”The thing is, it is our world.” “Yes, I know. You’re lucky. I never got back to mine.”
23)”You, Polly, can look after Ben.” Ooh, that line didn’t age well.
Cliffhanger: The TARDIS is missing!
Overall: An OK story, although the plot could have used a little work. Not much of a farewell for Ben and Polly, since they’re largely missing from the second half of the story.