Doctor Who: Return Of The Classics - The Third Doctor

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Tony Fyler continues his look at villains from the Classic era that have yet to be used in New Who, but who deserve a try-out in the 21st century. This time, it’s the turn of villains from the Third Doctor’s era.


Previously
The First Doctor
The Second Doctor

The Forbidden Fruit
The trouble with some stories is that they’re wrapped up neatly in a big time-looping bow. Pity the writer trying to resurrect The Axons – they’re supposed to be endlessly going through a short sequence of events over and over and over again. Big Finish turned the original Claws of Axos on its head and got around it in The Feast of Axos, but if I’m honest, the story was…ok.

Imagine the Earth colony Rabia in the far future, its terraforming in regression, its agriculture failing, and the mighty Earth Empire having withered at home, leaving people on Rabia dying for want of food. Its government of young men and women launch a hyperspace flare in a desperate plea for help.

As it enters hyperspace, the flare, blasts through an object that wasn’t in its pathway seconds before – Axos. The addition of new matter disrupts the time-loop, and Axos devours the flare, its rockets converted into motive power, its data packet giving Axos a new objective.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Clara arrive on Rabia, having aimed for Blackpool in the 90s. While the Doctor refuses to believe the blasted, barren planet isn’t Blackpool, the two are picked up by security, and blag their way into a research team, trying to make the soil conducive to plant growth. The Doctor solves that problem quickly – microscopic nitrogen-eating nematodes render the soil incapable of supporting growth.

No sooner has he pronounced the planet doomed than a nice golden woman arrives, claiming to have received the distress flare. She demonstrates a miracle substance – Axonite – and makes a patch of ground grow an instant apple tree, the fruit of which, she claims, will deliver all their nutritional needs. A fierce war of words is waged, Axon woman versus the Doctor, but with rations growing ever scarcer, the people of Rabia eat the apples off the tree– all except one child, Alexia, who doesn’t trust the golden lady.

Of course the tree is pure Axonite, its apples, Axonite – so as the tree buries roots deep into the planet to suck it dry of all its energy, the apples eat the people from the inside out, turning them into a new generation of Axons, ready to rampage across the galaxy. When her parents turn into monsters, Clara saves Alexia from the Axons, but when she demands that the Doctor beat the space vampires, he simply takes off, claiming that she doesn’t get it: the Axons can’t be beaten by anything conventional – the force you throw at them, they absorb and use against you. The Axons are a test of desperation or greed, and the people of Rabia have failed, meaning the Axons are free and powerful again.  While Clara takes him to task about that, and about what’s to be done with little Alexia, there’s the horrifying sound of an apple being crunched – Alexia decides to go and join her family as Rabia becomes New Axos, and the Tardis is just a little more silent after she leaves. They’re not looking for Blackpool any more.


The Wrath of Stars and The First of the Time Lords
Imagine you’re Omega. You take the ultimate risk to make gods of your people, and pay the ultimate price – exile, solitude, madness in a universe of your own devising. You try, twice, to come back and take your place among them, only to be defeated by one man. And then, unknown to that man, you make it back. Your own stellar manipulator calls to you when it turns the sun of the Skarosian system supernova, and you capture it. It takes a thousand years of work to turn a device for manipulating stars into a permanent, stable bridgehead between two universes that should never touch, and by the time you make it back, the man you hate more than any other has destroyed your world, your people, and everything you ever loved.

Omega wants two things in this universe – he wants to start again, elevate a new species to the power of the Time Lords, but this time as his slaves to worship him as a god, as the Time Lords should have done. And he wants the Doctor to suffer. He chooses the people of Earth with their precious ‘individuality’ to be his new lackeys, and when he turns a sun supernova to give the Earthlings the power over time and watch them run riot in the universe, he intends to trap the Doctor, endlessly alive and conscious and suffering, at its heart, to weep at the subjugation of the Earth and to feel the Wrath of Stars. In desperation, Clara calls Kate Stewart, who brings in Jo Jones for a return to ‘Cromer.’

In a moment of heroic potential self-sacrifice, Jo frees the Doctor, giving him the breathing space he needs to talk to Omega. The Doctor persuades Omega to mind-link with him, and the First of the Time Lords discovers that Gallifrey is still out there, somewhere, and that before the end, it had embraced the madness of Rassilon, and needs a saviour. Omega is distraught – but hopeful. He sees his place in Time Lord Destiny finally, as the hero he could be, rather than the god he’s always felt he should have been. In the second part of a two-episode epic, the Doctor and Omega finally work together, and Omega does what the Doctor couldn’t do – he finds Galllifrey and restores it to its rightful place in space and time. Then the Doctor and Omega, along with Kate, Clara and Jo, go into battle against the tyranny of Rassilon, Omega being the only one who can overthrow his might. With Rassilon defeated, Omega takes his place at the head of Time Lord society, promising to restore an age on enlightened neutrality, but intervening where the web of time is in danger. He offers the Doctor a place at his side, and the Doctor is actually tempted – if Time Lord society can change, maybe he can work within it. Clara wants him to take it, but Jo reminds him how restless and cranky he used to get, stuck in one place for any length of time. The Doctor agrees, telling Omega he still has things to see before he comes home.


Invasion of the Humans
With the best will in the world, the new Silurians are one of the more questionable re-vamps in New Who, and nothing has yet been done with the Sea Devils. We already know that as well as hiding underground, the Homo Reptilia sent off at least one ark full of dinosaurs to find an alternative home.

Maybe there was more than one. Maybe one ark found a home.

Cue a festival of effects, as we find the Silurians’ new home – the old-style Silurians herding prey animals on dinosaurs, Sea Devil cities under the ocean etc. And then enter the humans – a mining crew have spotted a great rich deposit of minerals that can be used for fuel, under the planet’s oceans. The Doctor and Clara materialize on their ship as it lands on the sea and extends its legs. And so the question is put once more – which is more important to mankind? The rights of indigenous people and the ecology in which he finds himself, or the potential for profit? On a world where we’re talking about ‘developing’ the Antarctic, and where fracking is increasingly rampant, the Sea Devils are a parable in action.

The Doctor again finds himself cast into the role of negotiator but this time, there’s no brokering of peace. This time, the only way the humans get to live is to leave immediately, and without their chemical spoils. A tense battle of wills ensues, and the leader of the mining expedition makes the wrong choice. The Sea Devils investigate, killing those who offer them immediate violence. Can the Doctor get the humans to see sense before there’s a bloodbath?


The President of Peladon
Who’s not up for a return to Peladon? Imagine the planet hundreds of years on from our last official visit in Monster of Peladon – now an influential member of the Federation, with its trisilicate wealth powering advances in science and society, Peladon is no longer a feudal monarchy perched on the edge of a cliff – it has become a democracy, where science is the everyday reality of the people, but a muttering minority still believe in the old religion of the spirit of Aggedor, believing that the noble beast is displeased with all the intergalactic incomers who have settled on Peladon’s continents.

There is a Presidential Election coming up, and Alfric Hentark, a leading Aggedorian, is gathering support rapidly, as the ‘spirit of Aggedor’ is seen terrorizing communities of incomers, as if to confirm the mutterings – Aggedor is angry, and Peladon must stand alone. Alfric rides a wave of terror to within an ace of the Presidency of the planet, when the Doctor and Clara arrive. Curious as to the appearances of Aggedor – much larger than the beast he met before, and captured on camera – the Doctor sees no option but to throw his hat into the ring for the Presidency, to slow Hentark down and get to the bottom of Aggedor’s convenient appearances. Spurred on by the Doctor’s actions, Velaris Pel, a distant descendant of the one-time kings and queens of Peladon, begins to speak on behalf of involvement with the Federation and incomers’ rights.

The Doctor’s investigations find this Aggedor is no native to Peladon, but a genetically engineered giant, controlled through pain and pheromones to attack wherever its master demands. Its master of course is Hentark, who has had the creature cloned, with investment from an off-world conglomerate from Arcturus (which has invested heavily in the mining operations on Peladon), to ensure that Peladon leaves the Federation, kicks out all its incomers – and substantially raises the price for its trisilicate, while narrowing supply and making a fortune for the would-be President of Peladon and his business cronies. With the plot exposed, Pel becomes the next President of Peladon and the planet’s peaceful participation in the Federation is ensured for another generation. The giant Aggedor is kept in its own reserve, never to be harmed or threatened again.


The Amethyst Empress
The Draconians were Jon Pertwee’s favourite aliens, and they’re a strong fan favourite too, both because they were given a strong cultural backstory and because they looked fantastic. Big Finish revisited them in Paper Cuts, and there are nods to Marc Platt’s idea here, but hopefully a stronger, less fundamentally complicated plot.

In The Amethyst Empress, we meet Natori, the young, headstrong daughter of a dying emperor of Draconia. A thousand worlds, and enormous merchant and battle fleets should be hers to command when her father dies, except for one thing – Draconia must be ruled by an emperor, not an empress. It’s never happened before: emperors without sons have simply been deposed by a challenger. But Natori intends to stand for her rights as offspring of her royal father. With the court in panic, her mother declaring her illegitimate and claiming, against the biological odds, to be pregnant with the dying emperor’s final brood, one of which must surely be a male, and several would-be emperors plotting her death at every turn, Natori plans a revolution of Draconia’s daughters, with only her wits and a ceremonial sword to enforce her claim.

Except she also has an unlikely protector – that itinerant noble of Draconian history, known as the Doctor – and an ally in the acid-spitting Clara of the House of Hard Kicks. Between them, can these three overcome all the history and prejudice of an ancient empire? The Amethyst Empress would be Doctor Who Does Game of Thrones – with Draconians!


The Web of Time – A Doctor-Lite Episode
Spiders get everywhere. Even into a ship like the Tardis, where the Doctor has been keeping the Great Crystal of Metebelis 3 for hundreds of years. Gradually, over the generations, and unknown to the Doctor, the spiders have been growing larger, more intelligent, their psychic powers more intense. Clara wakes up in her Tardis bedroom, to the sound of scuttling, but can’t see anything to have made the noise. She leaves, seeing cobwebs in the corridor, and hears the scuttling sound again. She follows increasingly thick cobweb patterns and scuttling noises to the control room, where the central console is covered in spiderwebs.

As she brushes the web from the console, first one, then several, then very many tiny spiders swarm out from the console, crawling all over her, and as she screams, she finally looks up, to where a giant spider is waiting to jump onto her back. She blacks out.

When she wakes up next, she find the blue crystal in her hand, and knows where it needs to go. She travels back to the centre of the Tardis, where the giant spiders are waiting for her, with the Doctor bound in their webs. All it will take is for the crystal to be placed in their web and the engines started, and the power of the spiders’ mind-control will be pumped through the Tardis’ systems, forming a symbiosis between the spiders and the time machine that will allow them to spread their influence throughout all of space and time. The Doctor reaches out to her, at the cost of great pain, and gets her to focus on the blue crystal, allowing her to break the thrall of the spiders. Taking the crystal back to the console room, she plugs into the telepathic circuits, and while spiders of all sizes assail her, she’s protected by her own amplified psychic energy. The Tardis flies, and, under Clara’s influence, spreads the spiders all across time and space, alone and without the crystal that can help them re-establish their psychic control.

Previously
The First Doctor
The Second Doctor

Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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