Sunday, 19 February 2012

Doctor Who and the Silurians - Episode One (1970)

Somewhere in England, two men are descending a metal ladder into a cave - "potholing" on their time off. They reach the cave floor and began to cautiously explore their surroundings. They hear a strange distant roar but shrug it off for the moment. One of them walks ahead and takes a turn around a rock wall. Suddenly, the roar sounds again -- louder. He looks up to find a huge reptilian creature towering over him, its massive jaws open as it closes in. He screams as it attacks him, knocking him to the ground. His companion flees for his very life.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is happily at work on his newest acquisition. All that can be seen are his long legs sticking out from under a little yellow roadster -- soon the be known as Bessie. A license plate marked WHO1 is at his feet. He is singing happily as he tinkers with the Edwardian sports car.
But he is interrupted by the arrival his assistant Liz Shaw. She's skeptical that the car will ever work, but the Doctor is cheerfully optimistic, eager to take it for his first drive. But before he can go joy-riding, she reads out a message. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has asked to report "forthwith" to Wenley Moor. At first, the Doctor refuses to obey the orders, but Liz tells him the area is famous for a huge system of caves. They could go exploring. Intrigued, the Doctor agrees to go. He starts up the car (to Liz's astonishment) and the two head out, his roadster speeding through London and into the countryside.
In Wenley Moor, an intense middle-aged man (Dr. Lawrence) is addressing his staff. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart sits to one side in his UNIT uniform. Lawrence tells them to remain calm and assures them they will solve their problems -- despite the presence of UNIT. During his speech, a soldier enters and summons the Brigadier. He leaves and finds that the Doctor and Liz have just arrived. He tells them they are in an atomic research center deep in a cave. Before they can ask any more questions, he drags them into the conference room where Lawrence is concluding his meeting.
Lethbridge-Stewart quickly introduces everyone, including the very friendly Dr. Quinn and the rather suspicious and reserved Major Baker. He asks Lawrence to brief them on the installation. Lawrence explains that they are using a cyclotron to bombard atoms with subatomic particles. The goal is to create a source of safe cheap atomic energy by converting nuclear energy directly to electricity. But the Brigadier notes that there have been two major problems: personnel problems involving nervous breakdowns and, of greater concern, unexplained power leakages from the reactor. He now wants a three-pronged attack on these problems -- with Baker working on security, Liz investigating the personnel problems and the Doctor looking into the reactor problems.
Quinn agrees to show the Doctor and Liz around. Lawrence tells the Brigadier to keep him updated but insists they not disturb the work. It is clear there is some tension between Lawrence and the Brigadier. He is also highly skeptical the Doctor can help. After everyone leaves, Baker asks why UNIT has been called in. Lethbridge-Stewart replies that these are unusual events -- precisely what UNIT investigates. Baker believes the problems are caused by saboteurs working from the inside. The Doctor, Liz and Quinn arrive in the control room. Quinn notes they are at the very center of the cyclotron. The Doctor worries that if a power leak happened at the wrong time, the reactor could turn into a bomb but Quinn tells him that Lawrence is unwilling to slow down the research. While they are talking, Liz seems a little disoriented and the Doctor asks if she's all right. Liz insists she's fine and wants to get started on the personnel files. Quinn and the Doctor talk about the caves. Quinn likes to explore them but is reluctant since an accident involving two technicians. One was killed and the other is still in the hospital. The institute seems to be keeping it quiet.
The Doctor asks if there is a pattern in the power losses. Quinn says there isn't but the Doctor wants to check for himself. He examines the log and finds that pages are missing. Quinn summons Miss Dawson and asks her about it. She tells him that Spencer -- the injured technician -- was responsible for the log and that explains the discrepancy. But the Doctor notices that the pages were ripped out. Liz meets with Dr. Meredith, the physician in charge. He tells her that they've had a lot of problems with breakdowns on their staff. He blames it on being underground for so long. The Doctor arrives and asks to see Spencer. At first Meredith refuses, but the Doctor is insistent. Meredith relents but warns the Doctor that it's not safe.
In one of the patient rooms, Spencer is crouched on the ground, drawing on the walls like cave man. Meredith tells them that Spencer's been drawing since he woke up -- with the exception of attacking Meredith. The Doctor approaches Spencer slowly and asks about the drawings -- particularly one of a strange-looking man with three eyes. The technician whirls and attacks him, grunting incoherently and trying to strangle him. The Doctor manages to calm Spencer down and the man resumes his drawing. The Doctor thinks that some deep terror has thrown the man's mind back millions of years.
In the control room, the technicians are testing the cyclotron. Quinn sends his assistant Roberts out of the room and Miss Dawson hurries over. The two have a frantic whispered conversation. Dawson asks Quinn to "tell them to stop, at least while these people are here." She also asks him to tell the Brigadier or Baker what's happening before someone else gets killed. But Quinn in unphased, telling her the others wouldn't understand or wouldn't believe him. He insists that the knowledge he stands to gain is worth any risk. Baker meets again with the Brigadier. He's completed security checks on everyone there, but can't find any records on the Doctor. The Brigadier deflects him, saying that the Doctor is his personal responsibility. As if on cue, the Doctor arrives. After Baker leaves, the Brigadier tells the Doctor that Baker had a bad slip-up on his previous job and ended up at the institute. The Doctor tells the Brig that he's discovered enough already to get very worried.
In the control room, the power up continues. Lawrence pops in for moment, insisting that they not delay. Technician Roberts is losing his concentration and has to be reminded of the task at hand.
The Brigadier and the Doctor argue over his discoveries. The Brigadier thinks the cave drawing are unimportant but is concerned about the log. He tells them Doctor to keep investigating. The Doctor petulantly replies that the Brig has hardly been Sherlock Holmes. Suddenly, the lights dim. Once again, power is leaking from the cyclotron. "Come on, Watson!" says the Brigadier and they rush off to the control room.
Lawrence is steaming that the cyclotron is acting up again while Quinn is calmly shutting down the reactor in stages. Soon after the Brigadier and the Doctor arrive, Roberts begins shouting and refusing to shut down the reactor. The cyclotron starts to get out of control. Dawson rushes in to shut it down and Roberts savagely attacks her. The Doctor steps in and shuts down the reactor and while the Brigadier restrains Roberts.
Some time later, the Doctor and Liz are in an office. Liz has finished her look over the personnel files. She's concerned about a huge rate of neuroses -- almost all from people working in the cyclotron room. She remembers that she felt strange - almost terrified -- when she was there. The Doctor notes that it is the deepest room in the institute and closet to the caves. Everything keeps pointing back to the caves.
Liz then remembers that the post-mortem on the dead technician has been finished. He died from a blow to the head, but his body was raked with huge claw marks. The Doctor is astonished and now determined to explore the caves for himself.
Once again, the metal ladder is dropped into the caves. This time it is a lone figure descending it -- the Doctor. As he touches bottom, he hears a distant faint roar. He follows in the footsteps of the last expedition, finding their abandoned equipment along the way. He round the same rock formation and suddenly sees a huge dinosaur looming over him, roaring ferociously. He covers his face as it closes in for the kill...

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