Tuesday, August 1, 2017
"You Could Almost Do Anything": Verity's Mission to the Unknown
Mission to the Unknown, represents the last time we'll see the credit "Producer: Verity Lambert"on Doctor Who, and it's a shame for several reasons. First, because, as indicated in my write up of Galaxy Four, incoming John Wiles is hardly a champion of women's empowerment in the show--my limited defense of the dramatic possibilities of Maaga and the Drahvins aside, the incoming team is about to drop the spirited Vicki, because Maureen O'Brien was too assertive, and for all of Stephanie Bidmead's character building, she really only had two scraps of the script to draw on. For the rest, the Drahvins are all too much like a certain type of man's fear of women in authority, written and televised when the woman in authority was leaving.
Second, it's just not. . . very good. No, it tells the story of Space Security Agent Marc Cory, who is trapped, along with astronaut Gordon Lowery, with a broken spaceship on the planet Kemble (after Fanny, if the melodrama is anything to go by), and discovers nefarious Dalek doings: A plot by the pepper pots and their allies (they have allies here), to conquer the Solar System, and especially. . . Earth.
Lowery, like a briefly glimpsed other member of the expedition, is done in by carnivorous plants native to Skaro (that then reanimate your corpse, to spread the infection). Cory's efforts to launch a message seemingly fail, because he waits until he sees the Daleks. What? The homicidal Skaro cacti weren't enough of a tip off?
The recon is not particularly good, but I think the flaws are most likely in the scripting, and the sudden departure from our regulars. Still, no way to say goodbye to Verity.
Lambert's IMDB page demonstrates a career that can only be called stellar; she produced crowd-pleasers, classics, significant historical drama, and shattered boundaries--the bold, pioneering drama The Naked Civil Servant mean something to you?--thank Verity. She brought Rumpole of the Bailey to Thames Television after a successful one-shot on "Play for Today", and brought Peter O'Toole and Richard Briers to Blandings Castle.
And, with Sydney Newman goading her, she created a classic from scratch, on the fly. Here she is discussing, inter alia, her run on Doctor Who:
And now she leaves our story.