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24 November 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 328: The Mutants, Episode Four

Dear diary,

I've been watching the Pertwee era for too long. There were two - yes, two - separate occasions in today's episode where, even though I know he's not in the story, I fully expected the Master to suddenly appear. The first came when the Doctor, and his ensemble were reused from the caves and taken back to the lead-lined laboratory. There's a moment when the mysterious figure in the radiation outfit reaches up to remove the helmet. Who could be under there? Surely it's not? It can't be… Well, no. It isn't the Master. Like I've said, I know he's not under there. It's just Professor Sondergaard.

Later on, a message comes through to the Sky Base that an investigator is on his way to them from Earth. That instantly put me in mind of Colony in Space, where we had to wait for most of the story to pass before the Master arrived pretending to be an Adjudicator from Earth. I hope I'm not the only person who can see why you might expect our resident evil Time Lord to be cropping up…?

I have to confess that The Mutants has somewhat lost me today. I don't know if I've just not been paying attention properly (either to this episode, or to the three previous ones), but a lot of the 'revelations' we're given seemed to lack the surprise they're supposed to carry. The obvious one is the revelation that they're entering a radiation chamber. Sondergaard is clearly wearing a radiation suit when he finds our party, and yet it's not until the Doctor reached the lab and figures out the material that he suddenly pieces it all together. I can just about buy the idea that Jo hadn't noticed what he was wearing the time before - she was being overwhelmed by radiation after all - but it did seem to be a bit of an obvious give away here and now.

Then we've got the Doctor deciphering the tablets sent by the Time Lords. He spends a while mulling them over with the Professor, as he tries to work out what they're saying, and then deduces that it's the pattern of the seasons on this planet. The announcement that the seasons must change every 500 years is treated almost like some big discovery… but the Marshall said something about the 500 year spring ending in the last episode! I'm guessing that it's just supposed to be news to the Doctor and Sondergaard, but it left me a little bit baffled.

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