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The Valley of Death

Released January 2012. 4 episodes

Adapted by: Jonathan Morris from a story by Philip Hinchcliffe
Director: Ken Bentley


Roots: The legend of El Dorado and Victoria explorer pulp fiction (hidden cities, restless natives mistaking outsiders for gods, giant creatures. We could also include the vague apparent belief of unspecified non-Western cultures that cameras can capture one's soul) Virgil's Aeneid, Book II ("beware of Greeks bearing gifts") The Doctor likens the Luron plot to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and accuses Godrin as "doing the Wizard of Oz number." He refers to Catch 22 and 'quotes' Charles Blondin ("don't look down") The Doctor talks of Galileo's square cube law in relation to Godrin's giant animals. Marriage ceremonies "speak now or forever hold your peace" The Doctor appropriates John Betjeman's poem Slough "Come friendly aliens and fall on Slough"

Fluffs: in episode three Valerie pronounced Godrin as "Godwin".

Dialogue Triumphs: "We have two options: either I can attempt to manage a crash landing, or exactly the same thing but without the word 'landing'"

The Doctor on cannibals: "I hope not, for their sake. I'm well past my Use by date"

"He's in Arthur's bosom, if ever a man went to Arthur's bosom

Double Entendres: "What's happening? Why are we still going down?"

"Spikes in the ceiling, really? Is that the best you can do?"

"This is bad science. If it were good science then they would not fear explaining it"

Continuity: The Valley of Death is located in the Amazon jungle and is also known as the Second Bermuda Triangle, having been the cause of many aircraft malfunctions and crashes over its area. It is also home to Maygar, the fabled Lost City of Gold, made of the very stuff and unaffected by the jungle's progress by an alien time bubble. The lost tribe of the Maygar use poison-tipped arrows. Professor Cornelius Perkins and Doctor Hugo Somesby disappeared while searching for the city of the Maygor tribe, in the Amazon on 1 May 1873. Perkins' diary was found sixty years ago and sold to an antiques dealer in Malaga. One month passes for Perkins inside the bubble, while a hundred and four years pass 'outside'.

The Luron Godrin created the time bubble around the valley to protect himself with special relativity-trapped planes until he could find a 'saviour able to use the gravity inversion technology to effect rescue through the bubble wall. As a consequence of the laterted dimensions inside the bubble, larger versions of Earth animals thrive, including an eighteen-foot tarantula and (reported) a toad the size of a rhinoceros. While a day or two pass within the bubble, two years pass in the real world. He knocks the Doctor out with a psychic dampening field. he places Leela and Edward in 'electro-static spirals'. Godrin's saucer is an egg-shaped metallic craft. The Doctor says it is interstellar, powered by a gravity inversion drive. It was struck by a meteor storm and forced to land on Earth. The deceased pilot's suit includes a fish-bowl styled helmet and armour-like suit (we can assume it's silver then? Good)

Lurons are small and yellow with pointed ears and teeth, and a Luron skull has large orbits and is long, with an enhanced brain cavity and blade-like incisors, like a vampire bat.Lurons put their own sun in a dimensional wall, miniaturized it and used it as a portable nuclear reactor Its radiation is lethal to humans. "By the dawn of the Luron sun" is one of their oaths. They have an overlord (how cute!) When their world became uninhabitable they left to seek a new home. The Luron mothership is in orbit of Jupiter and has a temporal warp drive powered by antimatter plasma fusion. From dialogue between Godrin and his leader it may be inferred that the ship, too, has been in its own time bubble. Their new world is a hundred light years away. Luron organic facsimiles are created using a bioscan of appropriate subjects, creating a featureless, naked archetype onto which a personality type (including features, clothing and 'sentience') is installed. They have a clone bank for up to a million individuals. The presence of their sun masks a the Lurons' better selves. They have medicine that will restore the damage done to humans by radiation from the Luron sun. Exposure to the sun kills Hemmings and even weakens the Doctor. Twenty-two Lurons have survived a deadly contagion which struck the crew and turned them into savages. Glass orchids of tellumarine are native to Luron and refract sunlight through their leaves.

Valerie Carlton is a photojournalist for World magazine. The Doctor, Leela and Valerie depart from West London airport, destined for Brazil. They return two years later (although only a day or so have passed for them inside the bubble)- at this time the Queen is not in residence. Playing on BBC1 at the time is A Diary of Britain, Mike Yarwood in Person and Larry Grayson's Generation Game.

The Doctor says UNIT HQ keeps moving as the neighbours get suspicious. UNIT protocol when meeting alien species is, apparently, don't tell them anything about our defensive capabilities and expect to be expendable. UNIT has the entire planet's nuclear arsenal at its disposal (including that of the Soviet Union's.) The Doctor is still officially UNIT's scientific adviser (indeed, it seems to be public knowledge). The Brigadier is in a meeting in Oslo, concerning fishing stocks. In his absence, General Reginald Hemmings is the acting commander of UNIT's British division.

Leela says she has an almost perfect sense of direction and knows all of the characters of the trees. She mentions that she is easily at home in a jungle as she comes from one. A Sevateem saying goes "it is better to die fighting than to die alone"

The Doctor neutralizes 'live' cockpit instruments with his sonic screwdriver. He is carrying humbugs and has an inordinate number of pockets. Inside one is a torch. He hasn't heard of Lurons.

Links: Leela refers to her temporary blindness "I have made that mistake before" (Horror of Fang Rock) and Xoanon, "tesh-nicians", force-fields and janis thorns (The Face of Evil).

Q.v.: 'Party Politics'

Location: London and Magyar, Brazil, 1977 and London again, 1979 (presumably - the PM is referred to as "she", placing episodes three and four post-Thatcher's May 1979 election victory)

The Bottom Line: "I have the most powerful weapon in the universe. I have a screwdriver!"

An oddball. It's not hard to see why the original script never made it to the screen, but even in an almost limitless audio format, Valley of Death takes some swallowing. Hoary, creaky, more than a little ridiculous and surprisingly dense, it 's a strange fit for the Fourth Doctor, and at the very least a novel counterpart to the equally epic but more faithful Foe from the Future. But it is very silly.

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