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123c 'The Mutant Phase'

CD and audio cassette adventure released December 2000, 4 episodes

Writer: Nicholas Briggs
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: Adapted (loosely) from the Audio Visuals story The Mutant Phase, also by Briggs. Dr Strangelove (Mark Gattis' refugee Karl), The Wizard of Oz (Kansas, 'it was all a dream...'), The War of the Worlds, SWARM (and a host of other bee/wasp movies), The Doctors asks Ganatus "I don't suppose you've heard the tale of the scorpion and the frog?"

Goofs: The Doctor and Nyssa can hear outside sounds through the scanner, but this is broken and fixed in 'Arc of Infinity'. Nyssa says she's fixed the TARDIS early warning system yet it isn't working in 'Mawdryn Undead' [however, we've more adventures to come in this space, so who knows?]

Technobabble: The TARDIS is wrapped in a damaged spatial temporal causal nexus point (a time paradox).

Dialogue Triumphs: "You've got all the persuasive power of a food dispenser."
"-A food dispenser with a gun."

"Fate? Never heard of it"

Double Entendres: 'Engage maximum thrust immediately'

"I have no illusions about 'The Evil of the Daleks', believe me, Doctor."

Lime Grove wasps.

Continuity: 'Looks like we've both had a facelift since we last met' says the Doctor to the Emperor Dalek, suggesting that the Emperor is the same as in 'Evil of the Daleks' in a different casing. Ptolem's research is recorded on data crystals. The Daleks are still on Skaro at this point, but seem to have retrenched - Ganatus is surprised to see any more than three leave the planet at once in episode one. They use reproductive factories to further their numbers by regularly extracting genetic material from individuals and operating upon this. Scans for impurities among 'donors' are routine. Thals still exist, but no longer live on Skaro. Ptolem and Ganatus monitor Albert, the Doctor infers, via a psychotropic implant in his brain.

The process of becoming a mutant phase creature destroys a Dalek's higher brain functions, effectively turning it into a destructive insect-like mutant of animal intelligence. Of the mutant phase creatures themselves, over a hundred billion individuals swarm in a group as big as any planet Ptolem has seen - they can travel at unimaginable speed and each individual measures over a hundred metres in length with wings resembling metal shields. They absorb energy directed at them, and contact with one is fatal. Their attack on a possible future Earth drains the planet of its plants, nutrients, minerals and micro-organisms, thus ruining its biosphere. However, Earth is the only planet on which they die out (see: 'Future History')

The origin of a paradox manifests as a 'bump in the time track', felt by the TARDIS as it crosses that time zone.

Nyssa refers twice to Alaska and the events of 'Land of the Dead'. She recalls lime grove wasps on Traken. At the beginning of the story she fixes the TARDIS' audio circuits on the proximity alarm.

Future History: Providing the following events are not consequences of the time paradox contained within the story: By 2158 genetically modified crops are common and contribute to larger sized pest resistant crops (the rape the Doctor and Nyssa walk through is four metres taller than naturally found). Around this time the pesticide GK-50 is used against wasps which became more aggressive towards humans as a result of the modifications. Over five hundred people were killed by a single swarm of such insects in 2172. As a consequence of the paradox, in 4223 the mutant phase creatures attack Earth and cause environmental catastrophe. Vast numbers of the population are wiped out in a food shortage. Survivors retreat to underground shelters and are sustained by supplies provided by Thals.

Links: 'The Daleks' (the names Ganatus and Dyoni), 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' (location and use of Robomen), 'The Evil of the Daleks' (the Dalek Emperor), 'The Krotons' (the Doctor refers to the Hostile Action Displacement System), 'Earthshock' ('When Adric died...'), Remembrance of the Daleks (bonded polycarbide armour), 'Land of the Dead'

Location: Earth, Kansas, USA, 2158 (specifically a field of rape), London, England, 4253 (in an alternative time line); the planet Skaro, some time in the future beyond the Earth year 4253.

The Bottom Line: An interesting story with an engaging premise in the history of the Daleks. There is a tendency towards talk even in the midst of action that gives the story the sense of not a lot happening however, and a good deal of detail suggests more than one listening is required. Despite this, there is good use of the Daleks and their enemies, with the fifth Doctor's indecisive habits shown clearly, Nyssa actually getting to be a biochemist and the TARDIS used as a time ship; an all too rare occurrence in the series.

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