REVIEW: Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown (1965)


I’ve decided to revisit some of the lost episodes from Doctor Who’s history which no longer exist in the archives by using the original audio recordings which have been remastered and released onto CD. It is also possible to find some very good reconstructions on the internet using animation and images taken from the production.

Mission to the Unknown holds a unique place in Doctor Who history. It is the only Doctor Who episode broadcast which doesn’t feature the Doctor, his companion or even the TARDIS. However, William Hartnell was still credited despite not appearing. Also referred to as ‘Dalek Cutaway’ the episode serves as a prelude to the epic ‘Dalek’s Masterplan’ which was to follow after the next story, ‘The Myth Makers’. As a result it is quite an exciting episode, the Daleks are dominant obviously but the Varga plants are also very effective and actually create most of the peril and dramatic moments. It would be interesting to see the original visuals and see how well the Varga plant transformations were achieved. Also of note is the menagerie of aliens from the seven galaxies who are also particularly unique and visually strong.

Apart from Marc Cory conveniently hearing a Dalek loudspeaker announcement to confirm his suspicions, the whole episode perfectly unveils that the Daleks have formed an alliance with a band of other aliens in order to threaten the galaxy. For added drama their first target is Earth!

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to watch this on transmission without the internet or Doctor Who magazine to explain what was going on. So after an exciting episode with an impending threat coming from the Daleks, who are stronger than we have ever seen them, the narrative lingers with the viewer for a further four weeks because first the TARDIS crew lands outside the city of Troy.

Next week….The Myth Makers

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