Never the one to shirk off our responsibilities we cringe at the Randomizer’s continued punishment of us in its selections. This week we were faced with a choice of Creature from the Pit, The Horns of Nimon and The Ultimate Foe. Never you fear though because this run of unfortunate luck must surely turn in our favor eventually as we hit some good stories.
We opted for the lesser of three evils and are reviewing Creature from the Pit. This 1979 story stars Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor and Lalla Ward as the second Romana. Written by David Fisher and Directed by Barry Lets this story does enjoy a fair amount of comedic input from then script editor Douglas Adams. That’s about the most positive thing that we can say about this story. total running time on this story is 100 minutes of spine tingling adventure.
The TARDIS lands on the planet Chloris, a planet rich in plant life and poor in mineral wealth. The population of Chloris are all S&M fanatics who struggle over the dominate plant life by cracking whips and wearing tight fetish costumes. The planet is ruled by a female dominatrix by the name of Lady Adrasta who owns all of the mineral wealth on the planet.
From her MySpace page we learn that she loves long walks on the beach, reading by firelight and throwing scientists down a pit to the creature that lives down there. The titular Creature from the pit is in fact an alien life form who came to Chloris to trade their vast supply of mineral wealth for plants. This threatened Lady Adrasta’s control of the planet so she threw the creature down the pit to tend with all of the astrologers and scientists that pissed her off.
Strange stuff happens and eventually Tom Baker is caught on tape talking into the creature’s giant green penis. (not at all certain how that made it past the censors, but it did) The story wraps up and all is good.
What to like
- Lalla Ward in a white billowy see through costume tops this list. Myra Frances in a Dominatrix costume is a close second. Romana’s wardrobe choice appears to have been intended for Mary Tamm, but we gain the benefit none the less.
- The set is well done and one could almost believe that they were in a jungle and quite possibly in a pit as well if not for the sound of footsteps on a stage floor that accompanied them almost everywhere. There was nary a wobbly wall in the entire set, then again there were nary any walls.
- Comedy plays center stage in this story and we are treated to some truly excellent one liners and comedic turns of phrases. Douglas Adams clearly was in full stride for this story, which actually saves it from everything in the “what not to like” category.
What not to like
- The creature is both obscenely stupid looking (green hefty bag with Christmas lights in it) and just plain obscene. We aren’t even certain how Tom Baker managed to get through the “acting” scenes with it. All we can see from the creature is just a main bulk and a protuberance that is clearly uncircumcised. To make matters worse, said protuberance also shoots out liquid that hardens into a crusty shell. We are left to reason that we only ever see the creatures crotch on camera. We would also like to add that if you grab the creatures crotch while holding a shield the creature can speak through you. Who made this shit up, Gary Gygax? It’s not Myrka bad, but it is damn close.
- The plot is both silly and plodding, and not at all entertaining. If you actually think it through evolution and civilization on Chloris would not have ended up where it did, but who are we to demand accuracy in our script concepts. This is where Douglas Adam’s input really helped make the 4 episodes watchable. If not for the odd one liner and strange vissuals we would have found a pit to throw ourselves down.
- The absolute worst sounding K-9 ever. Brierly didn’t even seem to have rehearsed the lines and the cadence is so far off Leeson’s performance that it is no wonder that they ended up having to bring him back. And this was supposed to be the pay off for K-9 having laryngitis in Destiny of the Daleks. It’s worse then the voice work of the emotional Cybermen from Revenge.
- We can only begin to think that the Warp Star at the end of this story is responsible for all that RTD silliness in the new series with diamonds being stars and bombs and Deus ex Machinas. We knew we didn’t like them, and now we have more reasons.
We give The Creature from the Pit 2.75 out of 5 see through white dresses. Certainly it may have looked better on Mary Tamm, but it was still pretty good, on the other hand plot and monster design kicked its arse and brought it down horribly.