At the end of episode one the Doctor decided to join Doran in the pit. This was rather unexpected, although it appears that he merely planned to hang about until everyone had left and then climb out. Quite why no-one could spot him from the pit entrance is a slight mystery, but no matter.
There then follows the (in)famous scene where the Doctor attempts to climb his way out of the pit with the aid of a book, Everest in Easy Stages. Unfortunately it’s in Tibetan so he then pulls out another handy book – Teach Yourself Tibetan. If you’re not a fan of the humour present in the series at this time then I don’t think this gag is going to impress.
With the Doctor apparently dead, Adrasta is keen to utilise Romana’s knowledge to destroy the creature. There’s a nice hard edge to Adrasta, which is demonstrated after she gives the wise-cracking Romana a swift slap. Ouch!
The Doctor, having fallen into the pit, then makes the acquaintance of Organon (Geoffrey Bayldon). Bayldon is simply delightful as the cowardly astrologer and is obviously one of the serial’s trump cards. He gets plenty of good lines (“Seer to princes and emperors. The future foretold, the past explained, the present apologised for”) and works excellently with Tom Baker. Tom always seemed to thrive when he had strong actors to bounce off against and Bayldon is a fine example of this.
And then the creature turns up. It’s not good (although the model shots don’t look too bad). What’s fairly astonishing is that none of the production team appear to have seen it before it was unveiled on the first studio day. You’d have assumed someone would have kept an eye on how things were going, but no. In the post-mortem that followed, Graham Williams put the blame firmly on the shoulders of the visual effects department, but this seems more than a little unfair. With a very limited budget, just how do you create a monster of almost unimaginable size?
That neither Williams or Douglas Adams ever stopped to ask whether such a creature could be effectively realised on Doctor Who’s budget is very perplexing. But whilst the monster doesn’t impress, the byplay between the Doctor and Organon does.
ORGANON: Ahem. What do we do when we find the monster? Have you thought of that?
DOCTOR: Shush. I don’t know.
ORGANON: You don’t know? What do you mean, you don’t know?
DOCTOR: I haven’t made up my mind yet.
ORGANON: Well, haven’t you got a plan?
DOCTOR: A plan? Oh yes, I’ve got a plan.
ORGANON: Well then?
DOCTOR: I just don’t know how to apply it, that’s all.