I like this story for the most part. It’s another long one, so it does start to wear out its welcome a bit as six-parters tend to do, but not as badly as most because they characters are in a new location in every episode, which keeps things pretty fresh and interesting.
I like this story not so much because it is good, but because it is like a bad B- movie. I would love for the Rifftrax guys to riff on this one. There is even a part where our heroes almost get trapped in a city run by a bunch of brains in jars that have eye stalks. Barbara, in typical Barbara fashion, freaks out then smashes these brains, which is sort of like murder, if you think about it. It’s also a terrible waste. Sure, sure they were evil brains, but they probably were chock full of non-useful, slightly interesting facts that could help Barbara win at Trivial Pursuit games, or perhaps Jeopardy? You just have to ignore the evil stuff the brain says and milk it for its wealth of non-evil information. What a waste!
This story was written by Dalek creator terry Nation and is one of his many failed attempts at creating a new villain that is as iconic and successful as the Daleks. The bad guys in this one are called the Voord, and they are basically guys in jet black diving suits that they insist on wearing even when on dry land (flippers and all!) with very strange helmets. There are tuning forks or lighting rods or weather vanes or something protruding from the foreheads of these helmets. I don’t know what these are supposed to be, but they’re very phallic. Freud would probably have a lot to say about them.
The Voord are really only in the first and last parts of the story, which they spend creeping up on people and trying to stab them with diving knives and falling down chasms. It is unclear if they are supposed to be non human or not under those funky helmets. I think most people assume that they are although there is no real reason to make this assumption aside from that they are bad guys, that’s kinda racist isn’t it?
The Voord of course, were not a big hit. They never appeared in another TV story, but they did appear in a story in a Doctor Who annual, and in a series of trading cards where they fight the Daleks (as if they are even in the same league, death rays v diving knives!) Terry Nation must’ve made a lot of money off of those cards.
They also appeared in a comic strip story that I swear nobody likes but me, even though it was written by Grant Morrison, which is called the “World Shapers”. Wherein Mr. Morrison reveals what a Doctor Who fanboy he must be by seeking to tie up lots of continuity issues regarding the Cybermen by suggesting that the planet Marinus is actually the same place as the Cybermen’s home planet of Mondas and that the first Cybermen were actually rapidly evolved Voord! Well, they do both seem to have handle bars growing out of their helmets and are fond of wearing diving suits, so I suppose I can see a certain resemblance.
Most people ignore this story, even though it gives long standing companion Jaime an awesomely heroic death, because they assume it creates more continuity issues than it resolves by linking the Voord to the Cybermen. Considering though that the Cybermen also had a comic strip in the 90’s in which it was revealed that there was a bunch of Cybermen skulking around on Mondas in ancient times, long before the planet got knocked out of its orbit (the supposed reason for the people of Mondas turning themselves into Cybermen), and the origins of these original Cybermen are never explained, it sort of all actually makes sense if you assume that these original Cybermen are actually those evolved Voord from “the World Shapers” . Those 90’s strips imply that when Mondas starts to drift through space, the people copy the old Cyberman technology that they have lying around in museums in order to survive. So you see, it all actually does kind of make sense.