A strange distress signal leads the Doctor, Romana and
K9 to Chloris, a densely forested planet beset by a severe
shortage of metal. Here they face Lady Adrasta, a cruel tyrant
who holds a monopoly on metal, and encounter the gigantic
and deadly creature she keeps in "the Pit"...
17th season of Doctor Who is a real mixed bag in terms
of quality, ranging from the supreme style and wit of City
of Death to the rather shoddy scripting and production
values of Nightmare of Eden. The Creature from the
Pit lies somewhere in between these two extremes.
story's main claim to infamy is the design of the Creature
itself, possessing an appendage that looks regrettably phallic.
You could say that the astrologer Organon (played by Geoffrey
Catweazel Bayldon) isn't the only organ on display!
It certainly doesn't help matters when the Doctor (Tom Baker)
blows down this organ in an attempt to communicate with the
if you can look beyond this source of unintentional hilarity,
this story has a lot to offer. David Fisher's script deals
intelligently with the concepts of supply and demand with
regard to Chloris' paucity of metal. The Doctor's outburst
against greedy individuals who would put their own wealth
before the survival of their people is reminiscent of Christ's
angry criticism of the money-changers in the temple, whose
tables He overturned. And although the appearance of the Creature
leaves a lot to be desired, I do like the concept of Erato,
as he calls himself, especially when he is suavely voiced
input of script editor Douglas Adams is in evidence in some
of Lady Adrasta's deadpan lines. "We call it... the Pit!"
she explains, as she introduces her inventively named hole
in the ground. Later on she similarly reveals what the people
of Chloris call the creature within this pit: "We call it...
the Creature!" Actress Myra Frances turns in a charismatic
and sexy performance as Adrasta - it's just a pity that her
role is somewhat reduced in the final episode.
Creature from the Pit was Lalla Ward's first story in
the role of Romana's second incarnation (although it was shown
third in broadcast order). At this point she has clearly not
yet perfected her rapport with Baker, which was in full swing
by the time City of Death came along. Her aloof portrayal
has more in common with that of her predecessor, Mary Tamm.
a production point of view, the use of location filming in
an exotic garden delivers a more convincing jungle setting
than we tend to get when such environments are created in
the studio - see Meglos or Kinda, for example.
And the Wolfweeds, which are perhaps best described as killer
tumbleweeds, bring back fond childhood memories for me.
although this is certainly not the Fourth Doctor's finest
hour-and-a-half, it is by no means the pits either.
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