Mission is unique in that it’s the only episode to date that doesn’t feature The Doctor or the TARDIS at all. Designed as a teaser for the upcoming Dalek Masterplan I’ve always viewed it as episode one of that story. However, the more I thought about it the more I came to realise that Verity Lambert was actually ahead of the game.
Nowadays we’re used to Prequels, what with the Tardisodes and all the rest of it , but back in the day this must have seemed a bit oddball, to have an Episode of Doctor Who without the Doctor in it. But now, looking back, you can see that it’s really an Extended Prequel and as a result it no longer seems quite as odd as it used to. Even allowing for the circumstances of its production, it still seems like an idea that was ahead of its time, and it’s a shame that the story it tells is so poor.
The idea for tacking this most obscure of episodes came from two things – one, I’d just bought both the Masterplan audiobooks for a fiver each [bargain!] and two, I’d just found out about Dame Levine’s Mad Plan to animate Dalek Master Plan. Between them they seemed to suggest that it was time to tackle this one-part clunker and do what we could to improve it.
I don’t hold out much hope for Levine’s intended Masterplan animation, at least not if the version of Mission to the Unknown he put out is anything to go by. The animation for that is dreadful, making it only slightly better than several other bad versions of the story on YouTube. The Tim Keable comic strip version is better.
I decided to go down the combination of Soundtrack and Audio Book route that I’d already used on State of Decay and Planet of the Daleks. The edit concentrates the action on Corey and Lowery, moving from Purves` narration to the TV dialogue and back again, ending with Corey’s extermination. Initially I thought about having the edit close with the arrival of the Tardis but in the end I decided that Mission is what it is, an extended prequel, and left it out.
The other interesting thing to note I think, is that if you discount The Feast of Steven – which isn’t very hard to do – as a side trip, then this becomes part one of the 12 part epic that is The Dalek Masterplan, which I will tackle in due course. It’s just a shame that John Peel is no better at novelising Terry Nation’s scripts than Nation was at writing them.