With the Doctor's ability to travel in time and space
restored, he decides to take Jo on a trial journey, hoping to land on the
famous blue planet of Metebelis Three.
However, they appear to arrive in a rather smelly cargo
hold with only some chickens for company. Jo notices a crate marked 'Singapore'
and leaves with the Doctor, who wants to take a look around.
Elsewhere, on the planet Inter Minor, more arrivals are
taking place, this time through the cargo thruster. Two brightly clad people
are busy recovering their Scope (a miniaturised peepshow of Galaxy life
forms) from the thruster. The older one is a flamboyant con man and side
show artiste called Vorg, while his pretty female assistant is known as
While they are busy with their Scope, two of the planet's
leading officials are preparing to meet the new arrivals. Kalik, brother
of the President, is bemoaning the fact that the planet is allowing aliens
to visit. His companion agrees with him. Suddenly, there is a distraction.
One of the slave workers, known as Functionaries is making a speech inciting
his fellows to rebel. Quickly Kalik shoots him down, his blaster set on
stun, so that a physical and mental examination of the rebel will be possible.
This done, Kalik and Orum turn their attentions to Vorg and Shirna.
Meanwhile, Jo and the Doctor have found their way to the
deck of the ship. Jo is now convinced they are on Earth, but the Doctor
is not so sure - he senses there is something very wrong here. Entering
a passage, they hear voices coming from a little saloon and it is soon
evident from what they overhear that this is a 1920s ship en route to Singapore
from England. The occupants of the room appear to include an old Major,
his daughter Claire and a young officer called Andrews. After some small
talk, Andrews asks Claire to take a turn around the deck with him. The
Major declines to join them, saying he wants to finish his book before
they arrive in Bombay.
The Doctor tells Jo that he still doesn't think this is
Earth and he suggests returning to the TARDIS. Then, they hear Claire scream
- she rushes into the little saloon with Andrews, who tells the Major that
they are under attack from some sort of sea monster. The Doctor and Jo
look out and see the monster, which the Doctor identifies as a plesiosaurus.
If this is the 1920s, then the plesiosaurus ought to have been extinct
for millions of years.
Andrews goes off to fetch a rifle, while the Major consoles
Claire. Jo and the Doctor try to creep away unnoticed, but the Major spots
them. Jo tries to convince the surprised father and daughter that they
are passengers too, and that the Doctor is her uncle. At this point, Andrews
returns and says that the Major and Claire are the only passengers on board
- therefore the Doctor and Jo are stowaways.
On Inter Minor, Vorg and Shirna have problems of their
own. The Functionaries are fascinated by their Scope and gather round it.
Immediately putting on his best showman act, Vorg starts to promote the
machine. He says the Scope is a carnival of monsters, a kind of technological
goldfish bowl where different life-forms can be observed in their own natural
habitats. The Functionaries are frightened away by this act, however, and
it is then that Shirna notices a systems defect flashing on the machine.
Vorg gets his tool-box out.
All this is watched by the scornful figures of Orum and
Kalik. Another of their rank, Pletrac, joins them, bringing further news
of unrest among the Functionaries. While they discuss the situation, Vorg
locates the fault - he says it is a small blue box, and that he will have
to remove it from the circuit.
Back on the ship, Andrews has decided to lock the Doctor
and Jo up until the Captain is ready to see them. On the way to the Major's
cabin, where they are to be held the Doctor notices an octagonal plate
in a passage floor. Not only can Andrews not explain it - he can't see
Once locked in, the Doctor finally realises what has happened,
because of the name of the ship, the S.S. Bernice. In its day, it
was as famous as the Marie Celeste - it was a ship which simply
disappeared. Escaping from the cell using Jo's skeleton keys, the Doctor
decides to open the metal floor plate. To do so, he needs a tool from the
On the way back to get it, they hear the ship's occupants
going through exactly the same conversation about the sea monster as before.
The Doctor says they have been programmed to repeat their behaviour as
part of a simple display of livestock. Once back inside the TARDIS, the
Doctor rapidly comes out again when Jo screams. Following her gaze, he
watches horrified as a giant hand reaches into the hold and removes the
The Doctor says that to retrieve the TARDIS, they must
find a way off the ship. Vorg has got the miniature TARDIS, which he says
he must return if it is to remain small.
Having checked their credentials, the officials now wish
to know about Vorg and Shirna's Scope. The Doctor and Jo are making their
cautious way back to the metal plate outside the Major's cabin. Passing
through the saloon, they are caught by the Major, who does not recognise
Meanwhile, Vorg is shattered to learn that the officials
do not regard their status as entertainers sufficient to warrant them a
visa. He is told that he, Shirna and the Scope must all leave as soon as
possible. Vorg appeals, claiming that they must see his Scope in action.
The officials agree to this but remain unimpressed at glimpses of Ogrons,
ferocious creatures called Drashigs and finally the humans on the ship.
Sensing he is failing to impress, Vorg adjusts the aggrometer which makes
the specimens behave in a much more aggressive manner. The Doctor is now
being confronted with a markedly more threatening Andrews. A fight ensues
in which the Doctor knocks Andrews down. He and Jo escape, hotly pursued,
and are caught at the metal plate. They are about to be shot when Vorg
turns the aggrometer down as he doesn't want his specimens damaging each
other. Their memories wiped, Andrews and the Major leave the amazed Jo
and the Doctor.
Shirna has noticed that the Doctor and Jo are new to the
Scope. Inside the machine, they have broken through the plate and are walking
inside the Scope's innards, trying to find a way out. As they are doing
so, Pletrac orders the Scope destroyed, fearing infection from the life
The Eradication is a failure. But at first the officials
believe that all life inside has been disposed of, until they see that
this is not the case. Kalik speculates that Vorg and Shirna are alien spies,
saying that the Eradicator is now their only defence from the strangers.
They search the machine for a transmitter, and find the tiny TARDIS.
All of a sudden it grows to normal height - because, Vorg
explains, it was left out of the Scope's compression field for too long.
Shirna now suspects that the Doctor and Jo have escaped from their circuit.
She is quite correct; the Doctor and Jo now find themselves
in a swampy marshland. Vorg notices and says they've had it - they will
be devoured by the Drashigs, who live in this circuit. Kalik wishes to
watch this, and despite Shirna's protests, Vorg is too scared of having
his hand bitten off by a Drashig to intervene and help them.
Inside the Scope, Jo hears a distant screaming sound.
Thoroughly unnerved, she suggests returning to the cave from which they
entered this circuit. The Doctor agrees, but as they turn to leave, the
towering form of a hungry Drashig rises from the swamp.
The Drashig seems to be blind, hunting by scent alone.
The Doctor says they must try to reach the cave before it gets there. The
viewers on Inter Minor listen fascinated as Vorg tells how the Drashigs
never give up a scent, and since they are omnivores, they even eat spaceships.
The Doctor and Jo have other ideas, however, and using
distractions caused by the Doctor's sonic screwdriver are just about to
reach the cave mouth when another Drashig appears to block the way. At
this Vorg intervenes, giving the Doctor and Jo just enough time to get
back into the cave and the Scope's workings beyond.
The Doctor now explains to Jo exactly where they are -
inside a MiniScope, and that these were a kind of galactic peepshow, banned
by the Time Lords because of the cruelty involved. This one must have avoided
being impounded. The Doctor and Jo are now aware that the Drashigs haven't
yet given up the hunt and are trying to follow them into the Scope. They
rush off pursued by the giant creatures, which simply eat their way through
the metal of the Scope.
After an exhausting flight through what seem to be miles
of pipelines and small channels, the Doctor and Jo reach a junction with
a deep chasm ahead. The Doctor says that logically there should be an extractor
at the bottom of this shaft, the only way of escaping the Scope altogether.
Jo suggests going back to the ship where there is plenty
of rope, and using this to get down to the exit point. Luckily for them;
they come out in the ship's hold, and they begin to collect some rope,
accompanied by the distant roars of the Drashigs. Then they hear the Major
and Andrews approaching - both having heard the screams.
The Doctor and Jo hide, but Jo is discovered and taken
up to the saloon, while the Doctor gets on with the escape plan. Andrews
is telling Jo that the Captain will see her, when a much louder Drashig
scream is heard from the hold. Leaving Jo with Claire, Andrews and the
Major rush down. Down in the hold, the Drashig bursts through and confronts
the Doctor. Just then, Andrews arrives with some armed men.
The Drashig reacts to the gunfire by crashing through
the hold of the ship on to the deck where it is finally shot to pieces.
In the hold, Andrews blows up another Drashig, giving the Doctor a chance
to escape back into the Scope's interior. In the saloon, Jo is horrified
to see that the Major, Andrews and Claire have all slipped back into their
original behaviour patterns. She rushes off to find the Doctor, watched
by a bemused Major.
On Inter Minor, Shirna confirms to Kalik that the Drashigs
have broken out of their circuit, and might break out of the Scope. Taking
Orum to one side, Kalik says that this could serve his purpose by providing
an opportunity to take over from his brother to lead a new, stronger, more
traditional form of government - with Kalik as its president. The Eradicator
would be used to destroy the Drashigs and the Scope.
At this, Vorg announces that the Scope's power seems to
be fading. He insists that there will be enough power left for him to make
the necessary repairs but inside the machine, the Doctor can see that it
is beyond repair. Finally reaching the extractor, the Doctor forces his
way out. Under the horrified gaze of the Inter Minor officials, Vorg and
Shirna, the Doctor's tiny body stumbles from the Scope and promptly collapses.
The Doctor grows to full height and Pletrac, fearing
alien infection, orders his destruction at once. Kalik prevents this, having
sabotaged the Eradicator until his purposes suited him. At this point the
Doctor intervenes and says they will not harm him. Finding out his location,
he sees the TARDIS and assumes an air of authority. He accuses the officials
of operating an illegal Scope and says they must help him rescue Jo from
The officials appear to swallow this, while Vorg and Shirna
decide he must be a showman like themselves. The Doctor goes over to examine
the Scope. Vorg decides to help him and is very surprised when the Doctor
rounds on him for calmly accepting that the Scope is going to fail, killing
all its occupants. On the ship, Jo has made her way back to the hold, only
to be caught yet again by Andrews. Locked in the Major's cabin, she waits
a short time before using her skeleton keys on the door again.
Back on Inter Minor, Vorg and Shirna realise that the
Drashigs will soon break out of the Scope. They try to leave but are stopped
- Kalik wants Vorg on hand to take the blame if his rebellion goes wrong.
The Doctor has managed to rig up a system whereby he will
be transported back into the Scope, and by switching a linked button (fed
through the TARDIS time travel facility), it will return the Doctor and
Jo to the planet and all the occupants of the Scope to their rightful places
in the Universe.
Just as he is going to be interrogated, the Doctor is
transported back into the Scope by Vorg's intervention.
The enraged Pletrac fires at the Doctor's link-up, damaging
it badly. The Doctor finds Jo in the hold and they return to the Scope's
innards to await Vorg's rescue. Urged on by Shirna, Vorg is trying as hard
as he can to repair the damage inflicted by Pletrac's blaster. Inside the
Scope, the life support system is beginning to fail and the Doctor and
Jo find it increasingly hard to breathe.
On the ship, the Major, Andrews and Claire sink into unconsciousness
as does Jo. Finally the Doctor succumbs too, unaware that Vorg is about
to make the last vital re-connection. Orum meanwhile informs Kalik that
his dream of rebellion will have to wait now, as Pletrac has arrived to
dispose of the Scope. Kalik draws a gun forcing Orum to delay Pletrac.
In the time available, Kalik forces open the extractor on the Scope's side,
freeing a Drashig.
The Drashig grows to an enormous height and immediately
consumes Kalik, while the others in the area flee for their lives. Acting
very quickly, Vorg snatches the abandoned Eradicator and fires at the massive
creature. He then destroys all the other omnivores now breaking out from
the Scope. This done, he preens himself only to be reminded about the Doctor's
escape switch by Shirna's hurried voice.
At first it seems as if all the power has drained away
and then there seems to be a slight hum as the machine revives for one
last time. Pulling the switch home, Vorg and Shirna wait.
Inside the Scope, slowly but surely, all the specimens
vanish and re-appear in their rightful times and places. The Doctor and
Jo rematerialise next to the TARDIS and awaken to find a joyful Vorg greeting
them. The S.S. Bernice returns to 1926, at last able to finish its
voyage, while the Major is finally allowed to finish his book. Claire struggles
to remember the events buried deep in her memory but gives up.
Vorg is now surrounded by an admiring band of Functionaries
and officials, busily recounting, in highly exaggerated and mock-heroic
style, how he saved the day for Inter Minor. The Doctor and Jo announce
their departure, but Pletrac says they must wait until the Court of Inquiry
has finished. Humouring him, the time travellers begin to edge towards
the TARDIS. Unwittingly, Vorg provides a diversion with one of his old
money-making side shows.
Jo says he will probably end up as President. The TARDIS
departs, watched by an amused and slightly incredulous Shirna.
|Source: Archives from Doctor Who Magazine #113
(June 1986), pp.35-39.
The campaign the Doctor mentions he set up against the Miniscopes was so sucessful that he was requested to act as chairman in a conference in The Empire of Glass
, although a complication arose due to the fact that the invitation was given to the First Doctor after The Three Doctors