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“The Voord rule here.  The Voord will hunt you down, and you will all be harvested.”

The Doctor, Ian and Susan arrive shipboard on a strange, watery planet.  They discover they are part of a vast fleet of ships under siege from a mysterious alien race who manages to pick them off, ship by ship, dragging them underwater seemingly at random.  And when they finally hit land, they discover their busy capitol city completely abandoned, Roanoake style…

“When a being succumbs to the Voord and takes on the headpiece, they are surrendering their very essence.  Freethinking is no more.  They become puppets.  The leaders refer to them as their “creatures”. 

Given the title of this story, it should be no surprise that said aggressors turn out to be the Kamen Rideresque helmeted humanoid race of the Voord, last seen way back in episode 5, The Keys of Marinus.

“You said the Voord really believe they’re bringing peace?”
“Quite so.  Their creed is that if all races are inducted into the Voord, there will be no more conflict…as cruel and awful as it is, it has a terrible logic, to some.”
“They convinced many of our people…”
“The Hydrans who took the mask went willingly to the Voord, for reasons of greed, lust for power or longer life…those motives have cost them their identities and more.”

Ian gets to be a bit more heroic than what I recall of him in the era’s televised run, taking a solo dive to investigate and singlehandedly fighting off a homicidal Voord. 

After this unexpected bit of adventuring and round of fisticuffs from the oft bemused science professor, the Doctor and Barbara go down with the ship, while Susan and Ian take off in the Tardis.  Eventually, a presumably fallen comrade leads the Hydran resistance.  But can they free the beleaguered planet from their totalitarian oppressors?

“The Hydrans are angry, but they mustn’t harm the Voord…that would be barbaric,” Susan delivers, straight faced.  And yet for all her naivete, she may be the only one who can get through to the captured Voord to solve the mystery…that is, if she’s not being carefully groomed and manipulated by their ostensible captive…

“I am pleased to report that a pathetic and cowardly attack by outlaws on a Voord and Hydran work party has been entirely defeated.  The outlaws were killed by our brave forces.”
“That’s a lie!”
“It’s propaganda, Susan.  It’s what tyrants use when they’re afraid.”

There are some obvious, if sadly much needed warnings to be heeded herein, particularly given the existence of an entire television network devoted to nothing but propaganda and distorting plain facts to suit the ends of a corporate and militarily funded officialdom, but these are more asides than the point per se. 

Even so, it’s heartening to hear some voices of reason in a world increasingly unwilling, if not unable to see through Oz’ veil to the reality that lies behind what we’re told.  See also the early McCoy/Ace adventure Live 34…

William Russell, once again sounding uncannily like Hartnell, manages to further appropriate any number of the first Doctor’s quirks and mannerisms of speech in his delivery.  After similar doppelgangerlike performances in The Sleeping City and The Dark Planet, it’s clear this is no one off or fluke: Russell knows his Doctor well, and does a far better job at filling Hartnell’s spats than any other actor since, regardless of medium.  Bravo once again.

Carole Ann Ford can hardly be expected to mirror her far more youthful self so many years on, but still offers a much stronger performance herein than what we’d heard in the prior Companion Chronicles offering The Beginning. In fact, the only downside (if you have to have one) is that the two seldom truly seem to interact, almost as if each delivered their portion of the story on separate occasions.  It’s a fairly minor quibble.

Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s quirky music cues certainly fit and feel much akin to the sort of soundtrack of which Classic Whovians of the first Doctor’s era would be well accustomed. 

There’s enough of a mystery here to keep Whovians interested, an important warning applicable to contemporary society, and the leads, particularly the eerily Hartnellesque Russell, certainly put their best foot forward. 

While for the most part, the Hartnell era remains my least favorite of the Classic Who run in its comparative stodginess to what would follow over the subsequent 26 years or so, I still found myself engaged and curious as to the resolution throughout and heartened once again to see that not everyone out there on this big blue planet of ours has surrendered their will and personal rights to our own metaphorical Voord.

Those who appreciate the more interesting, science fiction-based episodes of the original Doctor’s time (The Ark, The Tenth Planet, what remains of the Daleks Master Plan and Invasion of Earth, The Chase and Keys of Marinus itself) should be quite happy to spend a few hours in the Domain of the Voord.