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15x5. Underworld
Writers: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
Director: Norman Stewart
Script Editor: Anthony Read
Producer: Graham Williams

Synopsis: The TARDIS materializes on a spaceship piloted by a small crew of Minyans who have been pursuing another of their species' ships, the P7E, for 100,000 years while artificially prolonging their lives in the hopes of retrieving their species' race banks. Eventually they discover that a planet has formed around the P7E and come into conflict with descendants of its crew, who serve the ship's computer as an "oracle" and exploit the others for labor.

Review: "Underworld" has some interesting ideas, but it doesn't really do much with any of them, instead just sending the Doctor and Leela running around with a bunch of underdeveloped characters. The Minyan crew insist that "the quest is the quest" and use artificial regeneration technology to continue their pursuit of the P7E, but they are not particularly convincing as a group of people who have supposedly been doing this for 100,000 years. The Minyans' predicament is partly due to their ill-fated development of technology originally given to them by the Time Lords (it eventually led to their discovery of nuclear weapons), and the Doctor explains that this was part of the motivation for their eventual isolationism, but this never becomes anything more than a tangential piece of backstory. As for the "Oracle," it's a pretty standard-issue insane computer that pales next to Doctor Who predecessors such as Xoannon, BOSS, and WOTAN. And while the references to Greek mythology (specifically the legend of the Argo) may be somewhat clever, they really add little to the story itself, functioning mostly as a curiosity. The serial does manage to keep the audience's attention for its running time, but it's still one of the more forgettable outings of the Tom Baker era to date.

Rating: ** (out of four)

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