Drilling deep below the Earth's crust for new energy sources results in an unexpected mineral slime that turns men into monsters. Meanwhile, an experiment gone wrong plunges the Doctor into a parallel world, where friends are enemies and where he sees what the drilling will lead to…
The deeper dive
- At the end of the previous season, the Time Lords forced the Doctor to change his appearance and exile him to Earth. During the last few adventures, we've not seen inside the TARDIS, instead the console has been removed for him to work on.
- Inferno provides us with the series' first venture into alternate realities, with the Doctor sliding sideways onto a fascist Earth. The storyline afforded series regulars Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Caroline John (Liz) and John Levene (Benton) the chance to play villains for a change. Courtney frequently cited this as his favourite adventure.
- There’s some great stunt work from the HAVOC team, including Roy Scammell’s record-breaking plunge from the water cooling tower when the Primord Private Wyatt is killed.
- The adventure also features some hauntingly memorable incidental music from the original theme-music arranger Delia Derbyshire – Blue Veils and Golden Sands and The Delian Mode.
As the parallel Earth reaches penetration zero, the drillhead erupts. Holed up in the workshop, the Brigade Leader tries to force the Doctor to take them with him (contains spoilers):
Alongside the extras from the 2006 release, there’s another edition of the fantastic Doctor Forever! range, this time telling the extraordinary story of the various attempts to revive Doctor Who after its suspension in 1989, including Steven Spielberg, The Dark Dimension and a man from local radio as an early Eighth Doctor! Also included is Hadoke versus HAVOC – an incredibly sweet documentary where comedian and presenter Toby Hadoke reunites the members of 1970s Doctor Who stunt team HAVOC (whose finest hour is in the many tumbles of Inferno), and then learns how to do a fall himself.
A strong fan favourite, Inferno is definitely worthy of Special Edition re-release. The improved picture quality updates the 2006 version hugely, with smoother transitions from studio to film, and improved colours giving the oncoming apocalypse a much more epic quality. Beyond the purely technical, Inferno remains arguably one of the Third Doctor’s best adventures - full of politics, realistically rendered characters and interesting relationships. The series’ first trip to a parallel world is so brave, dealing head on with fascism and creating some of Doctor Who’s most striking moments – seeing parallel Liz shoot the parallel Brigadier dead, Benton reduced to slavering beast, and the Earth destroyed. Jon Pertwee at his best.
The bottom line
An excellent environmental horror story, told across realities.