DVD Preview: Terror of the Zygons
Ever wondered what these Zygons in the 50th anniversary special were? We travel back to Tulloch Moor in 1975 to find out, with this month’s classic DVD release, Terror of the Zygons.
Returning to Earth, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive in the Scottish Highlands to investigate the mysterious destruction of several oil rigs in the North Sea. Local superstition speaks of a deadly threat that lurks in the mists on Tulloch Moor, but the truth is even more disturbing: the legendary Loch Ness Monster is a terrifying cyborg beast which is controlled by the Zygons, an advanced alien race who are desperate to ensure their own survival, at any cost...
The deeper dive:
- Terror of the Zygons opened Doctor Who’s thirteenth season in autumn 1975. It was preceded earlier in the week by an episode of Disney Time presented by Tom Baker, where the Doctor received a message from the Brigadier, summoning him back to Earth. The Disney Time clip is presented as an Easter Egg on this release.
- Zygons is Harry Sullivan’s last adventure as a companion, choosing to remain on Earth with UNIT. It’s also the last adventure featuring the Brigadier until 1983’s Mawdryn Undead, where he had retired from UNIT.
- The Zygons make their Doctor Who debut in this story, and will return in the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. They’ve not appeared on-screen between the two adventures.
- A cut scene is presented as an optional extra in episode one. Filmed on location, and originally removed due to colour grading issues, the scene features the TARDIS arriving (invisibly) on the Scottish moors, and the crew speculating about where they are.
The extra footage in episode one is a really cute little addition – full of the genuine fun and peril of travelling randomly in the TARDIS, with Tom Baker at madcap best (and demonstrating yet another lightning fast costume change for the Doctor!). Part three of the semi-regular The UNIT Family series, bids a fond farewell to the Taskforce, tracing their adventures up to the end of the classic series. Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen separately recall their times on the series, in material captured in 2003. And finally, plaudits go to poor Lis Sladen for Merry-Go-Round: The Fuel Fishers – a schools programme about oil rigs, that sees her in full-on windswept Sarah mode, dumped on various platforms in the North Sea!
There is something really homely and comforting about Terror of the Zygons – it feels like it should be watched on a cold day, while wearing a jumper and eating beans on toast. Tom Baker is a Doctor really hitting his stride, with great companions and the return of much loved guests like the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. The location filming is gorgeous – by turns tranquil and creepy – and scrubs up so clean in the restoration job, you can practically smell the petrichor. And although they are some of the rubberiest monsters in Who history, the Zygons are written, played and shot so well, as to be genuinely threatening – all hissing voices, fierce intelligence and piercing eyes. Watch this spread over four Saturday evenings, as something to really savour.