Monday, 7 April 2008

If - "The Brain Dead"

The third of Peter Adamson's articles on the impact some unmade Who might have had, if they had been made ...

The Brain Dead
by Brian Hayles

Prior to The Curse Of Peladon, Brian Hayles submitted a story outline for a third Ice Warrior story, yet again set on Earth, but this time in a contemporary setting.

Briefly, The Brain Dead involved an attempted invasion of Earth by the Martians using Earth's "comsats" (communication satellites) and the Warriors' own weapon, the' Z beam' - a super high concentration of energy which could freeze targets to absolute zero at pin-point accuracy. There was more - the Ice Warriors eventually make their base on Earth (probably Britain - don't get too excited) in a disused frozen foods factory. It's beginning to sound like the plot for Batman Forever already. UNIT are involved of course - this being a first contact scenario for the Brigadier re: the real inhabitants of Mars; though the Brig initially believes the culprits to be the very Earthly separatist group, The Isolationists. Things become even more sinister with the appearance of the victims of the Martians' meddling - the Brain Dead - zombified humans who makeup most of the invading vanguard. finally, the Doctor comes to everyone's rescue with the revelation that all the frozen assets of the Ice Warriors (the Brain Dead included) can be easily dispatched with an ultra high electrical current. Simple really.

If all of this sounds a bit confusing and complicated, tht'f1 bear in mind that this is the most complete story synopsis available, and to be sure it's not much of a story at face value . Presumably the reason behind its rejection, much to the improvement of the far superior Peladon story.

As for its inclusion in Season 9 however, The Brain Dead wouldn't have looked out of place alongside say, The Time Monster. The inclusion of UNIT would have been entirely feasible, as would the production-friendly Earth setting. There is even some topical elements with the Isolationists, an environmental pressure group foreshadowing Jo's future in The Green Death. It would have been interesting to see how Brian Hayles wrote for the UNIT regulars, and given that at that stage the previous Ice Warrior story had been The Seeds Of Death, the concept of aggressive Martians would not have seemed out of place (unlike their later slated appearance in Mission To Magnus). So wemight be able to conceive of an imaginary production of Brain Dead with the usual regulars Lennie Mayne directing, Ian Scoones supplying the satellite models, and perhaps even Alan Bennion would have reprised his lee Lord role as Kulvis, commander of the Martian force.

In the end it is probably for the better that The Brain Dead was overlooked, for its replacement with The Curse Of Peladon was a boon fur the Pertwee Era in two ways: first and foremost Peladon was the first adventure set in outer space for the ninth season (and only the second in Pertwee's tenure at that stage), and secondly it introduced the first instance of an established 'monster' race having a significant and interesting change in philosophy and becoming an ally of good (or, ' doing a Klingon' as it would churlishly be known in later years). The Brain Dead offered none of these novel elements unfortunately, and perhaps it is for the reason that it played too closely to the already dated Earthbound formula of season seven that it was scuppered.

- Peter Adamson

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