The 1979 Doctor Who adventure "The Creature from the Pit" finds Tom Baker's fourth Doctor in decidedly tongue-in-cheek mode on the planet Cloris, a world where metal is in such short supply its possession means power, and where a very large green alien is annoyed at being kept prisoner in a pit. As so often happens, the Doctor gets caught between two feuding parties, here the power-crazed Lady Adrasta (Myra Frances) and her court, and a bunch of Pythonesque bandits led by John Bryans. This motley crew reveal the influence of script editor Douglas Adams, while more fun is to be had from Baker's interaction with the astrologer Organon, played by Geoffrey "Catweazle" Bayldon in a role that recalls Adams' Slartibartfast from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
At four episodes a thin story is over-stretched, the finale seems tacked on, and the shoddy creature effects are more remarkably phallic than anything in the same year's theatrical release, Alien. On the plus side, Lalla Ward in her third story grows nicely into her role as Romana, David Brierley takes over from John Leeson as the voice of robot dog K-9, and the set design and costumes are well up to the show's late-'70s high standards. Not a patch on the immediately preceding "City of Death," but an entertaining Whovian pantomime nonetheless. --Gary S. Dalkin
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