The Savages

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(4 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
CD Audio
(Doctor Who Story No. 26, starring William Hartnell)
  • written by Ian Stuart Black
  • directed by Christopher Barry
  • produced by Innes Lloyd
  • music by Raymond Jones
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo land on a planet in a distant age of peace and prosperity, and they are welcomed by the advanced humanoids living in a magnificent city who have everything they could wish for. But why are only guards allowed to leave the city? Who are the stone age savages living in the rocks and scrubland beyond? And what is the "energy exchange" at the heart of this civilization's culture?

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

This story is probably the most unheralded of all the gems of season three, and there are at least two very good, understandable reasons. Firstly, perhaps many people were not tuning in after suffering the rut of lack of anticipation of quality that season three had dug itself into with the previous four stories during its initial run, therefore the ratings for "The Savages" were not what the story deserved. Secondly, the episodes remained missing for so long, thus denying this adventure a public re-assessment. Thankfully, Mark Ayres has now remastered this classic on CD, where it can finally prove its fine calibre.

Like "Galaxy Four" (story no. 18), this is a moral sci-fi story and manages to pack power into all of its dramatic, thematic, and action elements. The resolution is even smoother, and all quite logical, although we'll save further details of its distinctions in this area for the in-depth analysis version of this review to avoid spoilers. Ian Stuart Black is to be greatly commended for the resolution, and also for lacing the plot with good examples of moral thoughtfulness and courage all the way through (unlike "The Ark" [story no. 23] which saves all its morality for a rush-through at the very end). This script knows what its strengths are from beginning to end, and focuses on them accordingly.

Story titles are finally given on screen credits, (Yay!) as episodes are now wisely identified by story plus episode number, instead of the often confusing individual episode names. Good move!

We see a lot of good qualities in William Hartnell's Doctor in this story, things that the long term fan may tend to take for granted, but things that writers are sometimes neglectful to give to Hartnell's Doctor. His pride, curiosity, maturity, and courage shine here, to the point where he seems to have absorbed Barbara's good qualities and taken over the role she played in "Forest of Fear", (episode 3 of story no. 1: "An Unearthly Child"), only now much more charismatically.

Steven gets to see a lot of action and take a commanding role in the story, and quite rightly too as it tends to bring the best out of him. Dodo also has a crucial role of discovery in this story, and it is probably the best use of her character yet on the series.

I particularly like the foreknowledge at work between both the Doctor and the Elders of the city, for both their meeting and the flavour of the result, while the details of how it will work out remain a mystery until everything plays out. This is something I would expect from truly advanced people for my own reasons.

The actual arrival of the TARDIS was unfortunately shifted into the previous story, which did it off screen on the cheap. At least the interior scene is imported into the beginning of this story.

Christopher Barry seems to have directed the story well, at least in getting good acting performances from those involved. Frederick Jaegar, who later became a principal guest star in stories like "Planet of Evil" (story no. 81) and "The Invisible Enemy" (story no. 93), does well here as Jano. Ewen Solon, who also later appears in "Planet of Evil", plays Chal here, and his tricky calls across the scrubland stay well within good taste, and are actually hauntingly good.

Sound effects for weapons fire also seem to be working better; significant short bursts of white noise signal initial firings, while a tingling whine continues from underneath for as long as the weapon remains on. What will really make or break this story, production-wise, is a satisfying visual effect for the guards' light-guns, which feature very heavily throughout. The credibility of any actor being caught in the guns' beams can be greatly influenced by the quality of the special effect that will interact with them. It's not too late to add some modern post-production, if recovered TV episodes are eventually discovered to need some badly! Barry's invention of the Daleks' negative beam effect, in affecting the entire frame, is not particularly to my liking, so I'm reserving some judgment until I can actually see what he did here. The narration on the CD suggests they might even be using flashlights (or "torches" as the British seem to like to call them).

Raymond Jones, who also provided music for "The Romans" (story no. 12) the previous year, turns in another excellent score, very classical and providing a mood similar to a good old-fashioned horror movie. It's far more effective than the "full symphony orchestra" fiasco of "The Myth Makers" (story no. 20).

The cliffhangers don't seem to have much "punch" to them this time around though, at least from listening to audio alone. Extra narration has been added to try to fill this gap.

The story is what really counts though, and it is excellent. I'm hoping that this story, along with "Galaxy Four", will be re-discovered visually sooner than most other missing ones. It deserves it.

This story is not known to exist in its original format (4 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.
Doctor Who: Lost in Time - William Hartnell
1 DVD disc

(also included in Lost in Time Boxed Sets)

Coverage on The Savages includes:
  • 8mm off-screen clips from Episode 4 with full sound (1 min.)
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's
Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Savages. (2 discs)

This 2 CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 4 television episodes of this story in one format:
  • The CD Audio version features narration by actor Peter Purves (who also played Steven Taylor) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version spans both discs and is playable in any normal audio CD player.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The War Machines"

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