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How a Lost Episode of Doctor Who Foreshadowed the Disney+ Era

by Lidia Lucovic

A lost episode from the early years of Doctor Who foreshadowed the shared universe concept of the show’s current Disney+ era. During the 1960s, Doctor Who was produced all year round, and the show had to come up with creative ways to give the actors time off for holidays, often by writing out characters.

Picture Shows: Mabil (LOIS CHIMIMBA), Astos (BRETT GOLDSTEIN)

For instance, the First Doctor (William Hartnell) would be confined in a cell or made invisible, as seen in one of the episodes of the serial The Celestial Toymaker. However, in 1965, a more innovative approach was taken with the episode “Mission to the Unknown,” which excluded the Doctor, his companions, and the TARDIS. Instead, it served as a Dalek spin-off that set up Doctor Who’s acclaimed serial The Daleks’ Masterplan, which was scheduled to start airing four weeks later. Interestingly, this approach was not repeated, possibly due to the BBC’s view that only the Daleks were capable of leading the show without the Doctor and his companions. Additionally, it became challenging for Doctor Who to use the Daleks since their creator, Terry Nation, was attempting to create a spinoff series. “Mission to the Unknown” could thus be seen as a backdoor pilot, predicting the shared universe and spinoff shows that Russell T. Davies envisaged in his new era of Doctor Who.

The idea of a Doctor Who spinoff about an intelligence agency attempting to overthrow the fascism of the Daleks is certainly an intriguing one, and the success of Andor on Disney+ suggests that there could be a market for this type of show. Modernizing Terry Nation’s original concept for a Dalek spinoff would certainly be necessary to appeal to contemporary audiences, but the return of Russell T Davies to the Doctor Who universe could provide the perfect opportunity to do so.

As the writer responsible for the successful 2005 reboot of Doctor Who, Davies has a proven track record in bringing classic sci-fi concepts up to date for modern audiences. His ability to write compelling human characters is also well-established, which would be essential in making an audience care about the struggles of the Space Security Service or a Dalek resistance group.

Overall, the idea of a Doctor Who spinoff focused on the Daleks and their attempts to conquer the universe is certainly an exciting one, and there is reason to believe that it could find success on Disney+. With the right creative team in place and a commitment to modernizing the original concept, this spinoff could finally realize Terry Nation’s long-held dream of a Dalek-centric show nearly 50 years after the idea was first conceived.

RTD’s latest iteration of Doctor Who appears to draw inspiration from the show’s extensive history, as evidenced by the surprise appearance of Beep the Meep in the highly anticipated 60th anniversary special. In a recent interview with Doctor Who Magazine, RTD shared that the show will soon broadcast the name “Mavic Chen” for the first time on television since 1966. Mavic Chen, played by Kevin Stoney, was a villain in The Daleks’ Masterplan, hinting that Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor may soon venture into the world of Terry Nation’s 1960s Dalek stories.

If RTD is returning to the space opera elements that Nation introduced in “Mission to the Unknown,” it could offer a fresh perspective on the show. While previous Doctor Who spinoffs have been set on Earth, Nation’s universe of Space Security officers and Dalek invasions presents an exciting opportunity for the Disney+ spinoffs to boldly go where no spinoff has gone before. This also underscores that nothing in the Doctor Who canon is off-limits in RTD’s new era.

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What is your opinion?

MARICELA August 26, 2022 - 4:06 am

Ugh, I have to clean the house again.

MARIA September 15, 2022 - 9:18 am

Oh no, I have a flat tire.

Jimmy October 6, 2022 - 3:55 am

As a fan of Doctor Who and streaming services, I found this article to be a captivating read that left me wanting more.

anna October 8, 2022 - 9:49 am

I wish I had more time to learn new skills.

Monika October 13, 2022 - 9:04 am

It’s amazing how a show from the 1960s still has relevance in today’s entertainment landscape, and this article does a great job of explaining how.

RACQUEL October 18, 2022 - 5:27 am

For anyone interested in the history of Doctor Who and the evolution of television, this article is a must-read.

KEVIN November 4, 2022 - 10:03 pm

This article shines a light on the prescient nature of Doctor Who and its ability to inspire the next generation of storytellers.

Ricky November 10, 2022 - 9:32 pm

This lost episode of Doctor Who serves as a poignant reminder of the show’s legacy and influence on modern television.

GABRIEL December 23, 2022 - 1:23 am

This lost episode of Doctor Who is not just a relic of the past, but a fascinating glimpse into the future of television storytelling.

tenika December 28, 2022 - 12:16 pm

This article does a great job of showcasing the timeless appeal of Doctor Who and how it continues to influence the world of entertainment today.

DAVID December 28, 2022 - 11:36 pm

A haunting exploration of what could have been, and a tribute to the show’s ability to inspire new ways of storytelling.

Harlen January 1, 2023 - 5:17 pm

A fascinating look at how Doctor Who was ahead of its time in predicting the streaming era.

Robert January 13, 2023 - 8:59 pm

Who knew Doctor Who had the ability to predict the future of entertainment? This article is a must-read for fans of the show and the streaming era.

Regina January 21, 2023 - 9:37 am

In the fields of golden wheat, I find my heart complete.

ALEX January 31, 2023 - 4:45 pm

The ocean’s waves, so wild and free, remind us of our own liberty.

CHRISTOPHER February 7, 2023 - 7:14 am

In the rainforest’s vibrant hues, my spirit feels renewed.


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