Writer: Robert Banks Stewart
Director: Douglas Camfield
Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe
Season: 13, ep. 1 (1-4)
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)
Summary: The Doctor is called by the Brigadier to investigate a series of oil rig sabotages near Loch Ness. He discovers that they are the work of an alien race called the Zygons. The Zygons can change appearance and have a cyborg that they call the Skarasen, which is actually the Loch Ness Monster itself. The Zygons have been kidnapping people in the nearby town in order to infiltrate the rigs and to invade the Earth.
Review: The Hinchcliffe period of Tom Baker’s era is well-known for its monsters. Stories like “Terror of the Zygons”, “The Pyramids of Mars”, and “The Brain of Morbius” all came from this period. Hinchcliffe was largely influenced by the Hammer Horror films. The Zygons are great aliens in this story, and are among my favorite alien races. Sarah Jane is written well again, with her snooping around in the castle revealing the aliens’ base of operations. And I really like how organic the Zygon technology looks. Sullivan is still as useless as ever, though. (sorry, Harry Sullivan fans, but I don’t share your enthusiasm for this character) I also have to say for its time, the Loch Ness monster’s stop-motion isn’t too bad.
If you’re curious about the first appearance of the Zygons after having watched “The Day of the Doctor”, I strongly suggest checking this out. It’s a solid story with no signs of padding and paced quickly enough to keep your interest.
Overall Review: 10/10
Continuity: The Zygons were also mentioned in “Mawdryn Undead”, “Remembrance of the Daleks”, “School Reunion, the Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor”, and “The Power of Three”. They returned to TV in the 50th anniversary episode “Day of the Doctor”. This is the final UNIT story of the Classic Era, although the Brigadier made three more appearances without them: “Mawdryn Undead”, “The Five Doctors”, and “Battlefield”. UNIT eventually returned in New Who, sadly without the Brigadier, in “The Sontaran Strategem”. This story also marks the departure of Harry Sullivan, although an android impersonates him in “The Android Invasion”. The Zygons also appear in two Eighth Doctor stories from Big Finish: The Zygon Who Fell to Earth and Death in Blackpool.
Trivia: This story was originally intended to close season 12.