The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

The Pescatons

Episodes Dates
1 Released 1976

Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, and Bill Mitchell as "Zor". Written by Victor Pemberton. Directed by Harvey Usill and Don Norman. Produced by Don Norman.


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 21/10/98

This two part drama from Victor Pemberton is a simple tale of alien invasion. Featuring The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane, this could have made for some interesting character development. Instead, it concentrates on the situation and its effect rather than the characters themselves (notably when The Doctor finds an abandoned baby and The Pescatons break into the reptile house at a nearby zoo.)

As The Doctor, Tom Baker seems to comment more on the situation around him, rather than react to it, while Elisabeth Sladen is typically Sarah. The Pescatons themselves are pretty faceless, really, just roaring every now and then, and even their leader Zor doesn`t pose any real threat. Saying this, however, their situation and background is interesting and could have been exploited more.

It is pretty obvious that Victor Pemberton based this tale on his own Fury From The Deep and as such the ending is predictable. This is enjoyable at best and something of a wasted opportunity really.

A Review by Richard Radcliffe 21/1/02

Tom Baker on Audio!!!

Big Finish haven’t got the top TV Doctor on Audio yet, so this is something of a novelty and a welcome addition to DW. The 4th Doctor is with his best companion too – Sarah–Jane Smith. It was recorded in 1976, when the TV show was at its’ height – the flipside to an audio version of Genesis of the Daleks. It seems Genesis was very popular even back then. The Pescatons is something else entirely though. It never crops up in Classic Story talks, it is seen as something of an oddball adventure, a run-of-the-mill story at best.

This first recognized foray into the Audio world actually is extremely enjoyable. It pales next to the production values of the Big Finish stuff we are getting these days for sure, and the story jumps around a lot – but it is a very pleasant way to spend 45 minutes.

The main reason I enjoyed it so much is Tom Baker. If you were going for distinguished and rich voices – then Tom Baker has to be near the top of the tree. His voice can often be heard on advertisements for all kinds of things – it is a superb voice, right up there with the likes of Richard Burton and Orson Welles. Tom Baker tells the tale as though it is a Shakespearean epic – he gives it his all. I say tells the tale, because the majority of this audio is actually narration. There are a few scenes where the 4th Doctor and Sarah-Jane go into character, but Liz Sladen doesn’t have a lot to do really.

The story starts on an English beach. The sea lashing against the coastline, the Doctor and Sarah-Jane exploring the surf. It’s a great start, and it sets the aquatic nature of the Pescatons up nicely. The story then switches to the Doctor exploring underwater caverns. Whereas the previous coastline scene was all acted out, this scene is all narrated, and that’s when the jumps in prose begin. Suddenly the Doctor is underwater, moving dead bodies out the way, and the Pescaton scout ship is revealed!

There is another jump next, right into the heart of London. Pescatons roam free, causing some of the loudest screams I have ever heard on audio. They fairly burst the eardrums they do. The Pescatons reek havoc, accompanied by some very early 70s music (was this more 3rd Doctor than 4th Doctor?). We are then treated to another jump of scenes, there is just no leading up to these leaps – just straight into the next reel. The Doctor visits Pesca, home surprisingly of the Pescatons! We are introduced to the leader of the Pescatons – Zor. How many alien species have names beginning with the letter Z? Quite a lot in the DW universe at least, something about that mysterious letter Z! Then we are back to earth for the grand finale. The 4th Doctor with a Piccolo? Mixed up Doctors there, and we get Fury From the Deep resolution too. Definitely Victor Pemberton recycling going on here then.

I am being rather flippant, but there is plenty to enjoy about The Pescatons, the 4th Doctor and Sarah-Jane having an extra adventure being top of the list. I have reviewed the audio here, but I do remember the book being pretty good too. It was like the first Missing Adventure I had ever read, and there wasn’t the mass of new Who that we have now back in 1991 (when the book came out) or indeed 1976 (the LP).

Well worth a listen to is The Pescatons. It does have 1 unfortunate side effect though. You long for Tom Baker to join the other Doctors in the land of Big Finish Productions. Why on earth isn’t he doing them? 7/10