Official Plot Synopsis:
Banished to Earth by the Time Lords, Dr. Who is now living in London. Now famous for his incredible exploits, the Doctor is invited to appear on a TV panel game by well-known compare Perry Conway: Explain My Mystery. Dr. Who and a spellbound audience listen to farmer Glenlock-Hogan tell of mysterious 'night-walks' taken by his scarecrows. The jolly Conway tries to laugh off Hogan's claims but Dr. Who realizes they are not to be scoffed at and he catches the farmer as he leaves the studio. Visiting Hogan's farm for the weekend, late one night the Doctor and Hogan see the scarecrows walk...
The final episode, natch. The realization that this is all a complicated assassination plot is arguably scarier than possessed scarecrows – and despite the lameness of the Doctor’s last words, it’s touching that he uses his last breathe to reassure Hogan whose entire life has been messed up by the Time Lords to add verisimilitude to their plan, as the signs are the gormless farmer is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There’s also the impressive feat as the final page seamless merges into the opening moments of the next Doctor Who story, five weeks later...
You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me:
Ironically, the Doctor being on a game show is entirely plausible compared to the insane crap he does to start off his exile adventures – it’s the actual game show ITSELF that’s utterly ridiculous. For a start: ‘Explain My Mystery’? What kind of rubbish name is that? Perry Conway doesn’t introduce the panel guests (two quiet academics), forces the contestants (all of whom are old-aged yokels) in a strange ‘hot seat’ and lets them carry canes and umbrellas with which they can beat him for mocking them. What is the prize? To have someone suggest the most ridiculous solution? The format seems to be person gives a soundbite description of their problem and the panel come up with a logical explanation entirely off the cuff which is then accepted as fact – but Hogan just says ‘my scarecrows walk’ without having any evidence, or even being quizzed further about it. And why is ‘baffling and truly chilling mystery’ better than Mrs Swiggens’ haunted house? Where are film crews and the like to investigate the actual problem and prove it all? Come to think of it, why is Hogan on the show at all since he doesn’t expect anyone to believe him? Is he actually under the control of the Time Lords? As for the Time Lords animating scarecrows and stuff like that, it’s all explained with painful non-comedy in Nicholas Briggs’ Exile, where two Time Lords (one of them David Tennant) hunt down a Quark-obsessed fugitive Doctor to rural England... not as entertaining as it sounds and not as funny as the genuine article.
Perry Conway describes Explain My Mystery as an "exciting new panel game" and Hogan’s story as "serious". Explain My Mystery may be new, but it isn't exciting and the panel hardly feature, and Conway himself takes the piss out of the farmer's claims.
This man reduces the Second Doctor a cameo in his last story. Eric Saward makes a lifelong vow to continue his work.
Why does Glenlock-Hogan seem to wait until after the show is over to storm out of the studio? If he storms out right away, doesn’t the Doctor running after him spoil the recording? Does the Doctor not care about being paid?
Glenlock-Hogan's bid to be the Third Doctor fails at the 'spooky opening titles' test.
Why do the Time Lords return the Doctor’s TARDIS to him? Is it to complete the regeneration? Even so, why set it to take off (or is this part of the process)? And if they can send bolts of energy that animate scarecrows, why not simply land the TARDIS in his hotel room and zap him there? Are they just being really sadistic after he made a fool out of them? Is it all just contrived to fit in with Spearhead from Space?
Words of Wisdom:
The Doctor's past catches up with him... or is it his future?
Farmer Glenlock-Hokum’s dialogue is so utterly unbelievable, I start to wonder if it’s part of the Time Lord trap to burn the Doctor out in the short time they know each other –
"Oi tellee there’s weird going’s on down on my farm... It’s my scarecrows... oi’ve seen em at night... come along they do an’ sort o’ sleep walk!"
"Laugh at me if yer will but ’tis true... ALL I TELLEE IS TRUE!"
"At last, a believer! Aye, come with me, Doctor and oi’ll show’e sights ’at’ll chill yer spine!"
"Tis clearing up now. Twas on just a night, a’ followin’ a storm that I first spied the scarecrows moving across the landscape. A fearful sight, it was an’ no mistake!"
"Aye, all right, Doctor, if yer think yer nerve’ll hold!"
"There be a leafy thicket close to the scarecrows where we can hide!"
"See! Their bodies begin to twitch! This is the sight I’ve witnesses twice a’fore. Surely it ain’t no illusion?"
"I don’t mind admittin’ I’m scared, an’ that’s the truth!"
"No human being will believe the account of what oi’ve witnessed!"
"HURRAH! Clap! Clap! Clap!" – One of the audience members of Explain My Mystery.
"None of the experts can help you, Farmer Hogan... but I’ve got a theory! Maybe you’ve been watching too many TV horror films! Ha! Ha! Ha! ... Ha! Ha! Ha!" – Perry Conway proves to be a crap host. Nicholas Parsons’ career is quite safe.
- The Doctor agrees to join Glenlock-Hogan on his farm to investigate the affair. Next week Dr. Who witnesses the eerie ‘night-walk’ of the scarecrows!
- The Doctor eagerly follows the scarecrows, despite Glenlock-Hogan’s warnings: "B-but Doctor, there may be danger... TERRIBLE DANGER!" Next week... face to face with the scarecrows!
- The terrified Glenlock-Hogan is left alone in a field with two lifeless scarecrows and no proof of what he just saw happen. A new Doctor and the Brigadier confront a mischievous schoolboy and his plans for school domination next week in: The Arkwood Experiments!
Is it just me or is he be turning into Peter Davison rather than Jon Pertwee?
At The End of the Day:
It has been a long, long, long time between me seeing the last installment of The Night Walkers! reprinted in Peter Haining’s 25 Years of Doctor Who book and reading the first two episodes, and tragically those who told me I wasn’t missing anything, they’re right. The first episode is utterly beyond salvaging with the truly contemptible gameshow stuff – an idea that might have worked. Why couldn’t Hogan have just asked the Doctor for help? Instead, the last comic strip of the Second Doctor has valuable space nicked by Perry Conway and a bunch of wannabe Monty Python characters which all the more notable when the comic is only six pages long! Nevertheless, the last episode is incredibly effective, with the dreamlike sight of the scarecrows dragging the dying Doctor to the TARDIS made all effective by the fact the police box never appeared in the story before. The atmosphere of the story is effectively bleak too, with the sudden lightning storms and setting most of the story at four o’clock in the morning on lonely farmland. The Doctor’s suddenly, brutal and ultimately pointless death carries the same injustice as his TV demise, a downbeat ending to the most upbeat of comic characters. But it didn’t end here, because, as Glenlock-Hogan notes, "There be more to come, Doctor. Much more..."