Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Bill Sellers
The Tardis becomes trapped in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker, an immortal being already known to the Doctor.
Following on from the previous episode, The Doctor has been made invisible. Dodo wonders if The Doctor is affected like The Refusians, but he insists that this is really an attack. This is rather troubling since we have established before that The TARDIS is safe. An attack that can penetrate The TARDIS defenses must be from a powerful foe indeed.
And so it is. This story introduces The Celestial Toymaker, a mysterious entity with almost god-like powers. He has the power to make The Doctor invisible. He can lure and capture the TARDIS (something we have only seen The Animus do). He is able to bring two clown dolls to life. The Toymaker is an entity that likes to play games with his victims. Truthfully, he is a bit like an insect, like a spider that hypnotizes his victims. If the victim loses, they belong to him forever to play games until he grows bored with them. It seems The Doctor has met the creature before, but they did not play games. Now he has captured The Doctor. He hides The TARDIS and forces the travelers to play his games. The Doctor must play the Tri-Logic game against The Toymaker. Steven and Dodo must play a type of obstacle course against the two clowns.
Sadly, this is a missing episode, which works to this story’s disadvantage. The games, especially the one against the clowns, are quite visual. While Peter Purves does a good job narrating the story, it would be better to see what is happening. The story suffers as a result. This is probably its biggest weakness at this point. Making up for this is the concept. While not quite so mind-bending as the time travel in The Ark, this story is somewhat experimental, attempting something very different. As stated earlier, the implication is that The Toymaker is god-like, certainly more powerful than The Doctor. He is a Trickster. As such, our characters must play his games, but they cannot truly win. A creature like The Toymaker, while leaving the possibility of personal failure, would not engage anyone unless he truly felt he could win, through skill or deceit. Thus, The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo will have to outwit him. We get some indication of this with the game against the clowns. The clowns cheat. When confronted with their deception, they become less agile and more doll like until they finally lose the game. This causes the game to vanish and a TARDIS to replace it. But the TARDIS is a fake. Again, our heroes cannot win. The Toymaker won’t allow it. Much like the old fairytale where two wizards continue to shape shift until one changes into a mouse and the other a cat, The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo will need to match wits with and trick a god.
The Doctor is made intangible in this episode. Well, he is allowed a hand so he can play the game. A small amount of research into the story’s history reveals that this was an attempt to see how Doctor Who could work without William Hartnell. There was even talk of having The Doctor reappear at the end, but as a different actor! We are approaching change, and it is a bit sad.