The Savages as I learned when watching a documentary on the DVD release of the Mutants was that this story was first called The White Savages. This story is the final adventure of Steven Taylor who left to pursue a career making stuff out of toilet rolls on Blue Peter. It’s also the first time that each episode doesn’t have an individual title. I think that’s a great shame as it always seemed to give something different. This is another story that sadly only exists on audio which is a shame because this story probably would have come across better had we seen it on VHS or DVD. This story has a very clear ‘Never Judge a Book by its cover’ moral message. It’s unfortunate that this story continues the decline in quality after The Daleks Master Plan, it’s not that the performances are bad but its just that the quality isn’t there. It’s partly down to the dynamic of the TARDIS crew. It’s clear that Hartnell didn’t warm to Peter Purves or Jackie Lane in the same way that he did with Carole Ann Ford or William Russell. Jackie Lane was a poor piece of casting because the character of Dodo was flawed from the very beginning and the fact she isn’t given a proper send off in the next story tells you how badly the character was thought of at the time.
The story starts of bizarrely with the Elders being prepared for the Doctor’s arrival. They call him ‘The Traveller from Beyond Time’. The Elders seem to good to be true as they shower the Doctor, Dodo and Steven with gifts and compliments. Though its clear that they are not what they seem. There is an interesting moment when the Doctor is subjected to the energy transfer process and all of the Doctor’s attributes are given to Jano, including his morals. The Elders portray the Savages badly and treat them badly which of course disgusts the Doctor. The Savages were once a highly intellegant race and have been reduced to living outside the city. The story is basically how the Savages fight back against the Elder. Due to the technology reduces the superiority of the Elders and puts them on a level playing field with the Savages.
The exit of Steven is well thought out. He stays behind to lead the reconciled Elders and Savages which seems like a mammoth task. I always found Steven Taylor to be a good character, a good replacement for Ian Chesterton. Apart from the Time Meddler he was always portrayed in a good way and only at times let down by the script. Of the guest actors, I found the performances of Frederick Jaeger as Jano, Ewen Solon as Chal and Peter Thomas as Captain Edel to be ok, not outstanding but ok.
As mentioned earlier there was an ongoing decline at the time of The Savages and it would have been clear to anyone watching the show at the time that change was needed. Ratings had been between 4.8 to 5.6 million whereas in Purves’ debut story they ranged from 7.7 to 8.9 million. Luckily that change would occur in a few stories time. I will say this for The Savages, it does seem to boast some very good sets.