14 Greatest Format-Breaking SF & Fantasy TV Episodes Ever

14 Doctor Who
“Mission To The Unknown” (1965)

The original Doctor-Lite episode. These days, with the revamped show, we’ve become used to the idea of the Doctor only featuring peripherally in one story per season (“Love & Monsters", “Blink”, “Turn Left”, all of them classic). Even back in the ’60s – when the show was on screen nearly all year round – audiences were used to the lead characters having the odd week off every now and then. But “Mission To The Unknown” was something different entirely: it featured none of the regular characters. It aired in 1965, the fifth episode of the third season, and was an overture to the 12-part adventure “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. Even then, it didn’t immediately precede that story – there was another four-part story in-between. So audience were suddenly faced with an isolated, stand-alone episode with all-new characters, featuring Space Security agent Marc Cory investigating the planet Kembel for Dalek activity. He discovers what the evil pepper pots are up to and makes a tape of his discoveries, but is exterminated before he can get word to his superiors. Talk about bleak.

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