The involvement of the Time Lords with the Minyans of Minyos was not their finest hour. At this point, we are beginning to think the Time Lords are not as brilliant or as powerful as we had thought. The Minyans believed the Time Lords were gods at first, then learned their science, then expelled them. Gallifrey adopted a policy of non-intervention after that—the crime that got the Doctor into so much more trouble than stealing a malfunctioning old TARDIS. Minyos engaged in a civil war with the weapons the Time-Lords had provided, until they destroyed their own world. Just before the end, two ships left Minyos, one carrying the race-bank of the Minyans, the other to find a new home—Minyos II. The Minyans maintained the Time Lords’ gift of cellular regeneration, and many thousands of years have gone by.
At the edge of the galaxy, the TARDIS materializes on a Minyan ship, the R1C. The Doctor, Leela, and K9 visit the bridge, where the crew of four—Jackson (James Maxwell), Herrick (Alan Lake), Orfe (Johnathan Newth), and Tala (Imogen Bickford Smith)—have been en route for millennia. They are looking for P7E, which disappeared long ago with the race-bank. But they are closing in now and entering a spiral nebula, where planets are being formed. In the process the R1C is nearly destroyed and has become part of a planetoid, much the same as the fate of the P7E, which long ago became the centre of a small planet. The R1C has crashed onto the surface.
On P7E, most of the population are slaves called Trogs, digging for fuel and sustenance, culled and killed by falling rocks called sky falls. The guards are ruled by two robots called Seers, in turn answering to the Oracle super-computer. “Not another one,” the Doctor says. Their purpose has been forgotten. The Doctor and Leela meet Idas (Norman Tipton), a young slave almost killed by a sky fall, and learn what has happened.
The Oracle and the Seers live in a protected citadel in the part of the planet which was once the P7E. The Doctor, Leela, and Idas go there, rescue Idas’ father Idmon (Jimmy Gardner) from being sacrificed to the Oracle. The Seers, meanwhile, have captured Herrick and give him what he thinks are the race-banks. He returns, happy, to the R1Cship, not knowing that what he has are fusion bombs. The Doctor is in the core of the Citadel and confronts the oracle (Voice of Christine Pollon). He steals the real race-banks and returns, defeating guards along the way. The Doctor hands over the real race-banks, then removes the fakes. The other slaves are led to safety, while the Doctor returns the bombs to the Oracle. The R1C just manages to escape with the slaves and the race-banks, with a boost from the explosion behind them. The TARDIS departs.
The story was based on the Jason and the Argonauts story, and no attempt was made to hide it. The Minyans (Minoans) included Orfe (Orpheus), Herrick (Heracles), Tala (Atalanta), Idmon and Idas. The Doctor explicitly mentions the Golden Fleece. Even the ships are part of the joke: P7E is Persephone and R1C is the Argosy. It was the least liked 4th Doctor story, though the Doctor and Leela were finally working well on screen together—one story before her departure. One of the problems with the production, of course, was that it was heavy on special effects and, despite a good try, they were woeful. The same week it was released, Tom Baker, the producer Graham Williams, and Anthony Read, the script editor, went out to see a new movie that had just been released—Star Wars. They were stunned. Baker raved about it, but all Williams could say was, “God! If I had just a bit of that money!”