‘SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Autons with the Third Doctor, Liz and the Brigadier
Remember the shop window dummies in ‘Rose’, the first new series episode of ‘Doctor Who’?
Well, the ‘Mannequin Mania’ DVD box set contains two exciting stories featuring the first two appearances of the Autons in the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’ with Jon Pertwee. I enjoyed these two TV adventures so much as I find the Autons very scary and very effective as ‘Doctor Who’ villains.
The Autons were created by Robert Holmes and they were instant success when they arrived on ‘Doctor Who’ in the 1970s. The two stories are ‘Spearhead From Space’ and ‘Terror of the Autons’. It’s easy to understand why these Autons were effective and helped to bring back the series in 2005.
‘Spearhead From Space’ is actually the first story of the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’ and the first to be shown in colour in 1970. It’s a four-part adventure by Robert Holmes and is very engaging.
I first saw this story on its original DVD release from 2001. Now the story has be re-released and re-packaged in ‘Mannequin Mania’ as a special edition DVD. Thankfully it contains new special features.
This is a very visual earthbound story to begin the Jon Pertwee era. Of course, the Doctor has been exiled to Earth by the Time Lord following ‘The War Games’. This was so interesting to see in the series.
The TARDIS lands on Earth and the Doctor falls out, having recently regenerated. He is soon found by U.N.I.T., led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. They look after him as he’s recovering in the hospital.
This is a very well-written story to begin the Third Doctor era and is a good start. I like how Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is introduced, especially as the Brigadier struggles to believe that he is the Doctor.
I’m pleased to see how the Doctor finds support through U.N.I.T. and the Brigadier. I saw ‘The Invasion’ before this story, so I knew what was to come with the Doctor who settles down on Earth.
Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is superb in his introductory story. I love it when he tries to get out of bed in hospital, has a shower and puts his own clothes on. He’s charming and elegant even when in a crisis.
Nicholas Courtney is equally good as the Brigadier, who recruits Liz Shaw and gets to meet the new Doctor for the first time. I like how the Brig gradually accepts the new Doctor, despite having doubts.
Caroline John makes her first appearance as Liz Shaw, a scientist who comes to work for U.N.I.T. She’s not happy with being recruited by the Brig, but she comes to like the Doctor very much here.
But the Doctor isn’t the only one who’s arrived on Earth. The Nestene Consciousness has come to take over the Earth with their living plastic Autons to serve them and remove the human population.
Hugh Burden guest stars as the villainous Channing, who is mysterious and sinister throughout. It transpires that he’s one of the Nestenes and he takes charge during the Auton invasion of the Earth.
The cast also includes Derek Smee as Ransome, John Woodnutt (who I recognise from ‘Jeeves & Wooster’) as Hibbert and Neil Wilson as Sam Seeley. There’s also Hamilton Dyce as General Scobie.
There’s also John Breslin as Captain Munro and Antony Webb as Dr. Henderson. I recognised Talfryn Thomas (from ‘Dad’s Army’) as Mullins and Prentis Hancock who played one of the reporters in this story.
The DVD special features on the special edition DVD are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary ‘Down to Earth: Filming Spearhead From Space’ with behind-the-scenes interviews.
There’s also the ‘Regenerations: From Black to White to Colour’ documentary and the ‘U.N.I.T. Recruitment Film’. There are some BBC2 Trailers of the 1999 repeat and a photo gallery of the story.
There are also two audio commentaries. The first is with Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney from the 2001 DVD and the second is with producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks for the 2011 DVD. There’s an info-text commentary to enjoy and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.
There’s an Easter Egg to look out for on this DVD. You can find it on the main menu of the DVD. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Frontios’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson.
Recently, ‘Spearhead From Space’ has been re-released on Blu-ray. The additional special features on the Blu-ray include the ‘A Dandy and a Clown’ documentary and the ‘Carry On: The Life of Caroline John’ tribute. There’s title sequence material; the ‘Spearhead From Space: HD Restoration’ comparison; an info-text commentary option to enjoy and a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Green Death’ Special Edition DVD with Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning.
‘Spearhead From Space’ is a grand opening story to feature Jon Pertwee as the new Doctor and to feature the Autons. I greatly enjoyed seeing this story and I liked how ‘Doctor Who’ began in the 1970s.
‘Spearhead From Space’ rating – 9/10
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