Vintage Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space

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Posted by RandomAtom (48 posts) - - Show Bio


My last review fell apart but in the great British tradition I'm soldiering on. On suggestion this review was from the Third Doctor's (Jon Pertwee) tenure.


The serial starts with some mysterious orbs falling to Earth, this doesn't go unnoticed by the likes of U.N.I.T., one of the orbs falls near an old poacher. An expert on meteors is called in to investigate with U.N.I.T. on the matter because, they had another cluster of meteors fall recently in the same vicinity. Meanwhile the TARDIS shows up and The Doctor falls out, unconscious, he is found and brought to a hospital. There is a moment here where the doctor of The Doctor examines a chest x-ray that shows 2 hearts, thinking it to be a joke. He then gets a buzz from the boys in the lab who examined the blood sample given to them, they harass him thinking that a joke was being played on them. All of this is overheard by a janitor who quickly contacts a news agency. Back to the old poacher, he digs out the orb, a big glowy jewel, and he stuffs it in his sack as a U.N.I.T. team searches for meteor/orbs nearby. As The Doctor begins to wake the poacher makes it safely out of the woods with the orb. The Doctor asks the nurse for his shoes, his attending physician obliges and as soon as he gets them he clutches onto them in a fetal position, secretly moving the key to the TARDIS from his shoe to his mouth. No sooner is it that he manages this that a kidnapping attempt is made on him, he manages to breakaway in a wheelchair and just as he is about to make it to the TARDIS he is shot by a U.N.I.T. agent (soldier?) As he is brought back to the hospital the attending physician remarks that he is severely knocked out, almost a self induced coma, a key was found in The Doctor’s possession and the Brigadier confiscates it, having previously taken the TARDIS. We cut to a doll factory. A man (we later find out is the inventor of this company’s doll) is returning to his old job at the factory but things are different somehow, he confronts his old boss (Hibbert) with this and is immediately fired. U.N.I.T. brings back a hull of one of the orbs and the meteor expert inspects it, saying that it is some kind of plastic and almost certainly manufactured. Cut to the poacher looking at his orb/meteor as it glows and makes a noise, a doll/ man in the woods responds to this. The Doctor escapes from the hospital in stolen clothes and a nice car, also stolen. U.N.I.T. unearths another orb and the doll/man begins walking towards them. The Brigadier tries the key to the TARDIS but it won’t turn. U.N.I.T. agents, returning to the base with an orb in possession, wreck at the sight of a doll/man standing in the road. The doll/man recovers the orb. Back at U.N.I.T. HQ The Doctor arrives. My favorite line of the episode is here. When asked what he is a doctor of he responds “Practically everything.” He makes a deal with U.N.I.T. that if he helps them than he gets his key back. Back at the doll factory the fired man breaks in and finds a secret room; within the room are a collection of doll/men (who from here on will be referred to as Autons because that’s what they are). The man is attacked but narrowly escapes to a U.N.I.T. camp where he immediately tells his story. The Doctor and Liz continue to work of the orb problem and he attempts to explain the TARDIS to her. She steals the key for him and he tries to escape but the TARDIS breaks. Mrs. Poacher finds her husband’s secret orb in the shed and leaves it out while her husband is away talking to U.N.I.T., Autons begin to hone in on the signal. The Doctor and the Brigadier are on hand as the poacher spills the beans that he has an intact orb so naturally the two race to the cottage, where Mrs. Poacher has just unloaded a shotgun on an Auton to no effect. Many, many U.N.I.T. agents attack the Auton and it is ordered to retreat by the man in charge(Channing). U.N.I.T. retrieves the orb,   referred to by Channing as the “swarm leader”, and takes it back to the lab where The Doctor EEGs it and says that there is a life form inside. Meanwhile an Auton disguised as a general attacks the real general and as The Doctor and Liz visit a wax museum (to investigate something or another) the see the general, who The Doctor realizes is the real one. The fake general takes the orb/swarm leader and gives it to Channing. Hibbert and Channing disperse the Wax museum replicas of various heads of state who are really Autons, but Hibbert and the Doctor have a brief conversation where The Doctor tries to break him of the mind control he is under. Various Autons are unleashed, most were disguised as horrifying mannequins. Hibbert resists Channing and attempts to kill him and the swarm leader who is called a “Nestene”, Hibbert is killed. The Doctor eliminates the fake general and goes on to challenge the swarm leader, who fights back with its tentacle arms. He kills it after a long struggle and all the Autons shut down. Back at U.N.I.T. HQ he strikes a deal with the Brigadier, he will help them as long as they help him fix his TARDIS.       THE END

                                                                                                                        (Spoiler-Free Zone)

This episode was good, very good. My only problem with it is how much stuff it felt like was going on. There were a lot of stories happening all at once, and while they eventually came together, it felt very cluttered at some points. It would have been cleaner to omit certain details and maybe group some "like" scenes together as opposed to switching back and forth.  I also noticed some bumps in editing but that was more aesthetic. Overall this is still a relevant episode that has a very engaging plot…most of the time.    7/10 
Let me know what you think of this serial, while you are at it how about a suggestion for a future Vintage Who Review.

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