Thursday, May 10, 2012

Doctor Who-Spearhead From Space
                          In all honesty the best of the third doctor story to begin reviewing would be the first one.  This episode introduces Jon Pertwee to the role of the doctor. It also indoctrinated a whole new era for the show. For one it was produced in full color for the very first time. For another it's the only classic Doctor Who episode shot entirely on film. The majority of the other episodes alternated between film for location shooting and video tape for studio footage.  Even though there were six seasons of Doctor Who before it,there's an element to this story that could almost be a pilot in and of itself. It was written by Robert Holmes,who would continue to write many important stories for the series in the years to come.
  
                  In the most basic of terms this four part serial is a regeneration story. There's a lot of scenes of Pertwee as a mildly dizzy doctor,first wandering woozily out of the TARDIS and ending up being medically examined and,of course confounding the doctors with his unusual anatomy. In the meantime Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) is recruiting a new scientific adviser for UNIT (the doctors task force on Earth). This turns out to be Liz Shaw,portrayed by Caroline John who is very skeptical about the Brigadier's tales of extraterrestrial life and later of her involvement with the doctor,who escapes from the hospital after costuming himself.


              In the meantime objects resembling meteorites began falling and before long a toy factory is been commandeered. Turns out that various government officials,including UNIT soldiers are being replaced by mannaquin like creatures called Autons. Despite the fact the new doctor is both confusing to the Brigadier and being subtly questioned by Liz Shaw,his first mission as an exile on Earth finds him more than capable of accomplishing his missions,gaining new companions (in particularly in Liz Shaw) and establishing his new personality. Jon does an excellent job at portraying the third doctor as transitioning from a confused and freshly regenerated character into the dashing and efficient dandy we came to know.


             As an episode this story has a very similar thread to the pilot episode of the X-Files. Liz Shaw plays up a Dana Scully type role,being recruited into UNIT as very much a scientific skeptic,not to mention her red hair. In addition the situation with the Autons force her to work with her new time lord adviser in order to effectively handle the situation. The episode has a very intelligent mystery based plot. The story has intriguing and rather frightening aliens and this implied commentary on the sometimes seemingly robotic nature of government. With it's well written/directed story and excellent acting on the part of everyone this is among the very best of the early Doctor Who stories and an excellent place to enter into the Jon Pertwee era of the show.




                             
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