Sunday, June 3, 2012

Doctor Who-Planet Of The Spiders
                                   It was probably a little hard to get away from the fact that Jon Pertwee's years on Doctor Who did a considerable amount to popularize the show in England. It would be a different story in America. But all good things always had to come to an end. And to avoid the problem of typecasting this would end up being Jon Pertwee's final story for the show and the serial in which he regenerated.  This also was a turning point in the relationship between the relatively new arrival of companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) and her involvement wit the third doctor,which could be sometimes awkward considering his close,almost paternal relationship with Jo Grant. But while we would be losing one incarnation of the doctor,the next would be gaining a relationship with Sarah Jane that would help define every doctor/companion relationship to come. 


                  UNIT member Mike Yates has taken up with a Tibetan meditation retreat while the doctor has been investigating Clairvoyance. When a test subject dies tragically,the doctor is able to use the TARDIS to trace the source of the death to a blue crystal found on the planet Metabelis III. He and Sarah Jane head  to the monastery to tell the deputy abbot about this. He seems unusually comfortable. In the meantime one group at the monastery have been taken over by a group of spiders who,at one time had discovered the secret abilities of these blues crystals. And since the were bought to Metabelis III by accident,they want to gain power. 


         It's than revealed that the deputy abbot is an elderly time lord himself and former teacher of the doctor.  And while about to regenerate he allows the doctor to return to defeat the spiders. Despite the spider queens nearly successful attempt to mentally manipulate the doctors own personal fears,he manages to defeat them at the sacrifice of his own life due to radiation over exposure. But the defeat of the maniacal meditation group is sealed by Tommy,a seemingly slow witted maintenance engineer at the monastery whose mental abilities have been increased by the crystals. Even so the third doctor succumbs to the radiation and regenerates into the fourth.


               This is one of the most complex,involving and telling of the third doctors episodes. He's all over the place in this tale,from meditation monestaries to Medabelis III to UNIT HQ. Gone forever is his exile on Earth. We also learn about the doctors past,not just with the addition of another time lord about the spiders attempts to play on his fears of loosing control over the situation. This also dealt with another topic not at this time faced in Doctor Who: the plight of the mentally challenged. The character of Tommy is a kindly and sympathetic one,who has a strong sense of friendship towards Sarah Jane in particular. He is gifted by the blue Medabelan crystal the ultimate reward of having a somewhat above average IQ,the other extreme from where he started. But his benevolent nature remains intact. The topic is handled in a wonderful way and with a character one would always root for. With the third doctor now regenerated too,the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who is about to begin.
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