Spearhead From Space

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‘Shoes, must find my shoes!’ The Doctor

3rd – 24th January 1970

The Memory Cheats

My first memory of Doctor Who comes from this story. It is of the Doctor with his mouth taped in the wheelchair. I did not remember this until seeing the story on VHS video in the 1990s, but the image must have made an impact on my four and a half year old brain.

The Time Space Visualiser

There are many elements that have been sown in previous stories but what we are watching here is essentially a completely new show. The production team tease us showing us very little of the Doctor in his first few scenes. It is a while before we see his face. Then all of a sudden, he is having a shower displaying jewellery and a tattoo. There is a lot of humour from the Doctor in his early scenes but at least he is not communicating only via the medium of recorder. ‘Unhand me madam!’ It is not long before we see his serious side and some of the Third Doctor’s characteristics start to emerge, for example his disdain for authority. By the end of episode three his character is fully established.

Apart from the early clowning around from the Doctor I feel we are watching a more adult show. We are introduced to Liz Shaw. She is a serious scientist and a very strong foil for the doctor the like of which we will not see again until Romana. Her outfit is fabulous in this story as well. The Doctor’s outfit too is more serious than the ill-fitting clownish style clothes of his predecessor. The horror is ramped up a bit too. Not just the famous dummies shooting the shoppers, but there are some genuinely creepy scenes including the first movements of the dummies at the end of episode two and any scene involving the wonderfully eerie Channing, who looks made of plastic himself and is particularly frightening looking through the glass door at the Brig.

I have to mention that as the story was shot on film due to industrial action not only are we catapulted into colour in the seventies, but for one night only we have glorious high definition. What a change from piecing together missing stories using telesnaps and audio to this luxury. We have confident performances from the three leads. Many of the guest cast are extremely well placed. I have mentioned Channing but Ransome too deserves credit. This bold new frontier works on every level apart from the rushed ending to the story. The best of season seven so far.

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Insert the Device

The Anti Auton Machine

It should do what it says on the tin, however, the new brain box, Liz struggles to get it going. She obviously can’t hear the unanimous cry of ‘plug it in love!’ from the viewers.

Notable Firsts

This story is essentially a reboot so there are many firsts. The first colour story. A new title sequence which is also used for the first time over the closing credits. The first fully earthbound story. We also learn that the Doctor has two hearts. It is also the first Auton story. This is also the first Robert Holmes story that is any good! Finally, this is the first time the Doctor has had to find a new outfit. The first time his clothes regenerated with him. It is also the first time he steals his clothes from a hospital.

Cliché Counter

It’s a man in a rubber suit! What a shame that with such a brilliantly realised alien menace as the Autons themselves, the Nestine Consciousness is yet another gurn inducing tentacle.

Woman in a Head Scarf

She is amazing, Meg Seeley played by Betty Bowden. There is some choice dialog in her first scene as Sam, her husband tells her to ‘Go and get me some grub, woman,’.

Best Extra of the Week

‘Look around puzzled as the Autons land around you.’  So state the stage directions to the soldier as the Autons land around him.

Special mention also for the guy that does the barking for Meg’s dog. Could they not find a dog sound effect?

Fascinating Facts

Molly Sugden was considered for the role of the Doctor beginning 45 years of speculation as to whether the Doctor would ever have a pussy. In fact he got a dog instead from an invisible enemy.

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The 500 Year Diary

13th October 1972 am

Confused… dazed… where am I? I remember struggling out of the TARDIS and collapsing in some woods.

When I wake up I see the face of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, but he doesn’t recognise me. It starts to come back to me. The Time Lords – they changed my appearance and exiled me to 20th century Earth.

My key is hidden in my shoes. I need to escape, but then I’m kidnapped. I manage to escape in a wheelchair and make it back to the woods. I’m shot. My head hurts!

 

13th October 1972 pm

Induced myself into a coma. Need to get out of here. I can’t be trapped here on this primitive planet.

Manage to sneak into the doctors’ locker room and take a shower. I then have to steal some rather fetching clothes and steal a car. I must escape! The TARDIS has been moved to London – my watch doubles up as a TARDIS magnet.

On arrival, I demand to see Lethbridge Stewart who has taken control of my TARDIS. My memories are sketchy, but manage to persuade him who I am. Meet Liz Shaw and say hello to her in Delphon with my new face, rather distinctive I think, particularly the eyebrows. I agree to help UNIT with the meteor shower in which I arrived if the Brigadier will give me the TARDIS key.

Anyway if it was a meteor shower, where have they all gone?

 

13th October 1972 eve

Manage to persuade Liz to give me the key to make my escape, except it’s true – the Time Lords have changed the dematerialisation codes. Just lots of noise and smoke!

We manage to retrieve a control unit from a cottage near where it landed. We got there just in the nick of time as this humanoid was about to take it before running off.  It was in a metal box where its presence was shielded. We need to take it back to the lab – Liz thinks it will explode, but think it will be alright. A Mr Ransome has also disappeared. He worked at this plastic factory and was concerned about goings on there. That’s probably where he’s gone.

Mr. Hibbert at the factory is rather dismissive of Ransome, but something odd is going on. I examine the sphere with an electroencephalogramme and realise it’s emitting brain waves.

 

15th October 1972 am

The raid on the plastic factory is cancelled due to General Scobie’s intervention – he who had previously authorised it. The Brigadier says that Scobie’s flatteredc because of his model in Madame Tussards so Liz and I go and investigate. It seems the real General is on display there!

After the museum is closed, we investigate further. Suddenly a number of models of civil servants come to life and leave. The odd Mr. Channing and Hibbert arrive. I get a moment with Hibbert and convince him he that me must escape Hibbert’s control.

We need to move against the plastic factory immediately as these replicas are going to put themselves in key positions – communications are already down. I invent a device to destroy them.

The next morning, the invasion begins so we raid the factory with some opposition from ‘General Scobie’. However, my device disables him and there is a battle between UNIT and the army against the Autons.

Manage to confront Channing and the Nestene consciousness, all ready to control Earth. The device doesn’t work against this huge tentacled creature and luckily some rewiring from Liz saves me and the Earth from the Nestenes and Autons.

So I’m stuck on Earth. Just remembered the borrowed clothes and car. Lethbridge-Stewart wants me to work as some sort of scientific adviser in exchange for money. I have no use for the stuff! I want a vintage car, Liz as my assistant and equipment to repair my TARDIS. The Brigadier wants to know my name for the paperwork.

Smith. Doctor John Smith.

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Five Word Lords

Shiny, slick, super and scary.

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