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Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space

episode 51

UK 1970
produced by
Derrick Sherwin for BBC
directed by Derek Martinus
starring Jon Pertwee, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney, Hugh Burden, John Woodnutt, Neil Wilson, Betty Bowden, Derek Smee, John Breslin, Antony Webb, Hamilton Dyce, Talfryn Thomas
written by Robert Holmes, script editor: Terrance Dicks, music by Dudley Simpson

TV-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Jon Pertwee), Doctor Who (classic series), Autons, Liz Shaw, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When a group of meteors, that seems to fly in formation, lands on earth, Briegadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) recruits scientist Liz Shaw (Caroline John) into the ranks of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Task Force) - who seems to be less than pleased.

However, the real person who could help would be Doctor Who ... unfortunately the Brigadier has no idea where he is ... until an unconscious man (Jon Pertwee) is found besides a London Police Box somewhere in the woods - indication enough that this might be the Doctor (who flies around time and space in a London Police Box) ... only the man who was found bears no resemblance to the Doctor (not very surprisingly, since he was previously played by Patrick Troughton, who does not at all look like Jon Pertwee. Storywise, his facial features were altered in the previous episode The War Games by his own people, the Timelords).

It takes the man quite a while to convince the Brigadier that he indeed is the Doctor nevertheless ... and just in time too, since an alien race, the Nestenes, have travelled to earth in aforementioned meteors and plan to take the planet over using plastic robots which can shoot from their hands ... and to this end, they - in person of their human (or is he a robot) aid Channing (Hugh Burden) have taken over Hibbert's (John Woodnutt) plastic factory, where figures for Madame Tussaud's are also produced ... which means the Nestenes also infiltrate earth making plastic robot facsimiles of politicians and substitute them for the real ones.

However, when all seems to be lost and even shopwindow mannequins leave their places all over London to attack innocent passers-by, the Doctor and Liz Shaw come up with a way to destroy the plastic robots and the Nestenes, which turns out to be not several beings but one central tentacled intelligence, and the world is saved.

And the Doctor ... he has to stay on earth and help UNIT as the Timelords have sabotaged his time-and-space-ship/Police Box ...

 

This episode - the first with Jon Pertwee in the lead - actually falls into two stories: The first is supposed to establish Jon Pertwee - then a popular British comedian, who plays the Doctor straight nevertheless - as the new leading actor, who is in looks, style and charisma quite a departure from his predecessor PAtrick Troughton, The second stroy, which does not come into full swing until halfway through, is a rather inventive alien invasion plot - the plastic-faced robots, although obviously cheap, just look creepy, and when the shopwindow mannequins attack, that's just genuinely chilling. Surprisingly, despite telling two only loosely connected stories, the episode works quite well, a good blend of sci-fi, horror and action that remains entertaining throughout.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD