Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros go plastic fantastic as they prepare for the Auton Invasion...
Doctor Who was in crisis.
Ok, we’ve used that opening line for several of our Doctor Who reviews now, as the show seemingly lurched from minor catastrophe to minor catastrophe, but never more than what was happening with the show as the sixties were coming to an end, but more on this aspect later…
Spearhead from Space opens with a mysterious formation of meteorites crashing into the woods in rural England and is picked up by local poacher and opportunist, Seeley (Neil Wilson); at almost the same time, the TARDIS materialises nearby and the newly-regenerated Doctor (Jon Pertwee) opens the door and promptly collapses - his exile by the Time Lords has begun.
The Doctor is rushed to hospital and UNIT, who have been investigating the bizarre meteorite shower, take an interest in the mysterious man who calls himself The Doctor; whilst all this has been taking place, a plastics factory has had a radical switch to total automation and has begun manufacturing mannequins of notable public figures and some which look like shop window dummies, but come complete with guns capable of total destruction.
Patrick Troughton had grown tired of the role, partially because of his fears of typecasting, but mainly because the punishing schedule that he and his co-stars were enduring was getting too much for him - some of his colleagues even accuse loveable old Pat of developing a touch of the grumpiness of his predecessor. The viewing figures were also down, dropping to around 3.5 million during Troughton’s final season (this might not sound TOO bad, but if you consider that the number of television channels available at the time could more than comfortably be counted on the toes of one foot) and the BBC were seriously thinking of retiring Doctor Who and were actively searching for a replacement show.
Fortunately, such a show could not be found and Doctor Who was granted a reprieve; with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor and his companions out of the picture, forces were at work to give the show a major overhaul and the decision to shoot the new season in colour was just the first of a number of measures to get the show to appeal to a wider audience. Producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks were effectively given a free hand in how the show would develop and Sherwin in particular was eager to establish a new feel for Doctor Who.
Spearhead from Space was indeed the start of a new direction for Doctor Who; the Earthbound UNIT stories from the Troughton era, The Web of Fear and The Invasion, were both very popular and served as the inspiration for Doctor Who’s transition from the sixties into the seventies, with Earth becoming the regular base for The Doctor’s adventures and also having the might of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, spearheaded (ahem) by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to back him up. The show was clearly moving in the direction of other popular sci-fi/fantasy shows, such as Quatermass and The Avengers, and there seemed to be a conscious effort to make Doctor Who have a level of verisimilitude that would make the dads in the audience stick around to watch the show after the football results had finished.
Another significant change was to have The Doctor matched with a companion who was essentially his equal and this came in the form of Liz Shaw (Caroline John), who was a scientist and was a little more clued-up on technological matters than most of his previous assistants. It was also a great idea to make Liz a natural sceptic and have her question The Doctor’s explanations until she was personally satisfied that what he was saying was either correct or at the very least made some sort of logical sense.
The ever-reliable Robert Holmes crafted a script that contained his hallmarks - to intrigue, horrify and amuse in equal measure; as was usually the case, Holmes liked to allow the viewer to see the unfolding story from different levels of society - this this case the extraterrestrial (The Doctor), the military (UNIT) and the lower end (Seeley). The opening episode excites and intrigues in exactly the same manner that the first episode of An Unearthly Child does, plunging the viewer into the middle of the situation surrounding the mysterious patient at the hospital, and the usage of a handheld camera to capture a documentary feel to the events was wonderful as it gives the thing a freshness that almost screams to the viewer “this is Doctor Who for the 1970s!”
What gives Spearhead From Space a look that is truly unique in Doctor Who history is that it was - because of a strike by studio technicians - the only Doctor Who story to be shot completely on film, making it look closer to something made by Lew Grade, rather than the BBC. The camerawork seen in this story is wonderful, with some impressive compositions and angles that just would not have been possible when working with videotape in the studio; the lighter film cameras allowed for more adventurous cinematography and a greater degree of individual shots and cuts, with no restrictions on the amounts of edits that could be made during a studio session. The use of real locations also lent an air of authenticity to the story, but it was something of a double-edged sword, as there are certain scenes where the dialogue is a little difficult to discern, as the acoustics in the locations weren’t idea.
The scenes of the Autons coming alive and going on the rampage in episode four was something that lingered in the memories of fans when it was originally transmitted and continues to have a big impact more than forty years on; there is still something very powerful seeing mannequins suddenly start moving, smashing their way out of department store windows and embarking upon a killing spree that sees anyone getting in their way (or even trying to flee in the opposite direction) being despatched with emotionless efficiency.
Pertwee and John work wonderfully well together, with the two of them almost on an even footing, giving an Avengers vibe, or - at a stretch - feeling like a prototype Mulder and Scully, with Pertwee being the character perfectly happy to embrace the universe of possibilities that exist outside of our planet, and John being the sceptic and pessimist, constantly questioning The Doctor and events along the way, but not in the stereotypical “what is it, Doctor?” manner that so many other companions did, and would continue to do.
Speaking of which, certainly in Spearhead From Space, the Brigadier seemingly fell into the “what is it, Doctor?” role, which had been vacated by having a scientifically-minded companion; there are moments when The Doctor and Liz are having a technologically-heavy conversation and the poor old Brig struggles to keep up, but still provides that vital link to the younger (and slightly slower) members of the audience who have trouble mentally processing the tech-speak. Nicholas Courtney is great in the role, but the Brig in this story is still the slightly stiffer one, before he began to mellow out over Jon Pertwee’s tenure, even getting to go over the head of one of his superiors whilst playing a hunch that would prove vital to ensuring the survival of life on Earth.
Though the blank-faced Autons are very effective at providing an emotionless threat in human form to scare the kiddies, the plastic adversaries really succeeded in getting to the adults in the audience to possibly required an unscheduled trip to the toilet was in having the Auton replacements for notable human people in society; the scene where General Scobie (Hamilton Dyce) meets his artificial double - complete with plastic-like glaze to it - is pretty eerie and writer Bob Holmes obviously knew that this would work, having it as the cliffhanger for episode three.
Another disconcerting Auton-masquerading-as-a-human comes in the form of Channing (Hugh Burden), who turns up at the hospital where The Doctor was rushed in episode one and remains a menacing presence throughout the story. Burden already had one of those faces that seemed almost genetically designed to ensure a long career as a character actor - having wide eyes and a slightly asymmetrical visage - but when the synthetic sheen was added, Burden transformed into something truly remarkable; during the scene with the press crowding around The Brig in episode one, Channing just stands slightly apart from the crowd and amongst the chaos of the sequence, the viewer is drawn toward Channing in a way that would have been very difficult for any other actor.
It is interesting to note that although the Pertwee era officially started in 1970, Spearhead From Space was filmed in 1969, meaning that technically there was colour Doctor Who in the sixties; a friend of ours who happens to love the Patrick Troughton era (as we do), has a particular affection for Jon Pertwee’s first story, as it feels authentically sixties and gives it a look and feeling that is unique.
This story doesn’t really suffer from the dreaded “First Doctor Story” syndrome that many Doctor Who fans subscribe to - meaning that for whatever reason, duff story ( Time and the Rani, The Twin Dilemma), irrational behaviour of newly-regenerated Doctor ( Castrovalva, The Twin Dilemma - again!), the shows suffer as a result of focusing upon the trauma of The Doctor as he recovers from a regeneration. OK, so Pertwee doesn’t get up to full strength until the middle of episode two, but there is an intriguing storyline that surrounds him and once he hits the ground, he’s most certainly running - however, we could have done without the shots of him taking a shower and it would appear that Gallifrey had it’s own branch of the Navy, judging from the tattoo on the Doctor’s arm...
The throwing together of both Auton stories in a box is perfectly fitting, not only through the recurring adversaries, but because said baddies are so iconic that it reads like a grindhouse double-feature poster. “See Spearhead From Space & Terror of the Autons, both hits on one programme”. But what about the quality of the presentation and the extras? Well, as they're mainly the reasons for reading, let's take a look...
Spearhead From Space was originally released on DVD back in 2001 and was the third Doctor Who title to be released on DVD. The original DVD release looked pretty impressive, but the image quality of this new release is simply breathtaking, with luscious colours (check out the red of Seeley’s necktie) and a fair amount of natural grain on the image, which - if viewed upscaled - looks fairly close to high-definition. Words can hardly express how wonderful this transfer looks, breathing new life into this story and showing that the era in which it was filmed wasn’t quite as drab and dull as many other Pertwee stories from the same season seem.
As mentioned earlier, though this story benefited from having an all-location production, it would come at a cost as far as the audio is concerned; much of it is fine, but there are some locations where the acoustics were decidedly less than ideal and the result is that some scenes have dialogue that is somewhat difficult to make out - the best example coming early in episode one, where Liz Shaw meets The Brig for the first time, with the viewer straining to make out what each of them are saying. We want to stress that this is not the fault of the Restoration Team, but with the original source materials.
Audio Commentary #1: Here we get script editor Terrance Dicks and producer Derrick Sherwin, who admit right up front that the story owed more than a little to the popular Quatermass series, with Sherwin determine to break away from the “wobbly intelligent jellies in space” format which he had become sick of, setting it on Earth with aliens making their way here rather than travelling out to them.
Both are less than kind about the work of Neil Wilson as the roguish Seeley, whose gruff “cun‘ry“ accent seems a little broad for the show. Almost spitting food, Dicks roars: “Look at that! What the hell… what the devil was that???”. At this point, he breaks into a mocking imitation before curiously backing up and calling it “a good rustic portrayal” Sherwin rolls out his stock yokel accent later on, but in quite as snidely as Dicks’ all-out assault.
Things get a little off-topic when the subject of actors’ temperaments are brought to the fore, with the two of them remembering how Pat Troughton was notorious for needing holidays, with his Doctor being rendered unconscious for an entire episode, with only his checked trousers sticking out of a blanket to signify the characters’ presence. It’s noted that vacations from the show were necessary, as Troughton was, according to Dicks, “..was always grumpy… shades of grumpy”.
Every Doctor Who track needs a baddie, and who better than the interfering old cow herself, Mary Whitehouse. Yep, Dicks brings her up in conversation, which is especially relevant here for the way that the papers jumped on the plastic-based nastiness of Terror of the Autons. Dicks recalls that “the one thing [Whitehouse] hated more than sex was Doctor Who” and fondly remembers a cartoon in a newspaper showing two torturers watching the show as they go about their jobs.
Interestingly, Dicks notes that Spearhead from Space contains one of the very few pieces of “unethical behaviour” on the Doctors’ part, this being when he tricks Liz Shaw into letting him into the TARDIS, attempting to make a run for it. This clashes with his normal, “morally upright” way of going about life. You could easily write it off as being a hangover from his regeneration, but let’s not kid each other.
Dicks and Sherwin are obviously old friends and they spark off each other nicely, with Uncle Tewwy managing to mention his theory on Jon Pertwee’s hair becoming more and more bouffant as the series went on not once, but twice! Continuing the hair motif, Dicks and Sherwin also spend a fair amount of time trying to decide whether or not actor Hugh Burden was wearing a syrup or not.
The who shebang is an interesting look at what it took to get Doctor Who made during a period of great change, with more than a few chuckles along the way. Our favourite moment has the be the enthusiastic death of one guy when the Autons go on the rampage, falling down and impressively rolling along the ground, prompting Dicks to exclaim: “He’s earning his money!”.
Audio Commentary #2: A carry-over from the previous release back in 2001, there are still a few good chuckles to be had as Caroline John and Nick Courtney guide you through the first tale for both Pertwee and Ms John, and you know it’s going to be entertaining from the off. There is something about an actor’s commentary which promises fun, not allowing the technical details to get in the way of a good time, and this is one of them. Take when John talks rather frankly about her early attempts to get into the business in the face of an industry which is tough to crack, and this involved getting a decent photographer to take photos of her wearing a skimpy bikini whilst standing at the top of a ladder, sending them out to all manner of producers and directors, bagging numerous interviews along the way. Naturally, wearing such an outfit to the Doctor Who interview got her the part - would a writer get hired in such a bizarre way?
How to make yourself look good in a BBC serial was taught to Ms John by Mr Pertwee, who told her that should she not be happy with her performance, just exclaim a four-letter word, as the Beeb valued technical accuracy over getting a delivery correct, and would have to “go again” should an expletive be used. Pertwee comes off very well between the two, both John and Courtney of the opinion that Pertwee’s tendency to snap came from his nervousness, a trait shared by the three thespians. Nick Courtney does get a wee bit cheeky at one point, being when John expresses her relief that she finally ditched “that awful coat” she wore, happy to be donated to a unfortunate victim to stop the onset of shock. She notes that the coat in question was plastic, and then Courtney chimes in, quipping that “…this show was full of plastic… plastic performances”.
There is a genuine, pleasing chemistry between the two, even though they were only together for the one season, in what might have been the most unjust, sour dismissal of an actress in the history of the show. Well, right up there with Jackie Lane, anyway. Courtney points out the use of the Guinness production factory as the Master’s base of operations, and notes: “…that’s the old Guinness factory. I remember those steps very well. Don’t remember the Guinness, though…”. John replies: “They kept that well away from you, Nick…”
You can tell that John is a certified thespian, if just by the way she will spontaneously break into regional dialects at any given time, including her rather amusing Yorkshire accent where she encapsulates the entire story of Terror of the Autons as “plastic from space”. This is typical of the good time give to viewers with enough time to give the commentary a spin, and with only the death of Nick Courtney still pretty fresh in the mind, it’s worth savouring.
Info Text: It all starts out in a very informal way, telling us that there is a lot to get through, and they really aren’t kidding, as it is stuffed to the gills with just about every fact related to the show they could possibly get their hands on.
Elements of the script were around for a good few years in aborted attempts to get them used in other stories, and Spearhead from Space ended up being the perfect place to finally use them. As expected, this excellent companion-piece dutifully notes everything which originated from other sources, along with the numerous changes and - sometimes - compromises made on the way to the final programme. Its more feature-packed with such totally relevant (and sometimes irreverent) information that it makes Ralph Macchio popping up on the Blu Ray of The Karate Kid look like he’s talking about The Outsiders.
Ever wondered where you have seen certain pieces of equipment before? Do you swear that something in this story might have previously been seen in The Space Pirates? You’ll have that nagging question answered here! Ever thought that Derek Smee’s climbing over a barbed-wire fence looked a bit hairy? Well, here you’ll find that he ripped open his middle finger and was rushed to the Central Middlesex Hospital to be patched up!
It recalls that very short-lived period in 1999 where the BBC tried to rekindle interest in Doctor Who by playing the Pertwee era from the start, presumably to run it for as long as possible. This was all very noble, but a rather ungrateful (or at least fairly disinterested) public chose to pretty much ignore the showings, with only Spearhead from Space and The Silurians being played before jumping ahead to the ever-reliable Genesis of the Daleks in the hope of picking up viewers. Even this failed, and marked the last real attempt to play the classic series on terrestrial TV.
There will be many devastated to find that the scarves about the neck of our plastic foes were not the Autons trying to give off a sophisticated, Noel Coward-like feel to their latent intellectual prowess by donning a cravat, but the Text Track reveals the real reason: to hide the seam of the mask. OK, we all had a good idea that this was the case, but anything was possible in the early 70s, so we get confirmation here.
Terrance Dicks might have pointed out about pilfering certain elements from - and similarities to - a couple of other British fantasy shows elsewhere on the DVD, but the ever-watching eye of the Text Track notes that the Auton stories owe a couple of beers to The Avengers’ Cybernaut episodes.
Well, what can we say about another superb Text Track which we haven’t said already? This is utterly comprehensive, acting as a pithy, authoritative guide around the museum of Spearhead from Space. It covers the lot, from scenes lost in the shuffle, aborted concepts, improvised sequences right back to various changes made at the writing stage. Why not round off things with a missing piece of dialogue which answers the question as to why the Autons don’t have distinctive features:
HIBBERT: “Faces cost extra”.
It’s terrific stuff - yet again!
Down To Earth - Filming Spearhead from Space: Being a landmark in the run of the original series, Spearhead from Space demands a documentary befitting its status, and this is precisely what we have here. Those behind the camera (and at least one surprising contribution from somebody in front) converge to tell the tale of the big leap into the 70s, with a bright beam of colour lighting the way as plastic comes to wreak havoc on the streets of London.
The rather humorous Derek Sherwin provides the bulk of the anecdotes, which is fine by us, as he imparts information with a great, dry wit. Through previous experience, he decided to create the UNIT family in order to surround the lead with other characters, whilst giving the actor playing The Doctor an easier time of things my trimming back the number of lines he had to learn - the very evil which had put paid to Pat Troughton’s time on the show.
We get another bit of the final extensive Jon Pertwee interview, which is always welcome to keep the old boy alive. In consummate fashion, he discusses the processes he went though to agree to be The Doctor, including extorting numerous free meals out of the BBC, not to mention “doing dinner”, rather than “doing lunch”, but the funniest has to be about the nifty bit of thievery from the BBC training department, involving the “nurdling” of a piece of console table and the numerous attempts to sneak it past the security guards - a featurette on the recent reissue of Carnival of Monsters also mentioned Pertwee's predisposition for light-fingered larceny...
Speaking of keeping the spirit of the departed alive, we get unused footage of Barry Letts, and how the sudden departure of Derek Sherwin dropped him into the role producer at the last minute for the rest of that series, having to figure out the position as he went along. This change behind the scenes naturally angered the jittery Pertwee…
Costume designer Christine Rawlins is on had to tell how she was thrown in at the deep end when brought on to design a signature look for Pertwee in the role. Whilst most would have been daunted, Rawlins was happy that the Pertwee and Troughton were two completely contrasting personalities, freeing her up immensely to try something new.
It’s rather cool to see a production document from the time, it being one with the infamous name of “Ivan Orton”, the psudonym for Robin Squire, the plucky assistant script editor roped in to play an Auton when claustrophobia proved too much for the original name behind the mask. Squire is on hand to explain his time as one of the most iconic enemies, including the time when he scared the living sh*t out of someone from the props department, who mistook him for a “dummy”, with Squire roaring to life as he tried to pick the supposedly inanimate object up.
They couldn’t take a look at Spearhead from Space without mentioning the great BBC strike which led to if being shot on 16mm film, filmed on location and in colour. Sherwin was met with great resistance when he proposed to get around the strike through bypassing the studio, as it was assumed that it was going to push up the budget, but the canny producer was right: it came in cheaper when footloose and fancy-free. The result was a gorgeous-looking Doctor Who story, and one which spurred Sherwin to want the rest made in the same way - but being called to rescue the popular show Paul Temple, triggering the aforementioned change of producer. You can only salivate at what might have been, though.
It’s a shame, but we get a bit of overlapping material from the commentaries, with Derek Sherwin once again spewing bile at the “wobbly jelly” variety of aliens which was commonplace. He makes a good save when clarifying that he wanted a baddie that audiences could empathise with, though. To double-up on a little information is nothing, as it is presented in a different way and just as amusing the second time around. The linking material of a vintage typewriter and projectors being used in a noir-ish atmosphere is inspired, and brings it all together nicely. Another great way to fill half an hour.
Regenerations - From Black and White to Colour: For years, it has been endlessly argued that Doctor Who was far more scary when broadcast in black and white, and while the Daleks are the perfect tool to win such a debate, nothing hides a seams in a costume better than monochrome. However, when the ratings were on the side towards the end of the second Doctor’s run, things were afoot to breath new life into the show: colour! No longer would the fans have to trust that the Ice Warriors where green, but getting those rich tones to the screen was not without its problems, and now we get to hear all about the rather turbulent times.
Erstwhile wordsmith Terrance Dicks explains that after Pat Troughton left, the general feeling was that of “we’ll give it another year and see” how the show as performing before deciding its’ fate. Dicks was proved right to keep at it, as he confirms that the success of Doctor Who as a long-running show was because to the convergence of a number of elements, including those in charge with a love of the programme (Dicks and Letts), Pertwee being the right choice of actor to take over and - of course - the introduction of colour.
Spearhead from Space producer Derek Sherwin boldly claims that no concessions were made for those watching in black and white, which was the majority of the audience, and he was one of those viewing in monochromatic, until the BBC gave him a colour TV for quality-control purposes. Naturally, 60’s BBC Designer Roger Cheveley promptly disputes the rather bombastic Sherwin’s claims about the lack of care being taken for black and white, as it was being monitored for both mediums whilst in production. Certainly more light was needed, and with rising technical requirements, to get certain colours to photograph properly everyone needed more training, backing up Cheveley’s stance that all angles were covered in the transition.
Those behind the cameras were kept on their toes by the changes, as BBC Director Michael Ferguson catalogues the resistance to switch by personnel, as well as the fear of losing the intrinsic qualities which black and white possessed. Ferguson tells of how personnel were sent on eye test for colour perception, with he being one of only two to get it absolutely right. This ability to distinguish tones obviously served him well, as he explains that with the advent of colour came the joy of CSO (colour separation overlay) which brought blue-screen and alien worlds to Doctor Who.
The implementation of colour rendered sets which looked fine in black and white as cheap when bathing it in the full spectrum. BBC Director Timothy Combe was involved in The Silurians, where he fell into a number of traps as he embraced the medium of CSO, resulting in a lot of the planned work being discarded, owing to a lack of planning and an even greater dearth of time for the material to be ironed out in post production.
The newfound freedom allowed greater scope of ideas, as veteran Doctor Who director Christopher Barry discovered, putting an actress in a red dress to make accentuate her sexuality in his first colour job. Barry notes that shooting colour meant longer downtime, as each camera had to be aligned to keep flesh tones consistent, the extra time “could be fatal”, and we all know what that means, kids! Speaking of which, the dynamic duo of Frazier Hines and Wendy Padbury discuss the differences in makeup required between the two mediums, not to mention theorising that Doctor Who would have slipped into the realms of the forgotten if the Pertwee era hadn’t have been successful.
Much of the first half of this featurette provides the viewer with a potted history of colour television, from the early experiments by John Logie Baird, to the almost covert tests conducted by the BBC in the 1950s. Many of the people contributing to this nostaligic and informative peice were not only involved with the development of colour television at the BBC, but also worked on Doctor Who, a number of them exclusively (and somewhat ironically) in the monochrome days.
Doctor Who fans will be engrossed when Graphic Designer Bernard Lodge goes into detail about the processes needed to create the new opening titles for the start of Pertwee’s run, which found the colour equipment unable to cope with the demands, having to revert to black and white and colourising the footage afterwards. So much more a new broom sweeping clean.
With the inclusion of a number of clips from the BBC’s 1954 tests for colour broadcasts, this is a really enjoyable look at something historic in the annuls of British television. It gives a number of quietly influential veterans the chance to tell their stories, and will enlighten those with a thirst for the medium. It firmly validates itself as a document of historical significance, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
Unit Recruitment Film: This four-minute piece of semi-serious mockery was created for the 30th anniversary of Doctor Who and is a spoof recruitment film for the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce; this spoof piece of propaganda is a lot of fun, starting out in the classic “It’s a man’s life in the army” mould before having Nick Courtney narrate a montage of clips of our boys in green. Life in UNIT is not without its‘ hazards, as The Brig carefully notes: “Our turnover’s a bit high, but that’s to be expected”. The tone is just right with this one, and you‘d have to be pretty joyless not to get at least a couple of good chuckles out of it, but maybe not so if you are an member of the fairer sex, as our man with the moustache marches all over political correctness by stating of female soldiers: “I like to think of them as being almost as good as one of the chaps…” This was obviously a labour of love for those who put it together, as it contains some rare footage (particularly part of a specially-shot promo featuring Tom Baker and also some of the only surviving colour footage from The Mind of Evil… at the moment). Fun, fun, fun.
Trailers: We get to see a couple of bumpers for the ill-fated attempt to re-launch the Petwee era on BBC2 over a decade ago, the failure of which didn’t do any plans to create a new series any favours. It’s in the modern style, and wouldn’t look out of place when screened today - other than it being original Who playing on terrestrial TV. These trailers were aimed at an audience who were only vaguely familiar with Doctor Who and much of the consist of footage that has been sped-up to appeal to modern viewers with the attention span of the average tsetse fly. After those, we see an elaborate advert for BBC2’s Doctor Who Night. Dang, that was something we should have cherished more at the time, eh?
Photo Gallery: With Spearhead from Space being Jon Pertwee’s first shot at the character, there are loads of photos of him to be found here, but this is to be expected, as the BBC needed as much publicity material as possible to help sell him to the masses - with many in the form of the classic “look at my range” type. For the chaps, we get to see Caroline John in more revealing outfits than would ever have been allowed in a laboratory, including skirts so short that you’d hope she’s wearing mohair knickers. There are also a number of the rather wacky photos of Pertwee dressed in the full suit and cloak, holding his hands up towards the camera in all manner of weird gestures. In the end, our favourites have to be the ones were Pertwee poses with a Yeti. All this and set to appropriately wonderful music.
PDF Material: Now this is a bumper crop, as not only do we get the usual listing for all episodes, but the front cover of the Radio Times upon which Pertwee (in one of the wacky hand-poses) covers the entire page as well. But hold on there, as they throw in a brief piece about Caroline John as the new assistant, not to mention a sidebar promoting the current issue. Finally, a rather odd double-page spread is reproduced, welcoming everyone to 1970, with mini-interviews with the stars on what they will be up to in the new decade. Naturally, this includes a contribution from Pertwee.
Coming Soon: …and certain fans will be when they see the rather natty trailer for Frontios, which really sells it as something you want to give another chance.
Spearhead From Space is one of the very best of the Jon Pertwee era; the conditions it was filmed under just served to give the thing a truly unique quality and helped to drag what was a dying show into the 1970s. Robert Holmes delivers a cracking script that caused children to soil themselves across the land and Pertwee slips into the role like it was a Carnaby Street original. What more could you possibly want?
You've probably bought Spearhead From Space before, but it's worth shelling out for this Mannequin Mania set, with some new extras which really add to your enjoyment of the only Doctor Who story shot entirely on film. The story is fun, and certain elements are "important" to the show in a number of respects. Given that you also get Terror of the Autons as an incentive, even Jo Grant would recommend it as a stellar buy.
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 9th May 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Down To Earth - Filming Spearhead From Space, Regenerations - From Black & White To Colour, UNIT Recuitment Film, Trailers, Photo Gallery, Info-Text, Coming Soon Trailer, PDF Materials
Easter Egg: No
Director: Derek Martinus
Cast: Jon Pertwee, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney
Length: 98 minutes
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