TERROR OF THE AUTONS

Episode One

Sue: I like the Autons, but I can’t remember whether I like Robert Holmes or not.
Me: It’s complicated.

The story begins at a circus.

Sue: An old-fashioned 1970s circus. This brings back memories.
Me: Yeah, this was when you could torture lions to death in the name of entertainment.
Sue: I feel sad now. This story has lost a mark already.

A wheezing, groaning sound fills the air.

Sue: The TARDIS sounds a bit funny. Hang on a minute…

Yes, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

Terror of the AutonsSue: Is it the Master?
Me: No.
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake! Is it the Mad Monk, then?
Me: I’m just kidding. It is the Master!
Sue: Yay!

We do our Master dance. It’s exhausting.

Sue: Now that’s what I call a TARDIS! It blends into its surroundings, for a start. And I bet the Master can park it on a sixpence, too. And I bet it’s really comfortable inside.

Back at UNIT HQ, the Doctor is introduced to Josephine Grant.

Sue: She’s new, but I know she’s a companion. I just know, for some reason. So where the hell is Liz? Does the Doctor have two female assistants, now?

Meanwhile at a space radio telescope…

Sue: That’s not a bad attempt at chroma, I suppose. There’s some blue fringing around the edges, but I’ve seen worse. You should see some of BBC’s weather reports – they make this look like Avatar.

Terror of the AutonsThe Master interrupts a scientist as he takes his lunch break.

Sue: I remember those thermos flasks. The slightest knock would shatter them. Still, they were better than all that modern double-wrapped plastic rubbish you get nowadays. I’m sure mine was tartan.

Something else she recognises is the sphere the Master has hooked up to the telescope’s transmitter.

Sue: I recognise that thing.
Me: You should, it’s the Nestene meteorite from Spearhead from Space. Do keep up, love.
Sue: Good grief, it’s like we’re watching Lost. Should I be taking notes?

The Brigadier informs the Doctor that the Nestene meteorite has been stolen.

Sue: Ah, now that’s the uniform I remember the Brig wearing. This looks strangely familiar. And at least they mentioned Liz. Hang on, does that mean Liz never got to travel in the TARDIS? That isn’t fair. I’m not happy about that at all. She was the best companion since Barbara. She deserved a lot more than that.

While the Doctor investigates the radio telescope, another Time Lord pops in for a chat.

Sue: What the hell?

Terror of the AutonsThe Time Lord warns the Doctor that his arch-enemy, the Master, is in town.

Sue: Hang on, when did the Doctor last meet the Master? Have we skipped an episode? Isn’t this the first time they’ve met? I’m really confused now. And who’s this bloke? And why doesn’t he need a TARDIS to get around? What the **** is going on, Neil? And while we’re at it, when does the Time War start? How long do I have to wait before that happens?
Me: A little while yet, love.

The Doctor defuses a bomb left by the Master.

Sue: Bomb my arse. It’s a bloody thermostat!

When the Doctor opens the scientist’s lunchbox, he recoils in horror.

Sue: Maybe the Doctor hates egg and cress?… Oh… Wait… Didn’t the Master do something similar to David Tennant once? Didn’t he shrink him to the size of a canary or something? That’s one hell of a power he’s got there.

The Doctor takes the bomb back to UNIT HQ.

Sue: Jo has this rock chick thing going on, I like that. She reminds me of Suzi Quatro a bit. And why is the Doctor wearing gloves that wouldn’t look out of place on a member of Slade?

Jo sneaks off to investigate a nearby plastics factory and is immediately apprehended by the Master.

Terror of the AutonsSue: Is Jo this ditzy every week? She’d better not be.

Jo is taken inside the factory.

Sue: It sounds like there’s a swarm of bees in this office. Why is Doctor Who always so bloody noisy?

Jo is hypnotised by the Master.

Sue: Not mind control again! Bloody hell. Get a new gimmick! Having said that, the Master’s eyes are very piercing. It’s good casting, this. Is the character based on Omar Sharif?

The episode concludes with a brainwashed Jo trying to set off a bomb at UNIT HQ.

Sue: She’s not having a great first day at work.

 

Episode Two

Sue: Jo just punched that soldier in the balls! You go, girl!

Luckily, Jo is overpowered and the bomb is chucked out of the window (“Nice explosion”), and then we return to the plastics factory where Colonel Masters (“Couldn’t he come up with a better pseudonym? Does he want to get caught?”) is demonstrating a new line of products.

Terror of the AutonsSue: I thought inflatable chairs were all the rage in the 1970s, but this bloke looks like he’s never seen one before. Did Doctor Who invent inflatable chairs? Is that one of its claims to fame?

But this chair is special. This chair can kill.

Sue: Isn’t it a bit dodgy to use a household object as a murder weapon? Watchdog would have had a field day.

There’s one man the Time Lord can’t influence – the factory’s retired founder, John Farrel. So the Master gives him an ugly doll instead.

Sue: That doll definitely rings a bell. Have you shown this to me before, Neil?

Either it’s a childhood memory or she’s dredging up the time I made her watch 30 Years in the TARDIS (18 years ago, practically to the day – now that’s scary). Anyway, the Doctor decides to investigate the circus.

Terror of the AutonsMe: The Doctor seems to like the tortured elephants. In fact, he’s positively charmed by them.
Sue: That’s another mark off this story.

And then…

Sue: The Doctor is very tanned in these scenes. Has he been on holiday? Because he’s practically orange. Did David Dickinson model himself on Jon Pertwee’s Doctor?

The Doctor is apprehended by Tony the Strongman.

Sue: Isn’t that whatshisname from the racist Cybermen story?
Me: Yes it is. Which is a good job too otherwise people would have accused you of racism.
Sue: The only racist thing in this room is your Doctor Who DVD collection, Neil.

Meanwhile a plastic doll is about to commit murder.

Sue: What the ****? Why would you chroma key a bloody kitchen? Are they trying to push the envelope here, or are they just being lazy? It’s hard to tell.

Terror of the AutonsThen it’s Jo’s turn to investigate the circus. Unfortunately, we never learn what she thinks about tortured elephants.

Sue: I haven’t seen this many caravans since My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Jo rescues the Doctor, however their escape is hindered by a gang of angry circus performers. The police arrive to break up the fight, but as our heroes are escorted away, the Doctor’s suspicions are aroused…

Sue: So the police are the bad guys now? That’s a bit strong for a children’s television programme, isn’t it?
Me: Questions were raised in the House of Commons.
Sue: I’m not surprised. That was irresponsible. Good though.

 

Episode Three

Terror of the AutonsSue: Why are UNIT driving around in an Austin Maxi? Shouldn’t they have a jeep or something?

When Yates realises that bullets can’t stop the Autons, he runs one over the edge of a cliff instead.

Sue: That’s a dummy… Oh wait… Bloody hell, it wasn’t a dummy! That was an incredible stunt! That was brilliant. I love how it got straight back up as soon as it hit the bottom. That was very scary.

The Doctor is unhappy with UNIT’s palpable lack of progress.

Sue: This Doctor can be an arsey bastard when he wants to. He’s very aloof and unapproachable in this one.

At least he managed to nick the Master’s dematerialisation circuit.

Sue: So he’s trapped a megalomaniac on Earth? Er… Thanks for that.

As the Doctor chuckles over this hilarious turn of events, the Autons make their move.

Sue aged 9Sue: I’m sure I’ve seen this before.
Me: It’s not something you’d forget in a hurry.
Sue: Are you sure you haven’t shown this to me before?
Me: No, I didn’t own the VHS, it went out of print really quickly and became ridiculously expensive, and it’s only just been released on DVD.
Sue: Then I must have seen this when I was nine.
Me: You looked like Amy Pond back then.

When a civil servant tries to stick his oar in, the Doctor goes full-blown Tory.

Sue: I told you this Doctor was aloof and unapproachable. He’s such a pompous Tory. I bet he hangs around gentlemen’s clubs, drinking brandy and being a twat.
Me: Unless he’s acting, of course.
Sue: If this was Patrick Troughton, maybe. But look at Pertwee – he always dresses like he’s on his way to a Masonic Lodge. I’m going right off him.

A telephone engineer has arrived at UNIT HQ to install a new phone.

Terror of the AutonsSue: “Why such a long flex?” asks Yates, as he checks out the telephone engineer. Is the actor who plays Yates somebody’s son?
Me: Yes, I’m sure he’s somebody’s son.
Sue: No, what I mean is, is he the son of somebody who works for the production team? Is that why he got the part?

Jo makes a telephone call. On the new phone. You know, just so we remember it’s there.

Sue: Did Jo just call somebody a dolly scouts man? What the hell was that supposed to mean?

The Doctor performs an autopsy on the plastic doll.

Sue: Is that doll the Autons’ version of a Cybermat? And is it just me, or is the Brigadier a bit thick this week?

The Doctor takes his frustration out on his friends.

Sue: The Doctor is a bit of a cock in this story. I don’t like him. He just told his friends to **** off and leave him alone. What a ****.

And then the telephone rings – yes, the new one – but when the Doctor answers the Master’s call, its inordinately large flex comes to life and tries to kill him.

Sue: If he wanted to be really evil, the Master should have reversed the charges.

 

Episode Four

Sue: Didn’t the actress who plays Jo marry Tony Blackburn?
Me: No, that’s Tessa Wyatt.
Sue: They could be sisters.

As then Mike Yates does this:

Sue: I think that may have been the campest scene in Doctor Who so far.
Me: So far, yes.

Meanwhile on the Autons’ publicity coach tour of death…

Sue: Would it have killed them to shoot this outside? They shot everything else outside so why revert to chroma key now? It doesn’t make any sense.

The Doctor wants to know what turns the Autons on.

Sue: Do hot beverages set the Autons off? Yates was making cocoa, and the old woman was making tea in her chroma kitchen. Maybe that’s the connection.

The Master and the Doctor finally meet face to face.

Terror of the AutonsSue: That’s a very big cigar.

They immediately rub each other up the wrong way.

Sue: That was great. It was almost worth the wait.

As the Nestene Consciousness materialises above the telescope (“It looks like a giant hand”), the Master has a sudden change of heart.

Sue: Are they really saying that the Master’s only just realised his plan is rubbish? That really undermines him as a villain, you know.

As soon as the Nestene are repelled, the Master surrenders. But then he goes for his gun, and Yates has to shoot him.

Sue: Is the Master really dead? Doesn’t he regenerate into another actor?

But it isn’t the Master, it’s poor Rex Farrel in disguise.

Sue: Why did the Doctor smile when the Master escaped? Is he a masochist or something?

The Doctor knows that we haven’t seen the last of his arch nemesis.

Sue: Does the Master come back every year, then?

 

The Score

Sue: What did the circus have to do with anything? It was pointless, and so were the scenes of animal cruelty, so marks off for that. And marks off for the Doctor turning into a pompous Tory. But apart from that, it was very good indeed. Short. Colour. Nice. The direction was okay, and the stunts were amazing. The chroma key was over-used, but at least they were trying. I’ll give it:

8/10

 

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Comments

  1. Nathan  November 26, 2011

    Sue really has lowered her standings – make her go back and rescore the Hartnells!

    • Mag  November 29, 2011

      It happened when Sue turned into a ming-mong — somewhere mid-Troughton.

  2. Richard Parker  November 26, 2011

    I’ve always found this a huge disappointment after the more atmospheric Spearhead from Space. I’m surprised Sue scored it so highly. And this is where the idea of UNIT as a credible international force begins it’s long decline into farce.

    • Frankymole  November 27, 2011

      “This is where the idea of UNIT as a credible international force begins it’s long decline into farce.”

      Yes, Douglas Camfield has definitely left the building 🙁 And when he returns a couple of times in Tom Baker’s era, he’s alternating as director with a certain Mr Letts so we get competing views of UNIT… it’s not quite “Inferno”, though…

  3. Teo  November 26, 2011

    One of my all time favourites. Objectively, Sue judged it about right.

  4. Tim Lister  November 26, 2011

    ‘Terror of the Autons’ was the first Doctor Who story I ever watched. Luckily I was only 5 years old so I really enjoyed it. At least the next story makes a stab at the same realism Series 7 attempted. It helps that the director went crazy with the budget on ‘The Mind of Evil’. I just hope Sue doesn’t kill you when she finds out there’s 6 episodes of B&W to look forward to.

    I see that Sue noticed a few differences between the last four stories and this one. Once she picks up on the overall stylistic change (i.e. Letts’ kiddie-friendly panto antics) are you going to discuss how the show was almost cancelled after the last series for being too adult in tone? I wonder if she’ll agree with the changes then,

    • John G  November 27, 2011

      As I understand it, the reason the show was almost cancelled after Season 7 was the poor ratings performance of Season 6 – if Season 7 had also flopped in the ratings, that would have been it. Thankfully Spearhead from Space proved popular, and the BBC commissioned Season 8 very soon afterwards.

  5. Rob Ritchie  November 26, 2011

    Some great bits in this one, hard to watch the chroma key scenes though, defiantly doesnt hold up against spearhead though.

  6. BestBrian  November 26, 2011

    “So, does the Master come back every season?”. I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry.

  7. CJJC  November 26, 2011

    Regarding THAT stunt. There’s a documentary on the DVD where Richard Franklin thinks it would be better if the stuntman (Terry Walsh?) had laid stock still at the bottom for a few seconds before getting up again. For my money, though, that’s only scary when you think of it as a stuntman, as the traditional “did that bloke just die?” thought crosses your mind until he gets up. And that only works on one viewing.

    If, instead, you think of it as an inhuman aggressor, one which feels no pain then it’s absolutely appropriate and terrifying that it gets up instantly and starts scaling the hillside again. And that continues to be scary on subsequent viewings. It’s one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen and so I’m glad that Sue shares this opinion.

    Terror is a weird one. Scary mixes with exciting, mixes with silly, mixes with naff. It’s so odd. Probably a 7 for me.

    I don’t think it’d work well on a T-shirt without context but I really liked: “Is it Roger Waters?”

  8. BWT  November 26, 2011

    T-shirt: Doctor strangled by phone flex and… “If he really wanted to be evil, he should have reversed the charges.”

    8/10? Ruddy ‘eck…

  9. Stuart Ian Burns  November 26, 2011

    “Hang on, does that mean Liz never got to travel in the TARDIS?”

    If this was the TARDIS Eruditorum blog, you’d have Sue commenting on David A. McIntee’s The Wages of Sin in a few weeks. That’d sort things out.

  10. Alex Wilcock  November 26, 2011

    Watching Goldfinger on the telly now, it’s difficult not to think that if the camera swings round the other way from Mrs Farrel’s kitchen, you’d see Felix Leiter looming out in front of his giant photo of a Miami hotel.

  11. Loki  November 26, 2011

    This conservative stuff, a lot of the terminology being bandied about, and that video you’ve embedded- it all goes over my head. Probably because I’m American and I’m not in on the joke. I’ve no idea why that scene is camp. Oh camp, that’s another one of those words. Well at least the next story has this fantastic scene with Pertwee.

    • John Callaghan  November 27, 2011

      I’m sure Wife In Space and its readers will be only too happy to provide a glossary!

      • Dave Sanders  November 28, 2011

        Tat Wood certainly does in his books.

  12. John Callaghan  November 27, 2011

    A curious switch may happen from now on. After seasons of the question “is that the Master?” when someone vaguely Master-ish appears, there might well be lots of not-very-Masterish characters who suddenly turn out to actually be him…

  13. Dave Sanders  November 27, 2011

    Bloody hell, didn’t take long for Sue to twig about Mike Yates did it? We haven’t even seen any don’t ask, don’t tell’ hints yet between Yates and Benton – she’ll be sniggering out loud by the time we get to the boys’ night in with the rugby, and it only gets more blatant from there.

    • Alisaunder  November 27, 2011

      Wasnt he supposed to be Jo’s love interest? Not that I ever saw any hint of it but still. I wanted Paul Darrow back.

  14. Matt Sharp  November 27, 2011

    ‘Is the actor playing Yates somebody’s son?’

    No, no, no… everyone knows that Richard Franklin was whittled out of cheese by a little old lady in Bridlington as a last resort when Ian Marter proved unable to commit to a long term contract.

    Little did they know that she’d use ALL the cheese and the real Richard Franklin is eighteen foot tall and can only appear with other actors via the use of Chromakey and clever forced perception shots…

    • John Callaghan  November 27, 2011

      You should write the Production Notes for all the DVD releases.

  15. Dave Sanders  November 27, 2011

    I’m going to call it early for The Claws Of Axos, straight after The Mind Of Evil; Sue’s going to wish out loud it was in black and white.

  16. Richard Lyth  November 27, 2011

    Can’t believe Sue thinks this is as good as Inferno! The Master is excellent, but the Autons are rubbish compared to last time, and all the set-pieces like the doll and the chair just look laughable nowadays. A big drop in quality from the last season.

  17. Antinous  November 27, 2011

    “It looks like a giant hand.” Quite. I probably read the Target novelisation – the one with the looming ‘part crab, part spider, part octopus’ Nestene – in 1976 at the age of 10 and imagined it to have been rendered like the stop motion plant monster in The Seeds of Doom. I was so disappointed when I saw the out of focus glove tenderly stroking the radio telescope. The Master changes sides out of sheer embarrassment.

    • Antinous  November 27, 2011

      Indeed if anyone knows the photographic sources of the Alan Willow and Chris Achilleos illustrations of the Nestenes in this novelisation and The Auton Invasion, I would be interested to hear – coz it sure ain’t the TV series!

      • Sleazy Martinez  November 28, 2011

        Well, they obviously used their imaginations. And it was Peter Brookes, not Achilleos

        I do enjoy Alan Willow’s rendition of the Troll Doll – the most evil thing I’ve ever seen. I thought “Morph” (as my own other half has it) got off quite lightly from Sue.

  18. John G  November 27, 2011

    Sue was on fire in this post. Lots of juicy comments, but the Roger Waters one made me smile the most, particularly as Floyd would have been recording their Who tribute on “One of these Days” around this time.

    You two are certainly belting through these at the moment. I like Terror a lot – it comes as a bit of a shock after 25 episodes of gritty realism, but it is never dull and is possibly the closest the show ever came to a comic strip. It’s probably my favourite Master story as well – I’m not a great fan of the character, but Roger Delgado was perfect casting and he is at his most menacing and formidable here. As for Jo, she is undoubtedly a major step backwards after the highly intelligent and capable Zoe and Liz, but Katy Manning has enough skill as an actress to at least make her likeable and sympathetic, and she isn’t a wimp like Victoria, either.

    There have been a lot of adverse comments here about the effects, but even today I think there is something rather unsettling about the killer chair, the troll doll and the lethal daffodils, and I am not altogether surprised that the story caused controversy at the time. Mind you, I watched this with my nieces (aged 4 and 6) a few months back, and they were both laughing during the “scary” bits, so maybe it’s just me!

    • Paul Greaves  November 28, 2011

      Completely agree with you about ToTA John. I have a tremendous soft spot for this story, unfortunately it also has two negatives for me. This is the story where the Brigadier’s character starts to descend into buffoonery and is also where Pertwee’s Doctor enters his “Arrogant, Pompous, Condescending F***er” period. It’s interesting for me, as a child of the late Seventies/early Eighties that before the VHS releases, I experienced the Third Doctor through the Target books and never found the character as unpleasant as I do on TV – which I can only level at Pertwee’s performance. The podcast I co-present (watching Who in order) has just reached the Pertwee years, so I’m waiting to see if my opinion changes…

      • John G  November 28, 2011

        I rewatched the whole of Season 8 recently, and was very much struck by how patronising and unpleasant the Doctor can be at times. I think the nadir is probably The Daemons, when he is appallingly condescending to Jo and carries on like a total arse for a while. In dramatic terms his behaviour can readily be explained by growing frustration at being stuck on Earth, and in The Daemons the frustration may be intensified by the tantalising taste of freedom he had enjoyed in the previous story, but it does make it hard for the viewer to wish him well. Thankfully, he does mellow out a lot in the following season, and that’s when his friendship with Jo really seems to blossom.

        As for UNIT… Yes, there’s no denying this story is when the rot starts to set in, although I think they do maintain a measure of dignity (the Brig especially) until The Time Monster rears its ugly head…

  19. Daniel Blythe  November 27, 2011

    What’s all this “Tory” business? So the Doctor name-drops someone to get one over on a civil servant. Big deal! No different from the kind of thing he does all the time! He may even be bluffing. It seems people have a problem with it because the chap’s name is “Tubby”?!

    • Matt Sharp  November 28, 2011

      But Brownrose isn’t one of the usual officious civil servants like Chinn or Walker or someone played by Geoffrey Palmer – people have died, and he’s been sent along to see these UN people who’ve told him that the best man for the job is this elderly lesbian who lives in a laboratory with a police box in the corner, has two African spears mounted on the wall and a puffer fish hanging from the ceiling.

      When he asks, not unreasonably, if this chap is definitely the right man for the job, rather than dazzling him with some brilliance he instead browbeats him with some blather about an old boys network that he clearly isn’t a part of – his boss is, after all, LORD Wotsit to him…

      There should have been another way.

    • Richard L  November 29, 2011

      Does it particularly matter if he was a Tory? By this point Pertwee’s Doctor has saved the planet several times over, so as far as I’m concerned he can hang out in whatever club he desires, guzzle as much brandy as he wants and bully as many jobsworths as he likes, in whatever manner he chooses.

      To be honest, bringing political prejudices into Doctor Who reflects far more upon the writer than it does upon the character – whether it’s bloggers or Russell T Davies.

  20. Alisaunder  November 27, 2011

    So after all this time Neill, WHAT DOES SHE THINK OF HIM!!!!

    Does she like Roger? I love the upcoming season for that reason, and missed him when hes not there. Mind of Evil is one of my all time favorite episodes but if Sue thinks shes seen Racist before, wait till the first two parts of Mind. Even I cringe a bit.

    • Dave Sanders  November 28, 2011

      Writer Don Houghton didn’t. That was his WIFE.

      • Alisaunder  November 28, 2011

        I love you guys for your knowledge of all this stuff. It was a different world back then.

  21. Noodles  November 27, 2011

    “…that time I made her watch 30 Years in the TARDIS, almost 20 years to the day.” Are you a Time Lord yourself? Surely the programme was broadcast 18/19 years ago?

    • Neil Perryman  November 27, 2011

      Absolutely right. What was I thinking? Anyway, it’s been corrected. Still scary.

  22. DPC  November 27, 2011

    It’s a passable story, if not partial rewrite of “Spearhead”. What really makes it shine is the inclusion of the Master and the feud being set up.

    Good stuff.

    And the best is yet to come, regarding circus animals…

  23. Tarquin  November 28, 2011

    Four LEGEND new T-Shirt wife designs RIGHT HERE – all genius.

    The sofa with “Watchdog would have a Field Day”
    The Caravan with “Havent seen this many since My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”
    Pertwee with “To be found hanging around Gentlemens club drinking brandy”
    AND “Dresses like he’s on his way to a Masonic lodge”

    Oh Sue, with these quips you are really spoiling UZ.

    Think you are slightly overscoring it – the Pertwee polticization is a real problem here – if i spoke to my mates and colleagues like Jon does here, i’d have to spend two weeks in the HOLE as pennance.
    Mind Of Evil far superior, but then again Colony in Space just around the corner. OH GOD.

  24. Doctor Whom  November 28, 2011

    ” Is Jo this ditzy every week?”

    Oh dear, that question doesn’t bode well.

    • Alisaunder  November 28, 2011

      Well to be fair Sue hasn’t liked many Companions at first, but grown into them. But yeah, I’m crossing my fingers on this one too. Jo does have a good run in Mind of Evil though.

    • PolarityReversed  December 1, 2011

      No she isn’t Sue.
      She gets worse… Just hang on in there. Spunky Sarah-J isn’t far away.

  25. Doctor Whom  November 28, 2011

    Unless the gentleman’s club bobbins was just the weekly dose of “look, I’m so not posh” to which Sue treats us, that’s a pretty shocking lack of appreciation for nuance. It’s so blindingly obvious that the Doctor is making it all up and just doing it to manipulate the civil servant (all he needs to know to pull it off is the name of the head of that particular ministry). You might as well suggest that the 4th Doctor is an evil traitor just because he pretends to be one in Invasion of Time.

  26. Sleazy Martinez  November 28, 2011

    “Terror” works best if you ignore the Doctor. It’s all about The Master and his crazy schemes. The level of sadism on show here makes “The Two Doctors” look like a walk in the park. I think Sue’s been v. fair on this one as the effects are variable – the chair usually gets most derision in my house. I don’t hold out much hope for those forthcoming dinosaurs, however.

    I always laughed at that Paul Cornell review back in the day, when he got angry at “Terror” for being unrealistic – the Radio Times had it right by depicting episode one as a comic strip.

  27. Docoboy  November 29, 2011

    Was Sue disappointed that Liz Shaw didn’t get a proper leaving scene?

  28. Daru  November 29, 2011

    “We do our Master dance. It’s exhausting, I can tell you.”

    Love it – great moment.

    Is this the same euphemism for “dancing” in the ‘Doctor Dances’…..?

  29. Paul Mudie  November 30, 2011

    It seems that Sue finds 70s Who a much easier pill to swallow than 60s Who. This is something we have in common, and I think it means that we are only partial ming-mongs.

  30. Jamie  November 30, 2011

    Dare I ask what the “Master dance” involves?
    I’m hoping it’s performed with the curtains drawn.
    I gather Sue’s family was a posh lot:colour camera film circa 41 years ago.

    • Matt Sharp  November 30, 2011

      ‘colour camera film’

      Well, brown is sort of a colour, I suppose…

    • Neil Perryman  November 30, 2011

      Sue coming from a posh family? The funniest comment on this blog. Ever.

      • Doctor Whom  December 2, 2011

        We’ve heard her voice. Sue is soooooooooo not posh. But she goes on so often about poshness that it would be easy either for a non-Brit to wonder if she’s someone in denial or for anyone to wonder if she’s flaunting her politics. That would be daft because using “posh” in any political sense is about as barking as using “common” as shorthand for “working class”. I don’t think it’s political on Sue’s part but rather an outlet for her frustrated social ambitions at finding herself married to a man who spends his cash on Doctor Who DVDs instead of silk antimacassars and mother-of-pearl bathroom fittings and who takes her on holidays to geeky conventions instead of to Sun City. Sue, your bourgeois ambitions are SO transparent.

  31. Marty  November 30, 2011

    *Why* are UNIT driving around in an Austin Maxi? It’s a good question.

    “The Doctor is a bit of a cock in this one. I don’t like him. He just told all his friends to **** off and leave him alone. What a ****.” This could be applied to so many stories.

  32. Dave Rolinson  December 1, 2011

    Even if the Doctor *is* just “making it up” to get one over on a civil servant, Sue’s point is still valid (even if you don’t agree with it) and absolutely spot on (if you do agree with it, which I do). Let’s see if there’s any more evidence to back it up in future stories. (I think there’s a skipload, but let’s see.)

    It’s sad that people are accusing Sue of having some sort of agenda here. The whole beauty of this experiment is that it’s someone coming to it without the baggage of fan debates. When some of us were calling Pertwee the Tory/Establishment Doctor in fanzines a couple of decades ago, I can see why fans of that era would see that as an agenda and we could have a debate on the subject. But for someone with no fan baggage to take one look at these stories and call it like that – well, it’s there. It’s there in so many episodes, in interpersonal relationships, attitudes, dialogue, plot, performance. We can explain it, we can problematise it (he’s radical in other ways, in some individual stories), we can even retcon it, but denying it’s there is another thing entirely.

    Whether it *matters*, as someone said earlier, is of course another point. Speaking personally, it’s one of the things that makes this period the one I have always found the most difficult to warm to and the one I’m least likely to rewatch. That’s personal of course.

    But trying to guess Sue’s social background or personal attitudes to condemn the point, rather than engaging with it, seems a bit excessive. I mean, Verity Lambert called the Pertwee era “too establishment”, and she knew a thing or two about Doctor Who…

  33. PolarityReversed  December 1, 2011

    I think the other thing to bear in mind is the fact that Who has always been consciously tied into the preoccupations of its time. References to the space race, “White Heat” technology, Cold War diplomacy and the like.

    First time around, we may not have had a clear adult awareness of the social and culture themes being referenced but they were certainly in the air.

    Probably one of the reasons why we mongs of a certain age feel such nostalgia for the classic series and the younger fans consistently vote Tennant or Smith as the best evahhh.

  34. Paul Kirkley  December 2, 2011

    T-shirt: “Perhaps the Doctor just hates egg and cress”

    Re. The Tory Doctor: whether he’s bluffing about his induction into the St James set or not, there’s no denying this incarnation exudes an arrogant, high-handed, smug, patrician, establishment vibe that’s quite at odds with the character we’ve come to know and love over the past 50 years. People complain about the sixth Doctor but he seems positively charming compared to the third. Whoever Pertwee is playing, it doesn’t feel like Doctor comma Who to me.

    • Leo  December 2, 2011

      I would personally dispute it, or at least would dispute that the way it has traditionally been described is very satisfactory. The personality he has can be abrasive but it can as easily be aimed at establishment types as much as anyone else, as in the “Gentlemen never discuss anything else” comment about money. It’s a spiky directness that occasionally manifests itself, though by no means always, and tends to be more to the fore in Season 8 than in any of his others, and is usually of a kind that takes no prisoners, not necessarily beholden to any particular class attitude or norm, which is why it can also take the form of radicalism and anti-authority, as it often does. The upper class trappings or imagery of his costume are little more than flavouring of the same kind used for characters like John Steed and Adam Adamant. I don’t have any particular liking for the Brownrose scene, as the character is little more than a rather dull caricature in the first place, but that caricature is clearly intended to be an emblem of mediocrity and lack of imagination, a sort of jobsworthiness who gets up the Doctor’s nose by questioning his competence to deal with the matter. The Doctor retaliates by trying to return the insult. That’s the basic dynamic intended, it seems to me.

      The idea that’s intended, I think, is that it is a man reacting against people who irritate him. The source of that irritation is usually small-mindedness or lack of originality. The Doctor, on this reading, is supposed to represent colour, life, curiosity (which quality is the one that ultimately leads to his death), non-conformity, broader horizons, and hence reacts negatively to anything which seems parochial in response. To interpret this as somehow identifying with the parochialism of the British ruling classes is in my opinion a selective misreading which indicates that it comes over as something too much like arrogance to the critic (which is a fair point for debate), and that because they associate that kind of attitude with ‘the establishment’, there is the connection. But the reason why I describe it as “selective” is because it leaves out too many other factors. All it really takes to come to this conclusion is to be prepared to make the same associations, and that is really something that has nothing to do with whether you might be a fan or not.

      It’s not gentility. The third Doctor is brash, vulgar, with garish tastes and an extroverted personality. He isn’t a ‘gentleman’ and isn’t Tory in any meaningful sense. What does ‘Tory’ actually mean anyway? Conservatism in its post-Robert Peel form generally means being in favour of free trade and free markets. Clearly, it’s not that. So the more traditional veneration of the established order, such as church, government, army and public schools, then? Except that he’s consistently fairly scornful of that kind of spirit, as in the disgusted “England for the English!” comment he makes at Chinn, or his rebuffs to the latter’s claim of having a duty to his country, and even when not being as cutting as that, he says little to suggest he takes it very seriously in spirit.

      If the term is meant to refer to having a “patrician” or “establishment” personality of some sort, then it’s factually inaccurate as a description, as you don’t need to be politically Tory to be part of some kind of old boys’ network, or indeed to have a high opinion of yourself. There are peers from various parties, and there have been gentleman’s clubs for various parties too. To automatically affix a term like Tory is therefore to make assumptions or associations which are based directly on the critic’s own way of categorising people.

      If we’re talking of evidence, I’d say the fact that there isn’t a single solitary reference in any of his other stories to the Doctor being a member of any kind of establishment or gentlemen’s club, the fact that he spends most of his time on Earth trying to get away as soon as he can, and the fact that once he has his freedom, he only seems to be willing to pop back to look in on UNIT occasionally, does, collectively, present a rather stronger lot of evidence for his status in this respect than about two lines in one scene in one story where he’s attempting a riposte to someone being snotty about him.

      If the issue is simply about whether he can be, or come across as, arrogant or sharp-tongued, and whether that is desirable or appealing, then, as I mentioned earlier, that is fair comment, although it’s the kind of difficult-to-quantify area where you’re comparing the relative amiability and abrasiveness of different Doctors. Personally, I can think of at least three other Doctors who aren’t, in my view, any less snotty or overbearing than this one when they want to be, but then these kind of perceptions are always going to be subjective to a large extent, I imagine.

      • Paul Kirkley  December 2, 2011

        I suspect I’m never going to be a fan of Pertwee’s Doctor, but this is a bloody well-argued defence. Good on yer.

      • John G  December 3, 2011

        Superb post Leo – I agree with practically every word of it.

        • PolarityReversed  December 3, 2011

          Thirded.
          I reckon Pertwee’s incarnation as a sort of rebel inside the system. His best option is to work within a militaristic environment (the first time he has to have a “job”), yet constantly presses it towards pacifist values. Sharply critical of everyone. Frequently exasperated by humanity’s shortcomings, yet fond of its potential. Not “establishment”, but well-versed enough to be able to effortlessly play it at its own game.
          Patrician, maybe. Patronising, often – not sexist per se – just stupidist. On balance, he’s far ruder to the Brig than he is to Jo.
          And they all wind up influencing him as much as he influences them.

          • BestBrian  December 4, 2011

            Frankly, it sounds like me at work with the NYPD. 🙂 Petwee is My Doctor; I’ve got to cut the guy a lot of slack, especially after his first season.

  35. Ollie  December 5, 2011

    I think Sue gets it about right here. But points docked for repeating the big fat myth about questions in parliament. The Chase got more mentions in the House than Terror of the Autons ever did!

  36. Farsighted99  January 10, 2012

    I really liked this story a lot. After all, it introduces the Doctor’s new companion, Jo Grant, and the Doctor’s lifetime nemesis The Master, all in one adventure. Plus the Autons are back. Have to admit the Doctor is a bit more Sherlock than Doctor here though … A self-suffering prick, er know-it-all … Then our more loveable nerdy 11th Doctor. But still a good story! How about that gingerbread doll? How ugly was that! Am I the only one who liked the Avenger-style Timelord in his invisible Tardis? Though wish they had given Liz Shaw more of a send off. I”ll give it an 8.5.