PLANET OF THE SPIDERS

Part One

Me: Right, this is it.
Sue: This is what?
Me: Jon Pertwee’s last story. Six more episodes and it’s over.
Sue: Really? Why are you telling me this now? Are you winding me up again?
Me: I was going to keep it a surprise, but this story works better if you know it’s the Third Doctor’s swan song. It would have been common knowledge at the time, too. The reason I know this for a fact is because my mother sat me down and explained to me what was going to happen in advance; she probably did it to stop me freaking out when Pertwee was replaced by another actor. Oh, and you’d have to be an idiot not to see it coming a mile off, so I’ve decided to put you out of your misery now.

When the story’s title appears, Sue turns to me and laughs.

Sue: Spiders, eh? You must really hate this story. Don’t worry, you can hold my hand if you get scared. I’ll protect you.

Yes, I suffer from arachnophobia. I also live in the countryside, which means I spend a great deal of my time screaming for Sue to come and rescue me from the eight-legged ****ers.

Me: This story had a profound effect on me. You could say it made me the person I am today.
Sue: Afraid of spiders?
Me: No, afraid of Buddhists.
Sue: I beg your pardon?
Me: You’ll see.

Planet of the SpidersA lonely-looking man is walking down a country lane…

Me: Do you recognise him?
Sue: Is it the actor who plays Yates? Is he playing a different part?
Me: No! That’s Yates!
Sue: But I thought he was persona non grata?

Meanwhile the Doctor and the Brigadier are painting the town red.

Sue: Is this what they get up to on their days off? What the hell is going on? Why isn’t the Doctor off exploring the universe or something?

A torturous comedy routine is followed by a Turkish belly dancer named Sherezadi.

Planet of the SpidersSue: They’ve come to a working men’s club to see a STRIPPER??!

Lethbridge-Stewart’s eyes almost pop out of his head.

Sue: Brigadier! I am very disappointed in you.

Yates breaks into a large country house and makes for the cellar, where a group of middle-aged men are meditating over a Roger Dean album cover.

Me: I told you Buddhists were bloody terrifying.
Sue: They look more like bank managers than Buddhists.
Me: It is possible to be both. Have I told you that Barry Letts was a Buddhist?
Sue: So does Doctor Who have a Buddhist agenda, then? We’ve seen Buddhists in the show before, haven’t we?
Me: I grew up associating Buddhism with monsters and alien invasions, which I’m fairly sure wasn’t Barry’s intention.

Planet of the SpidersProfessor Clegg (the clairvoyant act at last night’s sordid cabaret) is summoned to UNIT HQ to speak with the Doctor.

Sue: It’s a bit like MI5 bringing Derren Brown in for questioning. You can tell he’s got mind control powers because of his beard.

The Doctor wants Clegg to help him with his research into ESP.

Sue: Is he going to form an alliance with Clegg? Can you see what I did there? It’s because the Doctor is a…
Me: Yes, very good, Sue.
Sue: Why is the Doctor fixated on this particular subject all of a sudden? Is he sick of all the mind control, as well? I still don’t understand why he isn’t off having an adventure on some alien planet somewhere. This is out of character. He couldn’t wait to leave, but now he’s hanging around UNIT like a spare part.

Yates meets Sarah Jane at a remote train station in his sports car.

Sue: He’s starting his midlife crisis early. And his MG needs a service, too. Listen to it squeaking! That would turn Sarah right off.

Yates has an exclusive scoop for Sarah’s magazine.

Planet of the SpidersSue: So is Sarah Jane a journalist again? Has she left the Doctor? Why does she trust Yates again? And in which magazine did she publish her story about the giant penis in a cape?

Yates wants Sarah to investigate the suspicious meditation centre.

Sue: Yates has the look of a young Mick Jagger. I think the long hair suits him. I’m glad they brought him back to finish off his story. Not that I was expecting any kind of resolution.

The Buddhists are led by a grumpy fellow named Lupton.

Sue: He looks familiar.
Me: Where in Doctor Who have you encountered this actor before?
Sue: Wasn’t he in On the Buses?

The Doctor hooks Clegg up to a machine that Sue recognises as a salon-style hair dryer.

Sue: Those are the same headphones from the story with the giant maggots. He’s nicked them from the giant computer that was brainwashing everyone.

Clegg’s mental powers reveal that the Brigadier has enjoyed extra-marital relations with a young lady named Doris.

Planet of the SpidersMe: I told you he was having an affair.

Sue half-laughs and half-tuts. And then UNIT’s monitor screen is filled with Drashigs as Clegg probes the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver with his mind.

Sue: I suppose the Doctor should count himself lucky it isn’t showing images of the giant cock in a shower curtain. How would he explain that to the Brigadier?

When Benton walks into the lab, he dismisses the Doctor’s contraption as an overblown hair dryer as well.

Sue: Me and Benton would get on like a house on fire. We think the same way. Is the actor who plays Benton still alive?
Me: Yes! You passed him in a corridor about three months ago. You were invited to see some of his stand-up comedy, but you were too busy hiding in the hotel’s restaurant to bother, which was probably for the best.
Sue: That was never Benton! Never in a million years! I thought I passed Ian Levine in that corridor.

Planet of the SpidersBack at the meditation centre, Sarah interviews a Tibetan monk named Cho-Je about his beliefs. At one point Cho-Je says, “The old man must die and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed”.

Sue: In other words, don’t worry, Tom Baker will be along shortly. There’s a lot of foreshadowing going on in this episode. I like it.

Jo Grant has sent the Doctor a package from the Amazon. The Doctor asks Clegg to identify its contents before he opens it.

Sue: Is it a DVD boxset? That’s what you usually get from Amazon.
Me: Very funny.
Sue: Is it the blue crystal from the one with…
Me: The giant maggots? Yes. Yes, it is.
Sue: I know it’s called The Green Death, by the way. I just like winding you up.

Their interview concluded, Mike and Sarah pretend to leave the meditation centre, only to double back again.

Sue: There are lots of references to the past in this episode. And Sarah Jane is flirting with Mike Yates now. They set that up weeks ago. It’s a bit like Lost, this.

Planet of the SpidersProfessor Clegg’s mind makes contact with the Metebelis crystal.

Sue: The Doctor’s only gone and killed him! While he was in his care! That’s a health and safety nightmare. UNIT will be up to their necks in litigation for months. Unless they cover it up, of course.

The episode concludes as something materialises in the meditation centre’s cellar…

Sue: So Buddhists are making giant spiders appear out of thin air.
Me: Yes.
Sue: Erm… Why?

 

Part Two

Sue: Only five more Jon Pertwee episodes to go. I can’t believe it. I bet Part Five will still be rubbish, though. And I bet you remember this from when you were young, Neil. Or were you too scared to watch it?
Me: My strongest memory about this story concerns the edited omnibus repeat that aired over Christmas in 1974. I’m standing in Coventry’s Pool Meadow Bus Station, waiting for a Number 7 with my mother, and I’m screaming the place down because we’ve missed both the bus and the omnibus. I know it was the Christmas repeat because my mother tried to pacify me with a gingerbread snowman.
Sue: Omnibus edition?
Me: Don’t even go there. I raised the possibility that we might watch the omnibus edition instead, but our readers on Twitter and Facebook nearly tore my head off.
Sue: Would you jump off a cliff if they told you to?
Me: I don’t know. What would it do to our stats?

A giant spider is about to make its move.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Does the spider jump onto his back? Oh look, it has… And now it’s invisible. Yes, I’ve definitely seen this before. I’m sure of it. It definitely jumps onto a woman’s back later.
Me: Did the woman in question look like Catherine Tate by any chance?
Sue: Yes!
Me: I thought so.

When the Doctor hooks the Metebelis crystal up to his machine, he sees spiders writhing around on a monitor. I turn away, repulsed.

Sue: So did Doctor Who make you afraid of spiders, Neil? Is it Doctor Who’s fault that I have to keep rescuing you when you take a bath?
Me: I don’t think so. It probably reinforced my fear of them, though. I still have problems watching this story today.
Sue: So is Lupton Spider-Man, now? Can he climb walls and swing around on webs and stuff? He might want to think about a costume of some sort. That brown roll neck jumper isn’t going to cut it.

The Doctor admits he is responsible for Clegg’s death, and Sue doesn’t understand why he hasn’t turned himself in to the police.

Sue: At least he cares that he’s accidentally killed Derren Brown, I suppose. And doesn’t Jon Pertwee look tired all of a sudden?

Sue is enjoying this episode (she adores Sarah’s hat and coat ensemble), and she can’t believe her eyes when she spies the Whomobile and Bessie in the same car park.

Sue: This really is a greatest hits package, isn’t it?

Lupton barges into UNIT HQ, and when Benton tries to intervene, Lupton electrocutes him.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Have they killed Benton? Is this Benton’s last story, as well? Does UNIT get killed off? I’m a bit worried now.

Lupton steals the Metebelis crystal, and the Brigadier tries to stop him with deadly – but incredibly inaccurate – force.

Sue: The Brig ought to be a better shot than that! Is it any wonder UNIT can’t hit a barn door at 20 paces if he’s the one training them? Good grief.

The chase begins.

Sue: Is this one of those special Top Gear challenges where they have to get from one end of the country to the other in different vehicles?
Me: It’s more like Wacky Races.

It isn’t long before this high-speed pursuit attracts the attention of the police.

Sue: It’s Mel Smith in a panda car!

Planet of the SpidersSue begins to suspect this scene is nothing more than padding.

Sue: That’s the same fork in the road. They’re going round and round in circles. I’m guessing that none of this is in the omnibus? They must have cut this out.
Me: You’d have thought so, wouldn’t you? But they didn’t.

Sue gives me a funny look. And the chase goes on.

Sue: I’ve never seen a car chase where the participants actually get out and swap vehicles. You wouldn’t catch Bullitt doing that.

With Lupton now in a gyrocopter, Sue thinks she’s spotted a fatal flaw.

Sue: I can’t wait to see Tom Baker driving around in the Whomobile… Hang on a minute, what happened to the spider? Why hasn’t Lupton splattered it all over the upholstery?

Planet of the SpidersAnd then, to Sarah’s horror (and Sue’s delight), the Whomobile takes to the skies.

Sue: It’s turned into Grease.

The Doctor follows Lupton’s gyrocopter to the coast.

Sue: Not boats as well! What comes after the boats? Trains? Buses? Space Hoppers?

Lupton steals a motorboat from Terry Walsh.

Planet of the SpidersSue: He’s familiar.
Me: He should be, he played the Doctor last week.

And the chase goes on.

Sue: There’s more driving in this episode than there is in the film Drive!
Me: Ah, a comedy tramp. It really is a Now That’s What I Call A Jon Pertwee Episode, now.
Sue: It reminds me of Live and Let Die. It’s as long as Live and Let Die.

The Doctor finally catches up with Lupton’s boat, but when he boards the vessel, his quarry is nowhere to be found.

Sue: Why didn’t Lupton do that 10 minutes ago?!

 

Part Three

Planet of the SpidersBack at the meditation centre, a young man with learning difficulties is drawn to the Metebelis crystal.

Sue: He looks like a young Colin Montgomerie.

Lupton confers with one of his Buddhist colleagues about what happened in the cellar earlier with the giant spider.

Sue: He looks familiar.
Me: Bizarrely, and I’m not making this up, Barnes looks like someone who teaches Buddhism at our university. I think he specialises in distance learning. You know, because he astrally projects to his lectures… Oh, suit yourself.

Lupton is unhappy about losing his job as a sales director, and he’s decided to channel his energies into achieving world domination instead.

Planet of the SpidersSue: From redundancy to world domination – that’s quite a career move. I hope you don’t do something stupid like this when you take your severance this summer, Neil.

Barnes leaves Lupton to his own devices.

Sue: (As Lupton) Make sure you don’t step on the giant spider on your way out.

Lupton heads for the cellar to meditate, but when Sarah follows him, she’s accidentally transported to Metebelis 3.

Sue: Metebelis 3 looks quite nice. Are you sure this is the same place as before? It was a shit hole when the Doctor last visited the place.

The Doctor follows Sarah in his TARDIS.

Sue: Why doesn’t he use the mat? It would be a lot quicker. And more reliable.

Sarah is introduced to Metebelis 3’s human inhabitants.

Planet of the SpidersSue: He’s definitely familiar… Is he a 1970s porn star?
Me: I don’t know. How many 1970s porn stars are you familiar with?
Sue: It’s not Jason King, is it?

I eventually jog her memory thanks to the internationally-recognised hand gesture for Gareth Hunt.

Sue: Is he, really? That isn’t very nice.
Me: Oh, for God’s sake, it’s Gareth Hunt!
Sue: Who?
Me: The New Avengers.
Sue: The what?
Me: The Nescafe adverts.
Sue: Oh, him!

And then…

Sue: Oh. My. God.
Me: Sue, I’d like you to meet Jenny Laird.

She’s gobsmacked by Jenny’s performance (if performance is the right word).

Planet of the SpidersMe: Believe it or not, RADA named an acting prize after Jenny Laird.
Sue: Was it the booby prize for the most stilted performance of the year? Maybe Barry Letts hired the wrong Jenny Laird by mistake? This woman can’t act. I could do a better job than her and I’m shit!

Despite Jenny’s best efforts, Sue is quite taken with Metebelis 3, especially its Butlins-style chalets and “lovely cobbled floors”. And when the TARDIS arrives, she’s even more impressed.

Sue: The TARDIS is having a good day. Look at that. Inches away from where the Doctor needs to be. For a single episode, Jon Pertwee’s TARDIS acts like Matt Smith’s.

But before the Doctor can rescue Sarah, a giant spider decides to spoil things.

Sue: Just step on it!

The Doctor is zapped by the spider’s guards and he stumbles to the floor unconscious.

Sue: Is this it, then? Is he going to regenerate?

 

Part Four

Planet of the SpidersSue: So when is he going to regenerate? It must be a long regeneration if there are still three episodes left. And I thought David Tennant’s regeneration was drawn out. Or does Tom Baker turn up in the middle of the story and sort everything out?

Sue is convinced she’s spotted a famous extra lurking in Jenny Laird’s shadow.

Sue: It’s Meryl Streep.
Me: Don’t be silly. They couldn’t afford Meryl Streep and Jenny Laird.

Meanwhile at the meditation centre…

Sue: These men look – and act – like a paedophile ring.

Tommy begins to read from a children’s book.

Sue: I had that book when I was at school! I remember the pictures and everything!

Planet of the SpidersI’ve never ever seen Sue this excited in the middle of an episode of Doctor Who before. Anyway, the crystal clears Tommy’s mind and he discovers, to his astonishment, that he can suddenly read fluently for the first time.

Sue: What a brilliant idea. And they did it really well, too. It’s a great performance from Colin Montgomerie.

Back on Metebelis 3, the Doctor is barely conscious.

Sue: Don’t just lie there! Regenerate!

The Doctor gives Sarah the key to the TARDIS so she can fetch a machine that might save his life.

Sue: That’s weird. I thought the TARDIS used a Yale key.

The colonists on Metebelis 3 debate their next move.

Sue: They’d be better off staging a production of Hair.

The Doctor activates the life-saving machine and… BOOM!

Sue: Where’s Tom Baker? Oh, this is getting silly, now. It’s still Jon Pertwee.

Planet of the SpidersYates stumbles across the local paedo ring and is tied-up for his troubles.

Sue: Yates is wearing a brand new pair of shoes. Look at his sole. It hasn’t got a mark on it.
Me: That’s very deep, Sue.

The Doctor enters the spiders’ city.

Sue: It looks like spun.
Me: A spun web? Yes, it does.
Sue: No, spun. Tuff spun to be precise. It’s a material they used to diffuse studio lighting. Don’t you know anything?

The episode concludes with the Doctor failing to rescue his companion. The look on Sarah’s (and Sue’s) face says it all, really.

Sue: How disappointing.

 

Part Five

The spiders really want their crystal back.

Sue: You can’t blame the spiders for being annoyed. If a spider stole the Star of India from us, we’d be pissed off as well.

Planet of the SpidersSue feels sorry for the actors who have to interact with Jenny Laird.

Sue: She’s certainly not helping Gareth Hunt. He goes as stiff as a board as soon as she comes near him.

A spider strikes a deal with Sarah: the crystal in exchange for peace, love and harmony.

Sue: I’d want to see something on paper first. Although I bet you wouldn’t be able to read their handwriting.

If there’s one thing that disappoints Sue, it’s the spiders’ habitat.

Sue: Their lair isn’t what I expected at all. I thought it would be a dark cave covered in cobwebs, but it looks like a car showroom.

And she can’t work out which spider is which.

Planet of the SpidersSue: They all look and sound the same to me. How do they seriously expect me to keep up with this?
Me: Racist.
Sue: Speaking of which, couldn’t they have hired a real Tibetan to play the monk instead of yellowing somebody up? Oh, and Cho-Je is definitely in on it. Whatever it is.

The Great One taunts the Doctor.

Sue: The Doctor is genuinely scared. Either that or it’s indigestion.

The Great One forces the Doctor to march around in a circle.

Sue: This is very disturbing. I don’t know what to make of this.

Cho-Je is electrocuted by a spider. And then Yates is struck down as well.

Sue: It’s turning into a blood bath. Just so long as they don’t harm Tommy…

As Tommy leads the Doctor and Sarah to safety, Sarah remarks on the fact that he suddenly appears “normal”.

Sue: That was a very poor choice of words. I can’t say I’m very happy about that.

Tommy sincerely hopes that he isn’t “normal”.

Sue: That salvaged it. That was a great line, so I apologise for jumping the gun. Although I’m warning you now, Neil, if Tommy dies, this story will get zero out of 10 I don’t care if it’s Pertwee’s last or not.

Planet of the SpidersThe Doctor meets the abbot, K’Anpo Rinpoche.

Sue: Is it the Master?
Me: I’ll let you have that one. I can actually see where you’re coming from for a change. But no, it isn’t the Master. Sorry.

The episode concludes as Tommy is attacked by brainwashed Buddhists who are backed-up (quite literally) by spiders.

Sue: That was a great cliffhanger. A character in danger that I actually care about for a change. They’d better not kill him, though. I’m serious, Neil.

 

Part Six

Sue: They never did fix the titles, did they? That’s a shame. Not that I’ll miss these titles. The bit where the Doctor’s legs turn into a tunnel never really worked for me.

Confusion quickly sets in.

Planet of the SpidersSue: This is a long recap. The episode will be over by the time it finishes.

And then the recap is interrupted by scenes we’ve never witnessed before.

Sue: What happened to Tommy? Is he dead? What’s going on?

And then the original cliffhanger suddenly picks up where it left off.

Sue: I think that worked. Just about. I don’t think you could get away with it every week, though. It doesn’t help that we watched two episodes back to back, either. It’s like Barry wanted another go at the cliffhanger.

Sarah, now under the thrall of the spiders, zaps the Doctor.

Sue: Does Sarah make the Doctor regenerate? Does she have to live with the guilt?

Sue reaches for a cushion and then thinks better of it.

Planet of the SpidersSue: This is technically hypnotism-stroke-mind-control. I should be smashing you in the face right now, but I’m enjoying it for a change, so I’ll let you off.

After freeing Sarah from the spider, the Doctor admits he’s at fault, and he shouldn’t have stolen the crystal in the first place.

Sue: That was a powerful message. I’m glad they’re addressing the Doctor’s flaws. It’s almost as if I was supposed to think he was a pompous **** all along. And doesn’t David Tennant’s regeneration echo these sentiments a bit? It’s a nice twist and not what I was expecting at all.

Sadly, K’Anpo’s claim that Cho-Je was a projection of his future self goes down like a lead balloon.

Sue: Eh?
Me: Try to imagine that William Hartnell could project Patrick Troughton. It’s a bit like that.
Sue: That doesn’t help, Neil.

Planet of the SpidersThe Doctor realises he will have to face his greatest fear.

Sue: Is he frightened of spiders, or is he frightened of being made to walk around in circle? Which one is it?

As brainwashed Buddhists converge on Tommy, Yates redeems himself by taking a psychic bullet, an act Sue welcomes with open arms (she’s disappointed when it turns out that his “compassion” saved him). And then K’Anpo regenerates into Cho-Je.

Sue: He makes it look so easy. And it prepares the children for the upcoming regeneration, too. Easily confused children like you, Neil. Your mother needn’t have warned you, after all.

The Doctor enters the cave of crystals to face the Great One.

Sue: The Great One actually lives up to her name. All the spiders look pretty good, actually. I’m impressed.

The crystal transforms the Great One’s thoughts into a deadly feedback loop, and the Doctor has to rush back to his TARDIS as the mountain explodes around him.

Sue: So it didn’t kill the Doctor, after all. He’s fine. So what kills him, then?

Weeks pass and the Doctor is nowhere to be seen.

Sue: Does he regenerate in an unseen adventure? That would be disappointing.

The TARDIS returns to UNIT HQ.

Sue: Does Tom Baker walk out?

Planet of the SpidersThe Doctor, damaged and dying, stumbles into Sarah’s arms. He tells her that the TARDIS brought him home.

Sue: So is UNIT his home now? Not Gallifrey? That’s interesting.

When the Doctor dies, Sue doesn’t say a word. And I can’t say anything either because I’m too choked up, and if I look at her she might see just how choked up I am, so I honestly don’t know how she’s reacting right now. And then she breaks her silence…

Sue: Yeah, that was a good scene. Nicely played. I can’t say I’m disappointed to see Jon Pertwee go, but yeah, that was nicely done.

Just when all hope seems lost, a projection of Cho-Je ushers in a new era.

Sue: Why does the Doctor need someone to kick-start his regeneration for him? The next time he regenerates, won’t people wonder where the little genie is?
Me: Who says he won’t be around next time?
Sue: Okay, fair enough.

Planet of the SpidersAnd then the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives…

Sue: It’s Tom Jones!

 

The Score

Sue: I’m still not entirely clear why – or how – the Doctor died. In fact, the plot didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But the regeneration was effective, and some of the performances were excellent. I wish you’d let me see the omnibus edit. I bet it would have flown by.

7/10

 

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Comments

  1. encyclops  March 9, 2012

    I’m so glad Sue found something to enjoy in this one. It’s one of my very favorites, probably even in my top ten from the classic series. All the vehicle chases and the Jenny Lairdness only whets my appetite for the good parts. One of the best regeneration stories, too. The only part that makes it a little hard to watch for me is the “yellowing-up,” but Cho-Je’s pretty great.

    And so is this site. Thanks so much for it. I can’t wait for the next phase.

  2. Loki  March 9, 2012

    I’m so not used to old tv. I did not notice the bad acting of Jenny or Gareth or the yellowing of Cho-Je or..well lots of this stuff. Of course I’ve never thought that the Doctor was a total **** either. I’m so oblivious. I love this story- it and Spearhead from Space are so rewatchable for me. Can’t wait to see a review on the Pertwee years.

    I have a question for Sue: In what ways was the Pertwee era worse and better than you expected it to be?

  3. Hulahoop  March 9, 2012

    I seem to recall very few trees on Metebelis 3. I also seem to recall more woodenness in the acting than in the all the forest of the alst Christmas special, step forward please too many of the inhabitants of SpiderVille

    Tommy was a great character and I have a vague memory of Terrance Dicks earning his corn in the novelisation with the line about the Brigadier pulling a few strings to get Tommy to university.

    The reprise for the beginning of part 6 would probably only work in a time before VCR. I remember the double take I did when I wathced the video in the mid-90’s, something along the lines of “WTF – it’s turned into Flash Gordon” as in our household those old BBC2 screenings of the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon episodes invariably had cliffhanger reprises with new scenes inserted to get the eponymous hero out of whatever scrape they happened to be in – or maybe as someone once said “The memory cheats”

  4. David  March 9, 2012

    ” It’s Tom Jones!” LOL – if only!

  5. Steve White  March 9, 2012

    Neil, you’re not the only one with Arachnophobia as a result of this story… I have it too. It had such a profound effect on me when I first saw it on transmission aged 4.

    I’ve lost count of the times I have watched it and wound up jumping out of bed in the middle of the night, lashing out at an imaginary giant spider… It scared the crap out of the Girlfriend the first time it happened… Nowadays she just sighs and says I should find another programme to watch…

    The cliffhanger to episode 3 had a big effect on me as a kid as well… The shot the Doctor… in the back!!!! I wore the knees out of so many pairs of trouser re-enacting that scene when I was playing with my friends.

  6. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    Yet another absorbing and entertaining review, you’ve held me up when I should be getting ready to go to work – but I don’t mind! My favourite line was Sue’s comment about the brown roll neck sweater not being a good look for Lupton if he’s to be a Spidey superhero. Do you get teary when watching the regeneration scene? I’m never choked up about it, but it is very good and very well played – the poignancy increased now, of course, since the passing of all three participants. It drives me up the wall when fans criticize the transformation itself, on the grounds that it’s boring and he doesn’t have beams of gold light rushing out from his collar and out of his mouth etc. Not all regenerations have to be like the Davison/Baker one in Androzani.

    • encyclops  March 9, 2012

      Couldn’t agree more regarding the “beams of gold light” thing. I really hate that NuWho has made that the standard effect. The Davison/Baker regeneration is tasteful by comparison (though perhaps not the McCoy/McGann one, but that’s another conversation for a later time).

      • Neowhovian  March 9, 2012

        I’m 100% with you there, encyclops. I even ranted about it in a blog post last year: Confession #4: I Hate the Standard Regenerations

        • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

          +1
          The RTD-reboot regenerations are so bling and camp. I’m a primal force and I’m about to die, so watch while I blow sun eruptions out of my every orifice and scrub every piece of electronics in the vicinity… Oh, get over yourself, sweetie. NEXT!
          Mehhhh. They don’t make Time Lords like they used to.

          Farewell to the two-legs titles.

          • John G  March 9, 2012

            I’m with Sue on those two-legs titles – the full body image always looks a little clunky to me. The Tom slit-scan sequence is far superior, IMHO.

    • Richard Lyth  March 10, 2012

      The only thing wrong with the regeneration is that Tom Baker didn’t get to say anything at the end. I know that hardly ever happened in the old series, but it would have been great for him to sit up and say “Hello there! Don’t worry, the nasty man’s gone now, you can enjoy the show again. Care for a jelly baby?” and cue end credits.

      • Chris Too-old-to-watch  March 15, 2012

        Considering what Pertwee did next, be grateful that he didn’t sit up and call Sarah Jane “Aunt Sally”

    • Frankymole  March 10, 2012

      Passing of participants: Kevin Lindsay, Elisabeth Sladen, Jon Pertwee, Nick Courtney. Tom Baker’s still around, I hope!

  7. Dave Sanders  March 9, 2012

    Are you kidding? There’ll be TONS to take about in the Hinchcliffe years – I expect Sue to fill up entire pages of Camfield and Maloney spotting, and headshaking bafflement at precisely what the hell could be wrong with script editor Robert Holmes and the amount he gets away with.

    Barry Letts wrote and directed this, and so would have been responsible for all the casting decisions. And Jenny Laird’s character is called Neska. It seems like only a Buddhist could predicted this in such a random accidental fashion, which somehow makes it all the funnier.

  8. Auntie Celia  March 9, 2012

    What a smashing review – I am sure I could sell it to Percy x

  9. Garlu Bunwarrow  March 9, 2012

    May I (genuinely) recommend this:

    http://www.spidercatcher.net/home.htm

  10. Garlu Bunwarrow  March 9, 2012

    Also, I’ve never been able to fathom why Jenny Laird is considered so much worse than the other villagers… they all seem equally stilted and theatrical to me, stock shouty Shakespearean hams to a man, and woman.

  11. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    The Nescafe ad is amusing… I’d forgotten this series of adventures featuring Gareth, Una and Diane… Do you think they went about solving crimes together when they weren’t drinking coffee and waggling their wrists by their ears?

  12. John G  March 9, 2012

    “These men look – and act – like a paedophile ring.”

    Spot on – I certainly can’t think of a more seedy, shabby bunch of “villains” in the show’s entire history. I pretty much agree with everything Sue else says about this story too. It is overlong and self-indulgent, and the acting on Metebelis Three leaves a great deal to be desired, but I really do like the fact that the arrogant third Doctor is ultimately undone by his own arrogance, and the regeneration scene is touching (if perhaps rather too heavily signposted in advance). I also like the quiet, low-key nature of the scene, as it fits with the Buddhist themes of the story – a flash-bang regeneration would have been entirely inappropriate.

    Many congratulations on reaching the end of another era, though Sue is so much into the experiment now I think Neil is the one who is finding some of it more of a struggle! Incidentally Neil – it is Maureen Morris who voices the Great One. Kismet Delgado does the Queen Spider.

  13. Dave Owen  March 9, 2012

    It would be unpardonably rude to comment on the unlikelihood of passing Ian Levine in a corridor, so I won’t.

  14. Graeme C-G  March 9, 2012

    I’m pleased to learn, Neil, that you’re as big a girls blouse as I am. The reg scene always chokes me up too. 😀

  15. All Toms pretties  March 9, 2012

    As usual great stuff :) sad to see the back of one of my favorite doctors and his sarnie snaffling ways, but onwards to the great curley headed one 😀

    Oh and the brig doesn’t miss, he was just playing and shooting flies, he doesn’t like flies.

  16. Dim Panda  March 9, 2012

    Of course, some fantastic people have won the Jenny Laird prize in the past…

    http://www.bl.uk/projects/theatrearchive/franklin2.html

  17. Lewis Christian  March 9, 2012

    Loving your own foreshadows, too, Neil. Spotted it before and it springs up again here (regarding seeing ‘the genie’ again and ‘who says we won’t see it?’) Nice little allusions for us as well as Sue. So glad this era has come to an end. It’s good but I much prefer Baker’s run… there’s going to be so much to talk about!

    For anyone interested:

    Spearhead from Space: 10/10
    Doctor Who and the Silurians: 9/10
    The Ambassadors of Death: 6/10
    Inferno: 8/10
    Terror of the Autons: 8/10
    The Mind of Evil: 5/10
    The Claws of Axos: 7/10
    Colony in Space: 6/10
    The Dæmons: 4/10
    Day of the Daleks: 9/10
    The Curse of Peladon: 4/10
    The Sea Devils: 7/10
    The Mutants: 7/10
    The Time Monster: 8/10
    The Three Doctors: 5/10
    Carnival of Monsters: 9/10
    Frontier in Space: 6/10
    Planet of the Daleks: 5/10
    The Green Death: 9/10
    The Time Warrior: 7/10
    Invasion of the Dinosaurs: 8/10
    Death to the Daleks: 5/10
    The Monster of Peladon: 2/10
    Planet of the Spiders: 7/10

  18. Mike Trytek  March 9, 2012

    A solid 6.7 average for Pertwee, then. Onwards to Tom Baker! I’m very excited to hear Sue’s views on some that almost every fan rates highly.

  19. Jazza1971  March 9, 2012

    Great review. I loved “It’s Tom Jones”, and ” I really should be smashing you in the face right now but I’m actually enjoying it for a change, so I’ll let you off” has to be the quote of the project so far.

    I’ve been watching “Planet of the Spiders” at the same time as you this time round and I was very pleased to see Sue spotting that Mike had on brand new shoes. I’d done the same thing just a couple of days ago.

    I hope Sue enjoys her week of freedom.

  20. matt bartley  March 9, 2012

    I think there’ll be loads to comment on for Tom. The three distinct periods, Sarah’s departure, Leela, the two Romanas, The Deadly Assassin…I’m going to stick my neck out and say Sue will give big scores for Horror of Fang Rock and Warrior’s Gate in particular.

    • DPC  March 15, 2012

      I think she’ll be enthralled with, or at least enjoy (7+) “The Ark in Space”, “Terror of the Zygons”, “The Android Invasion”, “The Face of Evil”, “The Robots of Death”, “The Sun Makers”, “The Ribos Operation”, “The Pirate Planet”, “The Stones of Blood”, “Destiny of the Daleks”, “City of Death”, “The Creature from the Pit”, “Meglos”, “Full Circle”, “State of Decay”, maybe “Warriors Gate”, and “The Keeper of Traken”, and possibly “Logopolis” as it’s a mixed bag but has some really strong moments as well…

      This is far more rewarding than a casino! 😀

  21. Frankymole  March 9, 2012

    “The old man must die and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed” – it’s kind of neat; I never realised before, but Cho-Je himself doesn’t exist yet – he’s a possibility (wrapped in an enigma etc), like the Watcher or the Valeyard. No wonder he’s looking for ward to “becoming without being”!

    Nice to see the Doctor’s guru George Cormack rock up again, late of the Time Monster (where he appeared as if by magic jsut after the Doc waxed lyrical about his old mentor). Now if only they’d got Edward Brayshaw in as the Master… or even Philip Madoc…

    • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

      Mmmm Madoc.
      Great actor fondly remembered, and not just for Who.

    • Frankymole  March 9, 2012

      Sue: Why does the Doctor need someone to kickstart his regeneration? The next time he regenerates won’t people wonder where the little Genie is?

      Neil: Who says he won’t be around?

      Sue: OK, fair enough.

      Nice one. Next time he’s called “The Watcher” though 😉

      • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

        Yeah still don’t get that one.
        “It was him all the time…”
        Righty-ho. So 4 thought ahead and conspired with a giant cotton bud to become someone who can alleviate constipation in cattle (and there’s nothing wrong with that). But we’re ahead of ourselves again.

  22. Harry  March 9, 2012

    Given that the Tom Baker era is my favourite, especially the Hinchcliffe “sub-era”, I’ve been counting down the days on here, only to have to wait a week! Still, Sue needs the rest, and what I am curious to see is whether or not she thinks that Tom’s arrival gave the show an infusion of fresh energy. No disrespect to Pertwee, but Season 11 is a little tired in places.

  23. Frankymole  March 9, 2012

    And then the moment we have all been waiting for finally arrives…

    Sue: It’s Tom Jones!

    Engineer Eckerlike, surely? Just wait until he gets back into his shiny jumpsuit (Genesis).

  24. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    I tell you Brigadier there’s nothing to worry about! The brontosaurus is large and placid. AND STUPID!

  25. Thomas Bush  March 10, 2012

    “Why does he look so pleased to be electrocuted?” ROTFL

    And the Pertwee era comes to a close. Some stone cold classics, a few duds, but pretty darn good in retrospect. Doesn’t hold a candle to Tommy B. though.

    • Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

      That’s Terry Walsh, visibly thinking ‘Hooray! I get paid for some spoken lines for a change!’

    • DPC  March 15, 2012

      I might like other Doctors better, but Tom Baker’s is still definitive, even to this day.

      (Season 14 in particular, especially with Leela as when the Doctor tells her not to be violent, he then turns around and acts violent… 😀 Just watching a couple of recent DVD releases featuring the duo, which – IMHO – are the best during Tom Baker’s tenure…)

  26. Jez Noir  March 10, 2012

    Mug quote of the week: “She’s certainly not helping Gareth Hunt; he’s as stiff as a board whenever she comes near him”

    Congratulations on completing the 3rd doctor! This’ll all be so much easier for you from now on, Neil!

  27. Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

    It always seemed pretty clear to me from this story in particular that the Third Doctor’s greatest fear was of failure, the consequences of it and having to face up to the responsibility of his own mistakes. It also explains where his supreme arrogance comes from, because as far as he’s concerned, failure is not an option.

    • gangnet  March 10, 2012

      I assumed that the Doctor’s (any of him, really) greatest fear was of not being in control (of the situation, of himself, etc.). On those few occasions when the Doctor’s been genuinely frightened, it always seemed to be of a lack of control. Yes, the Doctor’s arrogance is his most interesting flaw.

      • Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

        That actually makes more sense, it also ties in with Barry Letts’ conception of the Doctor and Master being two sides of one personality, as both are such manipulative control-freaks.

  28. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    I wouldn’t have told her the regen was coming up. And I would have told her Tommy wrote Terry & June.

    • Neil Perryman  March 10, 2012

      Do you fancy taking over for a bit?

  29. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    From your husband duties? Sure. I’ll bring some rubbers.

    • John Callaghan  March 10, 2012

      As in wellington boots?

      • Frankymole  March 10, 2012

        Husbands don’t make errors in pencil – real men use biros!

        .
        .

        (You did mean rubbers as in erasers, right?)

  30. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    No, contraceptives that stop the flow of semen entering the vagina. Now, where were we?

    • PolarityReversed  March 10, 2012

      You are Fetid YouTube Boy and I claim my £5.

    • Frankymole  March 11, 2012

      About 1980, to judge by that Sex Ed lesson…

    • Dave Sanders  March 11, 2012

      The game is afoot, Robert Holmes.

      Contraceptory, my dear Watson.

  31. Lewis Christian  March 11, 2012

    Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon.

  32. Bryan Simcott  March 11, 2012

    Some not very nice or funny comments above from Steve O` Brien even if they are in Jesting.

    Love Planet of the Spiders, decent score as it never deserves much Higher than a 7 or an 8. due to padding episode and the Botched epsidope6 reprise.

    The regeneration is still chokingly sad, and even moreso becasue of our recent losses.

    Can we have a book now Book One 1963 to 1974

    I really am looking forward to the book. Or are we getting one huge tome Doctor who complete ?

    • PolarityReversed  March 12, 2012

      Agreed. I’m sure it was a ill-judged attempt at fun, but I think an apology is in order.

  33. John Williams  March 12, 2012

    I, for one, will only be happy when Steve O’Brien wanders around Hartlepool naked and begging for forgiveness.

    • John Callaghan  March 12, 2012

      In fairness, I do that for fun most weekends anyway.

      (But I do see your point.)

  34. Steve O'Brien  March 12, 2012

    On a controversial note, I love Planet Of The Spiders.

    • PolarityReversed  March 14, 2012

      I suggest you research the reproductive habits of spiders before you move there.
      You’d probably be lucky to mate at all, and if you picked the wrong species the female might well kill and eat you.

  35. charles yoakum  March 13, 2012

    Is hard not to watch this one knowing the end and almost anticipating it too much, isn’t it? I would love to create an omnibus version of this and shorten the self indulgent parts out. there is a story here, but i always lose the meat of it in all the runaround. and that annoys me really. the other part is wanting to watch part 6 and robot pt 1 back to back and watch how the tone evolves along with the doctor. and that frankly abysmal UNIT science room set.

    have to echo that i can’t wait to hear what the fashion conscious Sue thinks of Ark in Space and vira!

  36. Alex Wilcock  March 14, 2012

    What a great edition – lovely to come home to. And for a story I love, but also wouldn’t give more than 7/10 to; for me, the Doctor who I usually find the least likeable confronting the Great One and still trying to save her is terribly moving, one of the series’ golden moments. As Sue says, “I’m really glad they are addressing this Doctor’s flaws. It’s almost as if I was supposed to think he was a pompous **** all along.”

    Special Sue moments for me this week:
    “Brigadier! No! I am very disappointed in you” had me laughing. And, of course…
    “Not boats as well! What comes after the boats? Trains? Buses? Space Hoppers?”

    But definitely right to go with the full-length version – the omnibus keeps lots of scenes I’d chop out and chops out lots of scenes I’d keep. Not least the atmospheric intercut opening scenes that Sue admired for their location and their foreshadowing. For me (as I wrote in my own Planet of the Spiders review), the use of Yates here is inspired – there’s a first for everything. Because starting this of all stories with Mike Yates making a ‘new life’ by striking out on his own away from UNIT to hang about with Sarah Jane and do something vaguely bohemian is a remarkably subtle and clever piece of foreshadowing.

    I know I’m coming late to the party after a few days away, but I loved that. Thank you. And good luck with Tom…

  37. Professor Thascales  March 15, 2012

    I sort of like this story. It has a lot going for it, and the first episode and a half are really good, until the long chase. Then , although it still has a lot going for it, the sections on Earth and Metebelis don’t really go together well. I wish this story had had two rewrites to improve the structure.

    I always liked Lupton’s motive–it makes Lupton human, and combines the ordinary and the larger-than-life in a very Who-like way. Lupton was laid off after 25 years, so he’s helping giant spiders conquer the Earth. And John Dearth is one of those actors who’s so good, it makes me wonder why he wasn’t famous.

    • PolarityReversed  March 15, 2012

      Sadly, a bit 1970s in his attitude to the booze, apparently, which made him almost impossible to work with.
      I agree that Lupton is one of the more believably drawn melomaniacs in Who.

      Gareth Hunt didn’t make it past 65 – also sad. I always felt he might make a pretty good Bond.

      • Frankymole  March 18, 2012

        “Sadly, a bit 1970s in his attitude to the booze, apparently, which made him almost impossible to work with.”

        Thank goodness the new leading man was noithing like that! In fact they employed an ex-monk to be certain of clean-living sobriety, professional humility, and reverence towards cast and writers at all times.

        • PolarityReversed  April 21, 2012

          Hah! True enough.

          But at least Tom could be relied on to actually turn up so that he could chew, or in many cases it seems, hump the scenery, costumes, lighting rigs, ASMs and companions. Poor old Dearth was much further gone.

          A propos Tom’s rockstar Doctor lifestyle, I’d like to hear Sue and Neil on the subject:
          “Did he?” “Yup.”
          “And her?” “Apparently.”
          “Surely they must be…” “Ohhh yes.” “What about…” “You kidding? He married her!”
          “And that one?” “Well, I’m not one to gossip…” “Neil?” “Almost certainly.”
          “So who does he ‘sonic’ in this one?” “See that third villager from the left?”
          “God, no wonder he fell off that telescope thing in the end, he must have been knackered…”

  38. Chris Too-old-to-watch  March 15, 2012

    I’ll always remember when VHS came out of this: same size, weight and content of a house brick.

    Buddhism in the ’70’s was pretty unknown to the general public: all we knew was it concerned long hair, meditation and drug use. In fact that’s probably what Letts was aiming for: imaging the Brig, Benton, Sarah and the Doctor prancing round singing “This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” ….

    • Alex Wilcock  March 15, 2012

      I remember that VHS, too – it came out the same day as City of Death. It was one of the few times I was so excited (and for some reason had enough cash) that I bought both together as soon as they were released. And yet Spiders – despite its brickness and higher price (were the singles vs doubles something like 9.99 vs 16.99?) – sold far better, at least to begin with. I remember being surprised how much higher in the charts it got.

      I suspect the principal reason was Andrew Skilleter. As I raved about in my Spiders review, his cover for the tape of this story was utterly gorgeous – striking, well-painted, and summing up exactly what you remember about it. City was the opposite: sludgy brown rather than bold blue; rather a poor Tom standing in the background rather than a vibrant Pertwee; and, perhaps most important, no hint of Paris.

  39. Robert Dick  April 2, 2012

    I’ve never thought of the Doris stuff as suggesting The Brig has had an affair. It’s just a woman from his past and he’s a bit embarrassed about private-life talk. Techincally, TV-wise Doris ends up being his first wife, there’s no evidence of a previous one.

  40. farsighted99  April 20, 2012

    I remember Donna having a big spider like that on her back too. Now I know where RTD stole that from. But in general, I didn’t like the spiders. There was too much spidery chit-chat, where they just sat there and wiggled their 8 legs. And you never see any spider lips move. 😀

    Also, what’s with all the chanting and zen stuff? And those hippies on Metebelis 3? Where was the giant chicken? I think there was a one line back story on how they got there. And what made Jo Grant ship the crystal back to the Doctor? I guess we’ll never know. Nice to have another time lord show up (and regenerate). Even if his future self is actually part of the story. And the Whomobile: I knew it could fly!

    Sorry to see you go pal, but Tom Baker is a lot more fun! But you had some great stories (but the latter ones were a bit lame).

    • PolarityReversed  April 21, 2012

      I thought the idea was that a colony ship landed on Metebelis and some shipboard spiders got lucky by scuttling off to the caves where the crystals rapidly enhanced their abilities and intelligence to the point where they could dominate Gareth and his chums, thus causing their society to atrophy into a form of feudal peasantry. With freeze-dried coffee.

      I think the Doctor’s encounter with the giant chicken, when he nicked Metebelis’s equivalent of the Ko-I-Nor diamond, must have happened many years previously, so presumably the giant chickens are extinct by now. And Jo ships the crystal back because the tribes up the Orinoco, or wherever it is she’s buggered off to with Professor Swampy, are afraid of it.

      • farsighted99  April 21, 2012

        good thing you were paying attention, PolarityReversed, as I seemed to have missed all that. Especially the bit about the freeze-dried coffee! You’d think those spiders would have grown a bigger brain, with all those smarts. I like the idea of the giant chickens going extinct, since they sure didn’t seem to be around anymore, and no one was talking about having chicken for dinner. 😉