Spearhead From Space


No of Episodes: 4

Season: 7, ep 1 (1-4)

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Derrick Sherwin and Barry Letts (final stages)

Companions: Dr. Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Summary: After the events of “The War Games”, the Doctor was forced to regenerate and was exiled on Earth, with the TARDIS non-functional.  Upon his arrival, mysterious meteorites descend to Earth. UNIT is called on the scene when people start disappearing.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has been placed in the hospital. He eventually escapes and with the help of Liz Shaw, thwarts the Nestene Consciousness, who arrived on Earth via the meteorites, and its hive-minded followers, the Autons.

Review: When I’d heard that Pertwee’s era was the earliest era to have all its stories restored, I thought it might be worth looking into.  This first story is a lot of fun and sets the stage for the Third Doctor’s campy, Bond-style adventures.

The story is pretty well told, although the Doctor’s amnesia and recovery do bring it down a few points.  I like the chemistry between Liz and the Doctor. Liz doesn’t quite believe that the Doctor is alien and John plays her skeptical nature well.  To me, Liz brings in a new sort of companion, one who doesn’t get in the way of the adventure and expertly assists the Doctor in his efforts. It’s a shame that there aren’t more stories with her.

The Autons are great monsters, even if they make you wonder when UNIT will stop wasting bullets on them. However, their later appearances, particularly in the Ninth Doctor’s premiere, are much stronger.

This is a great introduction to the Pertwee era.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Continuity: This is Liz Shaw’s first story. She remains the Doctor’s companion until the end of season 7, with “Inferno.” It is also the first story to establish the Doctor possessing two hearts.  The Autons also appear in “Terror of the Autons”, “Rose”, and the two-parter “The Pandorica Opens”/”The Big Bang”.  The Doctor says he is a doctor of “practically everything”, which is repeated in “Four to Doomsday” and “Utopia”.  The Delphon language is mentioned here and by the Tenth Doctor in “Planet of the Dead.”  The Brigadier says “Earth is drawing attention to itself”, which is repeated by the Doctor in “The Christmas Invasion”. The Third Doctor’s exile ends in “The Three Doctors”.

Trivia: This is the first colorized serial.  The Doctor is credited as “Doctor Who” for the first time, which would become constant until the end of Tom Baker’s era, when he would be called “The Doctor”.


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