Overview: The Jon Pertwee Era (1970-1974)

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The Jon Pertwee Era marked the transition from black and white to color.  It brought many changes to the show’s structure, as this was the final era in which episodes were still being wiped. As a result of Troughton’s final serial “The War Games”, the Time Lords had exiled the Doctor on earth, taking away the one thing he valued most–freedom. Now, the menaces would have to come to him.

“Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”–Planet of the Daleks

About Jon Pertwee

Pertwee was born in Chelsea, England. Acting ran in his family–his father was an actor, and his cousin Bill was in the comedy Dad’s Army. His son Sean currently plays Alfred Pennyworth on Gotham.

Pertwee was an officer in the Royal Navy and was on the survivors of the HMS Hood after it sunk during WWII. After the war, he became a well-known comedy actor.

During his tenure as the Third Doctor, Pertwee felt as though the cast and crew were a surrogate family. He saw Barry Letts as a sort of surrogate father, and John Levene saw Pertwee as a surrogate father, as his relationship with his own father was estranged at best. He even had a close friendship with Roger Delgado, the first actor to portray the Master. In fact, it was his untilmely death that led to Pertwee’s departure.

After he left Doctor Who, Pertwee continued to find work. He was in Worzel Gummridge, and voiced for SuperTed. He also appeared in video games based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. He appeared as the Doctor in two stage plays and in a never-finished fan project (he died before it could be finished).

In a Nutshell

  • Catch Phrases: “Reverse the polarity”, “Oh good grief”
  • The Pertwee Era had shorter seasons than its predecessors. Season 7 had a total of 21 episodes; and seasons 8-11 had between 25-26. From season 8 on, no episodes were over 6 parts.
  • Two openings were used during this era, for the first time ever. A colorized howlaround was used for most of the era, while the final season introduced the famous “diamond logo”, which was used the longest in the show’s history.
  • First appearance of the Autons: “Spearhead From Space”
  • First appearance of the Silurians: “The Silurians”
  • First appearance of Roger Delgado as the Master: “Terror of the Autons”
  • First appearance of Omega, First multi-Doctor story: “The Three Doctors”
  • First appearance of he Sontarans: “The Time Warrior”
  • First mention of Gallifrey by name: “The Time Warrior”

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Third: Terror of The Autons

terrorWriter: Robert Holmes

Director & Producer: Barry Letts

Companions: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning)

Season/Episodes: 8, ep 1 (1-4)

Summary: The Doctor is attempting an experiment that catches fire, which is when he meets his new companion, Jo Grant.  Later, a Time Lord contacts the Doctor to inform him that the Master has been sighted on Earth and he’s aligned himself with the Autons.

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Third: The Curse of Peladon

curse_of_peladon_7703Writer: Brian Hayles

Director: Lennie Mayne

Producer: Barry Letts

Companion: Jo Grant (Katy Manning)

Season: 9, episode 2 (5-8)

No. of Episodes: 4

Summary: The Doctor believes he’s finally gotten the TARDIS working correctly, so he takes Jo on a test flight, landing on the planet Peladon.  They meet the soon-to-be-crowned king of Peladon, who is meeting with a committee of ambassadors for the Galactic Federation. But there is murder afoot.

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Destiny of the Doctor: Vengeance of the Stones (Third Doctor and Captain Mike Yates)

vengeance

Writer: Andrew Smith

Director: John Ainsworth

Companions: Mike Yates (Richard Franklin, narrator), Brigadier

Summary: Captain Mike Yates recounts the first time he met the Brigadier and the Third Doctor. The three have them have been called by UNIT to investigate the disappearance of two RAF fighter jets.  The Doctor discovers the disappearances are linked to stone circles which are plentiful in Scotland.

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The Time Warrior

thWriter: Robert Holmes

Director: Alan Bromly

Producer: Barry Letts

No of Episodes: 4

Season: 11, ep 1 (1-4)

Companions: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen)

Summary: A Sontaran named Linx crash lands in medieval England, catching the attention of the bloodthirsty robber baron Irongron. Irongron and his men have been attempting to take over King Edward’s castle.  Irongron agrees to let Linx stay in his castle because Linx has told him he can give him an advantage against Edward.

In present day, scientists and their equipment have been disappearing and the Brigadier confines them to a top secret location.  A reporter named Sarah Jane Smith has sneaked in, using her aunt as an alias.  The Doctor crates a machine that can track delta particles, which he uses to track the missing scientists.  When another scientist disappears. The Doctor investigates and takes his TARDIS to medieval England, unaware that Sarah Jane has sneaked inside.

Sarah Jane mistakes the Doctor as the one behind the disappearances. With Edward’s help, she captures the Doctor.  When the Doctor tells her what’s really happening, she’s skeptical at first, but changes her mind eventually.  Together, the two and Edward join forces to defeat Irongron and Linx.

Review: This is one of my favorite Pertwee stories, and not just because it’s Sarah Jane’s debut.  Irongron and Linx are great villains. Linx is played well by Kevin Lindsay.  He is a great overbearing warrior who wishes to stir up trouble and does not care as long as there is bloodshed.  Really, the only bad thing about Linx is the prosthetics.  The modern series has done a much better job making the Sontarans’ prosthetics better than the Classic days.

Sladen is almost instantly likeable as Sarah Jane. I’ve always loved her feisty personality, especially in her earliest stories.  She has her work cut out for her, since Jo Grant, her predecessor, was also a pretty good companion at times.  This is a great introduction to her character.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This is the first story with a Sontaran.  It’s also the first episode to mention Gallifrey.  Sarah Jane’s final episode in Classic Who is “The Hand of Fear”, with the Fourth Doctor. The Second Doctor was probably the first to meet a Sontaran, if you go by “The Two Doctors”, even though that occurs in the Sixth Doctor’s era.

Trivia: This is the first episode to feature the “tunnel opening”, which carries over to the Tom Baker era.

 

 

The Ambassadors of Death

ambassadors

Writers: David Whitaker (note: The original script was written by David Whitaker and intended for the Patrick Troughton era.  However, his rewrite proved unusable.  Trevor Ray, the assistant script editor at the time, wrote the first part, while Malcolm Hulke and script editor Terrance Dicks wrote the rest.  David Whitaker received onscreen credit because this was his last story for Doctor Who)

Director: Michael Ferguson

Producer: Barry Letts

No of Episodes: 7

Season: 7 , ep. 3  (12-18)

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

Summary: Three astronauts have been sent to recover a Martian probe and disappear.  In their place are three alien astronauts who consume radiation and are unknowingly part of a conspiracy.  The Doctor and UNIT must cooperate in order to investigate and discover the real astronauts.

Review: It’s a well-known fact that every script used in a TV program is the work of a committee rather than the single writer that is given credit.  You might think this story is a mess with three actual writers, but it’s actually not bad. This is probably one of the most action-packed stories I’ve ever watched from the classic series. Liz and the Brigadier are at their best. This story shows just how intelligent she is and she and the Doctor work well together. I also like the fact that we never see what the aliens look like, save for the spacesuits.

This story is not without problems. It is quite slow, particularly in the first three parts.  I actually think this could’ve been written as a four or five-part story. But it’s still worth watching, so I say give it a try.  (Note: This title was restored for the DVD version so that the colorization process was less “washed out”.  

Overall Rating: 7/10

Continuity: The Doctor appears to be holding a grudge from when the Brigadier destroyed the Silurian base in “The Silurians.”  This is the only story where the TARDIS’s console is actually seen outside the TARDIS. “The Christmas Invasion” also had aliens intercepting a Martian Probe.The audio drama Red Dawn also had a manned mission to Mars.  Sgt. Benton made his return to the show in this story. (he had previously appeared in the first ever story to feature UNIT, “The Invasion”. The Companion Chronicles drama The Last Post ties into this story.

Trivia: Originally, the human scientists involved in the conspiracy were meant to be Irish, however, since The Troubles were going on, this was changed.  An unusual title sequence was used for this serial, with the sequence cutting off after the show’s logo, repeating the previous week’s cliffhanger, then returning to the titles for the serial’s name, writer and episode number. Also, Private Johnson was played by Geoffrey Beevers, who would later go on to play The Master in “The Keeper of Traken”.

 

Spearhead From Space

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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”.