Doctor Who “Spearhead from Space”

Introducing a new Doctor is a hit or miss proposition. For every “Rose” or “The Eleventh Hour” you get a “Twin Dilemma” or “Time and the Rani.” I apologize for putting those thoughts in your head. I haven’t checked lately, but I’m sure “Spearhead from Space” is in the top half of the best/favorite classic episodes of Doctor Who; probably in the middle third somewhere. I am of the opinion that it’s underrated.

“Spearhead from Space” introduced the world to the Autons, and who knew at the time that they would still be an important part of Doctor Who four-plus decades later. There is something creepy about mannequins (to some, anyway). I know if I saw one bust through a shop window, I’d freak out.

And cry.

A lot.

There is something unique about this story. Due to an impending strike, (which used to occur quite often) director Derek Martinus shot everything on location using 16mm film. Since no sets were constructed–and no studios used–there are no segments recorded on videotape. This gives “Spearhead from Space” an uniform look, and you don’t have that jarring effect when scenes go from interior to exterior. Due to the ease of conversion, this is the only classic story available on Blu-ray.

“Spearhead from Space” is a bit like “The Eleventh Hour” in that there is minimal carryover from the previous story. Caroline John is introduced as Dr. Liz Shaw. I would refer to her are an underrated companion, but many would argue that she isn’t one since she never traveled in the TARDIS. Then again no one did–not even the Doctor. The Time Lords made sure of that.

 

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