onsdag den 25. marts 2009

Who Review #52 - Spearhead from Space

A new Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and also changes in TV: colour! Some of the Pertwee episodes were wiped but they aren't lost; they exist as b/w prints. If I undertsand the technical details, the prints can be re-colourised because they contain the colour signals on the film in the shape of chromodots. It is "simply" a case of running it through a computer to recreate a raw colour image and then using some clever button pushing to clean up the image.

Jon Pertwee was actually happy with Earth based adventures because he thought there was nothing more frightening than an alien menace in familiar settings. This was also the beginning of the UNIT family, with regular appearances by Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, John Levene as Sgt. Benton and Richard Franklin as Capt. Yates.

a UNIT base tracks some meteorites that are moving in formation. The TARDIS materialises and a man steps out and collapses. A Cambridge scientist, Liz Shaw (Caroline John) is driven to meet Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, because they need her help in studying the meteorites. The unconscious man is taken to a hospital. Capt. Munro informs the Brigadier of the man and that he was found by a police box; the Brig. sets off straight away. The hospital doctor Henderson notes the mysterious man has two hearts and learns that the blood test is not human blood. A hospital porter overhears this and calls the Press. A poacher finds a meteorite and takes it; UNIT are searching for them. The Brig. and Liz see the strange patient. He has a shock of white hair, is tall and thin and with a beaky nose. The Brig says he is a stranger but the Doctor stirs and says hello to his old friend. He then takes a mirror, complains a bit and then passes out. The journalists spot a mysterious figure who walks away as if possessed. The Doctor grabs his shoes in order to get the TARDIS key. Henderson is assaulted and the mysterious man and two others abduct the Doctor. He pushes away from them in his wheel chair. Making for the TARDIS, a UNIT guard shoots him.

The Doctor is returned to hospital in a deep, self-induced coma. The TARDIS is moved to UNIT HQ, a meteorite recovered and the mysterious man has been captured in a photo. He is at a plastics factory. Ransome goes to see his boss Hibbert (played by a regular Who actor, John Woodnutt) that the factory is undergoing changes which is why Ransome has been fired. Liz Shaw is grappling with the idea that the Doctor has saved the earth twice, can change his appearance and travels through time and space in a police box. Channing (the mysterious new partner at the plastics factory) talks to Hibbert; he must locate two missing energy units (the "meteorites") whilst Hibbert must pretend that the factory is working as per normal. The poacher , Seeley, looks at his meteorite, which is pulsating; a mannequin stops walking abruptly nearby.The Doctor finds some clothes (a frilly shirt and a cloak) and makes off in a vintage roadster. A UNIT soldier, driving a recovered meteorite, swerves to avoid a mannequin; it makes off with the power unit. The Doctor makes his way to UNIT HQ and examines a fragment of the meteorite; he agrees to help. Ransome sneaks back into the factory. General Scobie has had a mannequin made of him by Hibbert; meanwhile Ransome enters his old office, where he sees a mannequin come alive and walk towards him.

Ransome flees persued by the mannequin, its hand has detached showing a gun. Channing looks at the mannequin and they seem to communicate telepathically. Channing tells Hibbert that an Auton (a mannequin) will be sent to destroy Ransome., who has made his way to the UNIT encampment. Seeley mentions to UNIT that he has a meteorite, which is the swarm leader we learn from Channing. Ransome informs the Brig
of what he has seen whilst Liz gives the Doctor the TARDIS key. It fails to materialise because of the Time Lord punishment. Mrs. Seeley finds the swarm leader and Channing directs an Auton to the cottage, using his mind. The Doctor, Brig and Liz go to the site in order to visit the plastics factory but then upon learning of the seeley meteorite go there. They see the Auton which is recalled. It vapourises Ransome on the way. A cordon is laid around the plastics factory and the Doctor and co. head off for it. Hibbert gives a cover story; but the Brig. saw Channing. The Doctor realises, at his lab, the meteorite is a container for an intelligence. Gen. Scobie receives a knock at his door and is shocked to see a copy of himself walk in.

Gen. Scobie orders the Brig. not to interfere with the plastic factory. The Doctor goes to Madame Tussaud's to look at the copy of Scobie; he notices the copy has a wound-up watch which is corect. The facsimilie Scobie takes the swarm leader. Later, the Doctor re-enters Tussaud's and realises that Scobie is not a plastic figure. Channing and Hibbert are there and they activate government minister facsimilies. Hibbert sees the Doctor and the latter tries to get him to see Channing for who he is. Back at the factory, Scobie gives Channing the swarm leader, which he places in an alien machine. They plan automating the Autons in the morning. Across London and the UK, shop window mannequins come alive and start killing. Hibbert tries to destry an alien machine. Channing stops him and tells him that he is a Nestene, a parasitic creature intent on taking over the Earth. Hibbert is vapourised. UNIT and the Doctor and Liz go to the factory; the Doctor has made a machine that puts Autons out of action. UNIT have a firefight with Autons. In the factory, the Nestene consciousness is developing in a tank but it is destroyed by the Doctor's machine. The Autons, including Channing, fall lifeless to the floor. Back at UNIT HQ, the Doctor agrees to work for the Brigadier if he can have a lab to work on the TARDIS, Liz Shaw as help and a car similar to the vintage roadster. The Brig. asks him his name - "Smith, Dr. John Smith".

This is the third Robert Holmes story and an absolute corker! There is something slightly sinister about shop window mannequins (at least I have always thought so, like my dislike of clowns) so having them come alive and kill everything they see on the streets of London is a wonderfully horrific idea. The major strength of the story is Pertwee himself; just like Troughton, he was in the position of having to fill some big shoes and did so admirably. The incidental music was varied and at times quite good, already establishing what I call the Pertwee era sound.

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