Mike Yates is relaxing in the countryside after the business with the Golden Age plan. He sees a strange ritual at the meditation retreat. The Doctor and Brig have gone to a cabaret show because the Doctor wants to see a Professor Clegg. He invites the Professor to come to his lab at UNIT. Clegg is a magician who is actually developing telepathic and psychokinetic abilities. Yates calls in Sarah Jane; he picks her up and drives her to the retreat. Lupton and his followers sit around a mat and incantate; they summon a tractor. Yates and Sarah nearly crash to avoid the fata morgana. Yates and Sarah meet Cho-Ji, the monk in charge of the retreat. The Doctor examines Clegg's neurotransmissions; Jo Grant sends a package to UNIT. Clegg examines the package and sees it is the Metebelis crystal, which Jo received as a wedding gift. She has returned it because Amazonian locals think it is bad luck. Yates and Sarah pretend to drive to the station again but double back to check on Lupton. Sarah meets Tommy (a simple minded janitor) and gives him a piece of jewelry to keep him quiet. Sarah and Yates watch the group start their ritual. The metebelis crystal reacts and kills Clegg. Yates and Sarah watch as a giant spider materialises on the mat the group are sitting around.
The spider says it has come to give Lupton the power he seeks. It jumps on his back and vanishes. The Doctor checks one of his gadgets and sees spiders were Clegg's last vision. The Doctor repeats his experiment; this alerts the spider, which is mentally conjoined with Lupton, who is searching for the Metebelis crystal. Sarah is sent to warn the Doctor whilst Yates tries to see the Abbot. Tommy and Lupton stop Yates seeing the Abbot. Lupton goes to UNIT to find the Doctor; he knocks out a soldier and Benton using a blue ray from his hand (akin to what the Emperor has in Star Wars). The Doctor speculates the spiders are from a different time period to when he visited Metebelis 3. Lupton uses his mind to get the crystal. There ensues the mother of Dr.Who chases: Lupton in the Whomobile and the Brig, Sarah and Benton in Bessie whilst the Doctor uses a gyroplane and all of them followed by a Police Panda car; then Lupton uses the gyroplane and the Doctor and Sarah use the Whomobile, which can fly; then Lupton takes a speedboat whilst the Doctor follows in a mini-hovercraft. The Doctor catches up to Lupton but sees him vanish.
Tommy sees Lupton materialise and likes the look of the crystal. The spider tells Lupton to clear his mind or else her sisters will kill him. The spiders want to conquer the Earth, their rightful home - the Great Spider needs the crystal for that purpose. The Doctor, Yates and Sarah see Cho-Je about Lupton. Tommy takes the crystal. The spider has listened to the meeting between the Doctor and Cho-Je and tells Lupton; it plans to get power on Metenelis whilst Lupton wants power on Earth. He goes to the celler and Sarah follows. Tommy tells the Doctor this and he follows after. Sarah and Lupton are both transported to Metebelis 3. The humans take Sarah to their village, where they live in fear and slavery to the spiders. The Doctor follows after in the TARDIS, where he is shot down by one of the Queen Spider's guards.
The Queen leaves the Doctor for dead and Sabor, a human elder, is taken with them. The Doctor slowly recovers. Lupton meets the Queen; his spider talks to the Queen. They use the crystal as a bargaining chip. Tommy begins to receive beneficial effects from the crystal; he begins to read. The Doctor needs something from the TARDIS; Sarah breaks the curfew, but is found by Lupton. Arak (Gareth Hunt) retrieves the machine left outside the TARDIS; there is an energu discharge and the Doctor recovers quickly. At the retreat, Barnes and his fellows discuss Lupton's disappearance; Yates enters and suggests they should chat, but he is knocked out. Sarah and Sabor are in the city, prepared for the spiders' meal. Arak tells the Doctor how the humans arrived on Metebelis 3. Sabor tells Sarah that the spiders evolved from Earth spiders that came with the humans to Metebelis 3, influenced by the blue crystals. The Doctor examines stones in an attempt to find a stone that can absorb spider attacks. The Doctor heads off to the spider city; there, he and Lupton are arrested by the human guards.
Lupton and his spider are sentenced to death by the Queen. Lupton says he knows where the crystal is in order to save their lives. The Doctor is also cacooned in the spider larder. Arak and the villagers are protected by stones and prepare to attack the city. The Doctor slips out of his web using a trick he learnt from Houdini. Sarah is brought to the Queen spider; she says she has fooled the council because she is against the invasion and wants Sarah's help. Yates offers to help Barnes in the ceremony. Tommy goes to Cho-Je with the crystal. The Doctor meets the Great One; she wants the one perfect Metebelis crystal returned. Yates and the group succeed in opening a pathway for a spider invasion. Sarah and the Doctor return to Earth as Arak invades the city. Cho-Je and Yates are knocked out and the group taken over by spiders; Sarah and Doctor follow Tommy to the Abbot. The Doctor explains the crystal to the Abbot. Tommy stands guard and is shot several times by Barnes and his group.
The Abbot has the crystal and it becomes clear Sarah is under the control of the Queen. The Abbot uses the crystal to release Sarah. The Queen falls off and vanishes. The Doctor realises that he has a "spider" - a thirst for knowledge. If he hadn't taken the Metebelis crystal, then none of this would have happened. He also recognises that the Abbot is an old friend, his guru on Gallifrey. (He explains regeneration to Sarah.) Cho-Je, says the Abbot, is merely a projection of himself. The Doctor learns he must face his greatest fear, which is return to the Great One with the crystal. He uses the crystal to get to the TARDIS and return to Metebelis 3. He follows Arak because he must go to the Cave of Crystal, knowing full well it will kill him. (The human attack has failed though and he is taken to the spiders.) Lupton is killed by the spiders. The Abbot regenerates into Cho-Je. The Doctor meets the Great One; she wants universal domination. The crystal completes her web of crystals but it destroys her and the other spiders, including those on Barnes and his group. The Doctor makes his way back to the TARDIS. At UNIT, the Brig and Sarah have been waiting for three weeks. The TARDIS materialises. The Doctor stumbles out and collapses. His face begins to change, assisted by Cho-Je. The white hair is replaced by a mass of brown curls. The Doctor has regenerated again.
Planet of the Spiders is a really disappointing end to the Jon Pertwee era. The idea is OK - that of spiders evolving into a super intelligent species - but it doesn't really enthrall and the spiders are realised badly (but then I have yet to see a giant spider horror or sci-fi film that was any good). The Buddhism of the story may be viewed as cute by some; I thought it was a right old pain in the arse. Episode 2 was mainly that chase and a complete bore. I simply don't like this story at all.
The Jon Pertwee Era
Reverse the polarity (of the neutron flow)
I am the Master and you will obey me!
Venusian Karate and lullabies
Terry Walsh and the Havoc stuntmen crew
the only man, save Hendrix, who could wear a frilly shirt and velvet jacket and get away with it
gadgets, hardware and various transport
a bit of James Bond appeal
The media doesn't change -
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