Terror Of The Autons – 1971 – S8 – E1/5

imageNumber : Season 8, episode 1 of 4

Which One : Back by popular demand; The Autons and the Master.

Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant : Katy Manning
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
The Master : Roger Delgado
Timelord : David Garth
Rex Farrel : Michael Wisher
Farrel Snr. : Stephen Jack
Mrs. Farrel : Barbara Leake
McDermott : Harry Towb
Professor Phillips : Christopher Burgess
Radio Telescope Director : Frank Mills
Goodge : Andrew Staines
Brownrose : Dermot Tuohy
Rossini : John Baskcomb
Strong Man : Roy Stewart
Museum Attendant : Dave Carter
Policeman : Bill McGuirk
Auton Leader : Pat Gorman
Auton Policeman : Terry Walsh
Auton Voice : Hayden Jones
Telephone Mechanic : Norman Stanley

Written By : Robert Holmes

Produced By : Barry Letts

First UK Broadcast : 2 – 23 January 1971.

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Autons have another attempt at invading Earth, after Spearhead From Space. This time, they come in many more guises – than just shop window dummies and the Master is helping them.

Whats good : The introduction of the new characters – specifically the Master.

Whats bad : The Auton threat is diminished as they are only really pawns of the Master. Some of the Auton forms are silly. The Chuckie Doll.

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Review With Spoilers : Terror Of The Autons serves as a kind of sequel to Spearhead From Space. It also introduces a number of new recurring characters; Jo Yates, Seargent Benton, Captain Yates and the Master.

This time the Autons are back for round 2 – but they are not alone. They have enlisted the aid of ‘The Master’ – a fellow renegade Timelord to the Doctor but of much more nefarious purpose.

This time, the Autons come in all shapes and sizes. There is a telephone wire which strangles. Plastic daffodils that shoot suffocating film over the victim’s face. Plastic chairs that eat people and a horrendous looking brown children’s doll (which no self respecting parent would allow near their children!).

The shop window dummies are replaced by a new look for the Autons, that of a popular fictional ice-cream character with this universe – amongst other forms.

Aiding the Autons, is the new Timelord Moriarty style character – The Master. Who was a contemporary of the Doctor back at the [Timelord] Academy. He travels in a more advanced – Chameleon Circuit functioning – Tardis and is much more despicable and evil – in purpose, than the Doctor.

It is nice to see the Autons back in action, after their previous season opener, in Spearhead From Space. Although, some of their effect is lessened, this time around – after their memorable highstreet rampage. As the Autons are really just ‘heels’ for the new Master character.

Season 8 is a season full of Master related stories, played by Roger Delgado. Who was a Moriarty sttle character to the Doctor’s Holmes.

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“I have so few worthy opponents. When they’re gone, I always miss them!” The Master

Watching Delgado, he clearly enjoyed playing the role and was a great (sometimes humourous) counterpoint, to the more straight-lace Jon Pertwee take – on the Third Doctor.

Some of the Auton embodiements in Terror Of The Autons are just plain bizarre though. Least, the creepy brown (Chuckie) Doll which is given to a character as a present. With the intention that it will come alive and murder them, when they take it home. Or, the plastic chair – that eats people alive.

Some of the Auton attacks, (including the doll) are a bit OTT and silly but they do at least – firm the notion that anything with plastic can be deadly; giving the Auton’s a unique deadly edge.

The cliffhanger to part 2, in which a policeman transporting the Doctor and Jo in a police car. Turns its head around, revealing it to be an Auton – is a particularly effective and scary moment. In 2009, SFX magazine named it as – the 20th scariest moment in Doctor Who, of all time.

The introduction of new UNIT regulars Captain Yates and Seargent Benton is a positive step, helping make the Third Doctor’s tenure, more of an ensemble piece than before.

Jo is a likable and a fluffy new assistant for the Doctor but in someways it is a shame that previous assistant; Liz Shaw – left the show. Who at that point better embodied a strong, intelligent and forthright female character to the Doctor.

Terror Of The Autons is not as effective as its Auton predecessor – Spearhead From Space but it is a strong episode nonetheless, due to the inclusion of the Master and other new characters.

🔵🔵🔵🔵⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who


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