Number : Season 11, episode 5 of 5.
Which One : Pertwee bows out.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee / Tom Baker
Sarah-Jane : Liz Sladen
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
John Levene : Sergeant Benton
Lupton : John Dearth
Land : Carl Forgione
Keaver : Andrew Staines
Moss : Terence Lodge
Barnes : Christopher Burgess
Tommy : John Kane
Cho-Je : Kevin Lindsay
K’anpo : George Cormack
Professor Clegg : Cyril Shaps
Policeman : Chubby Oates
Soldier : Pat Gorman
Man with Boat : Terry Walsh
Hopkins : Michael Pinder
Tramp : Stuart Fell
Sabor : Geoffrey Morris
Tuar : Ralph Arliss
Arak : Gareth Hunt
Neska : Jenny Laird
Rega : Joanna Monro
Written By : Robert Sloman & Barry Letts.
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 4 May – 8 June 1974.
Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Third Doctor’s dealings with Metebelis 3 finally come full circle, when his ‘borrowed’ Metebelis blue crystal is stolen back by the Metebelis 8-legged spiders – to become all powerful.
Whats good : Fun, action packed send off for the Third Doctor. Chase sequences. The regeneration scene. The spiders as possession backpacks.
Whats bad : Laggy plot. Overall average fare. Doesn’t sign off the Third Doctor’s time aswell as it could of. Spider SFX. Lack of The Master.
Review With Spoilers : Planet Of The Spiders is the 5th episode of season 11 and the final Third Doctor adventure.
Events which were shaped in The Green Death, involving the Doctor having stolen a blue crystal from Metebelis 3; come to a conclusion here, as the Eight Leggeds visit Earth and steal it back.
For the most part, Planet Of The Spiders weaves together a number of different strands. Including;
A long chase sequence – involving road, air and sea; as the Doctor chases a spider possessed Lupton, who has stolen the crystal.
A more laggy middle 8, set on Metebelis 3, where the plot attempts to fill in a whole backstory to the 2-legged (humans) being repressed by the 8-legged (spiders).
Finally, the Doctor’s face-off with the spiders, where he feels real revulsion and fear for the first time and the final regeneration change-over sequence.
The idea of the spiders possessing people by jumping on their backs, is horrific in tone and feeling but the actual SFX for the spiders is a bit poor; with obvious plasticy looking puppets being jerked about on wires.
Perhaps they should have gone for fleeting glimpses of some sort of ‘energy’ spider – or something like that, as the budget was not up to producing a convincing (real looking) spider puppet.
“A tear, Sarah Jane? No, no, don’t cry. While there’s life, there’s…” [regenerates] Third Doctor
The female voiceover parts for the spiders though, is a nice creepy touch to proceedings and a change in what was usually a male dominated part. Indeed, the (late) Roger Delgado’s wife – Kismet provides a very entertaining voice-over for the spiders.
The action orientated buildup of the first couple of parts on Earth, does begin to lag a bit when the Doctor visits the human colony on Metebelis 3, before his final face-off with the spiders.
Ultimately though, everything else is a garnish as the story works upto the Third Doctor’s regeneration and this is the first episode when the term “regeneration” is actually used.
The regeneration sequence is nicely handled. With the Doctor copping a lethal dose of radiation from the defeated spiders – and in the first ‘modern’ regeneration transition in the series, really sets the template for all of the future changes – to come.
We also get to meet the Doctor’s old Timelord tutor, who has been hiding out on Earth as a Tibetan monk. The Doctor even remembers him – earlier in the story, citing to the Brigadier of “an old man who lived in the mountains on Gallifrey”. A small piece in the Timelord’s backstory uncovered.
Planet Of The Spiders is not the best Pertwee adventure, there have been better in the previous series. It does feature some good concepts, a fun chase sequence and a nice regeneration send-off for Pertwee but is let down by a laggy middle.
But something is lacking and that something was the untimely death of Roger Delgado, who would have appeared in a swan-song for both him and Pertwee. The Master would have concocted an evil scheme but ultimately would have sacrificed himself – to save the Doctor’s life.
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