Number : Season 11, serial 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 episodes.
Plot : The Third Doctor’s dealings with Metebelis 3, finally comes full circle. When his ‘borrowed’ Metebelis 3 blue crystal, is stolen back by the Metebelis ‘8-legged’ spiders.
Whats good : Fun, action packed send-off in places for the Third Doctor. Chase sequences. The regeneration scene. The spiders – as possession backpacks.
Whats bad : Laggy plot in places. 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 serial 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 Legged’s visit Earth – and steal it back.
For the most part, Planet Of The Spiders weaves together a number of different story strands. Including; long chase sequences – involving road, air and sea; as the Doctor chases a spider possessed Lupton, who has stolen the crystal.
A more laggy – middle section, set on Metebelis 3, where the plot attempts to fill in a whole backstory to the ‘2-leggeds’ (humans) being repressed by the 8-legged’s (spiders).
Finally, the Doctor’s face-off with the 8-legged’s, where the Doctor feels – real revulsion and fear for the first time. Finally, the final regeneration change-over sequence – at the end.
The idea of the spiders – possessing people, by jumping on their victims backs. Is quite scary – in tone but the actual SFX for the spiders – is a bit poor; with obvious plastic looking puppets being moved by visible wires.
Perhaps, they should have gone for fleeting glimpses of the spider – or made it more a shadow-based creature. 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 for the 8-legged’s, is a nice creepy touch to proceedings – and a change in what was usually a male dominated role. Indeed, the (late) Roger Delgado’s wife – Kismet; actually provides a very entertaining voice-over for the spiders. Which is in tribute to her (then) late husband.
The action-orientated build-up, of the first couple of episodes on Earth. Does begin to lag a bit, especially when the Doctor visits the human colony on Metebelis 3; before the final face-off – with the 8-legged’s.
Ultimately though, everything else – is a garnish – as the story works upto the Third Doctor’s regeneration and this is the first episode where the term “regeneration” – is actually used.
The regeneration sequence is nicely handled too. With the Doctor copping a lethal dose of radiation from the defeated 8-legged’s – and is the first ‘modern’ looking regeneration transition – in the series. It really sets the template for all of the future regeneration changes.
We also get to meet, the Doctor’s old Time Lord tutor; known on Earth as K’anpo. Who has been hiding out on Earth – as a Tibetan monk. The Doctor even talks about K’anpo – earlier in the story. Invidentally citing to the Brigadier, the story of “an old man who lived in the mountains on Gallifrey”. A small piece in the Time Lord’s backstory uncovered.
Planet Of The Spiders is not the best Pertwee adventure, in the Third Doctor era. There have been better than this, previously. However, 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.
Something is still sadly 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 died – to save the Doctor’s life.
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