Number : Season 8, serial 1 of 4
Which One : Back by popular demand; The Autons. Also introducing; 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 episodes.
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.
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, Captain Yates – and The Master. Sergeant Benton also returns.
This time around, 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 people. 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 from within this universe – amongst other forms.
Aiding the Autons, is – The Master. Who was a contemporary of the Doctor, back at the [Time Lord] Academy. He travels in a more advanced – Chameleon Circuit functioning – Type-40 Tardis – and is much more despicable and evil, 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 ‘The Master’ character. Season 8 is a season full of Master-related stories, played by Roger Delgado.
“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 episode 2,m – in which a policeman, transporting the Doctor and Jo – in a police car. Turns its headaround, revealing it to be a blankfaced 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. Doctor Who at that point – better embodied a strong, intelligent and progressive 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.
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