First broadcast 3-24/1/1970 starring Jon Pertwee
What a glorious thing it is to watch a whole four episodes of “classic” Doctor Who on lovely, lovely film. Due to the crazy socialists at the BBC (or whatever they were, I forget), we got Spearhead From Space filmed on actual film and it certainly does make a difference to the proceedings.
Though after watching Spearhead, you’re spoiled and possibly, like me, you’ll find yourself watching other old skool Who wishing the same treatment had been given. Anyway, I digress from Jon Pertwee’s first outing AND the first colour Doctor Who on telly! (Pedants note: I am aware the two Dalek movies were in colour.)
We’re also introduced to new companion Liz Shaw (pictured right); who, to be honest, is a bit snooty in this tale. She makes for a formidable companion to The Doctor, who takes an immediate shine to her, but her attitude towards Lethbridge-Stewart is just a tad acerbic. Having said that, the man can be a bit of a bore.
It’s a cracking first episode, full of Quatermass-esque mystery; falling stars and a countryside invasion. Delicious. The film work really adds an edge to these moments. Similarly, there’s some fantastically un-Doctor Who-y moments when aforementioned UNIT man has to fend off questions from the press. The nature of the hand-held camerawork really adds an urgency to the scene whilst also places the narrative firmly in reality with its almost gritty television style journalism. In terms of “modern” telly, it’s nothing remarkable but those familiar with the show will know just exactly how striking this little scene is.
As with a number of regeneration stories, The Doctor doesn’t get much of a look-in though we do get too see quite a lot of the Time Lord (some hot steamy shower action, no less!). Pertwee’s portrayal is partly defined by his adorable arrogance but here we get to see a different side to his character – take note when he can’t leave in the TARDIS. His childlike frustration and sadness
But it’s the Autons themselves who really sell this baby (and no wonder the plastic guys and gals got a sequel so quickly). From one sole blankless face in the wood to their shop window massacre, these guys are the real deal. They’re also expertly shot and the street scenes as they blast their way through humanity is one of Who‘s finest.
The same cannot be said for the Nestene, however, but that’s really the only “downside” in a story with so many wonderful performances (lile Who stalwart John Woodnutt again), eerie and uncanny people (so shiny!) and magnificent “monsters”. And all with a new Doctor Who and companion! AND in colour! AND on beautiful film!