Plot: What’s it about?
The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) has been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, but he won’t get much time to recover, as mysterious events have begun. The serene English countryside has been bombarded by a swarm of meteorites, all while a plastics factory’s switch to automation has taken a turn toward disaster. The Doctor isn’t at full health, but he joins forces with UNIT and his new advisor Liz Shaw (Caroline John) in order to uncover the truth about these unusual happenings. The automated factory has started turning out mannequins armed with powerful weapons, who also happen to spring to life off the assembly lines. This combined with the unexplained meteorite shower clues The Doctor into alien involvement. Soon the situation becomes clear, as aliens plan to replace the human race with automaton mannequins. But will their horrific plan succeed or can The Doctor, Liz, and UNIT figure out a way to stop the aliens and save the entire world’s population?
This series of episodes marked a fresh turn for Doctor Who, as a new Doctor arrived, the story was shot on film, and the show was filmed in full color. Jon Pertwee is a terrific Doctor and his presence is all the more enhanced by having a capable assistant in Caroline John. The two have great chemistry right from the start and make up a terrific tandem through Pertwee’s run as the beloved Doctor. Spearhead from Space is memorable to me because of the automaton mannequins, who strike an eerie sight and make a formidable challenge for our heroes. This franchise has had a lot of memorable villains and such, but these mannequins are among the most creepy, at least in my opinion. The story is rock solid and serves up plenty of action, as well as ample time for Pertwee and John to establish a kinship. So for fans of Doctor Who, Spearhead from Space is a landmark series of episodes and this disc belongs in any fan’s collection.
Video: How does it look?
Spearhead from Space is presented in full frame, as intended. This is another superb looking Doctor Who adventure, with visuals that far surpassed my expectations. The image is sharp and shows impressive detail, but retains the inherent grain and as such, has a natural look. These episodes were also shot on film, unlike most of the Doctor Who episodes, so there is more potential for depth and detail here. I found the colors to be bright and vivid, while contrast is smooth and consistent. In short, these episodes simply shine and fans will be quite enthused.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono soundtrack might not be memorable, but it gets the job done. The audio hasn’t been ravaged by time, so distortion and harshness are never concerned. And I was pleased to find no hiss is present either, which can sometimes happen on older mono soundtracks. The dialogue is clear and never suffers from volume irregularities, so all the vocals come through in fine fashion. This disc also includes English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The prime extras here included a twenty-two minute behind the scenes piece and not one, but two audio commentary tracks, one with cast and the other with crew members. You’ll also find a look at the show’s switch to color visuals, a short spoof film about UNIT, and a selection of still photos.