Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Doctor Who: Terror of the Autons / Planet of the Spiders

This month sees a noteworthy pair of classic Who stories hitting the silver platter, including Jon Pertwee’s swansong, “Planet of the Spiders.” But before getting there, let’s first travel back to 1971.

Though “Terror of the Autons” kicked off producer Barry Letts’s second season, it was the first story he had a solid hand in guiding. (The previous year had been crafted in large part by outgoing producer Derrick Sherwin.) Letts wanted to bring a warmer feel to the show, so out went the Doctor’s scientist companion Liz Shaw, and in came the bubbly Jo Grant (Katy Manning), as well as the dashing Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin). The pair, along with the Doctor (Jon Pertwee), the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and Sergeant Benton (John Levene), helped Letts bring the “family” to UNIT. But there was one piece of the puzzle missing, and Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks surmised that the relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier had grown into a Holmes/Watson dynamic, so they felt the show needed a Moriarty, as well. Enter the Master.

Letts claims that Roger Delgado was always his first and only choice for the Doctor’s arch-nemesis, and from the moment he appears onscreen, it’s easy to see why. Right off the bat Delgado is, in the words of Frank Booth, “one suave fucker.” He looks like he’s been playing the part for years rather than minutes, and as a viewer you immediately understand him and get where he’s coming from. Yet the Doctor doesn’t seem to view him as an immediate threat, and frequently in the story it’s almost as if he’s looking forward to sparring with someone who’s an equal.

Read the rest of the DVD review for "Terror of the Autons," as well as "Planet of the Spiders" by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.