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Dr Who: Spearhead from Space (**)
Written by Robert Holmes
Principal Cast
Jon Pertwee
Nicholas Courtney
Caroline John
DVD extras include: Commentary by actors Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John, Pop-Up production notes option, Unit Recruitment Film, Trailers, Photo Gallery and a Who's Who.
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Spearhead from Space The pleasures of Dr. Who are real but elusive. A lot depends on how you watch. For example, it would be a mistake to try to watch a complete story all the way through. The silly story and laughable special effects would overwhelm any appreciation of the clever bits. But if you watch, say, one episode a day, that's about right, and you are always glad when the end-title theme music comes on. In fact, the great Dr. Who theme music is one of the show's chief pleasures.

The VHS versions of Dr. Who often ran all the chapters together, eliminating the chapter breaks entirely. Bad move. I am happy to report that the new Dr. Who DVDs are set up so that you can watch one chapter at a time. Most stories run from four to six half hour chapters, and a half hour is about as much as you will want to spend on Dr. Who on any one day.

"Spearheads from Space" (**) by Robert Holmes is the first appearance of Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor. For those unfamiliar with the series, it ran forever on British telly, with many people playing the roll of the Doctor. (Dr. Who is NOT his name. In this episode, he calls himself Dr. Smith, but that is clearly a subterfuge.) The Doctor is a Time Lord, and can go anywhere in space and time, though for the first seven seasons he spends an awful lot of time on earth. In season eight, with the introduction of The Master, the outer space elements begin to dominate, and by season twelve, when Tom Baker, everybody's favorite Doctor, takes over the role, the plots become increasingly far out. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, wrote several scripts for Tom Baker.

The Master, by the way, is my first pick for the secret identity of the Time Lord in the new Enterprise series, but I suppose that is too much to hope for.

Jon Pertwee makes a very amiable Doctor, and there are lots of good bits, such as his astonishment over his new face, his escape in a wheelchair, and so on. By quick cutting between a large cast of characters and many subplots, the writer deftly conceals how silly the story is. (It's about mannequins from outer space.) All in all, this DVD would be a good place to start, if you have been curious about Dr. Who but never given it a try.

Of course, this episode is really titled "Spearhead from Space," but it says "Spearheads from Space" on the review copy I was sent.

Numity numity nimity numity numity numity numity numity wheeeoooo.

Copyright © 2001 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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