You know, those spiders seem pretty brave for creatures that anyone could take out with a well-aimed phone book.
Oh, and this is Jon Pertwee’s final episode.
So, I figure I won’t be covering the plot of this episode nearly as much as I usually do. It is Pertwee’s last episode. How did the series see him off?
Right now, the gold standard for a regular character’s departure is probably Jo Grant’s at the end of the previous season. The final serial was building to her departure, and Pertwee played the Doctor’s quiet loneliness rather well. It was quiet, understated, and shows exactly what kind of actor Pertwee could be with the right material.
That said, this is Doctor Who. It isn’t the sort of series that does that sort of thing very often. That’s probably why most companions just leave and Doctors just…wear out.
By the by, the Third Doctor just wears out.
However, the show does a good job of bringing in the concept of regeneration. Sure, we’ve seen the Doctor change faces before, but we finally have a name for it. And it comes from someone the Doctor knows. It seems that the old meditation abbot K’anpo is another Time Lord, an old mentor of the Doctor’s, and he just explains it all. Heck, he regenerates himself during the spider attack on his room.
So, in brief, the Spider Queen possessed Sarah Jane, but the Metebelis crystal cures her. The Doctor has to take the crystal back and deliver it to the Great One. What did the Great One want? She wanted that crystal to finish a special web to amplify her psychic powers and take over the universe. The Doctor knows that’s a bad idea. She doesn’t listen, and the resulting backlash kills all the spiders. However, the chamber the Great One lived in gave the Doctor a fatal dose of radiation. Three weeks later, he manages to get back to his lab at UNIT HQ, right in front of the Brigadier and Sarah Jane. But then the Doctor collapses and dies…sort of. K’anpo arrives in his new body to tell the humans the Doctor will be a new man, with a slightly frazzled mind. He’ll be a whole new person!
Heck, he turns into an uncredited Tom Baker, giving us the first look at the Fourth Doctor.
So, what can we make of the Third Doctor’s tenure? Outside the superficial change to color, it was like a whole new show. A number of Earth-bound episodes to start, this Doctor was a man of action. Yes, we’ve seen the previous Doctors occasionally engage in fisticuffs, but not as often as Pertwee’s Third Doctor. He was a much more dashing figure, one whose sense of humor was more understated. Yes, he could be arrogant, but that may be the one thing that all Doctors seem to have in common.
I still personally prefer Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor. But I have come to appreciate Pertwee’s take on the character. He had a lot of good adventures, and he made the role his own.
Of course, now we have the Baker era, the longest running Doctor in the show’s entire history, and the guy people always picture when they picture the Doctor if they’ve never seen the show.
So, let’s put up another episode of that YouTube documentary I put up whenever I get to an end of any Doctor’s era.