December 6, 2023

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Doctor Who “Spearhead From Space Part 1”

The Third Doctor. "Spearhead from Space," Episode One.

Oh look.  The show is in color now.

Yes, not only do we have a new Doctor, but the series itself has a new look.  Seasons get shorter from here, and for the time being, the Doctor’s adventures are far more restricted, with the TARDIS being used as little more than something in the background.  No longer able to travel through time and space, we have a Doctor whose adventures, apparently, will have more of an action/adventure vibe.  Part of the idea is that the show recalibrated itself on the heals of success of shows and movies like Star Trek and the James Bond series.

As such, we have a new Doctor in the form of actor Jon Pertwee.  Prior to coming to play the role, Pertwee was mostly known as a rubber-faced comedic actor, and his instructions for how to play the role was basically “Be yourself.”  As such, his Doctor is bascially an idealized version of himself, a guy with a thing for cars and a bit of an anti-authoritarian streak.  His Doctor will dress a bit more extravagantly than his immediate predecessor, and he mostly works with UNIT to protect the Earth from the various aliens and threats that show up there.  Instead of going out and happening on evil, evil will happen upon him.

As such, we see things start off here.  We have meteorites coming to Earth in what looks like a tight formation, and we have the TARDIS just pop up nearby in the middle of the woods with the new Doctor stumbling out.  Sure, they try to keep his face hidden, but we already saw it in the opening credits, so I’m not sure how that’s supposed to be a real surprise when we finally see Pertwee’s face.  We have the Brigadier back, with a scientist specializing in meteors by the name of Liz Shaw, and UNIT is looking into things.  The Brigadier does go to the hospital to see the Doctor but doesn’t recognize him (it’s not mutual as the Doctor certainly knows him).  There are some silent men walking around, a near kidnapping, the Doctor wheeling himself away in a wheelchair in a certain change of pace for the series, and then when he gets back to the TARDIS, the armed guards the Brigadier had put there shoot at him.  Is he shot?

Well, he did go down, but somehow I doubt they’re going to kill off the new main character in his very first episode.