Doctor Who: Season 7, Episode 4

Spearhead from Space: Episode 4 (24 Jan. 1970)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 185 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 3 critic

With UNIT's investigation being blocked by the Replica of Scobie, the Doctor and Liz visit Madame Tussaud's to try and find out more as Channing prepares to activate the Autons.

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Title: Spearhead from Space: Episode 4 (24 Jan 1970)

Spearhead from Space: Episode 4 (24 Jan 1970) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Nicholas Courtney ...
Hugh Burden ...
Hamilton Dyce ...
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John Woodnutt ...
Edmund Bailey ...
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Storyline

The Doctor determines that the globe-like objects that fell to Earth contain some form of intelligence and Liz suggests it may be part of a collective intelligence. Clearly the Autons have been created to house this alien intelligence. When they learn that the factory has produced a replica of Major General Scobie for Madame Tussaud's in London they realize the plot is to replace senior government officials with their lookalike Auton. The Doctor has to devise a weapon he can use against them. Written by garykmcd

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24 January 1970 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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This episode was watched by 8.1 million viewers on its original transmission. See more »

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Featured in Mark Lawson Talks to...: Mark Gatiss (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

S7: Spearhead from Space: Solid start to the new season and new doctor
23 February 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having been sent to earth and forced to regenerate by the Time Lords, the new Doctor's entry seems a little odd when viewed in comparison to the last few regenerations where special shows are run to announce the new actor and generally a big deal special sends off the old guy, welcomes the new guy, or a bit of both. In this instance we simply have John Pertwee fall unconscious from the Tardis and then spend a lot of the first two episodes lying around in bed recovering. This is not the best introduction to him but it is wise as it allows the show to reestablish the character of Lethbridge-Stewart and, more importantly, UNIT – a military force charged with secretly investigating and fighting the potential for alien menace, sort of like X-Files but without the angst and sexual chemistry.

Pertwee arrives properly by the end of the second episode and once I had gotten over the novelty of seeing a Doctor Who with sailor's tattoo on his arm, I did quite take to him mainly because here he carries out a little in the mould of Troughton but with a little bit more comedy in the character. The story around him is pretty good and in some ways must have done for mannequins what Blink did for statues – made these lifeless things into a source of nervousness for children everywhere. I liked this subverting of the ordinary and it was nicely unsettling as an idea. The money shots in particular are pretty memorable. Outside of that it has a decent enough build with a lot going on due to the characters being introduced. The final monster to be defeated is a bit rubbery and silly and doesn't work when viewed next to the much more chilling Autons.

The color does add quite a lot to this as well as it being set in modern (at the time) earth and this is another good change. Performances from the support is pretty good; I liked Courtney even if he played it a little too stiff. Caroline John starts as a scientific character and I hope this is something they can keep so she is not just a bit of totty running around needing saving – from the look of this it could go either way. Burden is nicely cold in the main villain role and generally the various supporting turns are decent.

I'm not sure how I will feel with this new model being the norm for the foreseeable future but this short serial shows potential. UNIT links to a bigger picture while the contemporary setting allows for the horror- lite aspect to play with the viewer by having the action occur in places that are familiar as opposed to a galaxy far, far away. I will miss Troughton as he has been my preferred Doctor so far but hopefully Pertwee can make for a solid replacement (although hopefully the wiggling eyebrows and some other silly moments are the extent of his comedic endeavors as it is important to stay the right side of hammy silliness).


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