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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor and the Autons
Spearhead from Space
1970's Spearhead From Space has always been one of the truly great moments in Doctor Who, and for me this is one of my top 10 favorites. From the start of 1970 to the end of 1979 Doctor Who reached its zenith and became the classic show we all love today. Patrick Troughton's last serial "The War Games" is no doubt a...
Published on 8 Mar. 2012 by The Real M.B.E. Of Tooting

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Plastics Factories
The picture quality is much improved on both of these. I'd no idea that Spearhead was supposed to have so much colour in it, and Terror was badly in need of a clean up.


The story behind it all shot on location is well known, and the result is something pretty damn special. There is something explicitly unreal in a jarring contrast between...
Published 21 months ago by Alex Lyon

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor and the Autons, 8 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Spearhead from Space
1970's Spearhead From Space has always been one of the truly great moments in Doctor Who, and for me this is one of my top 10 favorites. From the start of 1970 to the end of 1979 Doctor Who reached its zenith and became the classic show we all love today. Patrick Troughton's last serial "The War Games" is no doubt a timeless classic but recorded very low viewing figures for the time, so the producers had quite a rough time getting the 900 year old chap on his feet again. I agree with Terrance Dicks in that Doctor Who was granted a stay of execution because the BBC were starting to broadcast in colour for the first time and the money that was coming in from the television licenses was clouding their evil judgement on possible cancellation. Thankfully, the BBC did not cancel the show and its still going strong over 48 years later.

Jon Pertwee gets a great first story here and probably the best debut ever for a Doctor. Firstly, the colour really helps, I know some people love black & white but you must admit that colour is luxurious. Furthermore, the location filming is fantastic, basically the whole 100 minute feature was filmed on location because of some BBC strikes that were going on. The filmic look really adds to the atmosphere of the serial and sells it better than videotape ever could. Furthermore, Dudley Simpson's incidental music for Spearhead from Space is some of his greatest, the atmosphere he induces from the score is impressive to say the least and really adds to the overall enjoyment of the story.

Nicholas Courtney's first appearance since 1968's "Invasion" is brilliant, I always loved the Third Doctor / UNIT era of the programme and Nick is one of the main parts of that fantastic nostalgic time. His performance here is truly something special and he and Jon bounce off one another superbly. Nick would go on to star in Doctor Who intermittently for the next 20 years and so what we have here is the proper beginning to the whole concept of the Doctor's UNIT family. Caroline John's first "Who" is very high standard stuff, I have always loved Liz and thought she was always one of the Doctor's best 70's companions. Although she was to only appear in one series on Who, she will always be fondly remembered, {mostly for the short skirts though};)

The Autons provide a chilling monster for the newly regenerated Doctor, their faceless-ness was always going to be quite chilling and so they make a very effective debut here. The quest cast are all on top form with special praise going to Hugh Burden's Channing.

This has been a truly gratifying review of what I think is one of the greatest serials Doctor Who ever made. The introduction of the Autons and UNIT was a masterstroke, this story for me stands out as Robert Holmes best work on the series. A wonderful start to a fantastic era of the show.

Terror of the Autons
Robert Holmes, by now a familiar figure on the writing side of Doctor Who pulls "Terror of the Autons" out the bag, a story that is considered his greatest work on Who. I will say though that I much prefer Robert's earlier script "Spearhead from Space" to Terror of the Autons as noted above. Still, Terror of the Autons is a terrific story, we have the return of the Autons, the introduction of the Doctor's new assistant Jo Grant and more importantly, the introduction of one of the best remembered villains from classic Who, Roger Delgado's Master. Roger Delgado steals the show as the suave and insanely evil "Master". His performance here is electrifying and can only be matched by Jon Pertwee's Doctor. Both actors have such fantastic scenes together over the next few years that it makes me wonder why these two never won BAFTA's.

Jo Grant, as played brilliantly by Katy Manning makes her debut here also. I always felt that Jo Grant was the best companion of the 70's, she just worked so well with Jon, much the same as Liz Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith gelled with Tom Baker's 4th Doctor. Here, little dolly bird Jo gets the most action packed start for a companion ever, blowing up UNIT buildings, hanging around on telescopes and trying to keep up with the Doctor and the Master. This story also marks the first appearance of Captain Mike Yates, meant as a sort of potential love interest for Jo. I always liked Mike and thought that near the end of his reign, he got such a brilliant storyline.

Also, this story marks the first time we have the complete UNIT family together, consisting of The Doctor, Jo, The Brig, The Master, Yates and Benton. The start of a fantastic on-screen and off-screen batch of relationships. The Autons also put in an appearance as the story's monsters, although much more of a limited appearance than in "Spearhead". I always liked the Autons and thought that they were genuinely a scary creation. The faceless automatons were a clever concept and one that was more believable to a bright teenager or adult figure. Robert Holmes must of had no idea that the Autons and the Master would become such fantastic and well remembered creations, Strictly speaking though, the Master was the creation of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks.

Overall, a highly enjoyable adventure with the Master making his Doctor Who debut and Jo Grant becoming one of the most fondly remembered and popular companions of Doctor Who. Highly recommended. 10/10

The BBC DVD release is beautiful, no better words come to mind really. The Doctor Who Restoration Team have recoloured and restored these two icons of television brilliantly. The special praise has to go the the recolouring of Terror of the Autons, it looks simply fantastic. The re-release of Spearhead from space was much needed, its woeful lack of any documentaries was criminal for such a landmark serial. However, for this release, "Spearhead" and "Terror" have been re-remastered and both have a couple of fascinating and highly entertaining doc's on them. Highly recommended release and a vital part of the Doctor Who range on BBC DVD. 10/10.

Many thanks for your time, it's greatly appreciated.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Autons, but not Replicas, 15 July 2014
Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Two battles with the plastic horrors of the Nestene Consciousness, both starring Jon Pertwee, both are UNIT action stories, each introducing a new assistant and written by Robert Holmes - but in some ways the two adventures couldn't be more different. Don't let the corny title of the box set put you off, Autons may look like mannequins but they're not dummies! Overall rating 5*

Spearhead From Space (or `Doctor Who the First TV Movie') - 5*

Strange glowing `meteorites` land in rural England, containing an alien intelligence looking for new homes - anywhere will do, as long as it's made of plastic. Also landing is another alien intelligence looking for a new home, with a new face and in colour for the first time. Jon Pertwee was the Doctor I grew up watching, so for me he *was* the Doctor - a fabulous, elegant Regency superhero from space who (for some reason I didn't understand) spent most of his time on earth. Robert Holmes introduces him in a story that is aimed at adults much as children - the deliberate new style for this season which has worn very well.

The UNIT stories benefit from great action scenes and most of all from Nicholas Courtney's splendid Brigadier. Here he's wearing a different uniform ("chocolate solider" as he put it!) and isn't too sure about the new chap who's turned up claiming to be his friend the Doctor, but as ever he's ready to defend the earth and his growing friendship with the Doctor is a pleasure to follow. Joining UNIT in this story is Dr. Elizabeth `Liz' Shaw (the excellent Caroline John), understandably annoyed at being requisitioned from Cambridge like a piece of laboratory equipment! A brilliant scientist in her own right, she starts off being very sceptical about the Brig's tales of alien invasion, but events and the Doctor soon convince her.

The story runs along two parallel strands; the Doctor, dazed from regeneration and trying to come to terms with being in exile, and the growing threat from the Nestenes who recognise his importance even before the Brigadier does. There's some enjoyable action comedy as the Doctor escapes from Autons in a wheelchair then `escapes' from hospital in a consultant's dressy outfit (pity he lost the hat in later stories!) and `borrows' his car. Watch for the moment when he is `caught' by Liz and the Brig trying to escape in the TARDIS - for that scene Jon Pertwee is clearly playing Patrick Troughton playing the Doctor, clever acting and a nice nod to his popular predecessor.

The Autons and their leader, the wonderfully sinister Channing (Hugh Burden), are bubbling into plastic life in the factory once run by Mr. Hibbert (John Woodnutt, years later a Zygon warlord!) who is now under Channing's mind control but always struggling to free himself. It's a great, tense tale of dummies, doubles and duplicity where even your boss might be a Nestene Replica and if you go window shopping the tailor's mannequin might be the last thing you ever see ...

`Spearhead' looks fantastic and totally different from any other `Doctor Who', made all on film and all on location thanks to a studio workers' strike at the BBC. What a very 1970s reason, but what a great result! According to the DVD commentary and features, what should have been the studio scenes were filmed at the BBC training centre at Wood Norton in Worcestershire. It featured in the invasion defence plans of World War II and had a bunker for use in the event of a future war, how appropriate for this story! Using film throughout gives a unique `big-screen' feel and it looks excellent in this restored version.

It has to be said the plot partly bears a resemblance to one of the earlier `Quatermass' serials, which perhaps inspired the style of this whole season. It's not a replica, but I saw the 1950s film `Quatermass 2' by chance a few years ago and had a major déjà vu moment! Déjà vu does *not* apply to all the people who "saw" Autons "smashing out of shop windows" - it's referred to again and again in interviews and on web sites but (for budget reasons) breaking glass is heard but not seen, then the Autons appear in the street; good direction making the most of a small budget and creating an "iconic moment" in memory that never actually happened on screen in the classic series!

The scenes of Autons attacking that really do happen (filmed in early morning Ealing) are iconic in themselves. Listen very carefully to the soundtrack just before the Autons emerge to break the peace (if not the windows!) and you will hear another iconic sound of the time - clinking glass and a gentle hum - younger viewers may not recognise it, but that's the sound of milk in glass bottles being delivered to the doorstep and the (unseen) milkman driving off in an electric milk float. They were once defining sounds of early morning, a nice touch and an illustration of the care that went into this production.

This is a great, one-off creation, in part carefully moulded and part shaped by events but never replicated in its all-film style; a splendid colour spearhead to lead the Third Doctor's time on earth. 5*

DVD Special Features:
Two good commentaries, the first from the actors' perspective with Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John and a newer commentary giving the production view with Derrick Sherwin and Terrance Dicks.
`Down to Earth' - a short but good `making of' feature, imaginatively done.
`Regenerations' - the transition to colour television in general and how it changed `Doctor Who'
`UNIT Recruitment Film' - sign up with the Brigadier for this great 5 minute spoof, UNIT needs you! ("Our turnover is a bit high ..."!)


Terror of the Autons (or `The Doctor meets The Master') - 4*

Kerrrpow! Zap! Splat! Boom! Aarghh! Scream! (You get the general idea.) Four episodes of brightly-coloured, non-stop action with more sinister schemes, killer plastic horrors and Escapes From Certain Death than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at. Three new regular characters are introduced and the Nestenes return in a style very different from the serious science fiction of a year earlier. This story seems like Robert Holmes writing an action horror cartoon; it's fast, often funny and in places truly horrifying. (Well, it was when I was 6! And it still has its moments ...)

With Dr. Liz Shaw gone back to Cambridge, the Doctor gets landed with a new assistant he doesn't want but is too kind to reject. Katy Manning plays Jo Grant wonderfully, bursting into the Doctor's life as a brand-new agent in her first job for UNIT. Jo looks (to use 1960s idiom) like a `groovy dolly bird' and seems likely to land in all sorts of trouble - but Jo is brave, enthusiastic and saves the Doctor's life twice in this story, once with her UNIT-trained escapology and once by biffing a very large bloke on the head! Jo is perhaps not quite as innocent as she looks, having got her UNIT job thanks to family influence and with a `creative' CV ("I thought you took Science A level?" says the Doctor. Jo: "I didn't say I passed!"). A great character and performance; the three-way scenes with Jo, the Doctor and the Brigadier are very funny and have a lot of charm. The UNIT `family' is completed by the arrival of Richard Franklin as thoughtful action man Captain Mike Yates, an intelligent young officer who no doubt has many years of a long, illustrious military career ahead of him ...

`Terror of the Autons' does have Autons in it but this story is stolen by the Master, brought to villainous life by excellent Roger Delgado. Several other actors have now played the malevolent Time Lord, but his performance was the original and best; charming, suave and wicked (in both senses of the word), The Master will smile politely as he shrinks you into oblivion. "I am usually known as the Master ..." - and he was; perfectly written by Robert Holmes and perfectly played as a charismatic, urbane evil genius, not a cavorting jester.

Over four non-stop episodes, the Master unleashes one plastic terror after another in his feud with the Doctor and to smooth the way for the Nestene invasion; Autons, a telephone cable, a host of noxious daffodils, an armchair, a monstrous doll - anything plastic can be lethal, a brilliant theme for the synthetic world of the 1970s. There are many action sequences and some great stunts from the HAVOC team; an `Auton' cartwheeling down a quarry face looks incredible and this was not done with a dummy or CGI.

It's not all perfect, there's a lot of (still very experimental) CSO or `blue screen' work in this story, in fact too much. Some of it is necessary and very good like the scenes on the radio telescope or the attacking doll, but too much looks cheap and out of place - a kitchen, Jo in a phone box, scenes in a car with obviously CSO background going past. After watching the superb location filming of `Spearhead' this was a comedown. The Auton leader speaks, but with the voice of a Dalek. In `Spearhead' both Channing and the other Nestene replicas easily passed for human, so why not have a human voice for the leader here?

The plot falls over itself a couple of times; Jo is caught sneaking around the (correct) plastics factory *before* anything suspicious has been reported about it. Later, a UNIT agent on a motorbike is seen tailing the Autons' `daffodil coach' while the Brigadier is still wondering "if the daffs are dangerous?" If he had realised the "chaps in weird carnival masks" handing them out were Autons, the answer would be obvious! If not, why is the coach being followed? Still, it's all a lot of fun and the cast carry the story along to the big showdown at the radio telescope, in which the world is saved (of course) and the Master escapes (also of course). That ending set the tone of the whole season, but there's nothing wrong with a hero, a villain and some old-fashioned melodrama done with style.

In 1971 this was the first `Doctor Who' story I'd ever seen and Episode 2 scared me considerably, with that revolting black armchair and the horrible doll! It was a plastic hell of a first story to watch but I kept watching and after this I was never scared by `Doctor Who' again! The commentary and DVD features explain just how many complaints the BBC got about this particular show, full credit to Robert Holmes for pushing the boundaries - we all survived, the ratings soared and fans were made for life.

This story has some patchy special effects and the odd plot gap, but it's still a pacey and fun adventure that defines the new style of the Pertwee years. Relax in a big armchair and enjoy it. Not a black, plastic armchair of course, and best to check the room for dolls first ... 4*

DVD Special Features:
Very enjoyable commentary with Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney and producer / director Barry Letts - as usual, great value from all three contributors.
`Life on Earth' - a 30 minute `making of' feature about the show then and now. This is well made but with too much emphasis on the new series and almost a sense of being kind to the classic series. It reminded me why I often found the first few years of the new series so irritating! - Political correctness, dreary soap-style family backgrounds, `will they won't they' between the Doctor and Rose (Answer: no, of course they won't or it would change the show beyond recognition.)
`The Doctor's Moriarty' - about the various incarnations of the Master, from superb Roger Delgado right through to that stunning moment in the new series where Derek Jacobi gave us one brilliant glimpse of what might have been, but sadly, the Master regenerated and the moment passed.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You precious little planet is finished!", 24 Jun. 2011
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Doctor Who was in a perilous state at the end of Patrick Troughton's tenure. Ratings had been in decline - so much so that few of Troughton's stories even survive intact - and there was a strong possibility that if a new series didn't improve matters, there wouldn't be another.

Spearhead from Space is in many ways quite a unique story in the original series history, not only introducing the Third Doctor but also tweaking the format of the show remarkably successfully, with producer Derrick Sherwin using the more Earthbound Quatermass as his model while adding more action to turn it into more of an adventure series. It also has a unique look, and not just because the show made the leap from black and white to colour for the first time. While TV shows were traditionally shot largely on tape for studio interiors and 16mm film for exteriors, a BBC strike meant that Spearhead was shot entirely on film and on location. As well as giving the show a much more cinematic and adventurous look, this also ensured that after proper restoration this probably looks the best of any story from that era, with pin-sharp definition and superb colour on the remastered DVD that is a visible improvement on the previous release.

The Quatermass influence is particularly noticeable in the first half of the story. Like Quatermass II, it begins with meteorites being guided to a specific part of the English countryside where they are collected for a sinister purpose in a secret establishment, although it largely drops the government conspiracy angle that saw Nigel Kneale's invaders taking over the halls of power and using the Official Secrets Act to keep prying human eyes away. There is a half-hearted attempt to gain access to the corridors of power, but here the military is in a more heroic light as the story introduces UNIT and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (previously seen in The Invasion) as series regulars for the now exiled on Earth Doctor. UNIT almost take centre-stage for much of the early running: after a brief appearance in long shot falling out of the TARDIS we don't actually meet Jon Pertwee's new Doctor until halfway through the first episode. Introducing the troubled regeneration theme that the series would consistently return to and which allowed each new Doctor to gradually find his unique character, it set the template for each new Doctor's introduction. Indeed, elements of it would turn up in Paul McGann and Matt Smith's introductions while the Autons would be used as the villains in for Christopher Eccleston's first story in the revamped NuWho. And the Autons prove to be particularly memorable villains, the sequence where shop window dummies come to life and embarking on a killing spree on Ealing high street one of the series seminal images.

Documentary Down to Earth offers a concise and surprisingly frank account of the reinvention of the show, which had only been given a new series because the BBC couldn't come up with a replacement. UNIT's introduction was as much a practical as an aesthetic decision, designed to take some of the narrative strain and limit the amount of lengthy speeches Pertwee had to deal with, since the crippling 44-episode a year schedule and dialogue-heavy scripts had played a big part in an increasingly overworked and cantankerous Patrick Troughton's decision to leave (the length of the run was also drastically reduced to keep the workload manageable). The accompanying featurette on the BBC's conversion from black and white to colour is more technical, especially when detailing the creation of the new title sequence.

The Nestine and their Autons returned the following year in Terror of the Autons, which also saw the introduction of Roger Delgado's the Master, then the diabolical Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes rather than a tiresome Joker wannabe. The script makes much of their similarities: both trapped on Earth, each thinks the other is almost as brilliant as they are, and each enjoys the other's escapes because it prolongs their duel and sweetens the anticipation of their ultimate victory. The Master wasn't the only new arrival, with Katy Manning making her debut as one of the Doctor's most popular and long-serving assistants. Her job description may boil down to handing the Doctor his test tubes and telling him how brilliant he is, but her enthusiastic personality works wonderfully well in tandem with Pertwee's Doctor and the pair have genuine screen chemistry without ever a hint of the romantic complications of the NuWho seasons.

Offering one of the more surreal images of the series in the form of a Time Lord, dressed as a civil servant complete with bowler and brolly, suspended mid-air outside a radio telescope, it downplays the Autons in favour of the menacing possibilities of a potential enemy to be found all over every home in the country: plastic. The influence is early horror films like Devil Doll and Dr Cyclops (alongside a nod to The Sweet Smell of Disaster episode of Adam Adamant Lives!) as scientists are shrunken and their bodies left in lunch boxes, and plastic chairs, telephones, flowers and grotesque toys come to life and kill people - a particularly pertinent threat in the 70s, the plastic decade that taste forgot. But away from the showstoppers, the Nestines are generally sidelined, little more than pawns of the Master despite hints of some tension and impatience with him.

It's a more complicated plot this time round, though it's consistently marred by the excessive use of especially bad colour separation overlay effects, which here aren't simply used to superimpose actors over elaborate special effect shots but are used to save building basic sets so that even a simple shot of a bit player in a kitchen will look unreal because she's surrounded by thick matte lines as she's overlaid on what's obviously a slide taken from a kitchen showroom catalogue. While you can make allowances for that sort of thing when spaceships, alien landscapes or giant monsters are concerned, it just smacks of laziness and penny pinching when it's used to save money on everyday things.

The highlight of a decent extras package, which also includes documentaries on setting up Pertwee's second season and The Master as well as the usual audio commentary, stills gallery and onscreen trivia track, is a brief featurette on plastic and why it made for such a perfect villain - after all, how can you hide behind your plastic sofa this time round if even that might kill you? Sadly the picture quality isn't a patch on Spearhead. The outside broadcast scenes are particularly poor, looking like bad standards conversions from NTSC, though most of the studio footage is considerably better, and it's still an improvement on the fairly rare video release.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attack of the Autons, 8 Jun. 2011
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Another Doctor Who DVD box set, with one cardboard box containing two individual stories. Each in their own individual dvd box. So you can take them out and put them on your shelves in broadcast order, should you so desire.

Both stories feature Jon Pertwee as the Doctor. Both are four parts long and on single discs. And both see the Doctor battling the Nestene consciousness. An alien life form that can make plastic come to life in the form of deadly mannequin like creatures called the Autons. It's aim: colonising other worlds. Earth is it's next target.

Spearhead from Space has been released on DVD before, but this is a new edition. With a better picture quality and more extras than the previous one.

Since it's packaged with Terror of the Autons, buying a new edition of a story you may already have is going to be your only way to get the latter on DVD.

If you object to that, it's your choice.

If you're not familiar with Spearhead from Space, then: It was Jon Pertwee's first in the role. And a radical new start for the show as it entered the 1970's. Shot entirely on film, it sees the Doctor exiled to Earth and forced through these circumstances to work for the U.N.I.T., who protect the Earth from alien invasion. The Nestenes have arrived on Earth at the same time as the Doctor, and he has to help his new allies fight back.

Pacier and more down to Earth than the show had been before, it benefits enormously from being shot on film, and has some superbly iconic images via the actions of the Autons. Most notably shop window dummies coming to life. A superb start to a new era for the show, it's a classic story.

The dvd has, as mentioned, a better picture quality than before.

It has the usual:

English subtitles.

English audio captions.

The only language option is English.

Radio times listings as a PDF file.

Production subtitles.

Photo gallery.

A coming soon trailer for the next in this range of dvds.

There are two commentaries, one from Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John [the Brigadier and the Doctor's new companion, Liz Shaw]. Plus one from the producer and the script editor.

Other extras:

A thirty four minute long [approx] making of documentary. As much about the start of the Pertwee era as the story itself, it's very good and very in depth.

Regenerations: eighteen minute long feature that looks at how the bbc changed at the start of the 70's when tv went into colour. A fascinating bit of nostalgia.

UNIT recrutiment film: shown on tv prior to a repeat of another Pertwee story back in the 1990's, this is a fun little piece.

There are also some trailers for a repeat of the story on bbc2 back in the same decade.

For an easter egg, either watch it on a computer and move the pointer over the Doctor Who logo at the top left of the main menu screen till it lights up and click on that. Or press the left menu button when play all is highlighted. This brings you a version of the title sequence without any text on it. Look closely because this appears to be an earlier test version of the sequence, as there's a bit of a difference early on to the usual broadcast one.

Terror of the Autons followed a year later, and just like the earlier Auton story does serve as something of a relaunch. It tones down the adult edges of the previous year, writes Liz Shaw out rather perfunctorily and brings in new companion Jo Grant plus new U.N.I.T. man Captain Mike Yates.

It also introduces the Master. Rogue time lord and pretty much the opposite of the Doctor. He has come to Earth to aid the Nestenes in their latest conquest attempt. Superbly played by Roger Delgado, who makes him a villain to remember.

Terror of the Autons does feature some rather scary and graphic death scenes and may not be suitable for the very young. The picture has been restored from the previous vhs version. It's still not perfect but it's the best edition of the story yet in this respect and is quite watchable. And the resolution to the Master's actions is rather abrupt and may strain some credulity. But you just have to go with it. Those are minor complaints about a superb and very memorable tale.

It has a commentary from Nicholas Courtney, Producer Barry Letts, plus Katy Manning [Jo Grant].

All the standard dvd features such as photo gallery and subtitles mentioned above.

A thirty four minute long making of feature, that concentrates more on the differences between this and the current version of the show than the making of the story, but is still rather good.

A ten minute long feature about how the writers made an everday thing like plastic scary. This does offer some interesting food for thought.

And an eighteen minute long feature all about the Master. It raises good points about the relationship between him and the Doctor, although it uses illustrations rather than clips for the bulk of it, which does seem a bit odd.

But this is a great box for two great stories. If you don't mind one of them being one that's been released before, then it's well worth getting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dummie's Guide To Doctor Who, 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Don't be put off by the slightly jokey title of this collection, it features two of the show's most memorable stories featuring the Autons, plastic shop window dummies animated by the disembodied Nestene Consciousness. 'Spearhead' introduces Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, and due to a contemporary strike at the BBC, remains the only Who story ever to be shot entirely on film. This helps the pace of the story, taking it away from multi-camera studio and out on location. The fact that the story exists on 16mm film has also meant that it will soon be released on blu-ray, but even on this DVD edition, the restoration team have worked miracles on cleaning up the prints. The clarity of the image and strength of colour is seriously impressive and well worth the outlay for anyone not owning a bluray set up.

'Terror of the Autons' goes several steps further in finding inventive ways for the Nestene to employ plastic as a weapon against the human race, a fact which brought much criticism down on the heads of the show's producers at the time of broadcast. Ugly troll dolls, plastic daffodils and even - whisper it - your friendly neighbourhood policeman are recruited to the Nestene cause, aided in this story by the first appearance of the Doctor's saturnine nemesis the Master. Played by the brilliant Roger Delgado, he's simultaneously suave, charming and quite brutal, swapping banter with the Doctor at gunpoint, whilst later casually murdering people who have the nerve to be in his way. The restoration of these episodes was more demanding than in 'Spearhead', as 'Terror of the Autons' only existed as telecine film prints in black and white, with a colour signal being retrieved from NTSC Betamax video recordings from the USA. Although this means the quality of image is noticeably less than the first story, it's still an amazing improvement on the initial release.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dont be put off by the title of the box set!, 30 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Spearhead from Space was the first Doctor Who story I had ever watched, so for this it has and will hold strong feelings for me. The story has everything you could want from a classic Doctor Who series. A fantastic, strong storyline, competent acting and humour that doesn't deflect from the story or the action.
Robert Holmes' script shows a brief insight of what the show would become when he would be the Script Editor, though strangely enough it doesn't feel like a Jon Pertwee episode in the sense that the unit family hasn't yet been set up and it isn't filled with CSO. Robert Holmes must have been a fan of horror films and saw that Doctor Who could be as scary as them. He had a clear understanding of what makes a good Story for the show as opposed to those who were freelance writers who just had a crack at it and it shows. The expressionless faces of the Auton robots. The eerie manor of controlled characters. The quirkiness of the doctor's whims. It all just fits perfectly.
Jon Pertwee fills his new role as The Third Doctor perfectly and we have that sparkle in his eye that has given us confidence in the previous two doctors. The Role would be made his over the next five years, the show is defined definitely as The Pertwee Years, a problem later doctors had. He and his companion work brilliantly together and it's a big shame that Caroline John didn't stay longer but even if she was asked back she was pregnant anyway. The season has a certain tone about it and it's largely because of Liz Shaw's professor role in the show. Spearhead however would again look different from the next three stores because it was recorded on film due to a strike. Its a shame the rest of Doctor Who wasn't recorded this way as it adds a credibility to the action and the story. In fact the only let down in the entire story is the Nestene at the climax which looks strikingly familiar to anyone using a Henry Hoover. But as everything else looks so strong it is almost completely forgiven.
I would choose this story to introduce anyone to the original series. Jon Pertwee's action Doctor resembles many of the new series' incarnations but its his warmth and maturity that makes him distinct. The features of this story are exactly what makes a standard Doctor Who story but its all about the way it's done.
The special features of this disc are well worth a look at. The original release of this story on DVD has little to no special features and with the updated picture quality it makes this release THE release you need. I will say though that the Blu-ray edition has a picture quality to die for, not to mention it's special features are of top quality too. I think any Doctor Who fan should definitely purchase both. My favourite feature on this disc is 'Regenerations: from black and white to colour'. It gives a great insight to how it was viewed made a difference to how it was made. It is also something that could be viewed on its own away from the series.

The other half of this set is Terror of the Autons. I must admit the way CSO is overused in this story makes it a little jarring for me to watch but as any good Who fan, I can over look this in favour of the good story. If Spearhead from Space wasn't quite a Pertwee story then this one would completely be one. UNIT is completely the centre of the show with the Doctor the centre of UNIT, Jo Grant (in her debut) does exactly what is expected of the companion at the time and does it perfectly. And the other debut in this story, The Master, gives a fresh new look to a format that had completely explored in the previous season. Alien invasions had been done, Twice. Mad scientists concluded the season and even a pre-historic civilisation resurfacing had been covered. Adding the Master to the mix was a stroke of genius. It's widely reported that the Master was made to be a Moriarty figure against the Sherlock Holmes Third Doctor, but what I find fascinating is they created a whole new look into an earth bound Sci-Fi show. We had the recurring villain and what a brilliant way to introduce this Anti-Doctor than a return visit from the aliens that introduced this Doctor in the first place. The story is well set up and so is the format of the show for the next three years. The story doesn't live up to it's predecessor but it is by no means a failure and still stands high as a great serial. As I've mentioned before the CSO is over used here but it does give the story a really plastic feel, everything is fake including the backgrounds. The idea of this is explored in the extras of the disc.
In fact all of the special features are linked to the show which gives it a really nice package feel. 'The Doctor's Moriarty' is the best of them all and would make an extremely good book if explored fully.
The overall product gets top marks, it's only very small things that I can really put a negative to. The name of the box set just supports the idea that classic who was cardboard tubes, wobbly sets and rubber suits whereas the stories involved are anything but. The designs of the covers have a hexagon on them which has nothing to do with the stories and even though the covers are not the worse on the range I cant help but think the original cover with just a strong image of an Auton worked the best.
The set is definitely worth getting for any fan of the series, new or old! but if it's just 'Spearhead from space' you are after just get the Blu-ray version.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Plastics Factories, 16 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
The picture quality is much improved on both of these. I'd no idea that Spearhead was supposed to have so much colour in it, and Terror was badly in need of a clean up.


The story behind it all shot on location is well known, and the result is something pretty damn special. There is something explicitly unreal in a jarring contrast between location filming and studio, but when there's no studio... this must be real, right?

Well... almost. One of the other nice things about Spearhead is the very low key naturalism of the performances, leading to a War Game-ish documentary feel, which sustains the story well into Episode 4 - the first person to get blown up on Ealing High street is a policeman for goodness sake, it must be real! It's only when those silly tentacles come out of the tank that it all falls apart. That bit of the denouement works so much better the way Terrence Dicks and Chris Achillios told it in the book. (The Nestene tank room does not look at all impressive).

But Hugh Burden delivers a first class slice of bloodless villainy as Chaning, with John Woodnutt lending sterling support as Hibberd. If Derek Smee is a touch histrionic as Ransome, Hamilton Dyce more than makes up for it as Scobie - especially the Auton version.

The Autons themselves... I'm not entirely sure; the showroom dummies do just what they need to do in providing the High Street Massacre, and the factory secretary and the hospital orderlies look subtly effective with their shiny faces, but the ordinary `hunting' Autons? I don't know. Maybe tastes have changed since 1970, but I don't think they look particularly scary. Again, Chris Achillios did a rather better job of them. The one that attacks the Seeley House changes its scarf between shots - and why do they have scarves? Nothing is made more frightening by the addition of a woolly scarf. (Those silver boots used to be on Invasion Cybermen, right?)

And for a story shot so well and built so beautifully (the dialogue is pitch-perfect*), the final part is just a touch tame; the High Street scene is brilliant, but the final battle (back in the same corner of the same factory used in Invasion) doesn't quite match it, and the havoc wrought by the Autons - mannequin and facsimile - goes unseen.

And it's a great story for the Brig, in spite of his chocolate soldier uniform, who carries much of the story for the first half, before the Dr properly joins the narrative - the rest being shouldered by Antony Webb, doing fine work as Dr Henderson.

Oh, and it's Jon Pertwee's first story - about which he apparently later confessed a certain embarrassment, and while his performance is highly enjoyable, there's also some fun in guessing which bits caused him the greatest chagrin.

Incidentally, if there are Autons shooting up every high street in Britain by the time UNIT attack the fctory, why are there customers in Madame Tussauds?

*The conversation between Seeley and Monroe borrows extensively from a similar encounter in The Mummy, 1959.



A different kettle of Autons; there's barely a story there at all, let alone an over-reaching concept, and there really aren't many Autons. May be a symptom of Bob Holmes not writing repeat stories for his monsters, which is a shame, because the Autons are such a good idea.

The main non-functioning element is the plastics factory - partly because it was so thoroughly covered in Spearhead - the family business angle really doesn't make it any more interesting. The death of Farrel Senior is melodramatic but very silly, and he doesn't engage much sympathy because Rex doesn't either. Oddly for Robert Holmes, the supporting characters are uniformly flat - though John Bascombe as Rossini is delivering a game performance (shame we only get two episodes of him, then).

The other problem is that no one idea ever properly takes wing, with the result that the subject of the story is never very firmly established; Circus, Radio Telescope, The Master, Autons, Daffodils, Brownrose (!), no sooner is an idea established and played with than it's discarded for something else (interestingly, Terrence Dicks wrote a very good novelette - one of his best - by means of exploring all of the aspects fully)

To re-address the whole thing (and bearing in mind the need to introduce Jo, the Master, and Mike Yates), the circus and the daffodils are the strongest ideas, and there is something in the sheer artifice of circus that suits very well with the intrinsic dissemblance of Autons and daffodils. The whole story could happen quite happily from within the circus, with the factory relegated to the background; we really only need to know where he is making the things if we are to also learn how at the same time - and that would be interesting, but it's not crucial.

But there's the central problem - duff script with, unusually for Robert Holmes, some appalling dialogue - as to the rest, the direction seems focused on the new UNIT Family, rather to the expense of the plot - we simply don't see enough villainy going on (again something Mr Dicks changed in his book) - I want to see hordes of plastic daffodils, not a few handfuls. If I can't see them being given out to anyone that wants one, why should I believe that they're a threat? I'd also like to see the Brig in a proper car - what's he doing in what looks like an Austin Allegro? He should have a jeep.

Far too much is done in CSO - the killer doll, the radio telescope, the museum (the museum scene is far, far too brief) - and the CSO doesn't look real. The killer doll simply isn't credible - I can't believe that Farrel Snr possibly believes that any designer ever sat down and designed that, still less that it really reminded any child of a teddy bear. Terry Walsh does a spectacular fall, and I do like the idea of conveying the Master's plans to UNIT by flashing them in Morse via the coach's brake lights.

It is a good introduction for the three new characters - particularly Jo - but the villains of the title get a very raw deal; not nearly enough seen of the Autons, and the Nestene looks silly again. I think I've some room to be dissatisfied, since my friend Phil and I made better Nestene and Autons six years later, when we were 14.

2/5 To my quite marked annoyance - the book is much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plastic Fantastic, 3 Aug. 2013
Mike G (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Classic Pertwee stories given the expected high-quality make-over from the Reconstruction Team. The colours on Spearhead from Space look really vivid, rejuventaing the whole piece so it simply comes alive. Add to this the superb script and brilliant performances from the lead cast, as well as guest artistes Hugh Burden and John Woodnutt, and you've a real gem to drool over for ninety-odd minutes (well, I do anyway - I don't get out much nowadays . . . ). Terror of the Autons is much the same thing with the added attraction Roger Delgado's Master (the Autons, by the way, seem to be the reliable introductory villain for Doctor Who: from his third incarnation to the first Master, and again in recent years to introduce the new series ). As ever the Master is suave and villainous, Delgado providing a subtle, likeable performance that oozes confidence and charm, a feat matched in later years by Anthony Ainley's best tales. A pity the character had to devolve into John Sim's OTT giggling maniac, yet another disastrous Russell T Davies makeover (did this man ever watch the same programme that I did??). Never mind. Wallow in old Who instead. Relive the days when the programme had plots, decent storylines, believable characters and villains with a purpose other than to be - er - well, villainous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect nostalgia, 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
These dvds were bought as a little piece of tv history. Although some of the storylines seem overly simple now, and do not impress the younger generations, they are worth buying if you were lucky enough to see them first time round. The extra information and commentaries make you aware of some of the problems in producing such a ground breaking piece of scifi at the time and add to the interest.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! By my son:, 3 Nov. 2011
S. E. Phipps "Food Fanatic" (South West England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD] (DVD)
Just a great boxset of DVDS, I was scared to death when I first saw spearhead from space! It's a fantastically written story with great acting, good Music by Dudley Simpson and terrifying Autons!

Now for Terror of the Autons: Not realizing there were any more Auton stories apart from the story Rose, My aunt surprised me with a Video of Terror of the Autons! I was hooked in the first few minutes! This story is so great, it even has a plastic chair, a doll and phone cable all coming to life! Buy this boxset at all costs!
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