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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Jon Pertwee Serial...
Despite some of the negative critisisims on the "Padding" on this serial, the final one by Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, It is my all time favorite Doctor Who Serial, Classic or New. Jon brought an elagance to the role that has never been duplicated.

Yes, I am a Yank. But you British have a very nasty habbit of making vastly superior Television than we do, even at...
Published on 15 April 2011

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Cheers For the Eight-Legs
This last Pertwee story has many strengths - Lupton (John Dearth) and Tommy (John Kane)take the acting honours, while Cho-Je (Kevin Lindsey) is downright cuddly.The chase scene in Episode 2 is fun (do we really care if it doesn't advance the plot?) and Dudley Simpson's incidental music bounces along nicely. But there are some real disappointments. My heart always sank...
Published on 5 May 2011 by Antares

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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Jon Pertwee Serial..., 15 April 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Despite some of the negative critisisims on the "Padding" on this serial, the final one by Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, It is my all time favorite Doctor Who Serial, Classic or New. Jon brought an elagance to the role that has never been duplicated.

Yes, I am a Yank. But you British have a very nasty habbit of making vastly superior Television than we do, even at it's worst. I got hooked on Doctor Who way back in 1975,when Time Life Television first brought Tom Baker's Doctor to America, terribly cut, and with those absolutely horrid Howard Da Silvia narrative inserts. But several years later, some PBS stations started running uncut Jon Pertwee Doctor Who Serials, and I became hooked forever. So a tip of the hat to Jon Pertwee and of course, the forever lovely Liz Sladen for turning me into a life long Who fan.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spider on the back, 15 May 2011
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Jon Pertwee's final story as Doctor Who comes to dvd. All six twenty five minute long episodes on one disc in this two disc set, with various extras on the second.

The story sees the Doctor's actions in earlier storyDoctor Who - The Green Death [DVD] [1973] come back to haunt him, when people at a spiritual retreat practising ancient meditation rituals find it creates a way to travel to the alien world Metebilis Three. A world ruled by large sentient and telepathic spiders, who keep the human population primitive and under their control. In the Green Death the Doctor took a crystal from the planet that has healing properties. And now the spiders would like it back. They are using an embittered human called Lupton to help them get it. Plus, world domination of Earth is also on their minds.

The Doctor has to face the spiders and their queen. And may not walk away entirely unscathed.

This contains pretty much everything the Pertwee era had to offer. A six part story. UNIT. The Brigadier. Sarah Jane Smith [Jo Grant is mentioned but doesn't return]. Sergeant Benton. Mike Yates. An alien threat to Earth. Vehicles. And high speed chases.

And like a lot of six parters from the time it is also a bit too long. Contains a fair amount of padding. Plus it rather uses the Brigadier for comic effect. Mike Yates starts his final story well but then gets less and less to do. There are obviously supermiposed backgrounds and some special effects that don't quite come off. A lot of part two is an over extended chase sequence involving lots of vehicles that gets rather silly and doesn't really serve much dramatic purpose. Plus one cliffhanger is resolved in the best Flash Gordon way. Judicious re-editing.

Yet somehow, at the same time, it does manage to be a celebration of the era. Doing it in a way that will remind you of what was great about it. Thus whilst it's not a perfect story, it is a fitting finale for the Third Doctor. Not least in the final scenes. It's a pretty unspectacular regeneration scene compared to some. But that makes it all the more emotional. As many who watched at the time will tell you.

Even though the spiders are done with rubber models and patently fake, those with arachnophobia may find this story a bit disturbing.

The dvds have the following language and subtitle options:

Languages; English.

Subtitles: English.

English audio captioned.

There are the usual:

Production information subtitles.

Radio times billings [accessible as a PDF file via a computer]

A trailer for the next release in this range of dvds.

Photo gallery of images from the story and it's production.

Other extras:

Omnibus edition: A repeat of the story from late 1974, this edits it all together into one long movie. Thus it does cut out some of the padding but you lose over half an hour of footage as a result. And the picture quality hasn't been restored. So which version you prefer is a matter of choice.

There's a trailer broadcast at the time for the omnibus version.

The final curtain: A thirty seven minute long making of documentary. Which covers the end of the era in as equal depth as the production of the story.

John Kane remembers: A twelve minute long chat with one of the cast from the story.
Directing who: Barry Letts. An interview of roughly equal length with the produer/director.

Both of these are very good by virtue of the two being excellent interviewees with fascinating stories to tell.

Now and then: This runs for seven minutes and shows some of the locations from the story as they were in 1974 and as they are now. This has added interest because it shows how the chase scene at the end of part two was put together, and the suprising number of locations it used.

There's also a commentary from: Nicholas Courtney [the Brigadier]. Elisabeth Sladen [Sarah Jane Smith]. Richard Franklin. [Mike Yates]. Barry Letts [Producer and director]. Terrance Dicks [Script editor].

Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and Barry Letts have all passed away since the commentary was recorded. They, like the Pertwee era, are gone, but thanks to dvds like this, the memories of it will live on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spider, Spider, Burning Bright..., 18 Aug. 2014
Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
A Buddhist parable, an action adventure, a personal redemption, a final project for the old team, a nostalgic farewell - and the story where *my* Doctor suddenly vanished. `Planet of the Spiders' has many legs to stand on and sometimes wobbles slightly, but there wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end ... 5*

Somewhere in `darkest Mummerset' (as Sarah Jane Smith sarcastically puts it) two exiled Tibetan monks have established a peaceful retreat where people can seek inner truth through meditation. Ideal, you might think, for (ex-) Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), formerly of UNIT, seeking peace and personal redemption for his earlier actions. He would find the second, but not the first, as the centre is also hosting failed businessman Lupton (John Dearth), on a quest for mental power. Neither of them expected to meet the giant spiders of Metebelis III, but when they scuttle into view, Mike knows exactly who to call.

The Doctor and the Brigadier (a small but important role in this story for Nicholas Courtney, excellent as always) are enjoying/enduring a slightly seedy variety show as part of the Doctor's research into the paranormal. They have just invited a stage illusionist back to HQ to demonstrate his real powers, when the infamous blue crystal of Metebelis III turns up in the post, sent back by Jo Grant from somewhere up the Amazon (the river, obviously!). Her letter reads "the indian porters say it's bad magic" - highly perceptive people, these crystals enhance mental powers and in the wrong hands are very bad magic indeed.

Power-hungry Lupton and the spiders of Metebelis are most definitely the wrong hands (and legs) and a six-part struggle ensues for possession of the last `perfect blue crystal' which the Doctor acquired on a previous visit. This story is unique in the classic series for having one person, Barry Letts, as Director, Producer and co-author. According to the commentary, he crafted this final show of his and Jon Pertwee's era as a Buddhist parable depicting how, through personal enlightenment, the old self can be replaced by the new. For the Doctor, this is quite literally, physically true and it is true in a sense for a second character also.

Episode 2 is an extended chase sequence that doesn't include a submarine, but has just about every other known form of fast mechanised transport. This is an obvious retirement present for real-life fan of speed Jon Pertwee; it adds little to the storyline but after five excellent years as the Doctor he deserved some extra fun in his final show and the location filming is very good.

After the prologue and the chase, we get down to the adventure proper, as first Sarah and then the Doctor become enmeshed in the web of intrigue linking Earth and Metebelis III, spun by Lupton and `his' spider (Ysanne Churchman). Shifting between the convincingly shabby monastery, home to Lupton's equally shabby gang of conspirators and the bright sets of Metebelis III, the story is partly a quest for the now-missing blue crystal and partly a struggle for freedom by the `Two-Legs' of Metebelis III against the hated `Eight-Legs' who rule them by paranormal powers, enhanced by the blue crystals.

Metebelis III is a series of large studio sets with `blue-screen' sky backgrounds and works well most of the time, but with an occasional technical hitch. The spiders are superbly voiced with icy, venomous tones and the quivering spider models might well give you the shivers too. Jon Pertwee gets to show off the Doctor's famous Venusian aikido for one last time as he neutralises the spiders' evil powers and helps the `Two-Legs' in their revolution. Elizabeth Sladen (superb here as usual) detested spiders so the scene where Sarah is `joined' to the spider Queen (Kismet Delgado) must have been truly horrible to act and gives a definite chill to watch. And I'm not normally afraid of spiders!

Back on Earth, Mike Yates is doing his best to stop Lupton's down-at-heel group of followers. They are well out of their depth, possessed by the spiders and searching for the blue crystal. All the spiders' mental powers are in vain, because the crystal is now hidden by the mind of Tommy, the innocent monastery handyman (a fine performance by John Kane). On the DVD commentary and production subtitles, the writers later wondered about whether they should have included this character with learning difficulties. In fact, Tommy is a gentle hero; brave, kind and protective of his friends. He is also a magpie, drawn to `pretties', whether a brooch given to him by Sarah or a strange blue crystal left temptingly by an open window...

When the crystal `clears his mind', a new Tommy emerges, equally good and innocent but with a fresh understanding of the world. The scene where he discovers he can read at last and then stumbles upon the poetry of William Blake is very moving. "Tyger, tyger, burning bright ..." Blake's mysterious, seemingly simple but very complex poem, considering (among other themes) the creation of contrasting natures, was an inspired choice for the `newborn' Tommy to read and very clever scriptwriting.

The Doctor and Sarah escape back to Earth for a showdown with Lupton's gang and the spider Queen, during which the true nature of the peaceful monk Cho-Je (Kevin Lindsay, who also played the not-at-all-peaceful Sontarans!) and abbot K'anpo Rinpoche (George Cormack) are revealed and we gain a fascinating glimpse into the Doctor's youth on Gallifrey. But the final battle is yet to come; the Doctor must return to Metebelis III and redeem his `greed' by returning the blue crystal he `stole', to the terrifying Great One ("All praise to The Great One!"), the largest spider imaginable. The script feels slightly forced at this point. In no way did the Doctor `steal' the crystal; when he collected it from Metebelis III in `The Green Death' it was a much earlier time, there were then no sentient beings on the planet. Humans and normal spiders all arrived later in a crashed spaceship from Earth, before the spiders mutated into intelligent giants. The Doctor could not be said to have `stolen' the crystal from an uninhabited world.

However, it's a splendid encounter with the deranged Great One ("All praise to The Great One!"), excellent model filming and a wonderful voice performance by Maureen Morris to create a worthy final enemy for the Third Doctor. The closing scenes with Sarah and the Brigadier in the Doctor's deserted lab at UNIT are full of quiet melancholy, before the Doctor, grey-faced and dying, somehow staggers back though the Time vortex. "The TARDIS brought me home", he says. No other incarnation would have called Earth `home' like that; the Jon Pertwee / UNIT years were very special, a superb star and the fine company of actors around him.

The final regeneration is shockingly swift, no wild CGI or drawn out goodbyes and perhaps all the more impressive for it. When I watched this in 1974 the wrench was remarkably real and sudden - this was *my* Doctor, followed loyally one Saturday teatime after another for years, and now he was gone. To my delighted surprise, the Fourth Doctor did equal the Third, so the Brigadier's closing line was right: "Here we go again!"

`Planet of the Spiders' isn't a perfect story but it is a very good one with enjoyable DVD extras, and has a special place in my memories of `Doctor Who', so I award it five blue crystals from Metebelis III. The spiders will never miss them...

NOTE: If you haven't seen this story before, navigate off the main DVD menu quickly to keep the impact of the climactic scenes, because the menu background clips preview them.

DVD Special Features:
The commentary is very enjoyable, full of anecdotes and memories not just of this story but the Jon Pertwee era generally from the A-List of contributors: Elizabeth Sladen, Richard Franklin, Nicholas Courtney, Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks.
`The Final Curtain' - looking back at the making of this story and the Jon Pertwee era, also considers the alternative story with the Master that might have been, but for the tragic death of Roger Delgado. An excellent feature which includes archive interview footage with `the Doctor' himself.
`John Kane Remembers ...' - the actor and writer who played Tommy early in his career shares his memories in a very good extra interview.
`Directing Who with Barry Letts' - looking at the directing work of the Third Doctor's legendary producer.
`Now and Then' - revisiting the locations including those from the chase sequence.
The `Omnibus Edition' of the story, unrestored.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Third Doctors Swan Song Lacks Punch, 30 July 2014
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Doctor Who: Planet Of The Spiders.
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion: Sarah Jane Smith
Featuring: The Brigader, Benton, Yates
Main enemy: The Great One, Eight Legs
Main setting: England, the 1970s, Metebelis III
Writer: Robert Sloman, Barry Letts (uncredited)
Director: Barry Letts
Producer: Barry Letts
Story number: 74
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 11
Premiere broadcast: 4 May - 8 June 1974
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes.

DVD Info.
Region 2.
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1.
Number of discs: 2.
Classification: PG.

Special Features
Audio commentary featuring: Nicholas Courtney [the Brigadier], Elisabeth Sladen [Sarah Jane Smith], Richard Franklin. [Mike Yates], Barry Letts [Producer and director]. Terrance Dicks [Script editor]
The final curtain: 40 minute documentary
John Krane remembers Planet of the Spiders
Directing Who with Barry Letts
Now and Then: the locations of Planet of the Spiders
Photo gallery
Extract from Wogan relating to Doctor Who

Part 1 - 10.1 million viewers
Part 2 - 8.9 million viewers
Part 3 - 8.8 million viewers
Part 4 - 8.2 million viewers
Part 5 - 9.2 million viewers
Part 6 - 8.9 million viewers

The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
Mike Yates - Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton - John Levene
Professor Clegg - Cyril Shaps
Lupton - John Dearth
Barnes - Christopher Burgess
Moss - Terence Lodge
Land - Carl Forgione
Keaver - Andrew Staines
Cho Je - Kevin Lindsay
Tommy - John Kane
Policeman - Chubby Oates
Soldier - Pat Gorman
Man with Boat - Terry Walsh
Hopkins - Michael Pinder
Tramp - Stuart Fell
Spider Voices - Ysanne Churchman, Kismet Delgado, Maureen Morris
Arak - Gareth Hunt
Sabor - Geoffrey Morris
Neska - Jenny Laird
Rega - Joanna Monro
Tuar - Ralph Arliss
Guard Captains - Walter Randall, Max Faulkner
K'anpo - George Cormack
The Doctor - Tom Baker (Uncredited)

1)The Doctor is familiar with Tibetan language & customs.
2)The Doctor receives a package from Jo Grant containing his Metebelis crystal, which he picked up during his previous visit to Metebelis III (Tv: The Green Death).
3)The Doctor mentions being taught in the ways of escapology by Harry Houdini.
4)Mike Yates refers to the last time he encountered Sarah as "that business with the dinosaurs".
5)The Brigadier's watch was given to him eleven years ago in Brighton by Doris.
6)The Brigadier phones Sullivan, the UNIT Medical Officer.
7)The Doctor is studying ESP. According to the Doctor, mental powers are "dormant" in most humans, but they do exist; telekinesis is indeed rare in Homo sapiens.
8)The Doctor hints that the Tardis is alive.
9)The Doctor uses electroencephalography on Herbert Clegg.
10)This is the first time the term "regeneration" is mentioned on screen.
11)This is the first time we see someone other than the Doctor regenerate (K'anpo Rimpoche).
12)This story features a large chase scene including Bessie, the Whomobile, a police car, a gyrocopter, a hovercraft & a boat.
13)Tom Baker is uncredited in the conclusion of Planet of the Spiders, when Jon Pertwee transforms into Tom Baker. 14)Since no regeneration was shown at the end of The War Games, this marked the first time since William Hartnell changed into Patrick Troughton in 1966's The Tenth Planet that an on-screen hand-over of the role had occurred.
15)Parts of this story were recorded at the same time as parts of Robot, This not only meant that Jon Pertwee & Tom Baker were literally playing the Doctor at the same time, but also that Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney & John Levene were having to rush back & forth between the two productions.
16)The late wife of former Master, Roger Delgado, Kismet Delgado voices one of the eight legs voices in this story.
17)The late Kevin Lindsey (Cho Je) played Linx in the Doctor Who serial The Time Warrior & Styre/The Marshal in The Sontaran Experiment.

Plot Synopsis.
At a Tibetan retreat in the English countryside, a group of men are using ancient meditation rituals to tap into a mysterious alien power, They unwittingly create a bridgehead between Earth & Metebelis 3, a planet where the `Two Legs' are oppressed by giant spiders called the 'eight legs', The creatures are desperate to recover the blue jewel that the Doctor gave to Jo Grant as a wedding gift which has been recently returned to the Doctor as it's a vital the element in their plan for universal domination.

With help from an old mentor, the Third Doctor realises the only way to foil the plot is to make the ultimate sacrifice, as the Doctor must risk certain death to return to the cave of the Great One & save the universe from the eight legs on Metebelis III.

Timelord Thoughts.
Planet Of The,Spiders is the late Jon Pertwee's swan song as the Third Doctor & also the 6 part finale to season 11 is a mixed bag as it features many good things about the Third Doctors era but also feels considerably padded out to accommodate 6 episodes.

The story starts with the Third Doctor receiving a letter from his former companion Jo Grant who is returning the blue crystal from Metebalis Three which was a wedding gift from the Doctor for her & Professor Clifford Jones because the natives on her Amazon expedition think it contains dangerous mystical elements that alerts the eight legs of Metebalis III who want the crystal returned for their own sinister ends.

Theres a overlong chase that feature in this adventure giving actor Jon Pertwee a chance to drive or fly any type of craft he hasn't yet used in his five year tenure & while the majority of the chase is well filmed (apart from the awful CSO flying cars scenes) the conclusion is completely pointless as Lupton escapes by teleporting himself back to the monastery.

The story lacks the chill factor of previous Third Doctor stories, the spiders aren't scary & look awful in most scenes they feature in which may have benefited in keeping there appearance mostly in the shadows although actress Ysanne Churchman does voice the Great One with sinister relish, yet the lack of people being killed on screen in this adventure makes this final Third Doctor story feel rather tame & lightweight.

Jon Pertwee's performance seems a little subdued throughout this adventure, maybe Jon was feeling sad that he's leaving a show he'd loved doing for 5 year or it could be the rumours of his continued Back problems which affected him throughout later seasons & was acting through the pain.

Nevertheless Pertwee still delivers his anti establishment attitude that is the personality of the Third Doctor & films the majority of the action sequences himself & his final scene were he tells Sarah he's had to face his fears & for her not to cry is touching, heartbreaking & quite moving, it's just a shame the regeneration is a quick mix & dissolve from the Third Doctor into the Fourth, as the Third Doctor deserved a better transformation than what was filmed here.

It's not all bad, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane & Nicholas Courtney as Brigader Lethbridge Stewart both add weight,believability & gravitas to there roles & both share a great chemistry with the Third Doctor, while Richard Franklyn returns as Mike Yates (Now dismissed from the army) is given an important role in the story alerting Sarah Jane to the events featuring the eight legs & redeems his character here from his previous betrayal of UNIT in the earlier season 11 adventure 'Invasion Of The Dinosaurs'.

Overall then Planet Of The Spiders has a tired rather jaded feel concluding the Jon Pertwee era on a average note intead of a blaze of glory, while the plot is easy to follow it's overlong & padded throughout, yet contains some great performances by the cast & some excellent final words from the Third Doctor that makes Planet Of The Spiders a slightly above average adventure.

Timelord Rating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now, he’s gone. But not forgotten with thanks to BBC DVD., 1 April 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
My Doctor’s dying.

It’s 1974, and my Doctor, the Third one, collapsed exhausted on to the laboratory floor and, with a little nudge from Cho-je, changed.

Heartbreaking for a nine year old, as it would be for a 2010 nine year old as their Tenth Doctor did the same.

Would I have the same feelings of desolation as I closed the DVD tray, watching the same inevitability (losing the Doctor again but 37 years later) sliding silently into the machine?

The Barry Letts’ co-written (Robert Sloman) and directed, DOCTOR WHO - PLANET OF THE SPIDERS is a four-parter in the sheep’s clothes of a six-parter, and there is far too much padding to be comfortable including a gadget-led chase sequence that was neither exciting or driven by the plot. However, for fortysomethings, the story has remained an iconic cornerstone in the series’ long history; a conclusion to Pertwee’s avuncular Doctor, and the disbandment of the “Letts’ Family” (this is extensively analysed in the DVD’s featurette, THE FINAL CURTAIN) that had become so engrained over the previous four years.

Released on 18 April 2011, this newly restored (and, yes, the quality of this new “print” is stunningly clear, saturated with colour and devoid of dirt & dust specks) release will entertain and enthral younger fans of the NEW SERIES whilst it will reinforce within older fans why they embraced the series in the first place and continued to do so as the series ebbed & waned through its turbulent years of the 1980s.

Firstly, I would recommend watching the DVD’s “value added material” (VAM) – as the retail market terms “Extras” – before re-watching the episodes (with the “Information Text” shown and/or with the Commentary) as it establishes and discusses the disjointed background for the production.

Asserting that DOCTOR WHO had been re-invented by three men (Barry Letts, Terrence Dicks and Jon Pertwee) and saved from “the axe”, THE FINAL CURTAIN chronicles the genesis of PLANET OF THE SPIDERS by critically assessing the previous four years, highlighting 1973 as a defining period for irreversible change. Whilst Terrance Dicks admits that, “I didn’t have a particular desire to leave DOCTOR WHO at that time”, the event that accelerated a wholesale change was the unexpected death of 1/6 th of the team, Roger Delgado (Richard Franklin recalls, “A terrible shock to everybody”). The highlight to this featurette are contributions from a Jon Pertwee interview recorded in the 1990s, wherein he admits that by 1974, “it seemed like an end of a era”, and he discusses that he would have remained with the series for another season (of stories) if his request (made to Head of BBC Drama, Shaun Sutton) for an salary increase had been granted. Later, DOCTOR WHO Producer, Barry Letts contradicts this by stating that he was in charge of the finances and would have found additional funding for the lead’s salary if he had wanted to continue as the Third Doctor. Pertwee recalls that an arachnophobic Elizabeth Sladen had to be “trained” everyday with increasingly bigger spiders, and that, following the final recording sessions on PLANET OF THE SPIDERS, he “cried a great deal. I had a good five years”.

The featurette not only draws together the experience of the cast & crew (set designer, Rochelle Selwyn’s insight is professionally informative though brief, as is Matt Irvine’s forever cheeky contribution) but also sought a valuable contribution from NEW SERIES write/actor, Mark Gatiss. Plainly a fan of the “Pertwee Era”, Gatiss, in an unambiguous tribute to the actor, affirms that such was his performance that he “was genuinely scared of the Great One”. Like Tennant after him, Pertwee understood that the role could not be “sent-up” and taken seriously for it to work and accepted by viewers.

Occasionally, just occasionally, there is a shiny example of “value added material” simplicity that makes viewing a pure delight and a deservedly re-watching. JOHN KANE REMEMBERS… may be a “talking head” format but the openness and honesty of the actor – who played Tommy in the production – is both thoroughly entertaining and informative. In an humorous account of travelling by taxi whilst in character as the “mentally handicapped” Tommy and that the cast seemed to be a proactive “inclusive family” where all newcomers were welcomed, Kane provides a breath of fresh air to the (sometimes) ”naval-gazing” DVD releases.

Barry Letts’ contribution to DOCTOR WHO is quite rightly recognised as one that saved the series from decommissioning in 1969, and in being the true foundation upon which was built a lasting legacy that even affects the NEW SERIES. DIRECTING WHO WITH BARRY LETTS is inspiring, intelligent and entertaining, and it is a pleasure to be tutored by Letts as he discusses the art of directing the almost impossible even though at times, he admits, he “cherry-picked” any Robert Holmes penned stories that he commissioned.

As ever, NOW AND THEN is an amusing diversion that will never win a BAFTA but for fans who have the inclination to see the field or beach that Jon Pertwee skimmed over in a borrowed hovercraft then this featurette is for you.

An interesting inclusion on this two-disc set is the 105-minute OMNIBUS EDITION of the story broadcast on 27 December 1974 in its unrestored format. It’s an add addition and as it has been “restored” I question its validity as a “value added” inclusion. A filler, perhaps, and only that.

Where was the “profile” of Jon Pertwee or a “retrospective” featurette?

The commentary is strange to listen to, at the time of writing this review, one of its contributors, Nicholas Courtney died recently and Barry Letts died in 2009. Time and life are intrinsically linked and we should never squander neither. Along with Elisabeth Sladen, Richard Franklin and Terrance Dicks, the commentary is truly “vintage” stuff and demonstrates their appreciation of both Jon Pertwee for being the glue that held DOCTOR WHO together and the series that has given them so much since.

Commentary highlights: PLANET OF THE SPIDERS (recorded in 2007).

On his character Mike Yates, Richard Franklin: I think my hair was longer than my trousers.

And continuing the hirsute theme, Nicholas Courtney: Look at that hair. Very long.
Barking like a Sergeant Major, Terrance Dicks: Get that hair cut!

On writing with Robert Sloman, Barry Letts: We were very happy writing together.
Barry Letts: The first episode’s really good.
Terrance Dicks: The second episode is spectacular.

On John Kane’s performance as Tommy, Barry Letts: Lovely performance by John Kane.
Nicholas Courtney: Slightly simple Tommy.

On the back-story of the Brigadier’s Doris giving him a timepiece, Terrance Dicks: Why give him a watch! Was it a performance award?

On the mention of Jo Grant, Elisabeth Sladen: I nice little touch to tie-in with Jo (Grant), as it was Jon’s last story.

Note: on the first day of studio recording the regeneration sequence was recorded, with Tom Baker leaving location filming (for ROBOT) to attend the evening session.

Barry Letts: I’m fond of spiders. They eat flies.

On Sergeant Benton’s line about being “expendable”, Nicholas Courtney: Noble.
Terrance Dicks: Not very bright but noble.

On Dudley Simpson’s incidental score, Elisabeth Sladen: The music is very doom-laden. Atmospheric.

On the inclusion of actor, Pat Gorman, Terrance Dicks: It was a rule to have Pat Gorman in DOCTOR WHO, and have him killed.

Elisabeth Sladen recalls an time when the make-up lady dashed on to the set following an accident involving John Dearth. The make-up lady did not attend to the wound but attempted to match her “fake blood” colour with “real blood”.

On some of the dated costumes for Lupton’s cohorts, Terrance Dicks: They have an appalling dress sense. These conspiratalists – an ugly lot!

With the potential of hearing a pin drop in the commentary booth, Barry Letts discusses the mating habits of spiders. If you are of a nervous disposition then avoid the commentary for episode three.

With the launch of SERIES 6 in April 2011, it is interesting – in a trivia way - to note that the landscape of Monument Canyon (Utah, USA) was used as a backdrop to create the alien planet of Metebelis III as it will in THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT and DAY OF THE MOON.

On the power of the Spiders, Terrance Dicks: A lot of people get “zapped” in this show.

On Tommy’s “accelerated” learning capabilities due to the power of the Metebelis III blue crystal, Richard Franklin: I think the British Education system could do with some Metebelis sapphire.

On the facial moustache of Arak (Gareth Hunt), Barry Letts: I thought he looks like Borat.

On the low level, close-up shots of Jon Pertwee’s face, Barry Letts: Jon hated this shot. A nostril shot.
Terrance Dicks: A twin tunnel shot.

On the cocoons of Sarah Jane Smith and the Doctor, Terrance Dicks: It looks like a scene in Youth Hostel. Tucked-up in sleeping bags.

On Mat Irvine’s animated spider known as “Boris”, Terrance Dicks: He had a career.
Barry Letts: Even went to the Science Museum.

On episode five’s ending showing Tommy under attack by energy pulses, Elisabeth Sladen: I love a cliff-hanger.
Barry Letts: I hope that he’s not killed, as he’ll be useful in episode six.

On the Third Doctor’s characterisation, Nicholas Courtney: A great gentleman. It comes from Jon’s personality.

On Lupton’s monastery colleagues linking hands to “concentrate”, Nicholas Courtney: Hello, they’re going to play patter-cake.

On the regeneration studio recording and how the two lead actors reacted to each other, Elisabeth Sladen: They didn’t speak to each other. I don’t think Tom wanted to be the centre of attention so he kept back. A bizarre, quiet moment.

On the Brigadier’s facial hair, Nicholas Courtney: My moustache varied greatly during the series.
Barry Letts: And Nicholas Courtney wrote that line; “Here we go again”.

On the regeneration transformation, Terrance Dicks: The mighty Pertwee nose changed into the mighty Baker nose.

With a such wonderfully entertaining and erudite commentary, DOCTOR WHO – PLANET OF THE SPIDERS does feel like a “collective bow” from a team, not, a family, from the 1970s that is inexorably fading away as the next generation takes over to create more memories to be held in trust for the future.

I hadn’t watch this six-parter since the release of the VHS format and, yes, whilst episode two’s “action packed chase” is an oddity that fails to drive the plot forwards, the entire production stands the test of time and, once again, is an intelligent, thought-provoking, honestly acted that were prevalent over the previous four years.

Of course, as a nine year old at the time, DOCTOR WHO – PLANET OF THE SPIDERS witnessed the end of my Doctor. A character that I had seen strapped to a Dalek interrogation table, forced to confront his fear of being engulfed with fire, frozen to his core, and strangled by a telephone cord.

Now, he’s gone. But not forgotten with thanks to BBC DVD.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tribute DVD to the sad loss of Lis Sladen, 20 April 2011
Bryan (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Planet of the Spiders was released 18 April 2011, the day before the sad loss of Lis Sladen who finally lost her battle with cancer at the age of 63.
Planet of the Spiders is a fine tribute to pay for this great actress as it was also the departure of Jon Pertwee in the role of Doctor Who. Now both gone, they are greatly missed and will remain the respected icons of Classic Doctor Who.
The story itself remains a classic, with the Spiders of Metebelis Three being sent to the Earth to track down the Blue Crystal stolen from the cave of The Great One, the giant spider who sits in her web, a web so powerful that it resonates throughout the Universe. There are some memorable lines from this story: "Is that fear I see in your eyes, Doctor? You're not accustomed to feeling frightened are you? But you have every reason to fear me-e-e-e!" The words shrill from the screen and still send a shiver down my spine.
The story is strong as it uncovers the betrayal of UNIT's Mike Yates and introduces us to the mysterious Time Lord K'Anpo who, after the Doctor's body is devastated by the crystals and he needs to regenerate, replies to Sarah Jane's question of when it should take place: "There's no time like the present!"
I strongly recommend this DVD, with its extras, for pure Doctor Who nostalgia and a tribute to Lis Sladen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Planet of the Chromakey, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
It has all the ingredients of a first class story; Buddhists, giant spiders, a dodgy psychic, an embittered villain, four inept henchmen, an endearing fellow with learning difficulties, the Brigadier, Mike Yates, and a magic blue crystal, but unlike the Web of the Great One, this is imprecisely woven.

It's highly unusual for a Dr Who, where the structuring of the story is generally solid (even if the story itself is holed); this is a good story told in wildly irregular chunks.

It starts to wobble in Episode 3, where the cliff-hanger should really be Sarah arriving on strange planet, but the story then keeps going until the Dr gets shot; Episode 4 should end with Sarah's interview with the queen and, while Episode 5 ends in the right place, it gets there by rushing, with the result that the reprise at the start of Episode 6 includes whole new scenes, previously omitted.

It's as if Roger Sloman, rather than writing six episodes, wrote a story and then chopped it, fairly arbitrarily, into half a dozen pieces. It's a great story, but imperfectly told.

It could be suggested (but I think, churlishly) that the car chase of Episode 2 might be to blame for this, certainly the plot pretty much grinds to a halt for 17 minutes, but I don't see that should necessarily throw the remaining four episodes out of kilter, in any case, the car chase is fun.

The acting is generally very fine, with Cyril Shaps and John Dearth shining above others, and John Kane marvelous as Tommy (his 'accelerated learning' scene is a real show-stopper - a joy to watch). The spider voices are superb too.

A word for Lupton's four sidekicks, they really are the most hapless, unqualified agents of evil - and all played by actors that have featured elsewhere in Who.

The climax, with K'anpo turning out to be the Dr's guru - First mentioned in the Time Monster - and sending him to face his fear, is wonderful, not without a shade of 'if this cup may not pass me by without my drinking it', though I'm sure its Buddhist credentials are rock solid, and Jon Pertwee's death scene (for such it undoubtedly is) is very moving.

The other problem with this, and it is a sad let down, is the spiders themselves; while the models are very good, they just don't work well, and even if Mat Irvine had built a very fine walking spider model (named 'Boris') we never seem to see it move without it being CSOd, which leaves a bright white 'I'm not really there' line around everything it touches - not just the spiders, but the flying Whomobile and quite a lot of Metebelis III. It's a pity, because otherwise the story has lots going for it.

Particularly Kevin Lindsay, I have to add; he's lovely as Cho-Je - really great fun to watch - and George Cormack as K'Anpo is delightful too. In fact, if it weren't for the shortcomings mentioned above, this would be five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Third Doctor's swansong..., 8 May 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Not the best Third Doctor serial by any means but a solid entry in the Doctor Who canon and a fitting reminder of the iconic roles created and sustained by three of the show's most missed actors.
Outgoing producer Barry Letts (although he did hang around as Executive Producer to help bridge the Third and Fourth Doctors' exit and entry) co-wrote it with Robert Sloman, and Letts' interest in Buddhism clearly had a strong influence on his writing; meditation, levitation and Tibetan Monks are all thrown into the mix, whilst The Doctor's regeneration has more than a whiff of re-incarnation about it here.
The story was a replacement for a Terrance Dicks script that would have written-off Roger Delgado's Master, had the actor not been tragically killed in a car crash in Turkey during the script's gestation. This is possibly why it's a fairly forgettable tale, memorable chiefly for Pertwee becoming Baker and the giant spider clinging to Sarah-Jane's back - used on the cover of the superior Target novelisation.
What makes me give this release four stars then is strong performances from the leads, the aforementioned memorable moments, and a decent crop of DVD extras. The latter includes a warm and poignant commentary featuring Letts, Dicks, Elisabeth Sladen, Nick Courtney and Richard Franklin, plus an insightful and balanced making-of featurette 'The Final Curtain' and a homage to the work of the long-serving producer himself.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of Pertwee's time line, 11 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Well as most fans know this is Jon Pertwees last ever story as the Doctor, its a good story, yes some of it was padded out (as most stories with more than 4 episodes used to be)but on the whole its a good story, some of the ideas have been reused recently (spiders invisible on backs - turn left time beetle), and of course with Jon's love of transport the rather pointless and lengthy car chase in part two, but on the whole a very good story which in my opinion is always worth a re-visit.

the extras are good with a whole disc being given to them they are as follows

Disc 1:

* 6 x 25 mins approx colour episodes with mono audio.
* Commentary - stereo. With actors Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and Richard Franklin, producer / director Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks.
* Coming Soon - a trailer for a forthcoming DVD release.
* Programme subtitles.
* Subtitle Production Notes.

Disc 2:

* The Final Curtain - five years after its re-invention in colour and its rise to massive popularity, it was time for Doctor Who's charismatic lead actor Jon Pertwee to move on... and with him the production team that had guided the show throughout that period. This documentary looks at the background to the Third Doctor's swansong. With actors Jon Pertwee and Richard Franklin, producer / director Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, designer Rochelle Selwyn, visual effects assistant Mat Irvine and actor and author Mark Gatiss. Narrated by Glen Allen.
* John Kane Remembers... - actor John Kane memorably played the gentle, slow-witted Tommy, reborn through the power of the Metebelis crystal. An accomplished writer and series creator, Kane now lives in France, from where he looks back on his memories of the story.
* Directing Who with Barry Letts - Barry Letts is perhaps most famous as producer of Doctor Who, but he was also responsible for directing some of the show's best-loved stories. Barry looks back on his career as a director in this documentary.
* Now & Then - the latest instalment in our ongoing series takes a trip back to some of the locations used during production of the story.
* `Planet of the Spiders' Omnibus Edition - the full-length omnibus edit of the story, presented here totally unrestored.
* Omnibus Trailer
* Photo Gallery - production, design and publicity photos from the story.
* Radio Times Listings in Adobe pdf format.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as it gets, 12 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
As a rule regeneration stories tend to be allot better than the general episodes, though with some exception. This story is about as good as it get's with the classics.

The story is great and the plot refreshingly different yet the same (dictator vs subjects) and it is nice that this relies on previous cannon SPOILER: It plays on the fact the doctor had stolen a crystal as a wedding gift for Jo END OF SPOILERS. It is six parts and around part for it starts to fall victim to the capture-escape-recapture problem but this isn't too noticeable. The model work
is great, the spiders look very creepy and real. Sadly the use of CSO (blue screen) is pretty poor at some points and starts to show that the money is running out. It does seem that there wouldn't have been a problem if the doctor had never turned up as SPOILERS: the crystal inteligence magnification kills the great one anyway.

The regeneration effect is most probably the most underplayed one yet, with just a silent fading effect. Pertwee gives his all and it is a great final story, as does Liz.

If you were going to start watching the classics this is a great entry point if you want to get into tom bakers doctor.
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