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Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania- Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons [DVD]
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The Third Doctor must face terrifying plastic Autons and the evil Master in these two classic 1970’s adventures.
Terror of the Autons: The Master arrives on Earth in his TARDIS, camouflaging it as a horse box in a Circus. He immediately contacts the Nestenes and assists them in mounting a second invasion of Earth. The Doctor and his new assistant, Jo Grant, have to tackle the Autons, the Master and a large number of deadly daffodils.
Spearhead from Space: Newly regenerated, the Doctor returns in the first colour tv adventure. Exiled by the Time Lords to Earth, he finds himself working with UNIT to investigate an apparent meteor shower connected to strange events at a local plastics factory. The factory is manufacturing mannequins with a sinister purpose..
When Doctor Who was revived for its modern day adventures back in 2005, its interesting choice of first monsters to bring back was the Autons. These mannequin-like beasts have since returned again, yet their pedigree goes right back to the 1970s, when they first did battle with Jon Pertwee’s incarnation of the Doctor. And it’s those encounters that the Mannequin Mania box set brings together.
You get two stories for your money, here. Terror Of The Autons also throws The Master into the mix, and it’s a cracking yarn, with plenty of imagination and some significant attempts to scare. But Spearhead From Space is better. Pertwee’s first story, it’s an alien invasion story of real skill, and the Autons from the off make compelling monsters. Pertwee was, inevitably, still finding his feet in the role here, and the effects don’t date well, but it’s a smashing adventure nonetheless. Do note that it’s already been released as a standalone disc, though.
What you also get, of course, is a smashing collection of extras, as is usually the case with the BBC’s classic Doctor Who releases. The love and care put into the added features is an example to many, and it’s an exhaustive package you get for your money. As such, Mannequin Mania is, rightly, really quite hard to resist. --Jon Foster
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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 as 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!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
These BBC productions never fail to please. Bought to replace the VHS versions, the Dr Who chronology is a glimpse into the growth and development of the BBC broadcast.Published 3 months ago by cool as cats in shades
The first story introduces Jon Pertwee's Doctor and is worth the purchase alone. The second story introduces the Doctor's best villain. Read morePublished 4 months ago by movieviewer
The series with the Autons is quite creepy even now, the plastic faced shop window mannequins look very sinister as they come to life and go on the rampage. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mr. M. Sanders