Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders (Longbow series)
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The novelisation is somewhat more condensed and streamlined. This is most apparent during the lengthy chase sequence that consumed the bulk of the second episode of the television version. Even though the various ‘events’ of the chase are present the whole thing feels far more concise and less disjointed from the rest of the story. Opposed to this though is that some of the later stages of the story become a little rushed; mainly during the ninth and tenth chapters where the text jumps between scenes and perspectives a little too rapidly.
Dicks makes a major alteration to the story by opening with a new introduction featuring Jo Grant and her new husband in the Amazon somewhere in Peru. As well as providing an insight into what Jo has been up to since leaving UNIT (something not really touched on until much later than this novelisation in the Sarah Jane Adventures), it establishes the importance and relevance of the Metebelis blue crystal given to Jo by the Doctor at the end of ‘The Green Death’. ‘Planet of the Spiders’ is essentially the story of this blue crystal. The plot hinges around everyone trying to obtain or hide it for their own reasons. It had already played an important role in ‘The Green Death’ and another Metebelis crystal is key to resolving the events of ‘Hide’.Read more ›
Having said that, the titular arachnids are pretty cool on audio, and characters such as the deluded Lupton and enigmatic priest Cho-Je are well drawn.
Elisabeth Sladen does a decent job of reading the story, and her impersonations and accents are competent too. Overall though, despite its kudos as a 'regeneration story', this is a fairly run-of-the-mill early Seventies adventure, that will not stay too long in the mind after listening.
As it was Jon Pertwee's final story, it featured many little touches that celebrated his era. Terrance Dicks' novelisation expands on this, adding a lovely prologue with Jo Jones (nee Grant).
Onscreen, the planet and inhabitants of Metabelis 3 were somewhat lacking, on paper and audio this isn't a problem.
A shame that Lis didn't record more, but we do have this and it's one of the best releases in the range. It's just a pity that due to the collapse of AudioGo it's now hard to find a reasonably-priced physical copy, so at present the Audible download would seem to be the best option for those who want to add it to their collection. And it's a story that's well worth a listen. Recommended.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Doctor is on Earth, following up on an area of interest to him (psychic abilities) when an unfortunate incident between public performer and crypto-psychic, Professor Clegg, and a blue crystal the Doctor brought back from Metebelis Three brings to his attention the interest of the giant spiders from Metebelis Three.
Did I say "spiders"? Excuse me, they prefer to be called Eight-legs - so excuse me please ladies.
And very creepy they are, too. There they are with psychic powers, and able to possess humans by crouching on their backs (and disappearing, so you don't know who's really possessed).
The story is also replete with Buddhist imagery, the return of the disgraced Mike Yates, a strong role for Sarah, a very real and comfortable friendship between the Doctor and the Brigadier, and a surprise person from the Doctor's past. It's a big story with a lot to say.
Terrance Dicks adapts this story with a lot of care and attention, making this a worthwhile read.
I've listened to a couple of these Doctor Who adventures now, and I have to say they're a lot of fun. There's always plenty of action and thrills, and also a fair amount of that dry British humour. If you're looking for something deep and meaningful, this isn't for you. If you just want to be entertained for a few hours, you should definitely check out Doctor Who.
The Planet of the Spiders is based on actual episodes of the BBC television series. The six part storyline originally aired on television in May and June of 1974. This audio production was written by Terrance Dicks in 2009 and is available from AudioGo, formerly known as BBC Audiobooks America. The audiobook is narrated by Elisabeth Sladen, who starred as the Doctor's companion Sarah Jane Smith in the original airing.