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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 ›
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.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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved watching these again, as I hadn't seen them since I was very young. Truly classic Dr.Who! Jon Pertwee as the Doctor was very charismatic.Published 18 days ago by crackedactor
Spearhead from Space is a great story to introduce Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, the Autons are a terrific monster, truly terrifying, though the Nestene at the end is,... Read more
Give me - PLEASE! - anything from Doctor Who: especially Jon Pertwee - whose sighed photo adorns my Sitting room wall, form him, to my wife and I. These tales are among his best.Published 4 months ago by Archie Brown
Excellent. Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado were the best of Dr Who when I was in my teens in the 1970`sPublished 5 months ago by David I York
These are two great doctor who adventures from the early 70's. I have the spearhead blu ray so it was a case of wanting to get the terror of the autons. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michael Dobey