Doctor Who: Planet Of The Spiders (Story No. 74/BBC DVD)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: A Episodes: A
Every act eventually reaches its final curtain, and John Pertwee's run as the
third Doctor ended with story no. 74, "Planet of the Spiders."
The death of Roger Delgado (The Master) in a tragic car accident some months
prior to Mr. Pertwee's decision to leave the show certainly played a role.
The departures of longtime director Barry Letts also contributed to the
atmosphere of change swirling around the show.
Heavily laced with Buddhist philosophy, "Spiders" also sends Mr. Pertwee
out with a bang, including a zany but entertaining extended chase scene
involving no less than three different types of vehicles covering air, sea, and
land. John Dearth provides the Doctor's quarry in the chase, playing the
role of the power hungry Lupton. Along for the Doctor's last ride is
companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), and her sorrow at the passing of
the torch during the last episode is very real.
While many of the third Doctor's adventures were Earth-based, this final story
takes him to Metebelis Three in pursuit of Sarah Jane and a very valuable
crystal. There he must confront the
domineering spiders, whose psychic powers let them control the humans on
Metebelis. While sorting the mess of the spiders out, the Doctor
confronts some of his greatest fears, rescues Sarah Jane, and helps the humans
overthrow the Spiders, but he also sustains grievous injuries. It is this
that prompts his regeneration into Tom Baker's fourth Doctor.
The extras in this two disc set provide excellent background on Mr. Pertwee's
final story, and further details on the work of writer/director Barry Letts.
Fans of Mr. Pertwee's run as the Doctor will definitely want this final story
as the capstone to his career in the TARDIS. Fans of Doctor Who's earlier
days will enjoy this fun, fast-paced yarn that features some of the best
aspects of the show's long history.
- Scott Pyle