Monday, 29 July 2013

Planet of the Spiders

Jon Pertwee’s swansong is a strange six part tale involving the good, bad and questionable aspects that have become the trademarks of his era. Originally planned as the final story with the Master, Roger Delgado had sadly died and this was then a completely new story written by Barry Letts and Robert Sloman.
'The Great One'
It’s not their best work, nor their work. Jon Pertwee is again a tower of strength as the Doctor, Elizabeth Sladen wonderful as Sarah. Great performances throughout from John Dearth as Lupton and John Kane wonderfully playing Tommy, the man who starts off simple but his learning disability disappears thanks to the Doctor’s Metabelis crystal.
It ties in and up a lot of stuff, finally we get some time on Metebelis Three, a planet the third Doctor often talked about (and went, briefly, in episode one of ‘The Green Death’.) Roger Delgado’s widow, Kismet Delgado, gets to voice the ‘Great One’, the all powerful spider. Cyril Shaps is back for another story, this time he dies in the first episode! And there are a host of players from the Pertwee era with guest parts and Jo gets a mention too.
The Brig and Benton take Bessie on the chase!
There’s a chase sequence, a very pointless and long one, in episode two. But it’s all a bit of fun as the Doctor and Lupton go from craft to craft. It takes half the episode only to end with Lupton being transported away. Some dodgy CSO when the Whomobile flies, and then for the village on Metebelis Three – one trait common with the Pertwee era which was less successful.
We have the three main UNIT regulars, the Brigadier, Benton and Richard Franklin in his final story as Mike Yates, redeeming himself for past foibles in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ which is nice. Generally the acting is fantastic, however, the exception is the villagers, and I hate to single someone out for bad acting, so I will single out both the mother and daughter of the villagers – Neska and Rega (I won’t write the actors names down) as possibly the two worst performances in Doctor Who history. The mother over acts terribly, the daughter underacts. Maybe it’s courtesy of bad dialogue, but they are genuine shockers!
The spiders are, on the whole, realised pretty well and are pretty creepy. They’re a little bit megalomaniac standard for me, and the sets in the spiders city are poor. Mostly light blue or cream corridors and the spider council sits on plastic benches. I understand they needed to be raised to facilitate dialogue with the human characters, but it’s not just the lighting that’s bad here. The whole thing should have been very dark and cobwebs, probably didn't need to build anything. Cobwebs in front of a black backdrop would have worked much better.
George Cormack as Kanpo.
The at the end we have some wonderful moments. The process of regeneration explained far more than previously. Great lines and moments, the idea to have Kanpo regenerate first was a great piece of writing to clue the audience in to what was going to happen to the Doctor. Kanpo is played by Geroge Cormack, who played Dalios in 'The Time Monster', and couldn't have been more suited to the role. Also, he is now the Monk which the Doctor talked about with Jo in 'The Time Monster'. 
Wonderfully played final episode by Jon Pertwee, showing fear brilliantly when faced with the great one. The use of Tommy is also very good. So much to love mixed in with a bit of the dubious too. Farewell Jon Pertwee, another great Doctor. An actor worthy and perfect for the role. That’s 3/3 so far!


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