Doctor Who Spearhead from Space Blu-ray Review - -
Doctor Who Spearhead from Space
Reviewed by
Chris Tyler
Doctor Who Spearhead from Space†Blu-ray Review Is it worth buying again in Blu-ray? Yes I think it is, it adds little special features wise to the mix but the sheer quality of the transfer surely makes this the definitive edition.

Feature 9.0
Video 5.0
Audio 9.0
Special Features 6.0
Total 8.0
Distributor: BBC
Genre: Sci-Gi
Running Time: 197 Minutes
Reviewer: Chris Tyler
: G


Doctor Who Spearhead from Space

Spearhead from Space is a huge list of firsts. First doctor who story in colour, first who story to feature Jon Pertwee, first and last who story to be shot on film. The first story to feature Caroline John in her new role as Liz Shaw. 

Written by Robert Holmes there is so much to love about this story that almost everything wrong with it can be forgiven.

The Doctor is exiled to earth by the time lords who take away his knowledge of time travel. Or ruin his dematerialization circuit or change the dematerialization codes depending on which story you listen too.

Several meteorites land in the woods near Devon, they contain the Nestine conciseness a malevolent alien that uses pamspermia to take over worlds, or at least the ones with thriving plastics industries.

Brigadier Leftbridge Stewart is concerned that his new Unit Task force doesnít have a scientific advisor and realizing that sometimes just shooting at something doesnít make it go away he Shanghaiís Doctor Liz Shaw into the role. Sheís an ďAll-rounder ďand just the sort of person he was looking for. Liz was a great character but unfortunately too progressive for the time and in the end got replaced but Jo Grant after one season.

Meanwhile the Doctor is found in the woods by Unit and taken to hospital where we learn more about his physiology and how alien he really is.

There are some fantastic scenes in this serial, the most memorable is probably where the store dummies come to life on a main street and start killing people which is chilling to this day but there are lots of others, the fact that when an Auton shoots you, you spout plumes of thick yellow smoke is almost more disturbing than showing blood. The scene where the brigadier turns to find Chambers staring at him through a mottled glass door making him appear completely alien is a brilliant little moment that carries more subtext than your average Doctor Who episode.

But there are also some bad points, despite the dialogue being crisp, the acting very good, the fact that the story moves at a great clip and the generally excellent production design. The whole thing is let down a bit by a somewhat rushed ending that doesnít quite match the rest of the excellent production. Also the fact that the frankly terrifying Autons natural form is then reveal to be a poorly rendered squid  is also less than thrilling.  Throughout this serial Jon Pertwee has been absolutely killing as the Doctor his acting has been brilliant his switching between vulnerability and authority has been utterly believable and charming , so itís a shame that he caps it off with some terrible comedy mugging when the tentacles have him that really sells the fact that they are made of foam.

Audio: The mix is a little off in 5.1, if you have a surround sound system the center channel is soft which means dialogue isnít as well represented as you might have liked it, this isnít the case on the stereo mix on the DVD which is disappointing. 

Video:  A little distortion makes rock music sound better, not just with the guitars, a little grain makes TV shows seem more like the shows that I knew in my youth. I canít imagine going back to the picture that I got 20 years ago on a small set that couldnít be tuned in properly and yet some if not all of my best TV watching memories were through that flawed setup. But here I am, I have HDTV I got Blu-ray I got 1080p I got a really decent surround sound setup and everything looks pristine but is it better? And does remastering TV shows that were never meant to be shown in 1080p do them any favors?

Conventional wisdom is that only tv shows that were originally shot solely on film can be remastered to Blu-ray and itís probably true. Anything that was shot on 480i which was most Tv output right up till 2000 canít be upscale without adding noise and doing more harm to the picture than itís worth.

So itís unlikely that the original episodes of Dr Who will ever be released on blu-ray the remastering for DVD has done the best it can with them.

Spearhead from space due to a BBC strike was shot on film and therefore able to be watched in glorious 1080p now over 40 years since it was made. 

It does look great, the makeup is ironically one of the greatest benefactors from the HD transfer, the sheen that tells us that someone is an Auton is clear and very well done.

Is it worth buying again in Blu-ray? Yes I think it is, it adds little special features wise to the mix but the sheer quality of the transfer surely makes this the definitive edition.

Special Features:  A dandy and a clown a rather nice tribute (and about bloody time) to Jon Pertwee even if he does mention several times that he preferred Worzel Gummidgeto Doctor who, this tracks his career with file footage and interviews from friends and family from his birth to death and his career in-between.

A tribute to Caroline John appears on the disc.  A short restoration comparison which is nice and about half an hour of intro tests for Jon Pertwees Doctor,  which might be nice to get stoned too if your that way inclined. Thereís a trailer for The Green Death which has already appeared on DVD so get ready to buy that one again.


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