Doctor Who - Planet of Spiders DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 7.5
Video 6.5
Audio 7.0
Special Features 8.0
Total 7.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time: 482 minutes
Classification: G
Reviewer:
Andrew Proverbs

7.5


Doctor Who - Planet of Spiders

There are few things that have a greater power to unnerve than a race of giant, intelligent spiders who are bent on taking over the world. With this in mind, long-time Doctor Who contributors Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks set out to create Jon Pertwees last adventure in the role.  

Planet of the Spiders has all the staples of classic Doctor Who: A race of oppressed people, an uncompromisingly evil and scary villain, an endangered planet Earth, and a chance for the Doctor to save the day using his wit and charm (as well as some ridiculous judo moves). 

At the time of filming in 1974, the producers knew Pertwees tenure was drawing to an end, and they indulged him with a truly over-the-top story. The second episode consists of a mammoth chase sequence, whereby the Doctor pursues a villain across most of country England, using at various stages an airborne car, a gyrocopter and a hovercraft. Its quite possibly the most extravagant (and ultimately unnecessary) action scene in the early part of Doctor Whos history. 

Pertwee relishes in the melodrama. It is his presence on screen that holds everything together and keeps it credible, even in the face of some truly camp and otherwise unbelievable moments.  

The sets and locations are mostly forgettable; the spiders lair looks like a vacant set with a few cloth-covered pedestals for the villains to sit on so they can speak to the characters at eye level.  

But the value of Planet of the Spiders has nothing to do with its outlandish car chase or its animatronic antagonists or even the story as a whole; it represents a landmark moment, the moment in time when the calm, confident, imposing third doctor gave way to something far more erratic and alien in Tom Baker. 

As a standalone story its nothing special; sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you cringe. As a send-off to a much-loved star actor who had seen the show reach the heights of popularity during his five-year reign, its very gratifying. 

Audio/Video:

The overall image quality is fairly low, and there are some noticeable defects, such as blurry lines tracking up and down across the screen. These are forgivable given the age of the original film, and do nothing to hamper your enjoyment of the show. 

Special features:

As is typical with a Doctor Who DVD, this edition of Planet of the Spiders comes packed with interviews and tributes from fans, cast and crew. Most of these are sentimental in tone: in The final curtain, the star trio of Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks and Jon Pertwee reflect on their time on the show, whereas in John Kane remembers, that actor explains the joys of working alongside the special talent of Elisabeth Sladen, who plays Sarah Jane.

Now and then takes us on a tour of the locations used in the serial, and shows us what they look like today.  

 






 
 



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