Planet Of The Spiders: Doctor Who: Season 11
Planet Of The Spiders SYNOPSIS:
A group of men gather in the cellar of a meditation centre to conjour up power which is noticed by Mike Yates, formerly of UNIT, who warns Sarah Jane Smith about what he witnessed. At UNIT a psychic test conducted by the Doctor with his Metebelis Three blue crystal goes awry and simultaneously a giant spider appears in the meditation centre cellar and jumps on the leader Lupton's back.
Now mentally joined to the spider from Metebelis Three, now invisible on his back Lupton informs his group he has been instructed to steal back a blue crystal that will give them power. Sarah is warning the Doctor of the danger at the meditation centre and Lupton manages to get the crystal back despite being pursued by the Doctor and UNIT.
At the meditation centre the retarded janitor Tommy steals the crystal from Lupton's desk before he summoned to Metebelis Three. Sarah follows him but is captured. Once there Lupton bluff's the spider council that he has hidden it on Earth in exchange for a reward. The Doctor pursues Lupton and Sarah to Metebelis Three to find that the spiders there rule the human populace.
The Doctor encounters the Great One, a gigantic spider that can completely control minds, she demands the Doctor get the crystal for her. Driven by fear and his need to set right the events he set in motion from his last visit the Doctor does as she bids knowing that to return to the cave of crystal will give him fatal radiation sickness and he must also free Sarah and the others at the monastery from the spiders influence.
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Planet Of The Spiders DETAILS:
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Planet Of The Spiders CAST & CREW
Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor)
Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)
Nicholas Courtney — Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Richard Franklin — Captain Mike Yates
John Levene — Sergeant Benton
John Dearth — Lupton
Carl Forgione — Land
Andrew Staines — Keaver
Terence Lodge — Moss
Christopher Burgess — Barnes
John Kane — Tommy
Kevin Lindsay — Cho-Je
George Cormack — K'Anpo
Cyril Shaps — Professor Clegg
Chubby Oates — Policeman
Pat Gorman — Soldier
Terry Walsh— Man with Boat
Michael Pinder — Hopkins
Stuart Fell — Tramp
Geoffrey Morris — Sabor
Ralph Arliss — Tuar
Gareth Hunt — Arak
Jenny Laird — Nesta
Joanna Munro — Rega
Walter Randall, Max Faulkner — Guard Captains
Ysanne Churchman, Kismet Delgado, Maureen Morris — Spider Voices
Production Staff for Serial ZZZ:
Writer - Robert Sloman
Director - Barry Letts
Script editor - Terrance Dicks
Producer - Barry Letts
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Planet Of The Spiders REVIEWS
…or "Planet Of The Worst Supporting Actors EVER". Used to love this as a kid, have fond memories of it. Planet of the Spiders is Unca Jon's last regular performance as our beloved Doctor and a very sad passing. How is he going to go? But would have to say it's not the best regeneration story. One thing that kills it is the length, it's definitely a 4 parter dragged out to a 6 parter.
Although Planet of the Spiders probably has the best continuity references to the whole era. First of all the set up of the story takes a whole episode to unfold as the Doctor gets back Jo's wedding present in the form of the Metebelis 3 crystal he picked up back in the Green Death. There's nice by play amongst the UNIT regulars, although the Brig has become thick again, as the Doctor runs tests on the crystal. In an unusual move a secondary plot is unfolding at a local meditation centre where ex-UNIT bloke Mike Yates has come to rid himself of the character layers added to him in his previous appearance with Sarah's help but ends up with new ones as he tries to make amends for past misdeeds.
By the end of part one the others haven't yet left the UNIT lab and part 2 is taken up by a fun chase scene full of things to drive or ride on that Pertwee wanted to do being a lover of gadgets, least the padding is good idea and obvious but marred by unnecessary inclusion of a 'baffled' policeman who adds nothing to the plot, and using the exact same stretch of road for the chase and bad CSO mainly involved the second appearance of the Whomobile that changes colour when it flies.
Planet of the Spiders has some good themes like the evil and fear that reside within and you must overcome them by neglect of self (yes I did get them Grob and it also ties in with what you were saying about why the Doctor has to sacrifice himself and why Yates tries to sacrifice himself) and very good performances. Pertwee gives one of his best in his swansong, Sladen's Sarah keeps getting better and better, you start to wonder how the show did without her she's so believable. The monks Kanpo and Choe Je are realistic and well realised especially when it's revealed the former is actually the Doctor's old mentor, the one mentioned in the Time Monster (?). Also a stand out is Lupton, who plays a realistic villain, who actually gets - GASP - a back story as to why he wants power, something the Master never had. Lupton's devotee's are give passable performances and Tommy was very sympathetic and well played.
Then once on Metebelis 3, there is shown the worst bunch of actors ever assembled in one story together. All the farmers and the guards act as though this is the first read through and just wanted to shoot that mother. How did she get to be an actor? It makes me cringe watching this lot and can't believe they're out acted by a bunch of stuffed spiders and a guy in a checkered sports jacket. The spiders for the most part were done really well and genuinely creepy the way they jumped on people's back's and controlled their minds. Ok there was dodgy CSO but least it wasn't guys in rubber suits
..and we get the outwardly fearless doctor of them all, finally facing and admitting his own fear and loathing and sacrificing his life for it, meeting his end from radiation sickness and stumbling bravely into a truly touching farewell scene, you truly believe the Doctor is near death's door and has finally paid the price for his unparalleled thirst for knowledge. Nice set up and ending for his Doctor. Pity that for Pertwee's swansong, Planet Of The Spiders loses 1 point for the padding and 1.5 for the Metebelis acting - 7.5/10
On the other hand, the mentally retarded Tommy (played very nicely by John Kane) is a fantastic character and easily the best in the story. Also mention K'Anpo who is yet another renegade Time Lord - and a believably wise and mystical one at that. Mike Yates' character is finally (and quite strangely for this series) actually given a beginning, middle and (in Planet of the Spiders) an end. Unlike Benton or the Brigadier, Yates actually evolved during this season. Full points there for the production team. Speaking of the Brig, what a buffoon he has become. If Yates has evolved as a person, the Brig has gone the opposite way; long hair and just is a comedic foil for Pertwee. Clearly the writers just aren't giving a shit with him. The monsters of the story - the spiders - aren't really much either. There plans don't differ from any other monster/person/alien/plant that has wanted to take over the universe for whatever reason.
When we get to Metebelis 3 we are presented with a bunch of even more blandly written and acted characters. Without Google, try naming and describing them guys! Lets also mention the famous episode 2 where the production team indulge Pertwee one last time with twenty five minutes of chase which can only be livened up with the Benny Hill music.However, we get to episode six and just like the War Games it all hinges on that final twenty five minutes.
After five seasons of a patronizing, condescending, arrogant Doctor we finally see him vulnerable and exposed. His regeneration isn't due to an act of heroism like Davison's later on, but making up for a past wrong. Here we see the Doctor only too well aware of his faults and is making amends. His greed and thirst for knowledge, not to mention the number of people he has been responsible for (unintentionally) killing; Professor Clegg in episode one for instance, has now become his undoing as its now his turn to face his innermost demons.
Its quite a brilliant scene with Pertwee dwarfed against the Great One as he hands the crystal back knowing that his time has come. And it has as we once again return to UNIT HQ with Sarah and the Brigadier mulling over the loss of the Doctor - its very quiet and very well underplayed this scene. When Pertwee does turn up you can see its all over for him and seeing it a few years ago on the ABC I still felt a pang of sadness as he gasped his last. I never really felt much when Hartnell regenerated due to the lack of any decent source material for that era. With Troughton is was a very sudden and abrupt ending cos it wasn't just him leaving but Jamie and Zoe as well.
With Pertwee its different cos it was foretold at various stages of the story that he wasn't making it out alive and when episode six started it was all starting to unfold in front of you and then you saw him literally cop it with the Great One. The addition of Cho-Je at the end to help the regeneration along was a nice little reminder for the viewers at home what was going to happen (I found it helpful when I was watching it for the first time as a kid wondering what all this regeneration was about) and then slowly we saw - in colour - the Doctor change again.
Who will he be this time? Planet of the Spiders is a hard one to grade this time cos its five parts typical Pertwee and one part something else on another level. Bugger it, I'll go an 8 but its on that final episode alone.
Just out of curiosity, did either one of you gents understand the Buddhist concepts at work in Planet of the Spiders or did they go sailing over your head?
I frickin hate spiders.
I'm not sure if my hatred of spiders stems from my love of Planet of the Spiders as a child, or whether my hatred of spiders is why I love these episodes... either way, the key thing is, I love this story!!
The fact that this was the only regeneration story we had for so long probably makes it that extra bit special too - but there are so many things I love about Planet of the Spiders. One of the main ones is Tommy. He's brilliant - and I think one of the best characters ever in Dr Who. I love the way he transforms when he uses the crystal, and I love the way he and Sarah interact throughout. And as for Sarah, I think this is the episode that makes her as a character. Her interaction with the Doctor and the way she changes when she's under the control of the Queen Spider and the way she acts when she sees the regeneration are brilliant... tears Sarah Jane?
The other thing I love about Planet of the Spiders is the chanting. Hom Hom Hom boody pady boom... that's iconic Dr Who for me, as are the scenes of the spider appearing, then jumping on Lupton's back. And yes, both Lupton and Yates have great stories going on here... although it's a pretty big step up for Lupton... stressed salesman to dominating of the world?
OK, so parts of Planet of the Spiders maybe don't make sense - spiders stowing away on a spaceship then using the power of the crystals to um... take over the galaxy... I don't care! The internal logic works, and... did I mention I'm shit scared of spiders... bastards...
And then there's the clincher... the Doctor, realising it was his fault for stealing the crystal in the first place, takes the bullet in the end. Consequences. I love that!
OK, so it loses the best part of a point for one of the worst car, boat, plane, boring chases ever... and yeah, the actors on Metebelis 3 are shocking... especially the Mother... but other than episode 2, Planet of the Spiders is brilliant!