This is a fan-made production whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.
Dr. Sally Arnold, senior researcher at an under-funded facility contracted to UNIT, experiments with a round plastic artifact from UNIT’s archives. After running out of other ways to get the sphere to respond, Dr. Arnold bombards it with radio signals from deep space, including one pulsating signal to which it violently responds, killing Arnold’s lab assistant and then disappearing. A pair of unusual investigators and a platoon of UNIT troops arrive to take charge, finding only Arnold and the eccentric UNIT archivist alive. The investigators clearly suspect that there’s more going on, but they aren’t revealing much. When it turns out that the archivist lied about more Auton/Nestene-related items held in UNIT’s warehouse, the search for the missing sphere intensifies – but before long, it will have summoned help in the form of deadly Autons, programmed to defend it at all costs.
screenplay by Nicholas Briggs
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Alistair Lock
Cast: Bryonie Pritchard (Dr. Sally Arnold), George Telfer (Graham Winslet), Verona Chard (Janice), Reece Shearsmith (Dr. Daniel Matthews), Andrew Fettes (Sergeant Ramsay), Michael Wade (Lockwood), Roy Hughes, Gabriel Mykaj, Mike Parry, David Ringwood, Richard Smith (UNIT Soldiers), John Ainsworth, Gareth Baggs, Blaine Coughlan, David Ringwood (Autons)
Notes: Part of the code on the Auton crates – “RH / AAA” – refers to the late Robert Holmes, the veteran Doctor Who writer and script editor who created the Autons, and the BBC’s internal production code for the Doctor Who story in which they first appeared, Spearhead From Space. That story is also where the Doctor devised the unwieldly contraption that allows Dr. Arnold to battle the Autons.
Review: A cleverly-made “sidebar” to some past Doctor Who episodes, this opening volley in the Auton trilogy manages to attain quite a creepiness factor with an economy of effects and action. Auton also oozes – if you’ll forgive the pun – “pilot,” as its creators clearly had more story in mind than just this single installment. The characters are set up, the relationships (and potential problems thereof) are established, and yet they come together to win the day – or at least win the immediate battle in what promises to be a longer conflict. This is really the closest there’s been to a fan-made UNIT series, so it’s also refreshing to see that organization get an outing that makes it look bigger and a bit more effective than just, as Nicholas Courtney himself once put it, “the Brig’s Army”. […]