Auton

Auton

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”. Read More

Auton 2: Sentinel

Auton

This is afan-made production whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

Two years after the Auton outbreak at UNIT’s storage facility, a shipment of inert Autons being secretly transported by UNIT is awakened by the close proximity of a Nestene sphere. The reanimated Autons kill their UNIT handlers and walk into the bay on their way to Sentinel Island. UNIT comes to Lockwood and Dr. Arnold again for their expertise in dealing with the Auton threat, but the new UNIT scientific advisor, Natasha Alexander, has grave misgivings about Lockwood – and her latent psi abilities give her an insight into his true nature and his connection to the Autons. As UNIT, with a wary Lockwood and a distrustful Natasha in tow, gets ready to wage war on Sentinel Island, Winslet is also ready with a weapon of his own – he’s preparing to revive an inert, stranded Nestene creature using the psychic energy generated by the faith of his parishioners.

screenplay by Nicholas Briggs
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Alistair Lock

Cast: Michael Wade (Lockwood), George Telfer (Graham Winslet), Jo Castleton (Natasha Alexander), Andrew Fettes (Sergeant Ramsay), John Wadmore (Colonel Wilson), Bryonie Pritchard (Dr. Sally Arnold), Warren Howard (Daron), Patricia Merrick (Charlotte), David Rowston (Dave), Nicholas Briggs (Mike), John Hawkins (Hardgraves), John Hansell (Davis), Jayson Bridges, Keith Brooks, Stephen Bradshaw, Vaughan Groves, Mark Moore, Gabriel Mykaj, Richard Smith, Blaine Coughlin (UNIT Soldiers), Steven Friel, Peter Trapani, Pete Cox, Rod Horne, Alexander Wylie, John Walker, Mark Jende, Matthew Bradford, Ian Taylor, Philip Clarke, Randalph Edwards, Loraine Malby, Peter Frankum, Keith Burton, Robert Dunlop, Caroline O’Sullivan, Thomas O’Sullivan, Andrew Hasley (Villagers)

Review: Released in 1998, the second installment in the Auton series seems like it should’ve been a shoo-in for exciting science fiction drama, with its interesting combination of characters having formed a somewhat uneasy team at the end of Auton, and the Auton threat still alive and on the move. The first Auton video felt very much like a series pilot, so surely Auton 2 would take that potential and run with it…right? Read More

Auton 3

Auton

This is afan-made production whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sentinel Island incident, UNIT investigators are concerned by the sudden disappearance (rather than fiery destruction) of the Nestene Consciousness creature. Lockwood warns that he may have inadvertently made their return possible sooner rather than later, thanks to his brief psychic link with Natasha Alexander, the new UNIT scientific advisor. And the Autons do reappear ahead of schedule, but acting strangely. Dr. Arnold is pressed into the dangerous investigation by Palmer, who himself turns out to be another psychic with his own link to Natasha. Increasingly, UNIT is convinced that Lockwood has returned to the Autons and poses a danger to Earth, but only Dr. Arnold and Natasha seem to be prepared to believe that he still remains loyal to humanity.

screenplay by Arthur Wallis (a.k.a. Nicholas Briggs)
additional material by Paul Ebbs
directed by Patricia Merrick and Bill Baggs
music by Alistair Lock

Cast: George Telfer (Graham Winslet), Helen Baggs (Nurse), Andrew Fettes (Sergeant Ramsay), Bryonie Pritchard (Dr. Sally Arnold), Peter Trapani (Dalby), Graeme du Fresne (Palmer), Michael Wade (Lockwood), Jo Castleton (Natasha Alexander), Blaine Coughlan, Alex, Steve Johnson, Peter Trapani (Autons)

Review: As a rule, I try to concentrate on constructive advice when it comes to reviewing fan-made productions, simply because these aren’t shows with a ton of money behind them: they’re labors of love. However, Auton 3, the (thankfully) concluding chapter of the Auton trilogy, is nearly a decade old at the time of this review, so I’m not exactly sure this review will truly have anything new to say that the film’s makers haven’t already heard. Read More