Spearhead From Space

Doctor WhoDr. Liz Shaw is uprooted from her research at Cambridge to serve as the scientific advisor for the recently formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, headed by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The Brigadier seeks Liz’s help in the investigation of two mysteriously precise meteor showers which could be signs of alien interference with Earth. But the Brigadier’s luck improves with the arrival of a police box in the midst of the most recent meteor shower, though its sole occupant is a man he’s never seen before. The Doctor, however, does recognize the Brigadier despite recovering from the trauma of his forced regeneration at the hands of the Time Lords, and the two join forces – with a somewhat bewildered Dr. Shaw in tow – to fight an alien menace which can inhabit and control one of the most common substances manufactured on Earth…plastic.

Download this episodewritten by Robert Holmes
directed by Derek Martinus
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Hugh Burden (Channing), Neil Wilson (Seeley), John Breslin (Captain Munro), Antony Webb (Dr. Henderson), Helen Dorward (Nurse), Talfryn Thomas (Mullins), George Lee (Corporal Forbes), Iain Smith, Tessa Shaw, Ellis Jones (UNIT personnel), Allan Mitchell (Wagstaffe), Prentis Hancock (Reporter), Derek Smee (Ransome), John Woodnutt (Hibbert), Betty Bowden (Meg Seeley), Hamilton Dyce (Scobie), Henry McCarthy (Dr. Beavis), Clifford Cox (Soldier), Edmund Bailey (Waxworks Attendant)

Broadcast from January 3 through 24, 1970

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green Read More

Terror of the Autons

Doctor WhoAs the Doctor begins investigating the theft of the last remaining Nestene energy sphere (left behind in the previous Auton invasion) and the disappearance of a radio astronomer, a Time Lord appears and warns him that the Master – the Doctor’s arch rival Time Lord – has come to Earth. The Doctor deduces that the Master’s plan is to reawaken the Nestene Consciousness, giving it the opportunity to invade Earth once more. The Master has already set up production of the lethal plastic Autons at a nearby plastic factory – and knows exactly how he wants to rid the universe of the human race…and the Doctor.

Season 8 Regular Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Roger Delgado (The Master), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart)

written by Robert Holmes
directed by Barry Letts
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), John Baskcomb (Rossini), Dave Carter (Museum Attendant), Christopher Burgess (Professor Phillips), Andrew Staine (Goodge), Frank Mills (Radiotelescope Director), David Garth (Time Lord), Michael Wisher (Rex Farrel), Harry Towb (McDermott), Barbara Leake (Mrs. Farrel), Stephen Jack (Rex Farrel Sr.), Roy Stewart (Strong Man), Terry Walsh, Pat Gorman (Autons), Haydn Jones (Auton voice), Dermot Tuohy (Brownrose), Norman Stanley (Telephone Man)

Broadcast from January 2 through January 23, 1971

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green Read More

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

Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?

Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?

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

Story: A crisis looms in time and/or space, and Rassilon tries to summon the greatest Time Lord in history. But he’s busy, so the universe will have to settle for a “chrono-duke” known as the Foot Doctor, who travels through space and/or time in a vehicle that looks like a washing machine. (Understandably, he gets a lot of dirty socks thrown at him.) He arrives on Earth, which is teeming with an invasion force of Cyberons. And an invasion force of Sontarans. And an invasion force of Autons. And probably worse. But the Foot Doctor has an ace up his sleeve – no, not that ace.

written by Paul Ebbs & Gareth Preston
directed by Bill Baggs
music by Mike Neilson and Steve Johnson

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Foot Doctor), Mark Donovan (The Salesman), Nigel Fairs (Geoff / The Licensor), Jo Castleton (Gloria), Nigel Peever (Rassilon), Gareth Preston (Delivery Man / Cyberon), Rupert Booth (Sontaran / Auton), Philip T. Robinson (Auton / Cyberon), Paul Griggs (Auton / Cyberon), Paul Ebbs (Cyberon voice), Steve Johnson (Cyberon voice)

Notes: Despite poking much fun at the unlicensed equivalents of the Doctor and the Cybermen, many of the Doctor Who baddies who appear here are licensed, and their creators are credited: the Sontarans and Autons (both created by Robert Holmes), and the Krynoid (created by Robert Banks Stewart).

Review: It’s funny watching Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet? in retrospect. The whole message of this half-hour send-up of the Doctor Who format – such as it was in the 1980s – and its many easily-pounced-upon foibles is simple: Doctor Who fans don’t need the BBC anymore. Arguably, they don’t even need to license anything from the BBC anymore to make fan films.

Oh, how times have changed. Read More

Rose

Doctor Who19-year-old Rose Tyler has a boyfriend, a department store job, and just enough curiosity to put her in harm’s way. When she finds herself trapped in the basement level at work, surrounded by moving shop window mannequins who seem determined to crush her, she’s snatched out of danger by a total stranger who calls himself the Doctor. While he saves her life, he doesn’t do much to help her job when he completely destroys the department store, claiming that he’s trying to halt an invasion by a force that can possess and control anything made of plastic – such as the mannequins. Rose is surprised when the Doctor reappears the next day at her home, looking for any of the plastic creatures that may have survived the explosion at the store, and she’s even more surprised when he actually finds precisely that, namely a mannequin arm which tries to kill both of them before the Doctor disables it. Rose follows him, persistently trying to find out who he is, but the Doctor isn’t inclined to give straight answers about his own identity; indeed, at her home, he seemed to be surprised by his own reflection. Rose walks away as the Doctor marches into an incongruous 1950s police call box in the middle of London and then turns around to find that the box has disappeared.

In an attempt to find out more about the Doctor, Rose winds up meeting with an internet conspiracy theorist who says that the Doctor has been spotted throughout Earth’s history. Waiting for her in a car outside, Rose’s boyfriend is curious about a dustbin that seems to move on its own, but his curiosity turns into sheer terror as the bin engulfs him completely without a trace. When Rose returns to the car, her boyfriend has been replaced by a duplicate who seems unusually curious about her contact with the Doctor. When the duplicate becomes more aggressive in his line of questioning, the Doctor once again comes to the rescue, and the duplicate is exposed as yet another plastic creature, an Auton. The Auton attacks ferociously, but this time the Doctor is ready for it, disconnecting its head from its body. The headless Auton body still pursues the Doctor and Rose back to the police call box, and Rose is stunned to find that it’s not a call box at all, but the TARDIS – the Doctor’s time machine, bigger inside than outside and definitely not from Earth, not unlike the Doctor himself. Using the Auton’s head, the Doctor follows the signal controlling the Autons to their source, and a confrontation with the Nestene Consciousness masterminding the Auton assault. But the Doctor alone can’t prevent them from invading Earth.

Season 1 Regular Cast: Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)

Order the DVDDownload this episodewritten by Russell T. Davies
directed by Keith Boak
music by Murray Gold

Guest Cast: Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey), Mark Benton (Clive), Elli Garnett (Caroline), Adam McCoy (Clive’s son), Alan Ruscoe (Auton), Paul Kasey (Auton), David Sant (Auton), Elizabeth Fost (Auton), Helen Otway (Auton), Nicholas Briggs (Nestene voice)

Reviews by Philip R. Frey & Earl Green
LogBook entry by Earl Green Read More

Brave New Town

Doctor Who: Brave NEw TownSeptember, 1991: the TARDIS brings the Doctor and Lucie to a town which seems to be frozen in time. With no electricity, nothing here has been cleaned for years, and the friendly locals have no problem with the idea that yesterday’s date was the same as today’s – just like tomorrow’s will be. Surrounding the town is a bleak desert, though everyone living there swears that the tide is out. One thing disrupts the calm here: armored vehicles routinely patrol the area, crossing the desert that shouldn’t be there, and all the locals have to do to avoid detection is stand still. Lucie is captured by one of the patrols, and discovers that their occupants seem fairly certain that it’s 2008. The Doctor, trying to track down a missing local girl, discovers that the town – and the desert – are actually deep inside the borders of Uzbekistan, and that the locals are anything but. They’re Autons who, without control from the Nestene Consciousness, have blended in to the point that they think they’re human. But somewhere in the desert, a Nestene control unit is trying to re-establish contact with its Auton army, and the innocuous townsfolk may justify the armed presence patrolling their home.

Order this CDwritten by Jonathan Clements
directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery
music by ERS

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Derek Griffiths (Jason Taylor), Adrian Dunbar (McCarthy), Lorna Want (Sally Taylor), Nick Wilton (PC Sharp / Karimov), Katarina Olsson (Margaret / Vitas)

Notes: This marks the Autons’ first appearance in a Big Finish audio production; they had already appeared as both the first villain and the first classic villain in 2005’s Rose, the first episode of the new TV series. The Autons also inspired a trilogy of fan-made video productions in the 1990s, though the interpretation of them seen there is very different from either Rose or Brave New Town.

Timeline: after Max Warp and before The Skull Of Sobek

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green Read More

The Pandorica Opens

Doctor WhoA series of events ripples through time and space upon the completion of Vincent Van Gogh‘s latest painting depicting the fiery destruction of the TARDIS. Many of the Doctor’s friends and allies encounter the painting through time, from Winston Churchill to Liz 10 to, finally, River Song. River draws the Doctor to Earth at the time of the Roman Empire to show him the painting, which she believes is a warning Van Gogh received in a vision. Within the painting itself is a time and a location, leading the Doctor, Amy and River to Stonehenge.

The Doctor finds a chamber beneath Stonehenge, containing a large, cubical object of alien origin: the Pandorica, something which River has mentioned before but the Doctor believed was a myth. But before the Doctor can investigate or open the Pandorica, dozens of alien ships descend into the sky over Stonehenge: many of the Doctor’s enemies have come to call. While he bluffs his would-be captors into leaving, River attempts to move the TARDIS closer to the Pandorica, but the timeship begins behaving erratically and is flung violently through the time vortex. It begins to seem as though the Doctor is destined not to be at the controls of the TARDIS when it suffers the fate forseen by Van Gogh.

The Doctor’s enemies return to Stonehenge, and only then does the Doctor realize the horrifying truth: the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and many more have set aside their differences to conspire against their greatest enemy. With their combined forces against him, the Doctor may be doomed, and the universe along with him.

Order the DVDDownload this episodewritten by Steven Moffat
directed by Toby Haynes
music by Murray Gold

Guest Cast: Alex Kingston (River Song), Arthur Darvill (Rory), Tony Curran (Vincent), Bill Paterson (Bracewell), Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill), Sophie Okonedo (Liz Ten), Marcus O’Donovan (Claudio), Clive Wood (Commander), Christopher Ryan (Commander Stark), Ruari Mears (Cyber Leader), Paul Kasey (Judoon), Howard Lee (Doctor Gachet), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek), Simon Fisher Becker (Dorium), Joe Jacobs (Guard), Chrissie Cotterill (Madame Vernet), David Fynn (Marcellus), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek / Cyberman / Judoon voices)

The Pandorica OpensNotes: This marks the first time Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans have all shared the screen in anything other than a flashback (if one wishes to count flashbacks, however, the first time would have been during the flashbacks experienced by the fourth Doctor at the end of part 4 of Logopolis). Classic Doctor Who aliens name-checked but not seen include Drahvins (Galaxy Four), Zygons (Terror Of The Zygons), and curiously, the Chelonians, a reptilian warrior race introduced in the New Adventures novels published in the 1990s (specifically, in “The Highest Science”). This marks the first time that an element specific to the New Adventures has been acknowledged by the new TV series. The Slitheen are also mentioned, but are not seen.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green Read More

The Big Bang

Doctor WhoTrapped in the Pandorica by his enemies, the Doctor is powerless to prevent the universe from ending. The collapse isn’t instantaneous, and Earth is at the epicenter, growing cold and dark as every star in the universe vanishes. Young Amelia Pond remembers the stars, though, despite what everyone tells her as the changes ripple backward through time.

Freed from the Pandorica, the Doctor embarks on an elaborate attempt to manipulate the timeline; while Earth still exists, he can influence its history and make changes to the present. But he’ll need help, and there’s where the problem lies: Amy is dead, River has probably died in the cataclysmic explosion that has ripped the TARDIS apart, and Rory isn’t who anyone thought he was. Time is running out, even for the Time Lord.

Order the DVDDownload this episodewritten by Steven Moffat
directed by Toby Haynes
music by Murray Gold

Guest Cast: Alex Kingston (River Song), Arthur Darvill (Rory), Caitlin Blackwood (Amelia), Susan Vidler (Aunt Sharon), Frances Ashman (Christine), Barnaby Edwards (Stone Dalek), William Pretsell (Dave), Halcro Johnston (Mr. Pond), Karen Westwood (Tabetha), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek voice)

Notes: Notes for this episode could spoil major elements of the story, so you’ll find the notes below.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green Read More

Vanguard

UNIT: The WastingKate Stewart of UNIT is invited to a public relations demonstration of a revolutionary low-cost 3-D printer marketed by Devlin FutureTech, which can print fully working electronics as well as simpler items. Devlin has had free printers donated to nearly every government office in the world, and promises to put 3-D printing in the hands of the entire human race. Kate is impressed, but is fairly certain that it’s of little interest to UNIT; she also finds herself hounded by a reporter who seems unusually well-informed about UNIT’s activities (and commanding officers) in the past. Back at UNIT HQ in the Tower of London, Osgood tracks an incoming swarm of objects heading toward Earth, and with Colonel Shindi and Captain Carter, sets out to find any objects that survive the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground. Many of the objects arrive intact around the world, and Osgood recognizes them instantly from UNIT’s records: a Nestene energy sphere, signaling a new Auton invasion.

written by Matt Fitton
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Howard Carter

Cast: Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Lieutenant Sam Bishop), Ramon Tikaram (Colonel Shindi), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Steve John Shepherd (Simon Devlin), Karina Fernandez (Jenna Gold), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Derek Carlyle (Tim Stevens) and Nicholas Briggs (Nestene Consciousness)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Earthfall

UNIT: The WastingOsgood is sent to the Gobi Desert to work with a UNIT operative, Lt. Sam Bishop, in locating a Nestene sphere of particular interest, a control sphere coordinating the movement of others around it. What they discover is that Autons are already on the scene, led by Devlin’s executive assistant, and the sphere itself is missing. Sam is injured in a firefight and Osgood is taken hostage by the Autons. Sam finds himself in the care of a Bedouin tribe, also in possession of the Nestene control sphere, and sets out to lure the Autons back to him so he can rescue Osgood. Kate pays Devlin, the head of Devlin FutureTech, a personal visit, trying to find out about Devlin’s recent unprecedented investment into the petrochemical and plastic industries, and his company’s overnight transformation from an IT company into the world’s leading maker of 3-D printers. When he reveals that he recovered from a debilitating disease by having his skull replaced with a plastic one, it seems to confirm Kate’s supicions that Devlin is in league with the Autons.

written by Andrew Smith
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Howard Carter

Cast: Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Lieutenant Sam Bishop), Ramon Tikaram (Colonel Shindi), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Steve John Shepherd (Simon Devlin), Karina Fernandez (Jenna Gold), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Derek Carlyle (Tim Stevens) and Nicholas Briggs (Nestene Consciousness)

LogBook entry by Earl Green