Each time the Doctor changes his appearance in “Doctor Who,” it provides the opportunity for new beginnings. This is helpful, especially since many of the earliest episodes of the series have been destroyed. Many actors have been able to play the same character with the convenient plot device of the Time Lords changing the Doctor’s appearance as punishment. “Spearhead from Space” marked the arrival of Jon Pertwee in the role, which he played for four years.
Rather than releasing the show by season, the classic “Doctor Who” is released by stories, which are a series of half-hour cliffhanger episodes that make up an entire storyline. “Spearhead from Space” is story number 51, and “The Green Death” is 69, and both star Pertwee and are newly available for home entertainment purchase. While “The Green Death” is available only on DVD due to the typical video quality, “Spearhead from Space” was shot on film because of a strike at BBC and is now available on high definition Blu-ray as a result. This was also the first of the Doctor Who stories to be shot in color, adding some historical significance with the glorious picture.
“Spearhead from Space” has a storyline remarkably similar to that of the pilot episode of the reincarnation of “Doctor Who.” The mannequins in
begin to come alive and attack people, and it is up to Doctor Who and a female
cohort to put a stop to them. The Blu-ray extras include a restoration
comparison, showing how the 2K Master from the original 16mm negative was done
to bring a better version than was previously available. There is also
22-minutes of title sequence material, though a majority of the features are
dedicated the cast members. There is an exclusive profile of Pertwee with actors
Katy Manning, Judy Cornwell, David Jacobs, Geoffrey Bayldon, Kenneth Earle and
writer Terrance Dicks. There is also a tribute to Caroline Shaw, who played Liz
“The Green Death” has giant bugs and a final appearance from Doctor’s assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning). When a man is found dead in an abandoned mine with his skin glowing green, the Doctor and Grant go to Wales to investigate, only to discover a chemicals factory may be creating deadly giant maggots. The DVD Special Edition special features are extensive, including a commentary track with Manning, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Discks. There are additional commentary tracks for episodes 3-5 with actors Richard Franklin and Mitzi McKenzie and visual effects designer Colin Mapson, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There is also one for episode six with Manning and writer Russell T. Davies. The special features also have a number of interviews and some making-of documentary type featurettes, but the highlight are a couple of episodes from the new “Doctor Who” featuring Manning returning to play the role of Jo Grant one more time, with Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 9/10
Disc Features: 10/10