Tuesday 6 December 2011

379 Planet of the Spiders Part Four

EPISODE: Planet of the Spiders Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 25 May 1974
WRITER: Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts - Uncredited)
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders
Episode Format: 625 video

The Spiders leave the Doctor for dead and the villagers bring him inside. Lupton's spider tries to incite rebellion against the queen. Aided my the healing powers of the crystal Tommy begins to read, gaining proficiency and mental ability at an astonishing rate. Briefly regaining conciousness the Doctor asks Sarah to bring him a machine from the Tardis. On her way back she encounters Lupton and is captured, leaving the bag behind where the villagers retrieve it and use it too heal the Doctor. Sarah is taken to the Spider's larder and imprisoned with Sabor. Mike goes to see Lupton's group but is knocked out by Moss. Arak tells the Doctor how the human ship crashed on Metebelis 3 433 years ago and spiders on the ship mutated by the blue crystals too become the dominant life form. The Doctor finds a type of stone that will absorb the energy of the spider's attacks and has the villagers gather them to protect themselves while he leaves for the spider's palace. Once there he is captured and taken to the larder.

As an episode this is a bit slow and talky but it adds crucial background to the story telling us what the humans & spiders are doing on Metebelis. Virtually the only action is provided in the fight from the previous episodes in the long reprise lasting till 2m10s into the episode and another scene of the Doctor throwing guards around, including regular stuntman and extra Max Faulkner who plays the second Guard Captain. The "Doctor Who is a vegetarian" brigade are directed to his consumption of the mutton broth during this episode.

The character of Tommy in this story is a pretty decent portrayal of someone with a learning difficulty and actor John Kane does a decent job, first as the impaired Tommy in earlier episodes and then as his blue crystal enhanced self in the last few. John Kane also has one of the odder entries on his CV of any performer in Doctor Who: he was the lead writer on the BBC sitcom Terry & June.

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