Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space

by Rob - November 24th, 2021.
Filed under: Reviews, TV.

We just finished watching the Blu-ray version of the very first Jon Pertwee Doctor Who serial (Pertwee was the Third Doctor, and my all-time favourite), “Spearhead from Space.” It was first broadcast almost 52 years ago in January 1970, and was the first Doctor Who made in colour. We hadn’t seen it since it aired on TVOntario back in the mid-1970s.

It was just fabulous, and, for its time, virtually non-sexist, starting off by showing us a competent female commander of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) who had a male subordinate technician, and introducing the wonderful Liz Shaw, a totally professional scientist, as the Doctor’s companion. Sadly, Liz lasted only a year, replaced by the flighty Jo Grant (although I am fond of her, too).

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has never again been so smart, so competent, or so clearly the right person to head up UNIT, which was created to deal with extraterrestrial threats.

The script by Robert Holmes (who also wrote my all-time favourite Doctor Who serial, “The Time Warrior,” a Pertwee story that introduced the Sontarans) was tense, charming, serious in intent, and well-paced.

“Spearhead from Space” had great production values and, rare for classic Doctor Who, seemed like it had a significant budget; it certainly had a big cast and lots of extras.

“Spearhead” looks fabulous on Blu-ray because it had been the first Doctor Who serial to be made entirely on film (and on location), instead of largely on videotape, because there was a strike going on at the BBC studios. To make the Blu-ray, the BBC scanned the original film at full 2K Blu-ray resolution and digitally cleaned it up.

I loved it.

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