Jon Pertwee returns as the Third Doctor in two more classic Doctor Who adventures that join the growing ranks of BBC’s DVD collection this month. “Terror of the Autons” and “Planet of the Spiders” both hit stores this week, each loaded with all the special features and bonus material we’ve come to expect from the lineup.
“Terror of the Autons” (Story 55)
“Terror of the Autons” originally aired as a four part serial in January 1971 as the start of Doctor Who‘s eighth season. The adventure features the debut of popular companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and the UNIT captain and almost companion Mike Yates (Richard Franklin). The most significant character introduction here, however, is that of the Master, destined to become the Doctor’s ongoing nemesis. Roger Delgado plays the Master in his premiere appearance as he launches a plan to build a race of synthetic lifeforms called Autons. The Doctor and his new associates must work together to defeat the Master’s plot and to save the Earth once more.
This new DVD release is digitally remastered from the source material and includes an assortment of special features:
- Audio Commentary by Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), and Barry Letts (producer / director)
- Life on Earth – A 33 minute long making-of featurette with Katy Manning, Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), Terrance Dicks (script editor), Barry Letts, Phil Collinson (producer), and Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor, via archive footage)
- The Doctor’s Moriarty – A 19 minute retrospective featurette about the Master
- Plastic Fantastic – An 11 minute featurette about the creation of the Autons as Who villains
- Photo Gallery
- PDF Materials – Promotional material and listings from the episodes’ initial airings
“Planet of the Spiders” (Story 74)
“Planet of the Spiders” is another significant adventure in the Doctor Who canon, as it signals the end of one Doctor’s tenure and the beginning of one of the most beloved Doctors’ time in the TARDIS. The final serial featuring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, “Planet of the Spiders” aired in six parts between May and June of 1974. It begins with a group of human Tibetan monks connecting from Earth to the planet Metebelis 3, where giant spiders have subjugated humans. The villainous arachnids now seek to recover an artifact once in the Doctor’s possession so that they can advance on humankind on Earth as well. Joining the Third Doctor is fan favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late and beloved Elisabeth Sladen.
All six episodes are digitally remastered and collected on the DVD with some great bonus material:
- Audio Commentary by Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), Richard Franklin (Mike Yates), Barry Letts (producer / director), and Terrance Dicks (script editor)
- The Final Curtain – A 37 minute featurette going behind the scenes on the Third Doctor’s final adventure. Features Jon Pertwee (the Doctor), Richard Franklin, Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Rochelle Selwyn (designer), Mat Irvine (visual effects assistant), and Mark Gatiss (actor / author)
- John Kane Remembers – An 11 minutes interview with the actor who played Tommy, the handyman at the Tibetan retreat
- Directing Doctor Who – A 14 minute retrospective featuring Barry Letts
- Now and Then – A 7 minute feature about the filming locations
- Planet of the Spiders: Omnibus Edition – An extended and unrestored version of the episode, accompanied by a trailer
- Photo Gallery
- PDF Materials – Radio Times listings from the original airing
Both “Planet of the Spiders” and “Terror of the Autons” released on DVD on May 10, 2011.