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More about this serial
This is a four-part serial, first broadcast between 3rd - 24th January 1970. A very brief (and somewhat spoiler-ish) summary of the plot: aliens invade earth and set up shop in a plastics factory, creepy killer mannequins roam the countryside, and the third doctor comes tumbling out of the Tardis and has his first adventure.
Coming less than a year after 'The space pirates', it's remarkable how much more modern this serial feels. This is partly because it is in colour (a conscious decision by the BBC) and filmed on location (apparently necessitated by 'industrial problems') but mainly because the pacing has increased and much of the story is 'shown' rather than 'told'.
It's interesting to see what Jon Pertwee does with the part. The Doctor must be a tricky character to play - on the one hand, he needs to be a believable hero, a centuries-old alien who is vastly more intelligent than everyone around him; on the other hand he's a comical outsider and something of a trickster. The fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, did the best job integrating the two into an organic whole, I think. In a way Pertwee's performance is more extreme than Baker's: his Doctor can be pretty silly, as can be seen in this episode, but over the years he also grew quite pompous.
As mentioned before the story is set on earth and was filmed on location, which means that we're spared the usual low-budget studio sets that fans have grown to love. The special effects that are there were well within the reach of what was technically possible at the time which means that the whole thing still looks pretty good, with something of the look and feel of an 'Avengers' episode from the Emma Peel era.
My verdict - well, what the hell:
It's highly entertaining. The Doctor singing in the shower cracked me up. And he has a tattoo. And chest hair. Mmmmm, chest hair...
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Original version of this review:
Behind the sofa
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