Terror of the Autons
Episode / October 26, 2016

Aired 2 – 23 January 1971 Jon Pertwee’s first season stands up as some of the very best and consistent British science fiction of the era, tackling mature themes while also proving that the shift to colour and setting the stories during one time period on Earth could breathe new life into the franchise. Beginning Pertwee’s second series, ‘Terror of the Autons’ takes a step back from the high-concept, instead offering a thrilling and frightening adventure that, though perhaps light on plot, is brimming with iconic moments that left an indelible mark on public consciousness. After proving to be such an incredible success the year before, the Autons return with another plan for world domination. Writer Robert Holmes proves adept at making the mundane absolutely petrifying, and the use of plastic mannequins, dolls, flowers, and even armchairs as weapons of destruction is terribly brilliant in its elegant simplicity. Doctor Who thrives when the commonplace becomes anything but, and the Autons exemplify this perfectly, the plastics here sometimes literally scaring their victims to death. The villains here also know how to exploit humans’ need for oxygen, and the Doctor fighting to save his new companion, Jo Grant, from suffocation is played…

Rose
Episode / February 6, 2016

Aired 26 March 2005 Following the failed TV Movie in 1996, the chances of ever seeing Doctor Who on screens again seemed miniscule, novelizations and audios the only ongoing sources of new adventures for the erstwhile Time Lord. In the early 2000s, though, dramatic series with a sci-fi/fantasy twist really started to resonate with audiences looking for an escape, with franchises like Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer proving immensely popular. Spurred on by the persistence of Russell T Davies, a massive Doctor Who fan who had already made his name with hits such as Queer as Folk and The Second Coming, the BBC executives finally greenlit the production of thirteen new episodes of Doctor Who to air in 2005, hoping to recapture the magic that had originally made the franchise so popular while giving it a much-needed update for modern audiences. As the first episode of the new era of Doctor Who, ‘Rose’ sets off to do the seemingly impossible: reintroduce the Doctor and the TARDIS, bring aboard a dynamic new companion, and tell a story with the traditional alien presence that keeps audiences engaged and interested. Featuring a snappy 45-minute format for its self-contained episodes, the programme…

Spearhead from Space
Episode / January 28, 2016

Aired 3 -24 January 1970 ‘Spearhead from Space’ is unquestionably one of the most important episodes in Doctor Who’s long history, tasked with introducing a new lead and cast and proving that a radically new format confined to modern-day Earth could work. Serving as a second pilot episode of sorts, this serial somehow manages to achieve everything that it sets out to do while remaining incredibly accessible to old and new fans alike. With Doctor Who never really receiving the budget to make alien worlds come to life all that successfully, producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrence Dicks made the decision to have the Time Lords exile the Doctor to Earth after the conclusion to Patrick Troughton’s final The War Games, and the filming employed here certainly pays dividends in showing the comparatively modest but varying splendours of Earth. Of course, the Earth-based setting allows for an exploration of the intrinsic horrors of commonplace items, and ‘Spearhead from Space’ introduces the Autons and employs plastics and mannequins to achieve this to spectacular effect, the image of walking shop dummies being burned into the public consciousness and causing complaints of excessive violence and corruption. The idea of the very layout…

UNIT: Extinction
Audio / January 26, 2016

With the release of the UNIT: Extinction boxset, Big Finish boldly enters the world of modern Doctor Who. Featuring both Kate Stewart and Osgood from the current incarnation of UNIT on-screen and pitting them against the classic Autons again bent on world domination, Extinction is a fantastic first venture that constantly ups the stakes and gives us more insight and background into these delightful characters. UNIT on television is not always portrayed as the most competent of organizations, often times giving way to the Doctor or his companion in order to showcase that individual’s strengths. In audio format, though, UNIT is rightfully and unabashedly portrayed as the strong group it is so clearly meant to be, a true last line of defense for an otherwise defenseless Earth. Of course, two members of UNIT alone cannot carry an entire four episodes that quickly build up a truly global threat and so we are necessarily introduced to several new characters. Captain Carter and Colonel Shindi, in particular, are striking additions to the team, and the writing helps give the sense that each and every member of UNIT is as important as the next. Right from the get-go, Extinction moves along at a…