Combining a ride of almost Magical Mystery Tour proportions this third Doctor adventure combines the evil Master with the Nestenes to produce another action packed thriller.
Whereas the first Auton adventure made us look twice at dummies, I mean mannequins, in this story the plastic combining Nestene conciousness develops a whole new series of lines, including telephone cables, daffodils and oversized masks.
The Doctor and Jo and the irrascible Master provide an action packed adventure story which grabs the attention throughout. The plot is strong with few of the flaws which characterise a number of the Pertwee episodes and there is a sort of surreal side too which prompts the comparison with Magical Mystery Tour. The notion of the flowers that kill with their lethal plastic projectile to suffocate their victims is not that far fetched an idea especially in view of the assasination of the official in London by an assailant armed with a poisoned tipped umbrella.
This must be a strong condidate for transfer to DVD soon.
One of Pertwee's best.
One year after the events of Spearhead From Space, the Doctor has to deal with the Autons again, because a surviving Nestene energy unit that the Brigadier loaned to a museum has been stolen by his arch-enemy, the Master. The Master, a Time Lord like the Doctor, plans to use the globe and a radio telescope to broadcast a signal to invite the Nestenes to victory where they failed before. He also commandeers a plastics factory run by the weak-minded Rex Farrell. Anyone whom he can't hypnotize, he dispatches in ruthless ways, as he does with Mr. McDermott and Mr. Farrell's father. The Doctor, meanwhile, gets a new assistant, the clumsy but adorable Jo Grant, and is drawn into the crisis upon hearing of a raid on a radio telescope research center. Thus begins the opening story of Season Eight, Terror Of The Autons, a classic of classics.
The scene of a Time Lord in a suit, bowler hat, and brolley appearing in mid-air with the noise of a materializing TARDIS borders on the surreal. He and the Doctor trade barbs, but the newcomer is here to warn him about the Master.
Katy Manning, as the cute, blonde, clumsy, and kooky Jo Grant, made her debut here and she's one of the reasons why the Pertwee era is my favorite in the series' history. The miniskirts would come much later, but this is a taste of this season and the ninth and tenth seasons. She accidentally ruins one of his experiments, and the Doctor, who calls her a "hamfisted bun vendor," for that mistake, demands that the Brigadier get rid of her. Jo proves herself worthy by procuring some much-needed parts for him. She eventually becomes one of his longest serving and most beloved assistants.
Roger Delgado is a suave villain and throughout his appearances, I found it hard to hate him. He was charming unlike Anthony Ainley's slimey and odious rendition. Pity he came out in only eight stories and died in a tragic car accident in 1973, thus barring any possible returns to Who.
The troll doll, which raised the ire of viewers, is an ugly thing, which makes it all the more menacing as it stalks the elder Mr. Farrell. The scene of fake policemen (Autons) ordered by the Master to kill the Master and Jo also got angry complaints from Scotland Yard. Gosh, how I love controversial programs, and those that portray policeman (even fake ones), as villains. Yes, I'm still judge the police over the Rodney King, Malice Green, and Amadou Diallo incidents.
It's interesting how our overwhelming dependence on plastic was made plainly clear, and how we'd be in a death trap if anything plastic could come to life and kill us. Strangled by my headphones, impaled by a flying CD,... and I hate to think what the toilet seat would do.
This is also the second of three stories whose colour episodes were lost and had to be recreated using a black and white PAL, a colour NTSC version, and synchronizing the two. The video has a film-like quality as a result, and gives it a nostalgic 70's look.
One of my favorite Who stories of all time, not only because of the return of the Autons, but the debut of Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Roger Delgado as the Master. Richard Franklin also makes his debut as Captain Mike Yates and a possible love interest for Jo, a concept that was never realized. And the late Michael Wisher, best known as Davros, makes his Who debut in this story.
I am the Reviewer, and you will watch this story... you will watch this story... watch this story...