Doctor Who (1963)

Season 11 Episode 22

Planet of the Spiders, Part Two

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM May 11, 1974 on BBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
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  • With very little plot advancement, half of this episode consists of a lavishly executed but completely unecessary chase sequence over land, sea and air.

    Disturbed by the death of Professor Clegg as he held the Metebelius III crystal, the Doctor becomes even more fascinated by the gem and furthers his experiments. Meanwhile, Lupton comes under the influence of a giant spider he and his cohorts managed to summon from another planet. Using the human's thirst for power, the spider has come to Earth seeking the great crystal and leads Lupton straight to UNIT where, using telekinetic powers, it steals the gem from his laboratory. Following on the heels of Part One, the pace of the action is maintained throughout the first half of the episode. The titular spider (voiced by Ysanne Churchman, who also voiced Alpha Centauri in the two "Peladon" stories) is only moderately effective. When standing still, it is rather chilling but the minute it begins to move any credibility to the creature goes out the window. Luckily it spends most of Part Two invisible. Particularly memorable is the Time Lord in a rare bit of melancholy as he recollects a piece of childhood when he used to travel up a hill near his house where he passed many hours with a hermit, whom he calls a mentor. Pertwee's subdued acting during this brief scene makes it all the more memorable to fans and foreshadows an important factor in later episodes of this story. Despite an interesting set-up for Episode Two, however, the plot comes to a sudden grinding halt. Because producer Barry Letts was familiar with actor Jon Pertwee's love of adventure and gadgets, he specifically crafted a chase sequence into this episode which he felt would be a fitting parting gift to his friend and something fans would remember for a long time to come. Covering the land, air and water, the characters would use a series of gyrocopters, hovercrafts, power boats, the Doctor's beloved yellow roadster Bessie and his newest vehicle, a silver saucer-shaped craft dubbed The Alien. Letts expectations were correct for this roughly 12 minute sequence, comprising the entire latter half of the episode. Fans of the show do remember the chase, but not necessarily with fondness. In fact, this bit of vanity to appease Pertwee's thirst for action does very little except slow the plot of the story to a snail's pace and the scenes of The Alien car in flight is a poorly realized piece of special effect, even for "Doctor Who" standards. If edited to six minutes, it may have worked, but considering the monsterous chunk of budget that went into the filming of this sequence, it really was not worth it. With this unfortunate stumble, the pace of "Planet Of The Spiders" has become erratic and an indication of things to come.
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