Unlike the first and second Doctors, there’s so much Third Doctor streaming I figured I’d just review it season by season, rather than by serial (though I decided that after I’d already watched Jon Pertwee’s first story, Spearhead from Space).
The remaining serials from Pertwee’s first season:
•Doctor Who and the Silurians. Mysterious malfunctions at an experimental research station reveal the reptilian Silurian are tapping the power plant for their own use. They went into suspended animation millenia ago, and are none too happy that these pink-skinned apes have taken over their planet. Can the Doctor broker a peace? (all rights to image with current holder).
•Ambassadors of Death. The astronauts from Britain’s first Mars mission have been rescued from space … except when the capsule returns, there’s no-one inside. The astronauts are popping up all over London, killing with a radioactive touch—what’s behind it all?
•Inferno. While watchdogging an attempt to tap geothermal power from the Earth’s crust, the Doctor taps the system to jump-start the TARDIS. He materializes in a fascist alt.timeline where the same project is going on, the Brigadier and Shaw are part of the oppressive government, and the project is having all the bad effects the Doctor predicted. Can he get home? And will it be in time to stop the same catastrophe?
While I liked Troughton better on rewatching, I like Pertwee a little less. In him, the Doctor’s disrespect for authority seems more snide and less irreverent. I’m already two stories into his second season though, and he’s growing on me. As I mentioned discussing Spearhead, his stories are very much in the line of other British screen SF—Ambassadors of Death is particularly reminiscent of Quatermass. On the downside, that does give the season a formulaic quality when watched so rapidly: there’s always an arrogant head of research who insists everything is running fine and who the hell is this Dr. John Smith to start criticizing him anyway?
The Siurians tries a little too hard to wag its finger at warmongers. Ambassadors of Death is a good little thriller and Inferno is nicely apocalyptic, though the monstrous Primords are really poor monsters.
Season Two will be along in due course.