Tuesday, November 18, 2008

classic who: planet of the spiders

And here we have Doctor Three's last story.

Yates is back! He's been trying to find himself and sort out his mind after the crisis of faith (and reality) of his last story, and he's let his hair grow out and joined a group of spiritualists following a Tibetan monk, but something's off with them, and when he witnesses the others of his group conjuring a spider in the name of power, he gets Sarah-Jane to bring in the Doctor and investigate. She does (though we aren't sure why, as he was crazy when she met him and left soon after, so there's no reason for the friendship they seem to share, but whatever). And that's the first-ish episode. Almost all of the second ep is an extended car chase-- a who2-bessie-and a cop chase, then a who2-and-helicopter chase that escalates into a boat-and-hovercraft chase. Really, it just keeps going on. And the baddie disappears.

He reappears after sixteen hours of recaps in the foyer of the retreat, where he's witnessed by the sweet but really slow Tommy, and then other stuff happens, and Tommy buggers off for a while. There's spiders on Metabilis 3, there's the crystal the Doctor gave Jo for her wedding, sent back to him because the natives in the Amazon think it's cursed, there's a plot to get the crystal to the queen of the spiders that's thwarted by Tommy stealing it and then again by the Biggest Spider Ever wanting it for herself. And yet there's more! Sarah-Jane is captured by the spiders after winding up on Metabilis just as the queen spider shows up to stop a rebellion of the natives (which look mysteriously Arizonan in a desert that is not at all blue), which of course comes in handy for the master plan. There's a developmentally challenged man who gets 'cured' by the crystal and can suddenly read and think clearly, but doesn't know what any of it means. There's the first baddie, who gets to hang around and twitch and get angry, only to get zapped by force lightning and die at the end without accomplishing anything. There's a lot of Yates listening through doors and getting tied up and getting knocked out, and he smiles up at Sarah-Jane so sweetly when he comes through. There's the Doctor being sick and getting better, only to get scared, have to face his fears, and getting killed by the Metabilis crystal energies. There's a head monk who turns out to be a timelord who happens to have been the Doctor's teacher / guru in his youth, who conveniently reappears in time to jump-start the regeneration so the Doctor doesn't die entirely.

We get to see Spiders controlling people (and keep saying 'there's something on your back'!), and we meet some fun characters and get a little sliver of backstory on the Doctor. There's this last-hurrah feeling, waht with Jo's crystal and the nifty cars that we haven't seem much and the return of Yates, all of which are very Pertwee-era plot widgets.

And then there's no more Jon Pertwee. Right at the end, we get Tom Baker, and I'm just thrilled by that, but I'll miss 3. He was grumpy and arrogant and charming and ever so slightly mysogynistic and he always wanted to reverse the polarity and always did what was right, even if he didn't want to or knew it would lead to his sure death. Which it did. Thank god we've got that nifty little plot device that allows a new actor to take over!

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