07 – Seventh Season – Jon Pertwee

Spearhead from Space

This is when the show switched over from being black-and-white to color.

In order to save money otherwise spent on special effects, the BBC decided to keep Doctor Who on Earth at the beginning of Pertwee’s run. This was of course explained as a sentence by the Time Lords at the end of War Games. The other economy move was to reduce Doctor Who to a half-year instead of a full year. For the balance of the year the BBC slotted in an SF program from America called Star Trek. I guess buying programs is cheaper than making them. As part of this Earth-grounding, the Doctor became the Science Advisor to U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), lead by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Watch for other Lethbridge-Stewarts to show up in other stories in the future.

And we get to meet a new monster, the Autons. They appear a few more times, most notably in the very first story of the new Doctor Who in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston. And we have a new companion as well, Liz Shaw, who is herself a scientist called in by the Brigadier before the Doctor has even made an appearance, because he needed some scientific help with the apparent landing of 60 “meteorites”, which of course were nothing of the sort. he new Doctor and the new age of color get off to a good start in this story that moves right along


Doctor Who and the Silurians

OK, this is a classic story. The Silurians are a just a bit cheesy, the science does not bear too close inspection, but it hits the ground running with a mystery that unfolds over several episodes. The Silurian period in paleontology/geology runs from 443.8 million years ago to 419.2 million years ago, and while land animals were starting to appear by this time, reptiles and mammals were far in the future. That the Silurians as an advanced race of reptiles with a high degree of scientific achievement makes no sense, and neither does them having a war with the monkeys. So just ignore that, and enjoy another “base under seige” story that skewers race prejudice. Both the Humans and the Silurians have many members who only want to kill the other, and only the Doctor thinks there might be a way to live together.


The Ambassadors of Death

This is a thriller in the James Bond mold. Somehow Britain in the 1980s is sending manned missions to Mars, and latest, Mars Probe 7, has come back to Earth orbit, but the astronauts are not responding. So they send up a recovery capsule with another astronaut, and now he is not responding either. They manage to bring back the capsule, but mysterious bad guys try to steal the capsule, and do succeed in taking whoever was inside. We suspect alien life forms because of the high radiation readings. Humans could not survive such high radiation, but whoever these things are they seem to need the radiation to stay alive. There are lots of action scenes and mysteries about who the baddies are and what they want, partly because they don’t all want the same thing.

A few of the episodes are in black-and-white because the BBC continued its short-sighted policy of scrapping the tapes after the shows were transmitted, but all of the episodes are there.



This is a fun little romp that takes the Doctor into a Bizarro-world analog to our Earth, but in a sideways dimension. Britain is no longer a monarchy, but a Fascistic Republic, and the UNIT people are now sort of Nazi SS types. The plot is based on something that really did happen around this time called Project Mohole, which was about drilling into the Mohorovičić discontinuity, which is the boundary between the Earth’s crust and mantle. This was a very real program, but suddenly it stopped, and apparently the reason for stopping it was highly classified, or so the writers claimed. So they made a similar project the focus of this story, and gave a reason for stopping it. The main area where you have to suspend disbelief is that the drilling program was supposedly bringing up some green goo, and if you touched the green goo you gradually turned into a green-skinned, hairy werewolf-like creature called a Primord. The Doctor “explains” this as a retrogression, but then Pertwee’s Doctor was always good for scientific-sounding babble. Still, this is a favorite of the Pertwee era for many Doctor Who fans, and is a fun story that carries you right along.


Caroline John

Season 7

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