Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Third Doctor Revisited: Spearhead From Space

Finally finished off with the Second Doctor era (and the head-canon following) so we're onto the Third Doctor era, as TJ and I continue to make our way through Classic Who. And I had enough random thoughts or tidbits to make a blog post. So here we go!

This was also my first exposure to the Third Doctor, over ten years ago, when some friends and I did a marathon of sorts before the 50th Anniversary Special; we had one story from each of the eleven Doctors of the time. Possibly one of the best things I did in college.

As the Third Doctor appeared, this was the first color episode to appear as well. I gotta wonder what it was like to watch the First and Second Doctors and then move into complete color, a novelty at the time. It's like a whole new era of Doctor Who. And not just because of the color.

With the Doctor grounded on Earth, unable to fly the TARDIS and working with UNIT, this episode (and this era) stretched the idea of who qualified as “companion” to the Doctor. Typically, Liz is considered the companion of this season, but she doesn't travel in the TARDIS any more than the Brigadier or other UNIT staff. In some lists, including my own, sometimes I'll even include recurring UNIT personnel, but I always include the Brig.

This story also brings up a lot of details that end up running through decades of Doctor Who. Let's start with the fact that this is the first time the Doctor's referenced to have two hearts, one of the few specific things we know about Time Lord anatomy. His allegiance with UNIT made him the organization's primary scientific advisor, which has continued over decades of canon, as recently as the Fourteenth Doctor.

As the second post-regeneration story, it was new territory for lots of themes and running gags. Lots of long time threads of regeneration began here. For example, the post-regeneration coma first happened here with the Third Doctor, but it would come up again with the Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Doctors, while the others showed no sign of problem. The Third Doctor was also the first of the Doctors to steal hospital clothes for his outfit, followed by the Eighth and Eleventh Doctors. 

The silly moments in this story also showcased the wonderful character of the Third Doctor and his comedic timing. I still can't get over the Doctor cuddling his shoes and escaping in a wheelchair. Can't wait to see more of him as I continue through the Third Doctor era (and I can't wait to see Sarah Jane again).

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