The first color episode of Doctor Who. Also the first episode featuring the third Doctor. This is also available on Blu-ray and the HD remastering is beautiful. This one still freaks me out just as much as when I was a wee lad. If you've got issues with wax museums or manikins you might want to steer clear. The dial on the creep out factor is turned way up here.
Welcome Doctor Who to DVD
Cliff Shelton | Norcross, GA United States | 02/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With this release, fans everywhere can finally get what they want: Doctor Who on DVD. We've all been waiting for the show to arrive on disc, and although it's been a bit longer than we'd hoped, this disc (and the other two) are well worth it!Spearhead from Space - Third Doctor Jon Pertwee's debut story, and the first shown in color - has been carefully restored and remastered for this DVD, and it shows. The DVD looks excellent, with sharp, vibrant colors and a vividness that US fans have never seen before. The disc far surpasses the murky compilation tape put out years ago, with a clear, bright picture, and many of the faults removed.Besides finally being released episodically - as the story was both broadcast and meant to be seen - the extras are great too. They include a fun, funny commentary by Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw), some great Production Notes (listed as a subtitle track), a UNIT recruitment film, a "Who's Who" biography section, and even an Easter Egg.It's nice to see that the BBC has picked such a good story for its first wave of DVDs. Not only is this a great Doctor Who tale full of action, it introduces us to the Third Doctor's era, the nasty Nestenes and their ability to control plastics, and the beginnings of the extended Doctor Who family the series would enjoy for the next five years. Let's hope all future releases are this nice!All in all Spearhead From Space has been well-restored, has plenty of extras and entertains thoroughly. It's worthy of any Doctor Who fan's collection, and will easily replace any other version you've got. I highly recommend it."
A glorious release!
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 09/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Spearhead From Space" is one of the first three "Doctor Who" DVDs released to North America. It's also the earliest of the stories, a 1970 adventure that introduced both the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and color film to the "DW" universe. A handsomely designed and produced disc, this is instantly one of the best DVDs in my collection, and a real coup for "Doctor Who" merchandise, which has never before seen a release of such high quality.The story itself is presented in a crisp clear transfer. Most "Doctor Who" fans in the US are familiar with episode quality through nth-generation videotape bootlegs, the occasional commercially-released VHS (of various quality), or through late-night PBS airings. To watch an episode presented so cleanly is a novelty in itself.It also helps that "Spearhead" is long regarded as one of "Doctor Who"'s finest outings. As the first 1970s tale, it introduces new concepts to the show -- an Earth-bound Doctor, a lack of scaley latex monsters, and a complete lack of time travel. Even 30 years later it's easy to take the story seriously on all levels. It was the only episode shot entirely on film (all on location), and the small cast is (almost) uniformly well-acted.The story on DVD can be watched on its own, or with a pop-up liner-notes format that highlights technical details, bits of trivia, and even basic information about the show, just in case you're new to the show. In addition there's a commentary track recorded by Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John, two of the stars of the story, both still popular on the convention circuit. Courtney's commentary displays a remarkable reach of knowledge about the series, while John seems to be watching for the first time since 1970, learning more as she goes along and showing welcome enthusiasm at all times. This track is more along the lines of two fans watching the show, as opposed to a no-holds-barred director's commentary, but it's worth playing at least once.The other extras are similarly well-done. There's a 5-minute featurette about UNIT (the paramilitary organization that assisted the Third Doctor ). This is narrated by Courtney and shows a wide range of clips from several decades' worth of TV "DW". There are also informative actor biographies and a more-hit-than-miss photo gallery. The hidden feature (accessible on the main menu) is an outtake from the story's opening titles sequence.On the whole, this DVD is a welcome treasure to State-side "Doctor Who" fans. Hopefully, subsquent DW DVD releases will match it for quality, breadth, and plain old enjoyment."
A Chilling Classic
Ian D. Smith | Bangor, ME United States | 11/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jon Pertwee's debut story has always been considered to be a superior story, arguably the best written debut of any incarnation of the Doctor, and one which introduced many new aspects to his character. Robert Holmes' third script for Doctor Who and his first bonafide classic, 'Spearhead' is equal parts suspense, action and whimsy, presented in an adult and often chilling manner. That's not to say it is perfect. The puppets used for the Nestenes are no where nearly as frightening as the faceless Autons, and the climax is quite comical (possibly intentionally, as it is preceded by so many disturbing scenes of mayhem).
As is often mentioned, the look of this story is unique. Having been shot entirely on location with film, this story has a gritty, realistic look to it which would never be emulated again by the series after the seventh season. As a result, 'Spearhead From Space' is one of the stories most suited for presentation on DVD. The image transfer is crisp, vibrant and probably looks better than it did upon its original transmission.
The DVD extras are fun additions. Caroline Shaw and Nicholas Courtney provide occassionally nostalgic commentary (Courtney's memory is quite remarkable), though much of it consists simply of their reactions to parts of the story that are chilling or funny etc. Narrated by Courtney and Dexter Fletcher ('Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'), the UNIT recruitment short is amusing and features many short choice scenes from DW stories that have involved UNIT from 'The Invasion' right through 1989's 'Battlefield.' The photo gallery is notable for some charmingly silly publicity poses by Pertwee. The included trailers are for a '90s DW night on BBC2 and rerun of 'Spearhead,' really more of a filler than a truly interesting extra, but if the idea of a DW advert set to a Blink-182 song intrigues you, behold!
While the most compelling extras are on later DVD releases, the appeal of this story comes from the thrilling writing, inspired direction, cinematic photography and exquisite acting from Nicholas Courtney, Caroline Shaw, the guest cast and of course the delightful Jon Pertwee. 'Spearhead From Space' has stood the test of time and remains a fun and haunting classic, one that looks better now than ever."
Looks gorgeous on DVD
Winston Engle | Albuquerque, NM USA | 03/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can hardly believe what a contrast this DVD is to the version still shown on PBS stations. The Doctor Who Restoration Team outdid themselves on this one. So many speckles of dirt have been painted out that the few left are noticeable mostly by their rarity. I had no idea there was so much color to be coaxed out of the original film, given the dull, brownish version I'd seen before. (If anything, it's sometimes too colorful. Bright red objects like Seely's tie immediately grab the eye.) For 16mm film, the grain is barely noticeable. The Team also attend to such details as correcting the pitch on one post-recorded line of the Brigadier's that had been time-compressed to fit. They also, unfortunately, had to remove a brief bit of Fleetwood Mac that couldn't be cleared, but if you haven't seen the story before, you wouldn't know it was supposed to be there.The commentary by Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney provides background detail from the actors' point of view, and it's fun listening to John growing more enthusiastic about the story, which she probably hadn't seen since 1970. The production subtitles are informative but sparse, especially in the latter two episodes. The "easter egg" alternative title sequence is fun, and in some ways, I think, preferable to the one they ended up using.So why 4 starts instead of 5? The story itself. While it successfully carries off a creepy mood and has some good scenes, there's really precious little plot. The Doctor is scarcely involved until Part Three. It ends up coming off as over three and a half episodes of setup, with little complication and an ending that's a sci-fi equilavent of waving a magic wand and making the problem disappear."
Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space
Frank Grasso | West Palm Beach, FL United States | 09/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's appropriate that "Spearhead from Space" is one of the first DVD "Doctor Who" releases since it's Jon Pertwee's debut as the Doctor, the first color "Doctor Who" story and the first to be made entirely on location and film. For reasons of space, I won't go into plot details but it's a strong story with top notch performances by the entire cast. This DVD rendering really shines with a clean print presented in episodic form for the first time on US video. (The cassette is a compilation print.) Also restored is the missing "Episode 3" caption which is mysteriously missing from US television prints. There are plenty of extras too. A running commentary by actors Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John is fun to listen to. Their recall about events and people from 30+ years ago is suprising but very welcome. The 5-minute UNIT recruitment film which spoofs army films is good for a chuckle. There's also an Easter Egg of an alternate Pertwee title sequence. To find it, select "Scene Selection" from the main menu and press the left arrow on your remote twice. It's surprising how much work went into this DVD for a show supposedly with declining popularity while other more well known shows get the short end of the stick on DVD. ("Star Trek" anyone?) All in all a good way to start your "Doctor Who" DVD collection."