PLANET OF THE SPIDERS
Oh crikey... what a way to go. The Third Doctor's last story is as tedious as the previous adventure, with six more episodes of padding and largely dull action. Yes, the spiders look good, but they are also more interesting than most of the human characters, which is not so good. There is an pointless chase of epic proportions in episode 2, to allow Jon Pertwee to indulge his passion for vehicular antics one last time, where the Doctor goes all James Bond and pursues the spider-possessed Lupton in the 'Whomobile', a gyrocopter and a hovercraft, the sheer effort of which is more than slightly undermined by the villain teleporting to safety seemingly on a whim. We get the belated swansong of Mike Yates, returning after his ignominious departure in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs', but unless I dropped off and missed something he appears to have vanished two-thirds of the way in with a complete absence of fanfare. Admittedly I was very tired, but the last four episodes followed a pattern broadly incorporating twenty minutes' viewing followed by half an hour's inadvertant snoozing, an attempt at rewinding to the last thing I remembered only to doze off again for a moment and accidentally go back forty-five minutes, watching some more as I didn't recognise it, then hitting another familiar patch and realising I'd obviously missed some earlier without even noticing, and finally fast-forwarding to my actual drop-off point and attempting to watch another episode or so - the whole blurring together in a horrifying CSO-clogged switchback ride that seemed never-ending on at least two occasions. On the plus side, there is a nice update on the progress of Jo and Cliff's Amazon adventure when the blue crystal arrives back at UNIT HQ at the beginning of the story, so setting up the Doctor's fateful return to Metebelis 3. Good use is made of K'Anpo and/or Cho-Je (the latter delicately portrayed by Kevin Lindsay in a performance astonishingly removed from his previous Sontaran role), with a rare confronting of the issues raised by the Doctor's continuous curiosity with and interference in temporal affairs. There is, significantly, the first description of Time Lord 'regeneration' - and ultimately the real thing, with an emotional goodbye from the Third Doctor to Sarah Jane and the Brigadier as Jon Pertwee's features blur and are replaced by those of Tom Baker.
Looks like the show's in safe hands, anyway...
Episodes watched: 273
Episodes still to watch: 449