Spearhead from Space Part 2

While I had a bit of trouble transitioning from 2012 television back to 1970s television in part 1, with this episode, I was back in the groove. Things really start to move in this episode. We get more intrigue with the mysterious Mr. Channing, who has taken over a plastics factory. We get our first sighting of an Auton. Most importantly, however, we have The Doctor, fresh from his recovery, ready to bolt in the TARDIS. Unfortunately for him, The Brigadier has the key, so The Doctor barters his services in UNIT’s investigation in return for the TARDIS key. Surely this will be easier than when Marco Polo had the key.

Today, I want to focus on Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. I find him wonderful! He seems to be a continuation of the Second Doctor. I’m sure that we are still witnessing a transitional phase here. The previous incarnation’s personality may wane as we go further into the era, but for now, I enjoy that I can still hear the Second Doctor’s voice in the dialogue. This is probably aided by Robert Holmes’ writing, since he wrote two stories for Troughton.

Perhaps the most surprising part of this episode—for me, anyway—was when The Doctor met Liz Shaw. The two immediately teamed up to study the plastic meteor fragment, and to goad The Brigadier. And, if I’m not mistaken, the Third Doctor was flirting with Liz! Granted, it was quite mild. It came across as a flirtatious comment between intellectual equals. This probably won’t make too many old series fans happy, but I think, with the Third Doctor, we have the possibility of a sexual Doctor. By this, I don’t mean that he actively pursues his companions (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but that he enjoys the verbal repartee that is flirting. The Third Doctor is already adding a type of suave charm to his arrogance. Keep in mind, this charm flows out of the arrogance, almost as if, were we able to peek into his mind, he was saying “Why shouldn’t women be interested? Look at how brilliant I am!” Make no mistake, his charming of the ladies has nothing to do with scoring; it is always about his genius.

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One thought on “Spearhead from Space Part 2

  1. I felt I had to pass comment here, in regard to the ‘flirtatious’ Doctor.

    As will become clear, once you’ve seen all four of the serials in Pertwee’s first series, this episode is the only occasion on which the Doctor ‘flirts’ with Liz Shaw. Thereafter, once Liz has left the show, the Doctor / companion relationship becomes that of father and daughter, with the arrival of a terribly young Jo Grant (Katy Manning) at the beginning of the following season.

    In point of fact, the so-called flirting in this episode is merely a ploy, as the Doctor attempts to win the confidence of Liz Shaw to a point where he can ask for her help in stealing the TARDIS key from the Brigadier.

    The so-called ‘flirting’ is really no more than a bit of old-fashioned courtesy. Even though Liz is formidably intelligent by normal standards, she is nowhere near as intelligent as the Doctor; and her relationship with him is always much akin to that of Pat Troughton’s Doctor with Zoe, who was also exceptionally intelligent. Zoe’s intellect exceeded even Liz Shaw’s, for Zoe was rated a genius by the Space Service (in ‘The Wheel in Space’).

    Barry Letts believed that a companion should be on the same intellectual level as the tv audience, so as to be able to ask naturally the questions which the audience is wondering about, and would like to be able to ask. Hence he believed that Jo Grant would be a more effective companion than Zoe or Liz Shaw, who did not need to ask such simple questions.

    But even in ‘Spearhead from Space’, it is clear how much quicker on the uptake the Doctor is, even compared with Liz. Theirs is still not a relationship of equals. He is still somewhat patronising towards her. You misunderstood this, seeing it as arrogance; He would not seem so patronising in later years, because Jo Grant was so dim she genuinely needed things explained to her.

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