We’ve seen them before; arguably, they’ve been in every story thus far (not counting the historicals unless you want to count human monsters). Despite this, part three of Spearhead is the first time I looked at a story’s villain and thought, “These are monsters.”
My formative Doctor Who years were steeped in Hinchcliffe and Holmes. These were the stories my mom watched, thus they were the stories I watched. Under their production/writing, the monsters went beyond scary; they became horrific. It is quite obvious that Hinchcliffe and Holmes were influenced by Hammer horror films. There is nothing wrong with this, as Doctor Who has always had outside influences (what art doesn’t), but with H&H the monsters, the scares, became less about family fun and more about telling the stories that H&H enjoyed. It so happens that many people enjoy this type of Who storytelling, and that is fine.
But it is different.
The Autons are, I think, the first Holmesian monster. Sure, Robert Holmes gave us the Krotons before, but they weren’t quite so scary. The Autons, however, are chilling.
Doctor Who seems just a bit darker than it was three episodes prior.