View Poll Results: How would you rate Terror of the Autons?

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20. You may not vote on this poll
  • 10: I am usually referred to as The Master

    5 25.00%
  • 9: I'm your new assistant!

    5 25.00%
  • 8: Goodbye DOCTOR!

    6 30.00%
  • 7: That jackanapes- all he does is casue trouble

    3 15.00%
  • 6: Fetch a tin of what?

    1 5.00%
  • 5: Vanity is his weakness

    0 0%
  • 4: Has a cold, clammy feel

    0 0%
  • 3: Horrible looking thing

    0 0%
  • 2: Unimaginative plodder

    0 0%
  • 1: Ham fisted

    0 0%
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  1. #1
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    Default Rate and Discuss: Terror of the Autons



    Featuring the debuts of Jo Grant and The Master, not to mention Mike Yates, a new lab at UNIT for the Doctor and the start of the UNIT Family, terror of the Autons opened Season 8 forty years ago.

    But what do you think of it? Does it stand up well today?

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2
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    I'm a bit of a floating voter on this one - in that I seem to change my opinion every time I watch it. I came away from it last time (and I'm scratching my head now trying to recall when I saw it last) really having enjoyed it - but I know that the time before I came away thinking it was all a bit silly and more a series of 'moments' strung together than a story.

    Even now I'm not sure what all the business with the circus is about, or why you'd keep an Auton in a safe, but (from memory of last time) the whole cast seems to be giving it everything, while at the same time clearly enjoying what they're doing, that it's hard not to like.

  3. #3
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    "Terror" is wonderful. It looks fabulous - a comic strip come to life, it's one of the few stories that's genuinely like a TV Comic strip, with the action flitting between such vivid locations as a circus, a radio telescope, UNIT HQ and the factory. It's full of big, bold new characters, some of which would last for the next thirty years - this story introduced both Jo Grant and the Master. The music shouldn't be underestimated - the pulsing, sinister "Master Theme" is fantastic. Then there's the Autons - badder than before, being telephone cables, dolls and daffodils.

    Best of all though is the direction - it's like a film, snapping between scenes so quickly. If this story were a side of bacon, there'd be not a shred of fat on it. When Mrs Farrell finds her husband, her scream is mostly off-camera, as we've already cut to the next shot. The theft of the Nestene Energy Unit is done in about 10 seconds, when they could have wasted ages on it. We just see the museum, a stunned security guard, and the Master CHOP and then we're somewhere else. It's a story full of close-up reaction shots and clever cuts; for years I was convinced that when the Auton is driven off the cliff, tumbles to the bottom, and then gets straight back up again, it was all one shot. But it's not! There's a crafty cut! It's very hard to spot it though, and it's a real "How DID they do that?" moment.

    The only bad thing you can say is that several of the CSO backgrounds look a little fake - and the Doll is a REALLY great idea ruined by execution, as it just looks like a bloke in a fat suit. But really everything else - the winning performances, the nifty direction, the sheer volume of delightful set peices rattled out (the bomb in the case, the Auton in the cupboard, the Auton Policeman turning round in the car for one of THE best Cliffhangers) is wonderful.

    After Season 7 had ground to an exhausted stop, this bold about-turn breathed another four years of life into Doctor Who.

    Si.

  4. #4
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    Having watched season 7 just last year, I've now started on a retrospective of season 8 (This thread comes just in time) and I'm surprised at the sudden subtle changes in Pertwee's Doctor. He seems a bit more irritable and bad tempered, brash, ruder, even towards the Brigadier and his staff, but just stops short of being rude to Jo, even when she ruins his experiment.
    I know his temperament changes a little as we go through season 8, as his relationship with Jo develops he becomes more of a kindly uncle towards her and a little cooler, although we have an excursion into outer space, perhaps this helps the Doctor feel a little less restricted.

    There's a great example in episode two of Terror of Pertwee forgetting or not having learned his lines. Jo is standing in the middle of the Doctor's lab, The Doctor has just thrown the bomb through the window, she is there in post hypnotic state, Yates begins his line "But I thought.." The Doctor takes over the line and pauses as he realises it should be Yates' line, Yates looks confused, not sure where to go as The Doctor continues the line and gets them both to where they should be in the script. It's an odd little moment I'd never noticed before and one which amused me no end when I saw it on the weekend.

    One thing's for sure, watching this on old fashioned VHS tape makes one realise just how much DVD has spoiled us over the years, the picture is grainy and noisy, and the sound seems very tinny, can't wait for MArk Ayres' magic on this one.

  5. #5

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    "Terror of the Autons" is a great and colourful fun story. It introduces the Master, who will go on to be the Doctor's nemesis like Moriarty to Holmes, Jo Grant, the new assistant and Captain Mike Yates.

    I actually prefer this story to "Spearhead from Space" because the Doctor is more involved in TOTA whereas is SFS, he is mostly recovering from his regeneration and doesn't really get involved until towards the end (like most Doctor debut adventures).

    Also memorable for causing complaints what with the Troll Doll scaring Barry Letts' friend's son and the Auton policemen, sparking complaints from Scotland Yard. I think it was discussed in Parliament too.

    The back of the VHS release makes the tale sound exciting and even says "The Master is back" when it's his first story.

    10/10

  6. #6
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    If this story were a side of bacon, there'd be not a shred of fat on it
    That's a superb review, brilliant!

  7. #7
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    Colour it classic, it's a piece of absolute brilliance, the zenith of the Pertwee era, a joy from start to finish and I will deck anyone who says it isn't. Hurrah!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  8. #8
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    That's a superb review, brilliant!
    Thanks Andrew!

    Si.

  9. #9
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    I haven't watched this in ages, I've only just dug it out so I'll report back with my thoughts later. I'm looking forward to a season of Pertwee, the last time I watched this era as a season was back when UK Gold repeated these stories for the first time in a late night slot in the early 90s

  10. #10
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    We started watching this last night and my first thought was how quickly it moves. There's lots of short, snappy scenes that zip along. It's very noticable, that like Si says, there's lots of fast cuts that keep it moving all the time.

    Also I noticed what a magnificent presence Roger Delgado has throughout this episode. He's not quite the gentleman villain he becomes as the story goes on- instead we quite often see him as a burning, malevolent presence, eyes smouldering with dark power, completely silent. And really rather menacing.
    I also love the way he brandishes his gun like it's a cigar. Superbly stylish.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  11. #11
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    as good as season, 7 was I much prefer the change of pace and direction we get in season 8 - I think just for it's scare and shock value I'd say Terror, is the better of the two Auton stories.

  12. #12
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    The direction seems a little odd sometimes, as though everyone's acting in Brief Encounter or an old David Niven war film; perhaps it's due to half the regular cast being new, and trying to slip them into a standard story as seamlessly as possible.

    Otherwise, the disappointment at the overuse of the CSO and the Autons' masks being less impessive compared to Spearhead is made up by an attempt to find plenty of new forms for them to take, and new threats to offer. Slip in a new villain to take the place of the Auton duplicate, who would serve the series well in his own way for years to come, and you have a fairly tidy tale. It's a good job the production team showed patience with robert Holmes; it's the first two Auton stories which form the basis of his reputation.

    7/10.

  13. #13
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    One odd thing I've noticed - there are a number of occasions where Mike Yates is talking, but the camera is resting on somebody else. It happens when the Doctor is defusing the volatiser and again in Part Two where Jo Grant is under hypnosis. It's very unusual for an actor to be talking out of shot in this sort of television.

    Other than that, there are loads of really really short scenes! It keeps the pace rocketing along.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  14. #14
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    Default Now hands that do dishes.......

    Episode three moves on at a cracking pace doesn't it!! I was sat in raptures while watching it with all sorts of memories going through my head, too many to rabbit on about here.

    Those daffodils... my mother had a vase full of those on the kitchen window sill around this time, they were there for ages, in fact things like that became everyday items, I think they were given away with Fairy Liquid washing up liquid. Little wonder that the government of the day debated such imagery in Doctor Who. It seems so tame today that with entry into the Common Market just around the corner you'd wonder if the government had anything really worthwhile to talk about.

    The cliffhanger ending to this episode is quite enthralling too, more Pertwee gurning as a telephone cord wraps itself around his throat. One wonders how he'll get out of it.

  15. #15
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    That's the real delight of Terror of The Autons, the idea of making ordinary, everyday objects into something sinister. It's surely not the first time Doctor Who had gone down that route, but Robert Holmes does it with aplomb in a series of well-engineered set pieces. Of course, this was hugely influential on everything that came after too, particularly in the RTD era.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  16. #16
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    It's very good but the ending is a bit dodgy. It's a shame because the story has been really good up to that point, but the Master's backtracking on his plan feels a bit of a let down.

    Very well made, full of great imagery- the Auton showmen are creepy, the plastic flowers are good use of something ordinary being frightening, and very well directed. Nice witty script too. Good old Robert Holmes.

    8/10 (-1pt for the end)

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  17. #17
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    It's a real shame it has quality issues. The more time goes on I realise that the quality these episodes are left in affects my appreciation of them. A crisp, brand new "Terror" would be perfect, but my impression of it now is bleached and blurry. Hopefully when they release it this year it will look a bit better, though I'm not sure how much given that it'll possibly be the first time we see a 100% Chroma Dot (and no additional manual recolouring) recolourisation.

    Si.

  18. #18
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    If they can get it looking as good as The Silurians then I'll eb pleased.

    From what I remember, this was the story they got the best results from when they did the original recolourisations, so I have high hopes for the results when this story is released later in the year. The remastered soundtrack will help a great deal too- I noticed this one was really hissy.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  19. #19
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    That mint condition clip from Episode 1 when Jo meets the Doctor which they used in a documentary or whatever makes you weep. If only the whole thing was still like that.

  20. #20
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    What a difference it makes waiting over a decade to rewatch a story (well, quite a few stories to be honest...). While this was once a favourite of mine, the last time I watched it was in the late 90s at a time when I suffered Doctor Who burnout...I quite simply got fed up watching the same old stories again and again. I didn't particularly enjoy this the last time, having watched it back-to-back with Spearhead...the difference in style were between the stories were just too jarring for me at that time, and I remember feeling that if I wasn't even enjoying old favourites as much as I used to then it was time to give myself a few years break from them and come back to these stories with a fresh eye...

    Although the new series probably put things on hold for me regarding rewatching old stories on a regular basis, it's paid off big time for me recently watching S18 and now S8 (sorry guys, I just couldn't bring myself to watch S24!) I've rediscovered the magic in the series, I'm enjoying once again what I once felt jaded watching and that includes Terror Of The Autons. There are many scenes to enjoy here, but I particularly enjoyed the way they talked down to Jo (in a protective way) such as when she rescued the Doctor his first response was "I thought I told you not to come". Even though Katy Manning and Roger Delgado were new additions, both were great here and there was a real chemistry between the regulars already; it's easy to see how they became known as the UNIT 'family'. And the shrunken body of the scientist is more convincing than the similar scene in Logopolis. With advances in special effects you'd have thought it would be the other way round!

    It's been a joy to watch this story again, my only real problem is with the VHS quality compared to DVD. It's hard to believe that we used to think the video releases were great when you see them played back on modern HD televisions, isn't it? I don't remember ever complaining about the picture quality all those years ago...

    8/10

  21. #21
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    I'm delighted you've re-found your love for this story, Kenny!

    VHS quality compared to DVD
    I always think with these things that if you get absorbed in the story you tend not to notice the picture quality after a few minutes. But it's true that they would never release something looking like Terror of The Autons these days. With these recolourised Pertwees though, there's always the feeling that there might be a better quality copy just around the corner, that technological standards might improve what we can get out of it.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  22. #22
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    Do you think they'll combine the existing/remade black and white film prints and off-air colour copy hybrid with a new Chroma-Dot rescued version to produce a composite? It won't just be a chroma-dot recovery will it?

    I hope "Terror" comes out on DVD sooner rather than later this year. I can't wait to see it!

    Si.

  23. #23
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    I'd have thought it'd be a combination of all the various methods to get the best version they can out of it. We'll see sometime this year, won't we?

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  24. #24
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    Full marks from me. A very Masterful story and what a great entrance into the story the Master makes
    'Steed is one of my most valuable subjects he's too valuable to lose'

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