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20 March 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Sloman and Barry Letts

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 18th April 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 20th March 2011

The epic, six part conclusion to Jon Pertwee's era of Doctor Who arrives with this double disc DVD from BBC DVD / 2|Entertain.  Disc one is the episodic version of Planet of the Spiders, complete with an optional commentary from Elisabeth Sladen, Richard Franklin and the now sadly passed away and much loved and missed Nicholas Courtney. All the info usual text is available and it's a great romp; one hundred and fifty minutes of classic science fantasy television.  The giant spiders of Metebelis Three are after the blue crystal The Doctor removed from the planet back in The Green Death, and will stop at nothing to get it back in their webby little legs...

Pertwee's swansong adventure is a long, but very entertaining affair.  It features every form of transport you can think of, and even some dashing about in the TARDIS - something or a rarity for this incarnation of the Time Lord.  The UNIT family are all together one last time, and it's a celebration of the Third Doctor, and all handled in precisely the way that had made the first colour season of Doctor Who work so well.  It's fun, exciting and worth every second.  You'll never look at those big spiders in your bathroom the same way again...

On disc two there's the extras, and something quite surprising.  There's a really nicely put together look back over Pertwee's time as the Doctor, and an equally warm feature with Barry Letts looking back on his time with Doctor Who; both of which show just how much work and love went into the show from start to finish.  Both featurettes have contributions from a variety of sources, including Jon Pertwee, Terrance Dicks, and of course Barry Letts himself.  There are also some great anecdotes from people like Mat Irvine on the spider props and the lesson of telling people what you need in good time; and from John Kane, the immensely likeable and gentle Tommy in the story, on his memories of Who and what he's done since.

Then there's the longest television trailer ever for a repeat run of Planet of the Spiders shown as one long story on a Saturday afternoon in December on BBC1 - the trailer just rambles on and on and on, with clips upon clips; it looked like the BBC had a lot of time to fill that Christmas!

And then, the surprising thing is... they included the abridged story itself!  The unrestored and very long edited together version is here too for your enjoyment, which slightly mystifies me, as there's no extra material as there was with the Battlefield release for example, but if you're a completist it's all good for the collection.

The story gets 10/10 for being suitably epic and wrapping up the UNIT years with panache and style, and the extras get 10/10 for leaving you with a warm glow that Doctor Who was genuinely loved and cared for during Pertwee's tenure as the Time Lord.

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