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We deal with the odd... the unexplained. Anything on Earth... or beyond.—The Brigadier sets out UNIT's mission statement
The TARDIS materialises (in colour, no less!) and a tall, white-haired man steps out and collapses.
UNIT troops arrive and find the man, taking him off to hospital, where he explains to the incredulous Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart that he is the Doctor, with a new face and body. As unlikely as this seems, an employee of the local plastic factory is also claiming that he's seen a walking mannequin. And there's a meteorite shower on.
The new Doctor discovers that the meteorites are in fact hollow globes containing the Nestene Consciousness, another disembodied alien intelligence (see "The Abominable Snowmen"), which uses plastics to achieve its ends. In one classic scene, shop dummies come to life, smashing through the shop windows and firing guns concealed in their hands, spreading panic - but the Nestene Consciousness's real plan is to create plastic replicas of world leaders and take over the Earth.
The Doctor and UNIT scientist Liz Shaw manage to repel the Consciousness back into space and the Doctor agrees to sign on as UNIT's "Scientific Advisor" for the duration of his exile, signing the paperwork as Dr. John Smith. In exchange UNIT will give him technical facilities to try and repair the TARDIS (which has been deactivated by the Time Lords), and the use of a vintage car which he had earlier appropriated from the hospital.
Spearhead from Space not only introduces a new Doctor and companion (Liz Shaw) but also marks the start of a new phase of Doctor Who. Budgetary restraints now meant that the setting would be "contemporary Earth" for the forseeable future, with the Doctor's "exile" being a case of Real Life Writes the Plot. It's also the only classic series story to be shot entirely on film. And the only story in colour, and the first story without the Doctor/male/female format.
Watch it here
Corporal: Is he dead, sir?
[cut to the hospital, some time later]
Doctor Henderson: No.
- Arm Cannon: The Autons love their folding/unfolding wrist guns.
- Artistic License Chemistry: In the scene where Liz describes how the alien plastic differs from anything known on Earth, everything she mentions is actually a real characteristic of Earthly plastics -- but by the time she's finished, she's effectively said that it lacks every characteristic necessary to defining a substance as being a plastic.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: The Doctor finds the shell of a Nestene Consciousness much more interesting than his conversation with the Brig, and breaks into talking about it mid-sentence.
- Crazy Awesome: The Doctor escapes from a raiding party of Autons. In a wheelchair.
- Creepy Doll: Part 2 has a scene in a creepy doll factory.
- Distressed Dude: In the very first episode of his very first story, the Third Doctor gets gagged and kidnapped by the Autons, who mistakenly think the reason UNIT is interested in him is because he has information on where the Auton Spheres landed.
- Doppelganger: The Auton facsimiles of key authority figures.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The Nestenes create "a life-form perfectly adapted for survival and conquest on this planet"; it's basically an enormous squid.
- Fan Service: The Doctor's Shower Scene.
- Had the Silly Thing In Reverse: Inverted when the Doctor makes off with the surgeon's car -- he needs to reverse to get out of the parking space, but starts going forward first.
- Immune to Bullets: The Autons
- Mr. Smith: The Brigadier is unamused when he asks for the Doctor's name for his files, and gets "John Smith".
- Murderous Mannequin
- This Was His True Form: The Auton facsimiles revert to the default blank-faced Auton form when they're deactivated.
- Tracking Device: After UNIT takes the TARDIS into protective custody while the Doctor's in hospital, the Doctor uses a homing device to find the TARDIS and therefore UNIT HQ.
- Wiper Start: When the Doctor tries to drive a car, he finds the horn before the starter, and starts in forward gear when he needs to reverse. (But no funny business with the wipers, because it's a veteran model that doesn't have any.)