Ain't No Hurricane Gonna Stop the Time Treadmill!
No joke, last night was straight-up terrifying. Hurricane Irma took a late turn to the east, and the eye of the storm wound up passing right over us. Even with the storm losing strength from traveling across the land to get here, it packed a real wallop. Hurricanes are freaking loud, and it is crazy to hear your own house creaking in the wind as debris flies by an bangs into things. That being said, we were very fortunate. We lost power for a grand total of sixteen hours. We lost a bunch of shingles from our roof, but maintained structural integrity. A portion of our fence came down, but I was able to repair it during the day today. We had some water intrusion through our front door (not from flooding, but from driving rain), but we have that all mopped up. There are trees down all over the area, there are homes and businesses destroyed, but we got away with nothing more than a scary night and some cosmetic damage. It could have been so much worse and I am grateful that it wasn't.
It seems somehow poetic that I started off the Third Doctor with the fireworks of the Fourth of July, and now I have finished him with a cataclysmic storm. The primary theme of the story's climax was all about facing your fears, and boy howdy did we do that. So let's talk about that.
Planet of the Spiders - Parts 5 & 6
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Part five has the Doctor confronting the Great One, a super-giant, super-intelligent spider with aspirations of galactic domination. She needs the blue crystal, knows it is back on Earth, and after a bit of mind control and psychic torture she sends the Doctor off to get it. He is, for once in his life, absolutely terrified. To top that off, Sarah Jane Smith is similarly being compelled by the queen of the spiders to go get the crystal as well. There is a really interesting and surprising political shrift between the Queen spider, the rest of the spider council, and the Great One. Just layers and layers of things going on here. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Tommy is frustrated because although his brain has been healed of whatever mental retardation had been afflicting him, that doesn't mean he is suddenly knowledgeable. His reading of library books only takes him so far before he decides to talk to the Abbot of the Buddhist meditation center. Also meanwhile back on Earth, the bad guy's group has founded a new meditation circle through which several Metabilis spiders are able to teleport and then promptly take over the men in the group. All of this leads to an episode climax in which four spider-controlled men are confronting Tommy, who is standing guard in front of the Abbot's room, while the Doctor and Sarah Jane try to explain the situation.
The interesting thing is, the start of part six does something I don't recall the show ever doing before. Usually with a cliffhanger, the next episode rewinds some small amount (perhaps a minute or so), then resolves the immediate situation and marches onward. In this case, the sixth episode rewinds a bit but then throws in a bunch of additional detail for each of the players in motion. What took roughly sixty seconds at the end of part five takes closer to five minutes at the beginning of part six, and it is amazingly cool. Then the big reveal comes that the Abbot is actually a Time Lord, and in fact the very same Time Lord who mentored the Doctor as a young man. The Abbot and the Doctor are able to free Sarah Jane from the control of the Queen spider, which in the aftermath causes the Abbot to regenerate. This is the first time that the word "regeneration" is ever used in the show, and it cements the concept into Doctor Who lore. All of which leads to the Doctor returning to Metabilis with the blue crystal in order to confront the Great One, who ultimately dies in a glowing blue and red ball of hubris.
The upshot of which is the Doctor returning to UNIT three weeks later, having been lost in the time stream, and collapsing in front of the Brigadier and Sarah Jane before regenerating. It is a lovely, lovely sequence, and you should really watch it now.
"A tear, Sarah Jane?"
Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, and Nicholas Courtney all raise the level of this show well above being the silly children's program it purports to be. Whatever bits of camp and dodgy special effects there may be, it is stories like this one that made me fall in love with the show as a young boy and to continue to love it today. I loved this story so much, and a small piece of me is angry and frustrated that I had never even watched it until just this week. For decades I have given Jon Pertwee short shrift as the Doctor, and for no good reason. Don't get me wrong, Patrick Troughton is still very much my Doctor, but the Third Doctor's era is pretty amazing.
So now here we are, nearly seven months into this project and I have arrived at the point where I came in as a young boy in the 70's. With tomorrow's new story it's Tom Baker as the Doctor, Robert Holmes as the script editor, Terrence Dicks writing up a storm, and it's Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan as the companions with the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton as series regulars. All of the mythology is in place, and here we are. I'll be spending the next three months with my first Doctor, the Fourth Doctor, re-watching the true Golden Age of Doctor Who.
The only real question is, by the time I finish with Four can I get myself below 250 lbs and down to a 40" waist? Time will tell.
Companion(s): Sarah Jane Smith
Episode(s): Planet of the Spiders - Parts 5 & 6
Steps Walked: 7,238 today, 1,303,019 total
Distance Walked: 3.75 miles today, 644.77 miles total
Weight: 259.78 lbs (five day moving average), net change -47.52 lbs