Synopsis: The Doctor’s adventures come back to haunt him as a stolen gem from Metebelis Three triggers ‘the most dangerous adventure of his life’. The Doctor’s greed for adventure and knowledge is matched by the greed for power of the Eight-Legs and their leader, the Great One. And none of them will survive this one…
- Prologue: The Mystery of the Crystal
- 1. The Menace at the Monastery
- 2. The Deadly Experiment
- 3. The Coming of the Spider
- 4. The Chase for the Crystal
- 5. The Council of the Spiders
- 6. Arrival on Metebelis Three
- 7. Prisoner of the Spiders
- 8. The Doctor Hits Back
- 9. In the Lair of the Great One
- 10. Return to Earth
- 11. The Battle with the Spiders
- 12. The Last Enemy
- Epilogue: An End and a Beginning
Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts by Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts, uncredited) from 1974.
Notes: Another lovely prologue that I wish we’d seen on TV as Professor Jones and his new bride encounter resistance in their trek across the Amazon forests. Jo Jones, formerly Jo Grant of UNIT, has to ditch a huge blue crystal that the Doctor gave her as a wedding present. There’s a Dr Sweetman working as UNIT’s medical officer today [but see The Giant Robot]. The soldier on guard at UNIT HQ gets a name (Corporal Hodges). We also find out that four of Lupton’s gang were hospitalised with nervous breakdowns, while the Brigadier helps Sarah to get Tommy into university.
Cover: ‘Read the last exciting adventure of DR WHO’s 3rd Incarnation!’ screams the back cover. On the front, Peter Brookes gives us the Doctor reacting to Sarah with the Queen Spider on her back, along with a montage of the Doctor changing face that’s much more dramatic than we get on telly. There are no illustrations inside but there’s one on the back cover of a spider crawling across a mandala. I had the 1978 reprint with an Alun Hood cover depicting a blue crystal and a red-backed tarantula clambering over some rocks. The 1991 reprint with art by Alister Pearson shows a haunted portrait of Pertwee reflected in the blue crystal and another tarantula-like arachnid reared to attack.
The epilogue is called ‘An End and a Beginning’; we’ll be seeing variations on this a lot over the next few years.
Final Analysis: My earliest memory is of Planet of the Spiders, where a spider appearing on a carpet after some men chant ‘Um Andy Pandy Um’ (I know what they chant now, of course!), so this holds a special relevance for me. This is a decent adaptation with some lovely additions to the thought processes of the characters. Dicks captures Sarah’s voice particularly well (although once again, he has her fainting!) and he adds greatly to our understanding of Lupton and his bitterness. We also benefit from a much more thrilling – and logical – version of the very padded chase sequence.
3 thoughts on “Chapter 16. Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders (1975)”
I love this book. Its spooky and exciting, more than the TV version could be. I read this long before seeing the story. Double VHS tapes were a luxury back then!!. My copy is the 91 version, which I won in the DWM Mega Merchandise comp. I got it signed by Nick Courtney and Gareth Hunt.
Very special book indeed.
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I agree with all of your thoughts on this book, but especially this one:
“Dicks captures Sarah’s voice particularly well (although once again, he has her fainting!)…”
Oh, the fainting, the constant, persistent fainting. I should have set up a drinking game for every time that Dicks has Sarah faint, though given that it’s about once per book, I wouldn’t be getting all that drunk. However, reading them in story order makes you wonder whether the poor girl has a touch of narcolepsy, as even a passing breeze will make her fall out.
Good job on this!
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My earliest memories of watching the show were a few scenes from Death to the Daleks and Monster of Peladon, then this (with the spider appearing on Sarah’s back being a particular nightmare/highlight); reinforced by the omnibus showing later in the year, before Tom’s first story. I treasured the book (still do).
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