The Monsters of Dr. Who… Autons
It’s Dr. Who day!
For all of us who know that the fabulous BBC show is more than science fiction. Horror lurks in the timey-wimey stuff. And today, scary comes in the form of everyday things.
The Autons first appeared in the episode “Spearhead from Space” in 1970, meeting the Third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee. Classified as robots, they serve the Nestene Consciouness, an alien entity bent on conquering the Earth. The Autons are anything plastic, given life by Nestene energy.
Imagine walking down a street when the mannequins in a store window suddenly move, when they reveal a hidden weapon in their hands and try to vaporize you. Mannequins with no faces… objects that shouldn’t move. The screaming. The running. The dying. The chaos.
The Third Doctor meets the Autons again in 1971 in the episode “Terror of the Autons”. The Doctor’s nemesis The Master (he’ll get his own blog post… or two) has stolen Nestene energy and intends to conquer Earth and destroy The Doctor – as a bonus.
This time they’re not just faceless mannequins.
These- well I suppose they are trying for funny- creepy smiling guys hand out daffodils, plastic daffodils.
These killer fake flowers shoot liquid plastic, which covers noses and mouths, suffocating people. After the victims are dead, the plastic dissolves, leaving a strange death… and an innocent-looking flower.
Walking mannequins are creepy. Killer flowers are frightening.
The Autons are becoming more and more like people…
But this episode scarred poor child-me forever with the introduction of this ugly plastic doll.
Which suddenly came to life and killed people. Dolls shouldn’t move. The terrible pitter-patter of molded plastic feet on the floor, their small stature making them difficult to see… *shudder*
The Autons re-appeared in 2005 with the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, in the episode “Rose”. Remember this?
Because Rose works in a shop… a shop with mannequins…
The Nestene Conciousness has returned. This time not only is it using faceless plastic people, but it copies real people, like Rose’s best mate. Now the threat can look like anyone, can be anywhere.
Fear strikes best when the danger isn’t defined. Terror darkens our minds when the attack comes from a place of safety, such as dolls or store mannequins. The Autons make us stare at the things that can’t possibly hurt us and wonder, our hearts fluttering. Plastic, an invention that makes life easier, right? Think twice about those cute dolls in your kids’ rooms and those unassuming figures at the mall… those plastic flowers on the mantel… heck, aren’t Christmas trees made of plastic these days?
*Dr. Who on Wikipedia.org
*Dr. Who Character Encyclopedia by Jason Loborik, Annabel Gibson, and Moray Laing; DK Publishing 2013, pg. 18
*pics from the episodes “Spearhead from Space”, “Terror of the Autons”, and “Rose” from Google Images
Awesome post, Kathy! Rose is my favorite Dr. Who character ever, and that first episode with her is wonderful. Remind me to tell you about the time I hung out with Sylvester McCoy at a sci-fi convention. Amazing guy.
*gasp* Sylvester McCoy! NO WAY!!!!! *dies of jealousy*