VHS covers of the original UK releases
VHS covers of the original UK releases

The Auton trilogy is a series of direct-to-video spin-off productions based on the long running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who. The three films in the series are Auton (1997), Auton 2: Sentinel (1998; working title, Auton 2: The Rapture) and Auton 3 (1999; working title, Auton 3: Awakening). They were produced by the independent BBV company and are sequels to the Third Doctor stories Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons. All three films have been reissued on DVD.

All story elements relating to Doctor Who were licensed from their respective authors.

Synopses

When a Nestene energy unit and several Autons are reactivated at a UNIT facility, a plot for world domination that predates mankind is set in motion.

Plot

Auton

Auton
Directed byNicholas Briggs
Written byNicholas Briggs
Produced byBill Baggs
StarringMichael Wade
Bryonie Pritchard
George Telfer
Verona Chard
Reece Shearsmith
CinematographyAndy Bell
Edited byBill Baggs
Music byAlistair Lock
Production
company
Release date
1997
Running time
57 minutes

At a top secret UNIT facility known only as "the Warehouse", Dr Sally Arnold has been studying a Nestene energy unit with no results. As a last resort, she subjects the artifact to cosmic signals from UNIT's most powerful deep space scanning satellite. This causes a violent energy release that kills her assistant, Janice. The energy unit has disappeared.

A containment team, led by a psychic UNIT operative named Lockwood, has been dispatched. Among Lockwood's abilities is the ability to access all information from any computer mainframe in the world with his mind.

They soon learn that the Nestene energy unity has taken on a mobile form, and that there is an Auton copy of senior archivist Graham Winslet. The real Winslet is still alive, his mind being used by the Autons as a resource of information. The energy unit then merges with the Auton Winslet.

Several dormant Autons in the Warehouse come back to life and the building becomes a battlefield. They are eventually defeated with the weapon created by the Doctor and Liz Shaw in Spearhead from Space. The Auton Winslet then liquefies and escapes through a ventilation shaft.

Reception

Karen Davies wrote in the fanzine Celestial Toyroom that the story was, "An enjoyable, but undemanding 57 minutes." In particular, Karen felt that the direction paused too often and the dialogue was not realistic enough.[1] In Doctor Who Magazine, Dave Owen would heavily praise Michael Wade's performance, stating that he was, "so superciliously smug and patronizing that he demands your attention."[2]

Modern criticism has remained mostly positive. In the book Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who, Dylan Rees stated that the film was, "the most Doctor Who like of all BBV films. It is also the most B-movie in its direction." He would go on to praise the story and performances, but criticized the direction.[3]

Novelisation

A novelisation of this drama will be published in early 2022.[4]

Auton 2: Sentinel

Auton 2: Sentinel
Directed byNicholas Briggs
Written byNicholas Briggs
Produced byBill Baggs
StarringMichael Wade
Jo Castleton
George Telfer
Warren Howard
Music byAlistair Lock
Production
company
Release date
1998
Running time
57 minutes

Two years after the Warehouse incident, a lorry transporting Autons from the Warehouse to another UNIT facility is hijacked by its own cargo. Meanwhile, Lockwood is troubled by extremely active dreams. UNIT learns that the transfer of the Autons was authorized by Lockwood. When he later remembers signing the transportation docket, it becomes evident that the Nestene Consciousness is using Lockwood's psychic abilities to their own ends.

UNIT's Internal Security Division launches an investigation on Lockwood, pairing him with another psychic operative named Natasha Alexander. While Lockwood's abilities are owed to an alien implant, Natasha claims to have been psychic since birth.

The escaped Autons are traced to Sentinel Island. There the Auton Winslet has installed himself as the local vicar. He has brainwashed most of the island's inhabitants and the Autons have killed those who resisted. They are using the combined mental energy of the church's congregation to awaken a Nestene creature buried beneath.

There are dormant Nestenes lying underground around the world. They were put in place before the development of the human race. Their locations have become known to humanity as holy sites and are connected by ley lines.

When Lockwood and Natasha arrive at the church, they succeed in reviving the Nestene. The Nestene attempts to awaken the others. Lockwood tries to defeat it, but instead absorbs the creature into his own mind.

Reception

Dylan Rees gave a positive review of the film in Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who, calling it, "Drama that pefectly straddles the divide between its Doctor Who origins and contemporary science fiction.[5]

Dave Owen also praised the story, as well as the CGI and music.[6]

Auton 3

Auton 3
Directed byBill Baggs
Patricia Merrick
Written byNicholas Briggs
(as "Arthur Wallis")
Paul Ebbs
StarringMichael Wade
Jo Castleton
George Telfer
Graeme Du Fresne
Bryonie Pritchard
Release date
1 June 1999 (1999-06-01)

Lockwood and Natasha have returned from Sentinel Island, coming on shore in the town of Millhampton. Computers around the world are failing. They are being invaded by the Nestene Consciousness through Lockwood's implant.

Meanwhile, the entire population of Millhampton has disappeared. They have been absorbed into the mind of another revived Nestene below the city. The only survivor is the real Winslet, who is still being used by the Nestenes at the local psychiatric hospital.

Lockwood and Natasha are both being used by another psychic UNIT operative named Palmer to lead them to the heart of the Nestene activity. Palmer monitors their movements through a constant link with Natasha's mind.

Meanwhile, Natasha is used by the Nestenes to lure Lockwood to the hospital, which the Autons are using as the centre of their operation. There the Auton Winslet is trying to free the Nestene energy from Lockwood's mind so it can infect every computer in the world and revive all the dormant Nestene creatures. Lockwood resists by convincing himself that everything he sees is a dream.

When Dr Arnold arrives, his resolve is broken. He is then forced to sacrifice his own life to destroy the Nestene plan.

Reception

Unlike the previous two films, Auton 3 received much more negative reviews from critics. Doctor Who Magazine heavily criticized the production, focusing on the writing and stated that it, "shamelessly cribbed from The X-Files."[7] Modern criticism has also continued the negative trend, with Dylan Rees stating in the book Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who that the film was "a mess from start to finish" and that the direction was "stilted and poor."[8]

However, Dreamwatch would give the film a positive review, with Richard McGinlay stating that it was "powerfully realized and performed."[9]

Trivia and continuity

Sources

References

  1. ^ Davies, Karen. "Celestial Toyroom". Celestial Toyroom.
  2. ^ Owen, Dave. "Doctor Who Magazine". Doctor Who Magazine.
  3. ^ Rees, Dylan. Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who. p. 132.
  4. ^ https://bbvproductions.co.uk/products/3-Novel-Bundle-UK-ONLY-PRE-ORDER-For-discount-The-Root-of-All-Evil-Auton-The-Choice-POCKET-BOOK-Pre-order-p429748471
  5. ^ Rees, Dylan. Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who. p. 160.
  6. ^ Owen, Dave. "Doctor Who Magazine". Doctor Who Magazine.
  7. ^ "Doctor Who Magazine". Doctor Who Magazine.
  8. ^ Rees, Dylan. Downtime - The Lost Years of Doctor Who. p. 196.
  9. ^ Richard, McGinlay. "Dreamwatch". Dreamwatch.
  10. ^ Brigadier Winifred Bambera is Greyhound Leader in Battlefield.
  11. ^ Kate Stewart is addressed as Greyhound Leader by the helicopter crew transporting the TARDIS in "Day of the Doctor".