In 1970, The Doctor changed. But not only that, a new terror stalked the high streets and shopping centres of Britain… Something that would make shopping a more frightening experience than it already was. Plastic mannequins with weapons concealed within poorly-manufactured hands… The Autons.
Autons are basically deadly shop window dummies brought to life by the Nestene Consciousness – one of the oldest beings in the universe, a disembodied alien life-form, which created the form of a large, be-tentacled cuttlefish after invading the earth using hollow plastic meteorites. The control of their plastic warriors was generally done through an advance form of short wave radio signal.
During the first invasion attempt, the Nestene Consciousness stuck to their simple initial 2 ranges: The Basic (Which lived in shop windows and wandered around killing indiscriminately) and the Deluxe (more advanced and realistic human replicas, living in waxwork museums which were used to take the place of leaders and other important figures). Both were armed with the now-familiar weaponry – guns concealed in the hands of the Autons, which could only be activated when the fingers dropped down.
Their first invasion attempt failed when UNIT attacked the plastics factory the Nestene Consciousness was hiding in, but as the soldiers discovered that the Autons were impervious to traditional bullets, it was left to Liz Shaw to save the planet by finding the off switch on the tank containing the consciousness.
But the Autons were genuinely scary, and returned to have another crack at humans a year later, this time with a more developed plastic power thanks to an alliance with the Master – who convinced them with some joke shop daffodils. Eventually (and uniquely maybe) the Doctor convinced the Master that the Nestenes would double cross him and they teamed up to send them back off into space.
The Ninth Doctor later discovered them in Henrick’s Department Store, London where he helped a certain shop assistant to escape before blowing the activated Autons up (along with the store). This much later invasion attempt showed the Nestene Consciousness as an angry blob of putty hiding under the London Eye, near Westminster Bridge. He defeated them with “Anti Plastic” (bit like De-Icer. Only for plastic and that).
Their eye for detail has clearly improved over the years, and when they returned at the moment the Eleventh Doctor discovered the Pandorica, they were capable of very accurate human reproductions – and had decided to make a whole new Roman Army for the occasion.
First appearance: Spearhead From Space (1970)
Most heartbreaking appearance: The Pandorica Opens (2010) [Poor Rory!]
Most “handy” appearance: Rose (2005)
Strengths: Resistant to conventional earth weapons, can activate any number of inanimate plastic objects
Weaknesses: Extreme heat, being switched off, over-simplified opposites.
Erroneously named* and similar in many ways, these two ancient subterranean species are often referred to as “cousins”, so the guide will treat them as one. The Silurians having once ruled the planet with their Sea Devil relations acting as the foot soldiers (presumably to keep dinosaurs in check…
Reptilian humanoid creatures with ancient origins and had the run of the place long before the humans appeared on the surface, these usually peaceful creatures are only really inclined to attack in self defence. It’s just that their idea of self defence appears to be creeping onto sea forts and murdering defenceless crewmen one by one. Or creating a remote control cyborg sea dragon to attack undersea bases.
The pattern of their appearances are clear – they are sleeping or hibernating, and are woken up by the activity of the people up above. Like a grumpy tenant in a block of flats, but one that resents being suddenly awake so much that they go on a bit of a violent spree. So far, they’ve been woken by nuclear research plants, the British Navy adapting a sea fort into a SONAR testing station, the presence of a Sea Base on the ocean floor and a whacking great drill almost caving in their homes – but not, strangely, by their alarm clocks…
Sea Devils and Silurians can be easily told apart in a similar way to African and Indian elephants: the Sea Devils are the ones with large ears… but also in their weaponry: Sea Devils have to carry sonic guns, while Silurians have enough dangerous bits of the body to control a large crowd. In some cases, it is their third eye at the top of their head which emits rays and does the damage – and later on they possessed a flicky forked tongue which injects poison into their target.
Defeating them has always proved difficult – as they use their well-developed intellect to their advantage. But the fall back option of blowing them up did the trick on their first two appearances. But on the last two occasions, the Fifth Doctor resorted to gassing the creatures (having already killed the Myrka with a sort of portable sunbed) and when the Eleventh Doctor met them Marvin out of off of the Hitchhiker’s Guide decided to gas his own rebellious subjects…
* Just to prove I do sometimes pay attention to my own blather, I did point this out in series 2, episode 12 of the Ood Cast.
First Appearance: The Silurians (1970)/ The Sea Devils (1972)
Most unprepared appearance: Warriors of the Deep (1984)
Weaknesses: Pretty much as in human life – poisonous gas and bombs. Oh, and as their third eye can also act as a telepathic link, keeping secrets is a nightmare.