Jon Pertwee was the first Doctor I ever saw, catching parts
of Inferno and The Daemons on public
TV on Saturday afternoons when I remembered
that it was on. (Hey, Saturday afternoon
is a hard time to tune into PBS if you're 14 as I was at the time.) Though I don't recall catching a complete
Pertwee story back then, I was able to impress my friends a couple of
later by the fact that I had seen pre-Tom Baker episodes.
Because of that, I've always considered
Pertwee 'my' Doctor. I eagerly snap up
any releases that feature him (okay, or any of the other Doctors... I'm a
sue me) and a double story set is quite the treat.
The latest Pertwee release on this side of
the Pond is The Dalek War, a
title that only makes sense at the end of the
first adventure. It only contains two
adventures, but they include the last appearance of Roger
Delgado as the Master (he died soon after filming) and a nice Dalek
story. How can you go wrong?
Frontier in Space
(Story 67, 6 episodes): This first
has Jo Grant and the Doctor materializing inside of a cargo ship from
Earth. They soon discover that tensions
are high between Draconia and Earth, because each side has been
other of raiding their cargo ships. Of
course, right on cue, the ship they are on come under attack. As strange high-pitched noise is broadcast to
the space vessel and then what appear to be Draconian soldiers board
both the cargo and the TARDIS.
They weren't Draconians however but Ogrons, dim-witted though
fierce mercenaries. The Doctor quickly
deduces what has been happening: Someone
has been using a sonic device that works on the fear centers of brains
the spaceship crews see what they fear most.
By attacking both Draconian and Earth ships, this mysterious
behind-the-scenes person has brought the two civilizations to the brink
The problem is convincing anyone of this. Once
they're rescued and returned to Earth,
the Doctor gets an audience with the President of Earth, but without
can't believe what he's been telling her.
Even the mind probe fails to convince the military that he's not
Draconian spy. When The Master,
masquerading as an emissary from an Earth colony arrives to take the
his companion back to another planet to stand trial for fictitious
finally knows who is behind the whole plan.
The one word that jumps to mind when thinking back on this
adventure is "talky". It seems like most
of the first half contains the Doctor explaining, or rather avoiding
explanations. Who he is, where he's
from, why he's there, why it wasn't Draconians that attacked the ship,
first episodes are just filled with the Doctor talking and talking and
talking. The story really starts to drag
early on, though it does pick up speed at the end.
There was a lot that seemed like padding too. The
Draconians break The Doctor out of the
Earth prison so they can question him (yeah, right.
Like that's going to happen.) Then after he's
done talking even more, he's recaptured and returned to Human custody. Then the Ogrons come to break him out, which
they do, but then he's recaptured once again.
Come on... did we really need this much involving the Doctor NOT
After the Master makes his appearance, the story does pick
up and gets much better. The Doctor gets
sent to the Moon, visits Draconia, and has a bit of a shoot out with
Master, not to mention discovering just what's going on and why the
trying to start a war. It wraps up on a
high note, it just takes slogging through a couple of episodes to get
Planet of the Daleks
(Story 68, 6 episodes):
The Doctor is wounded at the end of Frontier in Space,
but he and Jo manage to climb into the TARDIS
and dematerialize. Once in space, the
Doctor uses his vehicle to send a telepathic message to the Time Lords,
informing them of the secrets he's discovered.
He warns Jo that he'll fall into a deep coma while his body is
itself, and then passes out.
Jo starts to worry when the Doctor's breathing grows very
shallow and ice crystals start forming on his face.
The TARDIS land on the planet Spiridon,
guided by the Time Lords. Fearful for
her friend's life, Jo leaves the ship to look for help and discovers a
filled with deadly plant life. She soon
runs into a group of Thal soldiers who crash-landed on the planet while
to discover what their ancient enemies, the Daleks, are up to.
As a defense against the dangerous plants, the natives of Spiridon
have evolved to be invisible, and the Daleks have invaded to learn that
secret. It appears that there's only a
small research facility with about a dozen Daleks on the planet, but
Doctor, once he's recovered and joined up with the others, finds out
are tens of thousands of Daleks in suspended animation deep under the
of the planet. Once the scientists have
discovered the secret of invisibility, they plan to give that power to
waiting army making them virtually unstoppable.
But how can the Doctor, Jo, and a small contingent of Thal
larges Dalek army ever assembled?
I enjoyed this story a lot more. The
action starts right away with the Doctor
passing out and just keeps rolling along at a good pace from there on
out. It was nice to see the Thals once
though you would have thought that the Daleks would have 'exterminated'
now, seeing as they both inhabit the same planet.
One of the things I enjoyed about this story, penned by
Terry Nation who always creates interesting episodes, is that he filled
plot with creative other-worldly creatures and devices and used them
move the story. The ice volcano that
poured out frozen water in a gelatinous state was cool, and the plants
sprayed their spores out and covered the TARDIS were also a nice
Of course this adventure has the Daleks, a race I've always
had a love-hate relationship with. I
love the fact that the Doctor has a menace that is staggering in power
nearly a match (eventually) for the Time Lords themselves.
Great characters deserve great foes, and the
Daleks have peen painted as such throughout the series.
There's only one problem... they aren't that
menacing. Yeah, so their encased in
armor, big deal. Throwing a blanket over
them is an easy way to render them nearly helpless, as happens once or
this story. They look silly too, with
that toilet plunger sticking out of their shells and they can't even
flight of stairs. I always thought the
Cybermen were much more intimidating, and the fact that captured
surgically altered, without anesthesia, and turned into new Cyberman
more creepy than a garbage can that has to repeat everything three
times. "Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!"
Okay, enough of my rant about Daleks. Even
with this menace that's not nearly as
indestructible as they're made out to be (I lost count at how many were
destroyed in this story, but at least 7 or 8) featured in this tale,
a lot of fun and worth watching.
These two adventures each come in their own standard
keepase. Each is a two-disc feature,
with one disc containing the story and another for the extensive
two cases are housed in a nice slipcase.
The mono soundtrack has been cleaned up and is very
good. It is nice and clear with no hiss
or background noise to take away from the story. Being
a mono track, there's really not much
more to say about it.
The full frame video has been cleaned up by the Restoration
Team and looks very good too. I actually
like the image quality on this story a bit more than the Black
which was recently released. In
the picture is fairly sharp, though some scenes are a bit soft, and the
is clean and the colors are fine. If
you've seen the other restored Pertwee era stories, then you'll know
It should be noted that the third episode of Planet of the
Daleks is presented for the first time in color on home video. While the (color) video tapes for the other
episodes were preserved, only a 16mm B&W copy of episode three
survived. The Restoration Team performed
their magic and it looks beautiful. I
screened this story with my 17 year old son, and told him at the start
disc and just before episode three that there was something different
picture for that episode. Even though he
was looking, he couldn't tell that it had been colorized.
I wouldn't have been able to tell either, if
I hadn't know in advance. The screen cap above is taken from epiosde
The one thing I really, really enjoy about these BBC Doctor
Who releases is that they come with a comprehensive collection of
extras. These double disc features have a
lot of nice
bonuses that will tell you just about everything you'd like to know
story and its filming.
First off, every episode (for both stories) comes with a
commentary track. The first adventure
has actor Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance
discussing the show along with moderator Clayton Hickman.
The second adds actors Prentice Hancock and
Tim Preece to the above group. These are
interesting and fun. There's not so many
people that it turns into a party track (like many anime commentaries)
there's enough people that the entire time is filled with comments. The moderator does a good job of keeping
everyone on task and limiting digressions.
Each story also includes half of a two part story The
Perfect Scenario. Each half hour long
interviews and discussions about the stories placed inside an SF story
frame. The larger story revolves around
a novice dream programmer who used 70's Doctor Who adventures to give
dreamers an interesting time. These were
okay, but the gimmick only worked part way and by the second half of
episode, I was ready for it to be over.
Both adventures come with a making-of featurette (about 17
minutes each) where the cast and crew talk about the story and its
creation. I enjoy these because enough
time has passed that the people interviewed can generally speak their
admit what worked and what didn't.
There is also an 'info-text' option for each story.
This is something that the other Who releases
have and I'm a big fan of them. This
pop-up text options allows viewers to read about the shooting schedule,
between various story incarnations and the final version and learn
history of the supporting actors. It's
well worth watching, though it can be distracting so watch the story
Frontier in Space also includes Roger Delgado: The Master
which is a great biography of the
actor. Running over half an hour it
includes interviews with his widow and friends, and there are a good
clips from various shows he worked on.
It is a great tribute to an actor whose life was tragically cut
That set is rounded out with Stripped for Action: The
Third Doctor which looks at Jon Pertwee's
Doctor adventures in comic strips and the usual Radio Times listings.
The Planet of the Daleks bonus disc has a ten minute look at
the colorization process used for episode three which is very
you're into the nuts-and-bolts of restoration.
There's a Stripped for Action featurette
on the Daleks, and excerpts from a pair of Blue Peter shows that
appeal for the return of a pair of stolen Daleks as well as where they
Once again the BBC has released a great pair of Doctor Who
stories. I can't get enough of these
classic Who adventures and these two are both very good.
Yeah, the beginning of Frontier
in Space is a
little slow, but once it starts going it's a cracking tale and Planet of the
Daleks is great from the first frames.
Both of these stories, and this boxed set, come Highly