Back in the 70's, as is still the case today, TV producers wanted to
much publicity for their shows as they can, especially when a new
about to start. In the case of Doctor
Who and Jon Pertwee's third season, they decided to bring back one of
Doctor's most infamous and evil adversaries:
The Daleks! It has been 5 years
since the bio-mechanical creatures had been seen and their return was
boost the ratings. Armed with the idea,
the adapted a script that was already in the works and created a great
marred only by some uninspired staging by the director.
Now the four episode serial is available in
region one in a wonderful double disc set that contains some great
including a Special Edition of the story where new special effects have
added in addition to reediting some of the more stodgy scenes.
Sir Reginald Styles is an important British diplomat and the
only person in the world who might be
able to avert WWIII. Thought the
are never discusses, tensions are high and when the Chinese walk out on
multilateral talks everyone fears the worst.
Styles realizes there is only one chance to avert war, and that
get the Chinese back to the negotiating table, and he is the only
that they'll talk to.
On the eve of his departure to Peking
however, someone in a strange military uniform breaks into Styles'
the government-owned retreat of Auderly House and is about to kill the
when they disappear. Styles' assistant
phones UNIT and informs them that a 'ghost' attacked Styles, and
Doctor and Jo Grant are sent to investigate.
Arriving as Auderly House, The Doctor finds a lot of
physical evidence proving that someone did attack Styles, including a
would-be assassin and his mysterious box.
The Doctor quickly realizes that the box is a crude time machine
he isn't surprised when three more soldiers arrive at the retreat right
Styles departs for China. The soldiers from the future take The Doctor
and Jo hostage, but when Jo plays with one of their time machines she
into the far future and discovers that the Earth is ruled by the Daleks. It's up to The Doctor to stop the chain of
events that lead to the Dalek invasion while also rescuing Jo from the
This is a great Doctor Who adventure. It
has everything: mystery, time travel, evil
Ogrons and Daleks), high stakes, and even a fun chase sequence. Viewers aren't sure if the people coming back
through time are the good guys or the bad guys at first, and though the
explanation of what's really going on is put off a bit too long (it's
in the last episode) viewers who have even a bit of imagination can
out long before that.
It's also one of the few Doctor
Who stories that actually deal with time travel and the paradoxes
in such actions. It gives the show a
much stronger SF feel than many of the Pertwee stories that are filled
aliens, which is nice. It's too bad they
didn't embrace this and other SF standard plots a bit more in the
series since this one works very well.
Pertwee is in his element here. He gets to
shout out lines of scientific
mumbo-jumbo and engage in a bit of fisticuffs but he really shines when
and collected and solves problems by just being the most brilliant guy
room. Though Jo is mainly a hostage, she
does show a lot of initiative and a lot of the trouble she finds
herself in is
her own fault. Overall a great
This release is a two-disc affair. The four episode story is on disc
the second one is reserved for the bulk of the special features.
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
I was pleased with the full frame color image. The Restoration
their usual top-notch job. The colors
are nice and the fine detail is good. The blacks are pretty
but there is some detail lost in bright, white areas in a few
It's not a big deal though. This looks very comparable to the
other Who releases from this time frame, which
means your getting a pretty solid transfer.
This disc has some great extras included, as is the standard for Doctor
releases. The commentary track includes actors Anna Barry and
Winston, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, and vision
Mike Catherwood and is well worth a listen. The first DVD also has a half-hour long
making-of featurette, Blasting the Past.
This, as with all of the Doctor Who
behind-the-scenes pieces, is much more than a typical
EPK you'd find on a modern show. It's
not a fluff pieces at all, with various members of the cast and crew
candidly about the director, writers, and actors. In
this, for example, nearly everyone takes
the director to task (nicely of course) for not knowing how to film a
scene. It's refreshing to hear people
involved with the production admitting to mistakes but also giving
credit is due. A View from the
Gallery (20 minutes) has Terrance Dicks and
Mike Catherwood returning to the mixing studio where much of the
Pertwee-era Who stories were created.
The first disc is rounded out with
a 5 minute clip from children's show Blue
Peter, a three minute human interest story from a news program
school that won a miniature Dalek.
Most of the bonus material is found on disc two. The video
start out with 'Special Edition' version of the story.
I really enjoyed this. I'm not a
huge fan of reediting movies or
shows, but in this case I feel the result is significantly better than
original, and much closer to the
vision of the original creative team.
They updated the special effects, adding laser beams and a nifty
time-travel effect along with redoing the Dalek voices so they sounded
more closely matched the voices in other classic episodes, but the main
difference is in the big battle at the
end. In the original version the
director really blew it. He had the only
three Daleks he had along with several Ogron warriors walking placidly
field in a long shot while battle sounds were dubbed over.
It looks nothing like a battle. In
this SE version, the new director shot
some new footage with a single Ogron actor and one Dalek (using the
of camera originally used to shoot the sequence) along with some scenes
flying from explosions. He edited this
the original footage, mixing up close-ups and long shots and
effects of the explosions. It really
makes the scene come alive. It's not
longer a laughable sequence as you can't really tell how many Daleks
present. It's something the original
director should have done but didn't.
The great thing about this SE is that it's an extra. The main feature is still the original
version of the show we all love, and if you don't like it, there's no
skipping it entirely.
There's also a 13 minute look at the making of the Special
Edition, a 5 minute Now and Then
comparison between the two versions, and The
Cheating Memory, a look at how memory can play tricks on you.
Two fun and informative featurettes are also included, The
UNIT Dating Conundrum (9 minutes) a look at the clues inside the show
determine the year when the UNIT era of Doctor Who actually took place. Except when the clues contradict each other. There's also The UNIT Family Part 2, a half
hour look at the members of UNIT and how well the actors got along
scenes. It was really nice.
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
storyboard comparison, a trailer for the story, a photo gallery, and
from the Radio Times in .pdf format.
This is a really good Doctor Who serial.
In the extras several people bemoan the fact that the story
amazing as they remember, having first seen it as a child, but it still
lot going for it. (The optional Special
Edition version of the story is probably a lot closer to how they
it.) With a good amount of action and
the Daleks utilized perfectly, it's a high point of the Pertwee era. Highly