DVD Tales: Doctor Who: The Aztecs to The Tomb of the Cybermen

Following from Doctor Who: The Beginning...

Doctor Who #6: The Aztecs (John Crockett, 1964)
Starring the 1st Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Susan. My favorite 1st Doctor story, it's a little like if Shakespeare had written a play about the Aztecs. Certainly a fine example of the "historical" Doctor Who, with no aliens in sight, it's surprisingly watchable today despite the sometimes crude filming. The extras include both spoken and written commentary (as usual, I won't mention this again), making of documentaries, a somewhat pointless non-Who documentary on Cortez and Montezuma, and a educational feature on making cocoa, in the style of Southpark, but with the voice talents of actors from the show.

Doctor Who #10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (Richard Martin, 1964)
Starring the 1st Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Susan. The Daleks' second story links them to Nazis proper with a fascist occupation/resistance story in bombed-out London. Enjoyable despite an extremely dodgy plan to turn the Earth into a spaceship, it's best known for two things: It's Susan's last story, and the Doctor tells her what she really needs is a "jolly good smacked bottom". The extras include many documentaries, a "Whatever happened to... Susan" 1993 radio play, a Blue Peter feature on making Dalek cakes and rehearsal film shot by Carole Ann Ford (Susan). I'm not kidding when I say these Doctor Who DVDs are wonderful releases.

Doctor Who #13: The Web Planet (Richard Martin, 1965)
Starring the 1st Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Vicki. Ahh, the Web Planet. Many say it's pure rubbish. A few others dare whisper that it's actually quite wonderful. It's one of those devisive things (because Whovians are bent on pushing Green Lantern fans to #2 at the crazed, divided fandom awards). It was the first 1st Doctor story I ever saw, on PBS, and I remembered it because the giant ants had fat human thighs as their last legs. Today, I'm more interested in how they tried to create an alien world with Vaseline and odd gestures, but the thighs are still funny. The extras this time include a reading of a Doctor Who Annual story starring the Zarbi and a film-strip show (I guess it's a sort of ViewMaster thing) also starring the giant ants.

Doctor Who: Lost in Time (BBC, 1964-69)
Back in the Dark Ages (the late 60s and early 70s), they didn't believe anyone would ever want to watch old tv shows. That's because GenXers were just being born, see? So a lot of old Doctor Who was wiped and in too many cases, lost forever. If half or more of a story has been lost, then what was left was put into this collection. The most complete stories are The Crusade (1st Doc), an engrossing historical featuring Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted in the style of The Aztecs; and The Moonbase (2nd Doc), a base under siege story with Cybermen and international stereotypes. In both cases, the missing half has been included as audio only. The rest didn't fare as well, so I mostly supplied the rest with online summaries or the BBC website's "photonovels". Sometimes there are entire episodes available (one of each Yeti story, for example), but often, it's just brief clips, usually violent material cut out by Australian censors. Sadly, this release makes you realize just how much of the 2nd Doctor's stories have been lost forever.

Doctor Who #37: The Tomb of the Cybermen (Morris Barry, 1967)
Starring the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. Tomb was one of those long-lost stories that magically turned up in Hong Kong in 1992. Not everyone thought this was a good thing. I guess it sounds really atmospheric on audio and the sets and effects might have a tendency of letting these things down. I'm not among the nay-sayers. It's really cool and a good showcase for the 2nd Doctor and his companions. If you're wondering what goes into restoring these old programs, there's a really nice extra in here about that, in addition to all the usual good stuff.

But what did YOU think? Next: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber to Inferno.


De said...

Great reviews, sir. Now I have to snag those DVDs!

In case you're interested, I wrote about "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" over at my blog and also touched on the missing stories of the Second Doctor (with an emphasis on his Dalek adventures).

Siskoid said...

Yes, I believe your Dalek series coincides with my discovery of your blog, and I wouldn't be surprised if you found responses of mine in and around those posts (dealing with the movies, if I'm not mistaken).

De said...

How right you are. This is what I get for commenting before my obligatory two cups of coffee. Damn I'm old.

Bill D. said...

Tomb of the Cybermen may look a little cheesy at times, and the voices on those "American" astronauts are a bit tough to take, but it's a great story overall, and probably my favorite Troughton story. Lots of tension, some great doublecrosses, a heroic but still downbeat ending (a lot like current Who in that regard), and some great interactions between the Doctor and his companions (his late night conversation with Victoria being a particularly sweet moment).

Siskoid said...

It also has the piece of dialogue used as a sample in the big remix Doctor Who theme by Orbital.


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