DVD Tales: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber to Inferno

Following from Doctor Who #37: The Tomb of the Cybermen...

As usual, these are all wonderful DVD packages that include an audio commentary by surviving cast and crew, dense production note subtitles, brand new making of documentaries and photo galleries.

Doctor Who #45: The Mind Robber (David Maloney, 1968)
Starring the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. A very different Doctor Who story, it takes place in the Land of Imagination where characters from fiction all share a common space. It's got some wonderfully surreal elements, and Gulliver speaking words only found in his book, but some will find it rather silly, especially the German comic book character (prefiguring the painted-on muscles of modern superhero films). DVD extras include a pretty funny Basil Brush sketch starring a Yeti from Doctor Who and a look at Frazer Hines' career (from Jamie to I guess that farm soap).

Doctor Who #46: The Invasion (Douglas Camfield, 1968)
Starring the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. What's wonderful about The Invasion isn't the anachronistic appearance of the Cybermen in modern day London, but rather that the 2 missing episodes have been rendered in animation. These look great, and make me hopeful that other missing stories will one day get the same treatment. The story itself introduces UNIT and is a template for the 3rd Doctor's early adventures and works mostly thanks to the villains of the piece. No, not the robotic zombies. I mean the Vaughn/Packer double act. DVD extras include a feature on the biggest geeks in Who fandom - the guys who would record the shows on audio before the days of VCRs. Man, I think I was a bit like that myself.

Doctor Who #48: The Seeds of Death (Michael Ferguson, 1969)
Starring the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. Until they animate the missing episodes of The Ice Warriors, this will have to be our introduction to the Martians on DVD. An enjoyable enough introduction to T Mat (the Whoniverse's version of transporter technology) with sibilant Ice Warriors and a big foam machine as the antagonists. And that Miss Kelly is rather hot, isn't she? Still not the best in the series, plodding along for too many episodes. And the foam of course. DVD extras on this release include clips from lost shows now all found on Lost in Time, so it's become a bit of a disappointment in that regard.

Doctor Who #51: Spearhead from Space (Derek Martinus, 1970)
Starring the 3rd Doctor, Liz and UNIT. The first 3rd Doctor story, all on film (no video) because of some labour strike at the BBC (business as usual, apparently), not only introducing Jon Pertwee in the role, but new companion Liz Shaw, the new color format, the Doctor's car Bessie (since he will now be trapped on Earth), and the Autons, animated mannequins that mean us no good. Spearhead is very enjoyable, though it suffers from bad sound (the strike again, no doubt) and Pertwee sometimes indulging his comedy background, pulling some silly faces and such. Liz is a smart companion with plenty of attitude and the Autons are some of the best "zombies" seen on the show. DVD extras are more sparse than usual (this was an early release), but still include a UNIT recruitment film which is a hoot.

Doctor Who #54: Inferno (Douglas Camfield, 1970)
Starring the 3rd Doctor, Liz and UNIT. Inferno is Doctor Who's answer to Mirror, Mirror, and alternate universe where the good guys are bad, the Brigadier wears an eyepatch, and Liz is a fascist vixen. Please don't mind the plot about toxic waste at the Earth's core turning people into green werewolves, but do stick around for the cool "evil versions" and nice stuntwork which marked this era of the show. Sadly, it's a goodbye to Liz, who was too smart for her own good - she doesn't even get a farewell scene. Ah well. The DVD goes into detail as to the whys, and also includes features on UNIT, a visual effects promo film and a rare deleted scene. Sadly, the famous story about Nicholas Courtney turning around and seeing everyone with an eyepatch does not come with relevant footage.

But what did YOU think? Next: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos to Robot.


De said...

Out of the classic Doctors, Patrick Troughton is probably my favorite. I named my dog Zoe after Wendy Padbury's character :)

Since you're a member of Outpost Gallifrey (I don't have a "proper" e-mail account, so I can't join), is there any word on filling in more holes through animation? I had heard that the BBC was adopting a wait-and-see stance before shelling out the money for more.

Bill D. said...

I need to get that DVD of The Invasion one of these days. I have a dub of the old VHS version somewhere - the one where Nicholas Courtney narrates the missing bits - but it's just not the same.

Siskoid said...

And those interstitial bits are on the DVD as well, so you'd have it all!

De: There are no announcements regarding animation that I am aware of, except of course the all ages web cartoon The Infinite Quest starring Ten and Martha out on Nov 5th (in the UK at any rate).

DVD releases to come: After Arc of Infinity and Time-Flight, which are next, we get Destiny of the Daleks which apparently has a preview for a Silurian boxed set (Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils and Warriors of the Deep) which would come in the new year.

November also brings a Series 3 release much earlier in Region 1 than ever before, and a Davros boxed set which only includes old releases, including some BF audios, but an extra disc with three new documentaries. It's a numbered limited release which I'm happy enough to skip.

Too much information?

LiamKav said...

From what I read, the animation for the Invasion was done for a different project, possibly a webcast or something. They were allowed to use the clips for DVD, but 4Entertain (who make the DVDs) don't have the money to fund more animation like the BBC did. Despite 4Entertain being a BBC company.

BBC finances are very confusing.

I would guess that since they still sometimes find missing episodes, and since they haven't released all copmleted episodes yet, they have decided that it makes no sense animating old episodes that might turn up at a car boot sale tomorrow.

(On that, is there a site that lists when and where missing episodes were found? I wonder what the most recent one is.)

Siskoid said...

Gallifrey One used to have that information, now I'm not sure, I'd have to look.

I wouldn't hold my breath for significant finds and I don't think that's the reason we're not seeing more animated episodes (which were more than clips). Money is the sole issue I've seen bandied about. Originally, 2|Entertain hoped the animated episodes would be shown on television, but as they weren't, the DVDs never allowed them to recoup their investment.

We need to fuel the demand for Throughton episodes!

LiamKav said...

The black & white really does hurt things for modern audiences. They've found that out whenever they're tried doing repeats... people just aren't as interested. The BBC were bitten quite badly by being so slow to go colour. I wonder if this is why they've been really quick with widescreen and HD. (I heard a rumour that part of the reason Buffy season 4 is in widescreen is because the BBC asked them to use it.)


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