I disagree with what seems to be the general consensus from my fellow reviewers the this set is for fans only. Now I am a Doctor Who fanatic and have been for 40 years and such a release as this is of course tremendously exciting, although being a fan I have had the episodes presented on this disc for many years on VHS (Day of Armageddon excepting of course), the true joy for me was seeing the material in restored form and this gave the impression of almost seeing the episodes anew.
The statement that this is for fans only riled me, why should a good release like this be pidgeon-holed into a kind of cult status only fit for the supposed minority that are interested in such things, a potential buyer will be put off by comments stating that there is nothing for the casual viewer.
Casual veiwers are not stupid and this release can appeal to anyone, for instance those interested in archive material, people wanting a nostalgia trip, people that are interested in the various actors that appear in the episodes, members of the public that watch the new series and are interested in the different style of stories from the sixties, or just the fact that it can introduce new fans to fact that there were other Doctors before Eccleston and Tennant the list is endless. If the case for fans only is true then releases like The Andromeda Anthology, The Quatermass Collection and Adam Adamant Lives have no value in being released because the ammount of people buying them does not justify the expense of making the discs. The vast majority of people that buy this set will be fans but that does not mean that non fans cannot enjoy the material on offer.
The episodes themselves are a mixed batch as one would expect coming from a wide variety of stories, the picture and sound quality have been lovingly restored and make the viewing experience extremely pleasant.
The set was inspired by the discovery of Day of Armageddon, the second episode of The Daleks' Masterplan and fortunately is perhaps one of the best episodes in the set. The episodes on this set give the viewer the chance to see a glimpse of lesser known stories even amongst many fans, stories like The Faceless Ones were for many years as big a mystery to fans as to non fans and the flavour that these bits and pieces provide are very welcome indeed.
The release sees 18 episodes presented, 6 Hartnell, 12 Troughton and are spread over three discs and are a reminder to me of the dark days in the 70's and 80's when 90% of these instalments were lost and the subsequent joy at their rediscovery.
One of the episodes is entitled The Wheel of Fortune and is one of the greatest single episodes from the series. Period. This proves my point that prior knowledge of the previous episodes is not a requirement, The Wheel of Fortune is the third instalment of The Crusade and is so good that it can be viewed on it's own, the design and acting is world class for the time, the subject matter is more adult then anything seen in Doctor Who at that point and it is without a doubt William Hartnell's finest ever performance of the Doctor bar the very first episode, tell me now there is nothing to interest non fans. The rest of the episodes all range from OK to excellent, there is not a really bad instalment on the disc.
The extras on the other hand are for fans only, I cannot see a non fan sitting down and watching 8mm Film material of fragments of missing episodes of varying quality, but to a fan moments thought lost forever are pricelessly preserved in these little film clips. There is a documentary about the missing episodes that is actually of limited interest as it was seen on VHS and audio commentaries of selected episodes are included.
The episodes were selected carefully to give a good grounding for different types of story, The aforementioned The Wheel of Fortune and Day of Armageddon are wonderful commentaries featuring guest actor Julian Glover in the former who gives a lively and informative discussion moderated by Gary Russell, a first class commentary to a first class episode. Peter Purves, Kevin Stoney and Dalek designer Ray Cusick give another great debate on Day of Armageddon with Purves' presentation and interview skills evident throughout.
The Troughton episode commentaries are not so fortunate with the exception of The Wheel in Space part 6 by director Tristan de Vere Cole and producer Derrick Sherwin, now these two people are very rarely interviewed about Doctor Who and their points of view and comments are brand new and interesting with little known facts emerging that keeps the watcher interested, unfortunately the same cannot be said of The Evil of the Daleks 2, The Abominable Snowmen 2 and The Web of Fear 1 as they all feature a track by Deborah Watling who adds nothing of interest and just repeats stories and facts that she has been telling at conventions for years, even moderator Gary Russell struggles to prompt her memory or find something interesting to say and the saving grace for The Web of Fear part 1 is that Deborah Watling is joined by Derrick Sherwin who does have something interesting to reveal.
All in all this is a brilliant boxset of vintage Doctor Who that will appeal to anyone. Buy and enjoy.