Jon Pertwee's final story as Doctor Who comes to dvd. All six twenty five minute long episodes on one disc in this two disc set, with various extras on the second.
The story sees the Doctor's actions in earlier storyDoctor Who - The Green Death [DVD] [1973
] come back to haunt him, when people at a spiritual retreat practising ancient meditation rituals find it creates a way to travel to the alien world Metebilis Three. A world ruled by large sentient and telepathic spiders, who keep the human population primitive and under their control. In the Green Death the Doctor took a crystal from the planet that has healing properties. And now the spiders would like it back. They are using an embittered human called Lupton to help them get it. Plus, world domination of Earth is also on their minds.
The Doctor has to face the spiders and their queen. And may not walk away entirely unscathed.
This contains pretty much everything the Pertwee era had to offer. A six part story. UNIT. The Brigadier. Sarah Jane Smith [Jo Grant is mentioned but doesn't return]. Sergeant Benton. Mike Yates. An alien threat to Earth. Vehicles. And high speed chases.
And like a lot of six parters from the time it is also a bit too long. Contains a fair amount of padding. Plus it rather uses the Brigadier for comic effect. Mike Yates starts his final story well but then gets less and less to do. There are obviously supermiposed backgrounds and some special effects that don't quite come off. A lot of part two is an over extended chase sequence involving lots of vehicles that gets rather silly and doesn't really serve much dramatic purpose. Plus one cliffhanger is resolved in the best Flash Gordon way. Judicious re-editing.
Yet somehow, at the same time, it does manage to be a celebration of the era. Doing it in a way that will remind you of what was great about it. Thus whilst it's not a perfect story, it is a fitting finale for the Third Doctor. Not least in the final scenes. It's a pretty unspectacular regeneration scene compared to some. But that makes it all the more emotional. As many who watched at the time will tell you.
Even though the spiders are done with rubber models and patently fake, those with arachnophobia may find this story a bit disturbing.
The dvds have the following language and subtitle options:
English audio captioned.
There are the usual:
Production information subtitles.
Radio times billings [accessible as a PDF file via a computer]
A trailer for the next release in this range of dvds.
Photo gallery of images from the story and it's production.
Omnibus edition: A repeat of the story from late 1974, this edits it all together into one long movie. Thus it does cut out some of the padding but you lose over half an hour of footage as a result. And the picture quality hasn't been restored. So which version you prefer is a matter of choice.
There's a trailer broadcast at the time for the omnibus version.
The final curtain: A thirty seven minute long making of documentary. Which covers the end of the era in as equal depth as the production of the story.
John Kane remembers: A twelve minute long chat with one of the cast from the story.
Directing who: Barry Letts. An interview of roughly equal length with the produer/director.
Both of these are very good by virtue of the two being excellent interviewees with fascinating stories to tell.
Now and then: This runs for seven minutes and shows some of the locations from the story as they were in 1974 and as they are now. This has added interest because it shows how the chase scene at the end of part two was put together, and the suprising number of locations it used.
There's also a commentary from: Nicholas Courtney [the Brigadier]. Elisabeth Sladen [Sarah Jane Smith]. Richard Franklin. [Mike Yates]. Barry Letts [Producer and director]. Terrance Dicks [Script editor].
Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and Barry Letts have all passed away since the commentary was recorded. They, like the Pertwee era, are gone, but thanks to dvds like this, the memories of it will live on.