One of those mythical adventures in the Who canon, 'The Tenth Planet' has two things going for it - the first appearance of the Cybermen and the original regeneration. The 'base under siege' plotline that would come to the fore during the Troughton and Pertwee eras debuts here and evokes a suitably claustrophobic atmosphere that the monochrome picture seems to intensify. The Cybermen themselves are uniquely creepy in this story, with their cloth faces, blacked-out eyes and disembodied 'telephone answer machine' speech patterns, less robotic than they quickly became and still possessing recognisably human qualities as though their transformation were still midway through the process.
The knowledge that this story was to be William Hartnell's swan-song hangs over events and it's hard for the viewer's attention to veer far from him, searching for signs of his impending end; some carefully-placed enigmatic lines and Hartnell's accidental absence from episode three due to genuine illness actually work in preparing the viewer for the story's climax. That we are denied this climax in full is naturally something of a disappointment, but thanks to 'Blue Peter' we do at least have the regeneration itself, and the animated episode four as well as the photographic reconstruction do a decent job in the absence of the real thing. Ben and Polly continue to impress as companions, with Hartnell's abrupt disappearance midway through the story providing them with extra dialogue and fleshing out their characters nicely, emphasising once again what a shame it is that more of their stories haven't survived.
Anyway, it's great for me to finally see this story after making do with photos all these years, and unless episode four turns up in Darkest Africa, this DVD is as good a package as we could hope for.