Having bought this recently, I enjoyed it for a number of reasons. First, it was one of the early Jon Pertwee stories, and I still think he was the best Doctor Who. Secondly, its good value because its on one tape despite being a seven parter (well done, BBC!) And thirdly, its easy to watch and enjoy, nothing too complicated etc. Some fans rated this as overlong, well perhaps it is. And the ending is a bit of a cop out too. Still, despite the techincal limitations, some scenes being in colour, others in black and white, its still a great homage to BBC television of more than 30 years ago. Shades of Quatermass and the X-Files abound in this story, and of course one must not forget the lovely Liz Shaw (Caroline John) who was one of my favourite Doctor Who girls alongside Katy Manning and Elizabeth Sladen. I cannot ask for more than what I got here. And I am sure that real die-hard Doctor Who fans will feel the same way.
Jon Pertwee's third adventure, this story reminds us very clearly of why he was such a great Doctor Who.
This seven-parter has very few special effects, which is a _good thing_ because SF special effects tend to lose their charm when viewed in retrospect. Instead, the growing horror is done primarily by inference - a trademark of the Pertwee years. The fight scenes are much bloodier than would have been allowed in the later years, and this also adds to the gritty authenticity. And, of course, set in its own time the military and scientific hardware is done just right.
Ok then. Mars Probe 7 returns to orbit, but the crew fail to make contact with mission control (which is in England -- a nice touch). The recovery probe loses contact with Earth when it docks with the original probe. Meanwhile, a strange broadcast from the ship is picked up all over the world, while an equally strange broadcast is sent back in reply from somewhere in England. Both UNIT and the Doctor decide to take a hand, but the cooperation they receive from Mission Control is less than 100%. When the Mars Probe finally does land, it is stolen by a band of criminals (or, at least, we think they are criminals) only to be recaptured by the Doctor. However, when it is opened, the capsule is empty...
Any more and I will be giving the story away. This series sees a convincing gun battle, a desperate fight between Liz Shaw and a band of assailants on a bridge, a man murdered with an isotope, and a growing mystery which is not solved until the Doctor risks himself going into space on a faulty rocket.
There's just one caveat - this series was originally shot in colour but subsequently discarded by the BBC. Only the first episode remains of the colour version, the rest was found in black and white in the hands of an independent collector. If you've never seen Doctor Who in black and white, this may come as a shock. To many of us old timers, though, it just reminds us of what it was really like.
on 28 May 2002
In 1970 the BBC clearly became very excited about colour television. This is displayed in the garish sets and clothes displayed in "The Ambassadors of Death". Sadly only episode one was retained in colour. Recently colour recordings recorded off air in the United States came to light, and these have been used to restore more than ninety minutes of this release to colour. It's wonderful, simple as that. Well written and more "Quatermass" or "Edge of Darkness" than typical "Doctor Who". The finished piece is exciting, enjoyable, well written and most importantly, good television. Good "Doctor Who" to me is a story which would work just as well with a different "hero" instead of the Doctor. This is one such story, however Mr.Pertwee is wonderful. Personal treat for me? "Crossroads" David Hunter, the wonderful Ronnie Allen, proving he's a damn good actor. (If you've seen the original Titanic film "A Night to Remember", you will already know this.) Buy this story! It's cheap considering it's almost three hours long and it is hugely enjoyable.
on 26 May 2002
This is terrific value. Unlike the Silurians and Inferno (the two seven part stories that are before and after this), Ambassadors is featured on a single tape at a single tape price !!
The story is a mix of colour and black & white since the beeb threw away most of the original colour copies (bar episode 1). The other six episodes have had the colour restored where an off-air American video recording was of good enough quality to facilitate this. There is the anticipation therefore of when colour will appear and disappear (parts 1 & 5 are complete, part 4 is all b&w).
The story is superb, very adult in theme and highly topical for the time it was made. Pertwee is great as the Doctor. Always one step ahead of the game. Liz Shaw as his companion is great too and wears a very fetching outfit throughout the story.
Some of the stunts are excellent too and the eerie incidental music gives an atmosphere reminiscent of the 60s Doctor Who.
on 24 June 2007
jon pertwee was great as the doctor. and this is a good story to watch to see just how good he is.
well, the 7 episode stories might be overlong for some, but this story keeps pace and interest through every episode.
the plot is very complex, with all the aliens being substituted for humans and stuff. when i first saw this story i was a bit confused by what was going on, but now im older and this story is brilliant. one of the best jon pertwee stories and one of the best full stop.
oh and i like it that caroline john gets to do some decent stuff for a change. and she sure is a great runner!!
actually not too many special effects on this story, but this aint a bad thing at all. in fact, it makes it slightly more believable. gives the story the feel of genuine menace rather the technicolour over the top rubbish. and the alien ambassadors are a good design too.
ah, cool stuff....
on 21 March 2012
1970's often overlooked 7 parter "The Ambassadors of Death" is a classic Jon Pertwee UNIT serial with some great sets and convincing aliens thrown in to boot! When I first watched this story some time back, I was very impressed with how well it stands up today, the sets and the costumes are very "real" and one can actually imagine that the Martians were threatening to destroy the Earth in the early 1970's. Jon Pertwee, on only his third outing as the 3rd Doctor is sublime, his penchant for leadership and intelligence shines through wonderfully here, especially the scenes aboard the Martian craft. As with all other stories of the 7th series, UNIT is largely involved with events. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart is on hand to assist the newly regenerated Time Lord. I always adored the love / hate relationship that the Brig and the Doctor had, they always played off one another brilliantly. Jon Pertwee and Nic Courtney had by now figured out how they were going to play both respective characters and I am certainly glad that they figured it out so well.
Series 7 companion Liz Shaw as played by the ever-lovely Caroline John is another factor to the success of this mammoth story, she certainly is as much a part of this escapade as Jon and her acting is electric throughout. I always felt it a shame when series 8 opened and Liz was nowhere to be seen, having departed the Doctor's company and run off back to Cambridge, still, the softener to this upsetting knowledge was the effervescent Katy Manning's new companion Jo Grant.
The BBC Video release of this classic early Jon Pertwee story features all 7 episodes remastered and as much footage as possible in colour. Around 90 minutes of the contents of this tape is in colour with the remaining 70 minutes in black and white only. The Doctor Who Restoration Team has done a wonderful job in restoring and releasing this epic Pertwee serial in as close to its original form as possible. Great job guys!!!
In the end then, I have nothing bad to say about this story, I know at 7 episodes some people might be put off, but I must say that after expecting to be disappointed with this unknown giant, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I now love it, The BBC DVD release of this tale is to follow in 2013 with Digitally Remastered FULL COLOUR episodes 1,2,3,4,5,6 + 7. Thank god the money is there these days. 10/10.
Many thanks to all of you who read my reviews. Its greatly appreciated.
on 22 May 2002
This has got to be one of the all-time underrated forgotten Doctor Who classics. Excellent acting, directing, and pace of storyline. Anybody who has seen this story on UK Gold will be very surprised to see lots of additional film in the tape. These are not 'extras' but unedited. If you think seven episodes seems too long - I think that the viewer will be very suprised at how fast this story moves. Its well worth the price - the unofficial DOCTOR WHO restoration team have managed to do a good job blending colour and black and white footage together that the viewer hardly notices (personally I rather enjoy it in B&W). Well worth the price - you wont be disappointed.
on 24 May 2002
Season 7 produced some of the best directed episodes of Dr Who (Spearhead from Space, The Silurians, Inferno) - a little more serious and thought provoking than the average, combined with lots of action and outdoor footage. The menacing concealment of the alien beings in space suits is particularly effective, together with good scoring, and for the period, good effects (apart from the launch of Recovery 8).
A pity that the video is a mixture of colour and black & white, nevertheless given the nature and state of the start material, well done BBC!
on 3 May 2009
Slightly ponderous in places, as the six-part stories (a feature of the Pertwee era) were wont to be; this is nonetheless a fine serial, one of the Third Doctor's early stories. With the revolutionary colouring technique applied, this is better than when it was first broadcast, despite a lack of special effects and a fairly routine story.
Pertwee is finding his feet as the dandified, somewhat headmasterish Time Lord, while Liz Shaw, his Cambridge educated physicist 'assistant' provides a decent female role-model - something absent from the majority of 70s and 80s Who.
The titular Ambassadors are genuinely sinister, and there is a depth in the script that is sadly lacking from today's more frothy affairs. If you want an archetypal story from the early 1970s then this is for you; if you want thrills, spills and top-notch effects then try Star Wars instead.
on 21 May 2002
Over 90 minutes of this classic story from Season 7 of Doctor Who have been restored, using a combination of the surviving black and white tapes and original off-air colour NTSC Betamax tapes. Episode 1 already existed in colour so extensive work was undertaken to restore episodes 2-7 and full marks must be given to the end result. Well done to the Doctor Who Restoration Team for the work carried out to bring this story back to life. The fades between colour and black and white are almost unnoticeable, as you become engrossed in, what is quite a complex storyline.
At seven episodes the story is a little padded but that doesn't distract from what was quite an ambitious story to have undertaken on the BBC's budget. It has all the key elements that became the hallmark for the Pertwee years with UNIT playing a big part in most of the action sequences, particularly the shoot-out at the factory in Episode 1. By this time Jon Pertwee had become well established in the character of the Doctor and his performance is excellent throughout the story.
This tape is well worth buying and I would recommend it highly. The only one thing that is disappointing is that this wasn't released directly onto DVD instead of video, as the work that has been put into restoring this story could have been appreciated far more than video allows.