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4.3 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: The Rescue & The Romans [DVD]
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Season 2.
Now then what have we here, well in my opinion we have two neglected little gems, that's what. Two stories from the always ignored (In fan polls.) Hartnell era.
These two stories are from Season two, a season which had the highest "overall" viewing figures in the shows history.
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The Rescue.(Two Episodes.)
A succinct and competently written two parter, who's sole purpose is to introduce the Granddaughter replacement Vicki.
And by doing so quickly rebalances the demographics of the group after the departure of Susan.
It's main plotline hinges on a murder mystery with Sci-fi overtones, which the Doctor solves, with the help of some prior knowledge of the indigenous civilisation he'd gained from a previous visit.
Originally planned as the first story of the second season it was put back into third place because of extra work required on, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".
Ep.1~ The Powerful Enemy.(2/1/65)
Ep.2~ Desperate Measures.(9/1/65)
Overall opinion:~a pleasing little diversion from some of Season two's more facetious offerings.
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The Romans.(Four Episodes.)
Forgetting about the historical inaccuracies in some of the main characters. This story was unique for many years afterwards, as been deliberately done in a farcical fashion.(Input by the great Dennis Spooner.)
The Tardis crew via many convoluted reasons end up in Rome, but neither party (Vicky and the Doctor)(Barbara and Ian.) is aware of the others presence. The Doctor is mistaken for lyre player Maximus Pettulian, and finds himself embroiled in intrigue and murder in Nero's court.
Many of the situations are terribly contrived, but some are amusing.
- The Doctor using the, "Emperors New Clothes" syndrome to fool the snobs in Nero's court, whilst pretending to play the Lyre.
(He can't play a note.)
- The Doctor gives Nero an Idea to rebuild Rome.(Involving fire.)
On a religious note one of the characters turns out to be one of Rome's early Christians.
Anyone who's seen, "Spartacus", "Ben Hur" and "Carry on Cleo" will see at least one scene inspired from those classic films.
Ep.1~ The Slave Traders.(16/1/65)
Ep.2~ All Roads Lead to Rome.(23/1/65)
Ep.3~ Conspiracy.(30/1/65)
Ep.4~ Inferno.(6/2/65)
Overall opinion:~It was nice to actually see The Doctor meeting a historical figure for once, instead of just name dropping, like he does a lot during the Pertwee years.
This story shows Nero not fiddling while Rome burns, instead he "Lyred", much more believable.
(The fiddle hadn't been invented.)
The Romans is still even now an amusing treat, don't let the fact it's in Black and White put you off.
~~~~
Trivia:~ Ello, ello, ello what's all this then? Doctors aboard the USS Enterprise,well yes, kind of, check this out.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Neutral Zone, as Dianna Troi helps a woman from the past search for living family members the computer screen flashes up a family tree with the names William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker.
Maybe some Trek writers were closet Whovians?
Trivia 2- According to research Nero died in his thirties. A lot younger then the middle aged Derek Francis, who plays him here.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Two good stories from the time of the earliest Doctor, William Hartnell. They come from an age of black and white television and when issued on VHS a few years ago they suffered from having been converted from video to film and back again. Now, new processes and a lot of hard work has meant that these stories can be enjoyed in crystal clear picture and sound quality, perhaps even better than when they were first shown.

The Rescue is two twenty-five minute episodes, which makes it the length of one of today's modern Doctor Whos. The story was designed to introduce the companion Vicki, played by distinguished actress and writer Maureen O'Brien, at the start of her career. Even though it's short, the story is exciting and has a strong cast, being focussed on the four regulars and Bennett, played by film star Ray Barrett.

The Romans is a really great story, its four episodes giving an epic adventure on a grand scale. There is a lot of humour in these episodes, but because the actors play it straight, you never get the feeling they are sending it up. The set design for ancient Rome is beautiful, the costumes are perfect, and the acting and direction is superb. It really is very impressive what the BBC could achieve on such a small budget.

The DVD extras are pretty good with a profile of Romans script writer Dennis Spooner, who wrote for every classic television series in the 1960s, a documentary about Romans and Nero, and a bit from Blue Peter about Romans. There is also a rather weak documentary about Doctor Who girls, but that doesn't detract from the rest. The commentaries are well-judged, bearing in mind that some of the participants are in their eighties, Doctor Who fan journalists have been brought in to moderate and prompt memories, and this works very well.

These would be a wonderful purchase for anyone wanting to see what Doctor Who was like in the 1960s, and allow you to enjoy the magic of thr first Doctor.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2009
*The Rescue*

Quite a nice little tale. The sets and direction are outstanding - there are some snappy angles and many clever inlay shots - and the performances are fine. The Rescue is essentially a vehicle for Vicki's introduction though it manages to entertain in other ways, as the whole cast are on top notch form and the Didoan civilisation is intriguing. Maureen O'Brien is a breath of fresh air, her acting abilities light years ahead of Carole Ann Ford's irritating performance as Susan.

*The Romans*
Very amusing. Hartnell is well suited to light comedy and this is full of it. The script sparkles with wit and black humour, and counterpoints this with some quite heavy scenes particularly Ian's dramatic interlude aboard the slave ship. The whole cast are marvellous. One of the very best Hartnells.

Recommended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 March 2009
As someone who remembers The Rescue and The Romans first time round, this box set offers pure nostalgia. Koquillion was a fearful creature when I was young but having seen subsequent foes, in particular with the new series, Koquillion seems to be very tame. But that aside, it was great to re-live the memory of Barbara first meeting Vicki and then killing her pet sand beast! Under the guidance of a kindly old man, Vicki forgives Barbara and it is rather touching in the way it is handled. William Hartnell portrays a memorable meeting with Koquillion and it is understandable why he is considered the best Doctor by those who grew up with him. With the departure of his granddaughter in the previous story, the Doctor warms to Vicki and this is beautifully shown. In complete contrast, The Romans is slap-stick comedy but with a historic theme. Barbara's flight around the corridors as she tries to escape the clutches of Emperor Nero is amusing but detracts from the real events of the time. However, it is all made up when the Doctor accidentally sets light to Nero's papers, giving the Emperor the idea to burn Rome to the ground and when this is posed to the Doctor by Vicki he feigns ignorance and this is why these early episodes can only be called CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO. A true delight - if only the missing episodes could be unearthed from an attic or crumbling church...
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on 16 March 2014
As The Rescue is only 2 episodes long, it may be thought that you don't get your money's worth with this DVD, but the bonus features make this worth buying. The effects may be a little primitive by today's standards,but generally an enjoyable experience watching this DVD.
The Romans marked a change of direction for Dr.Who at the time. This story seems to have been written more for comedy, than science fiction. Seeing William Hartnell is a more comical role, made me realise just how versatile he was as a actor.The difference between his performance as the doctor in this story, compared to the first few stories is unbelievable.Again the bonus features included on this disc, make for interesting viewing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2014
I really love these old episodes. Living in the USA ,I thought Tom Baker was the first doctor. It was years later I learned different. I have enjoyed both of these stories.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2009
I won't go into detail with regard to story-lines as that has already been done.I have these two stories on VHS and while not the best Hartnell adventure's they are still entertaining and well worth a watch.My favorite being The Rescue which introduces new companion Vicky to replace the Doctor's granddaughter Susan.The second story is a Rome-com and is very tongue in cheek.

A lot of early Dr Who is overlooked probably because most people never saw them on transmission and also because they are in B/W. In my opinion they can be among some of the best stories.You just have to take into account of the time they were made and the technology available at the time. For example editing was done by physically cutting the video tape and as the tapes were so expensive and re-used they tried to do as much in one take as possible.This is also why when actors fluffed ( which Billy Hartnell often did )their lines they were left in - none of your 25 takes to get in right here

The quality of the picture and audio on the VHS release was quite poor and for the DVD release it has undergone full restoration,something I am looking forward to seeing.

It seems we are being spoilt for classic Dr Who DVD releases this year.The highlight for me being the release of Planet Of The Daleks with the re-colourisation of episode 3 using a new technique of getting colour information from the chroma-dots present on the B/W tele-recording.
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on 2 April 2015
Ok, so I was not so impressed with "The Rescue", but listening to the commentary made up for this two parter. But "The Romans" was absolutely brilliant. I loved the fact that it made me feel I knew what was coming next, but it didn't happen that way. I have all the William Hartnell Dr Who DVDs and I would put this as one of the very best.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2012
Being nearly 50 years old both of these stories' reputations have been lost in the midsts of time, subject to fan myths about how good or not they really are - UNTIL NOW!

The reputation of 'The Rescue' as dull and having a 'Scooby Doo-type' mystery where there is only 1 possible suspect is, frankly, wrong. Once you know the identity of Koquillion it's obvious - but that's what's so delightful about this story. The way the conceit is set up makes it a highly enjoyable story, and when the secret is exposed it rounds it off perfectly. THIS is how to do a 2-parter: a simple story, fitting in a new character on the way; not the over-convoluted 45-minute stories of today.

'The Romans' is the earliest comedy historical episode in 'Doctor Who', of which there were a few until the whole historical genre was phased out early in Patrick Troughton's era. Personally I find all of Doctor Who's early historicals highly enjoyable and find it's the sci-fi elements of later historicals in the colour days which ruined the genre's reputation. Here the costumes and sets are brilliantly sumptuous and the story is somewhat of a mini-epic: the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara all journey to Rome - the former 2 as the lyre player "Maximus Petullian" and his assitant, the latter as slaves. They eventually get to Rome and meet gladiators, slave traders and the Emperor Nero. While the historical accuracy is questionable it's a brilliant farce and serves as light relief compared to some of the heavier historicals such as 'Marco Polo' and 'The Massacre'.

These 2 stories are a great slice of early '60s Doctor Who and are essential for any fan.
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"The Rescue" is worth seeing for the introduction of a new character but has some terribly ham acting and some of the worst model-based establishing shots in Doctor Who. "The Romans" on the other hand is one of the best series, an excellent script mixing action and comedy and a really horrid Emperor Nero.
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