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on 2 April 2010
Three generally unloved DOCTOR WHO stories from three distinct eras of the show bundled together in a (very) loosely themed collection. Certainly these are not fan favourites, but there's still a lot of entertainment to be found here, not least because even below average DOCTOR WHO has a lot to enjoy if you're in the right mood for it.

THE TIME MONSTER from 1972 brings to a close Jon Pertwee's third series playing the role of the Time Lord and is a mish-mash of ideas that starts with a nightmare and ends with a gag that might have been written for a "Carry On" film. Along the way there are some dodgy scientific shenanigans afoot as the Doctor and Jo Grant (as played by Katy Manning) have their final Earthbound battle with Roger Delgado's original (and rather splendid) Master and take a trip to ancient Atlantis where Ingrid Pitt (amongst others) is plotting a downfall or two. The next broadcast story, THE THREE DOCTORS, would see the Doctor's exile ended, so this is one last "proper" outing for the era's UNIT "family" and at times it makes for a gloriously colourful and mad romp whilst occasionally looking rather underwhelming.

THE TIME MONSTER has comparatively few extras, really, although the DOCTOR WHO range does generally give you more than most and all these three stories have the usual PDF materials and photo galleries, etc. This story has a longish background piece that concentrates on the bonkers science and a commentary track that uses various styles across the 6 episodes. John Levene (Sgt. Benton) commentates all alone on parts two and four with limited effect, Toby Hadoke mediates the late Barry Letts and others on three more, and some professional fans have a ball with episode three.

UNDERWORLD is the second to last story of Tom Baker's fourth series playing the part, alongside Louise Jameson as Leela, and is a four parter that dates from 1978. This was the first series with Graham Williams as Producer and is most kindly described as where the money ran out. Actually part one is a cracker, and is very visually impressive in many ways, but the production values rather fall apart after that. However the script for the whole story isn't half bad at all despite its JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (amongst others) roots showing, and there are still many moments when it manages to shine, before the Doctor and Leela save the day and head off to combat THE INVASION OF TIME.

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson have great fun on commentary duties alongside Bob Baker, the surviving half of the scriptwriting duo. Other extras include fairly extensive "behind the scenes" items which prove very interesting on the whole and go a long way towards explaining the production problems.

THE HORNS OF NIMON dates from the cusp of 1979 and 1980 and is Graham Williams' last broadcast story as Producer before John Nathan-Turner's "new broom" would introduce wholesale changes to the programme with THE LEISURE HIVE. Tom Baker is in his penultimate year in the part, this time alongside a rather foxy Lalla Ward as Romana in a script overseen by Douglas Adams and everyone seems to be having an awful lot of fun with this mad old science fiction take on THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR whilst the budget has once again been stretched well beyond breaking point. Actually, there's quite a lot to like in this four-part story, but there's also quite a lot of silliness too.

Commentary this time is from actors Lalla Ward, Janet Ellis, Graham Crowden alongside writer Anthony Read and fairly bubbles along. The pick of the other extras is a lengthy piece looking at the long connection between DOCTOR WHO and BLUE PETER which is fairly interesting if you like that sort of thing.

All-in-all a loosely linked collection of stories like this is never going to be to everyone's taste, as you have to buy all three to get the one(s) you like, but with the number of potential new releases ever diminishing, you're bound to get the odd story that is less popular being put out, and all of these stories do at least have something to offer, if you're in the right frame of mind to enjoy them.
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2010
Okay, first off I'll get this out of the way: it's clear that the folk putting these DVD releases together knew that they were faced with three, well, let's say 'less popular' stories, and found a very tenuous link for a boxset to get them out of the way - the fact that they were all inspired by Greek myths (Atlantis, Jason and the Argonauts, Theseus and the Minotaur). And while it's true that these wouldn't be my first choices to show casual fans of the new revamped Who, I think there's still much here for hardcore fans to enjoy. This is true of the extras - there may not be a huge amount, but what there is does give you a sense of what was going on behind the scenes.

Firstly, The Time Monster. I don't see why this always gets a bad press from fans. Yes it's a 6 parter and so there is some padding, but it's brimming full of fun ideas about time (which had been sorely missing from three years of UNIT stories by this point). There's plenty of different things to see throughout - Atlantis itself doesn't even appear until Episode 5 - and the idea of Kronos is a tantalising one. Admittedly the effect of a man in white with wings on wires doesn't always work, but at times it's quite striking. Plus at least it's a visually interesting story and quite experimental in places.

As is Underworld, at least in production. Sadly, story-wise it is a bit dull. A mysterious first episode sets the scene for adventure and even expands on Time Lord history, but it does degenerate into a bit of a runaround quite quickly which is a shame. However, production-wise this was quite revolutionary - 1970s inflation meant massive budget cuts vthe only way the cave scenes could be filmed was against a blue screen with CSO, which had not been done before to such a huge extent on any programme before. And surprisingly, it holds up well for the most part. Add to this the best spaceship modelwork in classic-Who, a nice spaceship set, cool weapons and decently thrilling lasergun battles, and it's not all bad. This is a DVD release that really benefits from the extras, making you marvel that it was made at all, and admiring it's pioneer spirit.

And so to The Horns of Nimon, a story once held up to ridicule as the worst of Who, but which has been reassessed in recent years. Where once it was declaimed as 'pantomime', now it is recognised as a lighthearted romp, and there's much fun here, once you get past the Nimon's silly arm gestures. Romana gets loads to do here, and while there are very silly moments, Lalla Ward and Tom Baker play the galactic menace in deadly earnest. This was the end of an era - last story produced by Graham Williams, last with the old theme tune arrangement - when Who returned for a new series it would be the glossy, serious The Leisure Hive, under the helm of John Nathan-Turner.

So, as with all of the old stories, there is something to admire and enjoy in all of these stories. Recommended for fans, but that's no bad thing.
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It's fair to say that none of the three serials included here would top any poll of fan favourites, however I am putting a case for this being a decent (if admittedly tenuously linked) set of TV stories from the 1970s, a decade that saw the show hit new heights of popularity.

The Horns of Nimon is mainly remembered for the Minotaur-esque Nimon, a range of planet-hopping parasites, and Graham Crowden's 'more ham than a Danish pig farm' performance as insane High priest Soldeed. However, Lalla Ward's Romana has one of her finest outings in this story, whilst Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor is as boggle-eyed and manic as he's ever been - an acquired taste but in this context absolutely appropriate. Look out for a young Janet Ellis - future Blue Peter presenter and mother of dance/pop siren Sophie Ellis-Bextor, as a sacrificial lamb sent to appease the voracious Nimon.

Underworld, another late-70s Tom Baker adventure, is often criticised for its drabness, and admittedly what begins as an intriguing take on various aspects of Greek mythology soon becomes a bit of a yawn-fest. I am a particular fan of the Graham Williams era of Doctor Who, and Baker and Louise Jameson who plays Leela have some good dialogue, this aside I'd say Underworld is the weakest of the three stories.

The Time Monster is a six-part story featuring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, and is an absorbing if somewhat unwieldy early 1970s Earth-based adventure. Plusses for this story are the presence of Roger Delgado's Master in one of his last appearances - he died shortly after transmission - Ingrid Pitt as the beautiful Queen Galleia, and the reduction of Sergeant Benton to a baby after he is caught in a time bubble. The story is also notable for the introduction of Buddhist themes which are explored further in Pertwee's final story, Planet of the Spiders.

As for DVD extras there are quite a few - these are mentioned pretty exhaustively by previous reviewers so I won't go over them again.
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on 29 August 2013
Only kind-of related box set, in which three stories are sold together for rather more than I think they are worth - the cardboard sleeve would therefore seem to be the most expensive bit, and it goes straight in re-cyc.

Time Monster.

I thought it was brilliant when I was 7 - the Master has found a way of evoking a monster that can destroy the world - 'Are you trying to tell us that all the classical gods were real?' - 'I can't pick the crystal up' - Thascales is Greek for 'Master'! But this is *not* a repeat of The Deamons (still less of Inferno, with which it shares some stock footage).

The plot is leaden. I don't know what the Master wants, and the action is very dull; Stuart Hyde ages 50 years, and then un-ages again (his voice completely unchanged), a doodlebug lands with a bang, Roundheads and UNIT shoot at each other (at point blank range with no fatalities and no close ups), Benton regresses to a baby...

The dialogue is often appalling - established characters have all become stock versions of themselves - it's like it's been written for kids by Mr Gumby - the Brigadier accuses Yates of being drunk, Jo refers to 'All that Cretan jazz' and says 'Groovy' far too often; 'Now I've got him really trapped', exults the Master - and all those hilarious lines about Jo's coccyx - and the treatment of Dr Ruth Ingram's Feminism is facile. The inspector, Dr Cook appears to moonlight at the Ministry of Silly Walks. The director, Dr Percival, is an old wet blanket, and the story gets a little better after Kronos has eaten him.

Jo's time sensor looks like it was designed by Shhh! (Hoxton's erotic emporium for ladies), Bessie's superdrive is moronic, and so is the idea that the brakes work by neutralising inertia

The two TARDISs each inside the other is a clever idea, but it's not really properly exploited, and why's the Master's one disguised as such a boring-looking computer? Landing on Atlantis it's still a boring computer - oh, for the grandfather clock!

Atlantis looks pretty, and it's nice to be in Jason and the Argonauts, and Susan Penhaligon and Ingrid Pitt are nothing if not easy on the eye - but before the Atlantis story can get going, the love-interest has been killed by a minotaur and Kronos, the angry giant white parrot, has destroyed the place. The following bit with two TARDISs, Kronos with eyeshadow, and the rainbow background only want the line, 'Groovy - We're in Gay Heaven!'

There are good bits - the moment when the doodlebug engine cuts out, and the farmhand's line 'Londoners!'. The Doctor's monologue about the hermit is so lyrical it seems to belong to a different story - probably Planet of the Spiders because the next thing that happens is that the dying Dalios is thrust in - with the voice of K'anpo Rinpoche! - George Cormack is the best thing in this, having far the best lines, and the bit where he dies in prison and we find Galleia and the Master in charge is straight out of King Lear. That's four good bits.

The gadget with the bottle and the forks - you worked that out in a restaurant with an empty bottle, right? Which means you were halfway down the next one...

1/5

Underworld

The story is Jason and the Golden Fleece, with Jackson being Jason, Orfe being Orpheus, Herrick being Hercules, Tala being Atalanta, all in pursuit of the P-7E - Persephone - and the race banks are the Golden Fleece (they are at least gold colour). It is a fairly faithful re-telling of the Greek source material, though the actual script seems almost bereft of merit - the characters are dull, it's not funny, it's not clever, it's not scary....

The cave effects are a blue set and a series of models, otherwise there is one set - the bridge of Jackson's ship is also that of the P-7E, with a lighting change - and (admittedly) there's some nice model work, but this is made on the absolute cheap; galloping inflation (coupled with some very obstructive BBC suits) is cited as the reason.

The result is an interesting object lesson in what can be achieved with not enough money and a lot of hard work; The Making Of tells an interesting story, though I do wonder if, after re-wiring the studio to make it work, they might just as cheaply have just built the set.

The result though is that whenever we see someone in the Underworld, we know they're not in the Underworld - however good the CSO is, it still looks like CSO - we know it's not real - nor does it help that half the characters in the Underworld have their faces hidden in those very boring black or grey hoods, and the two robots (if that's what they are - it's never made clear) look silly. The director appears to have been preoccupied by financial issues at the expense of the story; it's adequately told, but not well.

Less than a year before, they were producing first class telly, now this...

I think the best bit is that when a huge crowd of extras, including kids, run down the steps and board Jackson's ship. That looks great, and it's nice to see Jimmy Gardner (he later drove the Knight Bus on Prisoner of Azkaban).

2/5

Horns

The extra feature about the relationship between Dr Who and Blue Peter is very good, but as for the main feature...

The script isn't actually bad, it's a competent re-telling of the Minotaur story: Skonnos = Knossos, Crinoth = Corinth, Aneth = Athens, Seth = Theseus, Nimon = Minotaur, Soldeed = Daedalus, Sorak = Icarus. And it's not at all badly written; the script is not the problem here (though the absence of a final 'you cheated me!' confrontation between Soldeed and the Nimon is a glaring omission).

Visually, the Skonnons look great, and so does their planet, and if the youth of Aneth are wearing curtains (like the Von Trapp children) the big shot of their arrival on Skonnos - supported by the scarlet Romana - is visually impressive. The Nimon's lair looks good too; the only problem is the Nimon itself - it lacks any Taurean bulk, and commits that most heinous sin of any Dr Who monster - it looks stupid. This was the year of stupid monsters; Tythonians, Mandrels, Nimon, Krargs (oh yeah, Douglas Adams made the Daleks look stupid too, not forgotten that...).

And there are some very good performances - Malcolm Terris is horrible as the treacherous, cowardly bully of a co-pilot, and John Bailey gets every ounce of pathos out of Sezom, and Lalla Ward is at her best, and generally she's the one carrying the plot, rather than Tom Baker. By far the best bits are those with either Miss Ward and Mr Terris or Miss Ward and Mr Bailey - particularly the latter; the story is suddenly being played deadly straight and it palpably lifts. Simon Gyps-Kent does a nice job of a hapless Theseus, while Janet Ellis proves thoroughly irritating as the clearly besotted Teka - these two are intended to be the funny parts.

But the trouble is that Tom Baker and Graham Crowden have both decided to be funny as well - inviting the audience to join them in laughing up their sleeves at the story (and at the people that want to take it seriously) - Mr Crowden corpses as he dies - this is not in any way good practice. The story is being let down by the eponymous hero and the villain, and David Brierley's camp K-9 voice doesn't help; it's all rather like watching (for instance) Derek Jacobi trying to play the graveside scene from Hamlet while Cannon and Ball keep acting stupid and spoiling it (Ho, ho, how rib-ticklingly humourous is that...?).

The story lifts itself in the excursion to Crinoth, but that's in Episode 4; by then we've sat through three weeks of semi-drivel - oh hang on, it was 1979, better make that eleven weeks of drivel. It could have been argued, quite persuasively that, with such an explosion of interest in his HHGTTG, Mr Adams couldn't be bothered to do his day job of script editing Dr Who properly. By this end of the story, Dr Who had been quite crap for the fourth part of a year.

3/5 - but that's for Miss Ward, Mr Terris and Mr Bailey.
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on 11 July 2014
Question: What do you do with the 3 worst stories of the 70's?
Answer: Put them in an attractive looking box-set & hope for the best!
But seriously, if you're a fan of Nu-Who & are unfamiliar with the classic series but curious to dip your toes into it's rich history, DON'T BUY THIS! Believe me, this is not the place for a first timer to start! Try Inferno or The Seeds of Doom or anything else from the 70's! Only when you've watched all that, should you come back to this! Here's why:-

The Time Monster - Probably the most padded story in Dr. Who!.. For 4 episodes nothing happens & when something does in the last 2 episodes, it's not remotely interesting. There's also a bloke with a bucket on his head flapping around!
Underworld - Uninspired, lethargic & poorly acted! Even Tom Baker looks disinterested. It also suffers from CSO overkill.
The Horns Of Nimon - A badly produced pantomime which really tries the patience!

In short, these are the kind of stories that give the programme a bad reputation with non-fans! So why the the 2 stars?.. Well, there are still nuggets of quality amongst the dross but it requires an experienced hand to bring them to light. So, for completists, masochists & those of questionable taste only!..enjoy!
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The Time Monster, a classic UNIT earth-bound Jon Pertwee serial starring the Master - ruined. The first four or so episodes of this classic adventure is pure and utter classic Pertwee, the last 2 episodes however are dull and uninteresting. I never thought that I would say this but they should have stayed on earth and tried to defeat Kronos from Cambridge University. The story starts with the Master taking on his latest guise as Professor Thascalos, an expert in the TOMTIT {Transmission of Matter Through Interstitial Time} project. He brainwashes Dr Percival, the head at Cambridge and sets about spending most of his time there reading and smoking Cigars, the usual Master antics. That is until of course, the Doctor and UNIT arrive to take a gander at what work is being done at the university. The Master panics and activates the time mechanism and thusly opens the flood gates ta a cracking story filled with both thrills and disappointment.

Now, when I first saw this story, via UKTV Gold's re-broadcasting of classic Doctor Who in the 90's I loved it. However, the only part of the story that appealed to me then as now is the first 4 episodes of this 6 part tale, basically the earth bound part. Then, I found myself disliking the last episodes that were set in Atlantis, we had been their before in Patrick Troughton's The Underwater Menace there was no need to visit the sunken city again. I just feel that the sets and costumes, as well as the acting, let's the whole show down somewhat. So, even with the latest DVD release from 2-entertain, I still can't find myself warming to it.

There are however, some great pros about the Time Monster which make it a very compelling and thrilling little piece. Firstly, Jon Pertwee puts in a much more dimensional performance as the Third Doctor displaying some of the emotion that would be more prevalent in his later years. Jo also has some lovely moments, such as her scenes with the Master in the TARDIS being a great highlight. And then we come to the main man himself, Roger Delgado's Master, who is at his absolute zenith here and is positively electrifying throughout the story. The Master, making his penultimate appearance in the series as Delgado, portrays much of his trademark season 8 traits. Hypnosis, persuasion, charm, evilness and overall power. I think every story he appears in benefits the serial for the better.

The BBC DVD release of this half-classic Jon Pertwee serial is not the greatest, there is no making of feature and very little in the way of bonus material. Furthermore, the NTSC tapes that were returned from America in the 80's look highly dubious to me, displaying a lot of picture imperfections and overall muddiness. I thank the Doctor Who Restoration Team for their tireless efforts anyhow. Still, this is the best quality you are going to be able to view the story, so go ahead and order this Master class serial now. 8/10. For The Master.

Many thanks for reading my review of The Time Monster, it's greatly appreciated,

P.S. I shall review the Tom Baker serials "Underworld" and "The Horns of Nimon" when I get around to viewing them.

M.B.
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on 17 March 2015
This is the BBC at it again, yes the box set of stories, this idea will annoy those people that like to keep their Doctor Who in a neat linear timeline collection (there is an irony point here) to plough on and review, The time monster has some forward ideas about time itself and it's properties, not to mention the master gets himself involved tinkering with things along the way,Jon Pertwee does his best to be the moral counterpoint, the effects are typical of the period with loads of CSO quite a good story if you make allowences for the obsticals involved. Underworld is a Tom Baker story with even more CSO this story means Tom has to run around a lot chasing all manor of odd what have you's. horns of Nimon, well this all stops out drama with the villian as the original pantomime version, if he had a tash he would twirl it at the audience and laugh maniacley, he does this anyway and you get 110% all three stories mean you get three for the price of two kind of thing, Tom Baker seems to be working away at the plot to get all you can out of them, I prefer the first story personally but you judge for yourself, spend the day with the Doctor, get some jelly babies in.
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on 12 March 2010
Having watched all three of the stories in this release (The Time Monster, Underworld, The Horns of Nimon) I feel they are getting an unfair bashing in most reviews. The Time Monster is a stunning piece of 70`s television, mixing, myths and science to create a wholly different type of adventure from those usually seen in Pertwee Doctor who. The shocking images of the Doctor having nightmares and the Master dominating events, was a bit much for this young boy. Pity that we forgoet when we grow up, to watch with the same kind of interest.

Underworld, is an intriguing story and with the superb episode one, does rather fizzle out as the episodes continue. Most of the problem is the script has no legs after episode 2, and should have been a two parter. With some lack lustre performances from everyone, its no wonder this story get a drubbing. Watch the extras on this one, the studio recording will show what a tiresome and tedious way to film large CSO (chromakey) sections, and why it was usually kept for minimal effects.

Horns Of Nimon is excellent, the Nimon are really good monsters, looking as they do like elongated bulls, the whole circuit board motif of the changing corridors is genius and one of the major reasons this story gets bashed is because there was no quality control. Some of the sound effects were placeholder sounds, meant to convey a feeling , but to be replaced later on, unfortunately this didn't happen, and we get the goons blodnocks stomach noise for the TARDIS exploding. A lot of people say that Graham Crowden hammed it up, I see a man who has betrayed his world, having a nervous breakdown. Its all a matter of perception. I`m sure Soldeed (Graham crowden) know what deal he had made and new it was dodgey, so when it is unveiled that he has failed to save his people and planet, its all the more shocking for him, because he knew it all along. I see The Horns of Nimon as a tragedy in true Shakespearian sense .

Myths and Legends is a must for all Doctor who Fans and I recommend it to them whole heartedly

Bryan Simcott
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As we get closer to gatting all old episodes of Doctor Who out on DVD, it becomes harder for 2entertain to find three stories that can go together in one box set.

So here we have three stories all bound together by the fact that they touch on old myths and legends. A somewhat spurious way of linking them together, but it gets three more out. And it's a good way to release three stories that have never been regarded as the best the show has to offer.

The Time Monster is a six part story starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, and sees him battling his arch enemy the Master, as the latter tries to control the power of a being from beyond time called the Kronove. The battle between the two time lords goes from present day Earth to ancient Atlantis. Full of interesting ideas but a bit too ambitious for it's own good the story has a tone that constantly teeters on the verge of getting a bit silly. If this had been a later Tom Baker tale that might have worked but it doesn't suit the earlier era quite as well. Although it's worth it for a typically excellent performance from Roger Delgado as the Master.

Underworld is a Tom Baker story and recasts the story of Jason and the Argonauts in space, as the Doctor and Leela meet a group of astronauts on a quest for a long lost item. Which is just coming to fruition. Finding a strange world where evil beings enslave their captives they all have a fight on to escape the danger that lurks in the tunnels.
Underworld was a victim of budget problems and had to be done with a lot of superimposition work instead of genuine sets. This isn't as big a problem as it might be. The problem with the story is that, after a good first part with an excellent cliffhanger, it goes nowhere fast. Nothing is explained very well and you're left with three episodes of dull people running around tunnels doing things for not much of a given reason. The supporting characters are all desperately underwritten and give the actors nothing to work with. Whilst there's a fun final scene that suggests the Doctor pops out of the TARDIS every so often to have an adventure when he gets bored, little of what comes before lives in the memory.

The Horns of Nimon is another Tom Baker story and sees his Doctor battling the Nimon, evil minotaur like aliens. Coming from a time when the show was accused of going over the top too often, Tom Baker isn't the main culprit this time. Graham Crowden as villainous humanoid Soldeed does that far more. But this isn't the Doctor's tale as much as Romana's. Wearing a striking costume and adopting a great take charge attitude she dominates the tale, which is quite fun if you don't take it too seriously. In which case you're clearly not a Doctor Who fan. But if you're in the mood for a light hearted romp, this is quite good entertainment.

All three discs have the usual features:

Subtitles: English

Language tracks: English

Audio Navigation.

Photo Gallery.

Production information subtitles.

Coming soon trailer for the next release in this range.

Radio times billings as PDF Files.

And a commentary from selected members of cast and crew.

The other extras are a bit thin on the ground:

The Time Monster has a short feature about the restoration of the picture for the DVD release. Technical but quite interesting.
And a twenty five minute long feature on the science presented in the story. Which is fascinating but a bit involved so you need to concentrate hard to get the most from it.

Underworld has an excellent and absorbing thirty minute long documentary about the making of the story and all that had to be done to get it to screen. And eighteen minutes of film of the story being made. This isn't just thrown at the viewer but presented in chronological order and with narration so you can tell what's going on. It's interesting viewing and worth it for the sight of Tom Baker in full flow.

The Horns of Nimon has a music demo that was recorded for the following season of the show, played over a few minutes from the story.
A seven minute long chat with the writer of the story about how the script was commissioned and what went into it. This is interesting viewing and just the right length.
And a thirty minute long documentary about the close relationship between Doctor Who and Blue Peter and how the latter show has promoted the former over the years. Featuring a few bits of footage that have been on other DVDS in this range, it's nonetheless entertaining viewing that should bring back a fair few memories. This just takes it up to the end of 1989, and there will be another part of this documentary to cover the more recent years on a later DVD release in this range.

For an easter egg watch the Horns of Nimon on a computer, go to the special features screen, and move the pointer over it till a hidden Doctor Who logo lights up. Click on that to see an odd little bit of Doctor Who related sock puppetry. Which you'll either love or hate, but it only lasts a minute so it's quick viewing.

The whole box set is probably for completists more than casual viewers, but there's enough decent moments in here to make it relatively worthwhile.
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on 10 August 2013
A forgettable Pertwee tale and two atrocities from the Tom Baker era (as I child, I almost stopped watching after The Horns of Nimon). They're nicely restored, though, and I did like Tom Baker's anecdote about Glenda Jackson's son - who grew up to be the political columnist Dan Hodges - on the Underworld commentary.
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