Top positive review
43 people found this helpful
on 13 July 2010
With so much of Patrick Troughton's iconic performance as the second DOCTOR WHO seemingly lost forever, it would be churlish to suggest that it's rather a shame that THE DOMINATORS, which was the opening story of his final year in the role, survived when classics like THE POWER OF THE DALEKS or THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN were wiped, although maybe if it had been a "lost story" its mythical status would have improved. As it is this really isn't a high point of the Troughton era but it's a solid enough five episodes that lead directly into the next story THE MIND ROBBER which has been available on DVD for years and is regarded rather more fondly by fans of black and white DOCTOR WHO.
Nonetheless even run of the mill episodes of DOCTOR WHO starring Patrick Troughton are well worth seeing and there's quite a lot to enjoy in this troubled (and very 1960s) reflection on the nature of pacifism against brute strength. The Dominators themselves are a surly pair who bicker rather too much and have rather intrusive command hierarchy which tends to prevent them from managing to live up to their name, but despite this, their malevolent contrast with the peace-loving Dulcians is quite effective. Less effective is Cully the thirtysomething eternal teenager, not because of any lack of conviction in his performance it's just he seems to come across as being as much of a teenager as Steve McQueen does in "The Blob". The Dominators use robotic Quarks to do much of their dirty work and they make an impressive enough threat who are particularly sinister in episode one but the quirky eccentricity of their design did not do enough to ensure their iconic status and they would only appear once more in a tiny cameo at the end of Mr. Troughton's swansong THE WAR GAMES. The costume design is very odd. The Dominators themselves are quite nicely realised, but the Dulcians are dressed in outfits which look quite fetching on the young girls and yet manage to look slightly ridiculous on their male compatriots. Thankfully the older "wiser" characters get longer robes otherwise it could have got kind of scary (and not in a good way). Still any story that's got "national treasure" Brian Cant in it can't be all bad, so there's a fair amount of enjoyment to be had along the way.
However, it is the restoration job that has been done on these episodes really lifts them and they have never looked better and so the rather muddy print that made up its previous VHS release can now be well and truly forgotten. Some scenes trimmed for their "violence" have been restored too, so this is a much more complete version than was previously available and the cleaned up prints restore much of the subtle magic and sparkle of Patrick Troughton's characterisation of the Doctor. Patrick Troughton is on electrifying form and the magical alchemy of the three leads is magnificent throughout, with both Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) making up an excellent TARDIS crew that is very fondly remembered.
When it comes to the extras package there are the now usual text commentaries, PDF materials and so forth alongside a couple of short documentaries. Troubles with the script are the main thrust of the 22 minute "behind the scenes" feature and another feature recording the press reaction to the programme over the course of the Patrick Troughton years is effective enough if a little disappointingly executed. The rather lively commentary is once more moderated by Toby Hadoke who deftly uses his wide knowledge of the programme to keep the many contributors - including Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury - on topic and manages to tease out one or two enlightening insights into the everyday stresses behind the scenes on the show.