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.
on 9 February 2013
I'll be honest - any complete Patrick Troughton story has got to be worth it's weight in jelly babies but why oh why this exercise in tedium was preserved over other stories from this sadly mostly-incomplete era of the show is way beyond me.
NOTHING really happens. I waited and watched and waited some more but it wasn't until the final 7 minutes or so, where you see how this story leads directly into The Mind Robber, that it all became (sort-of) worthwhile. I was bored in episode 1 (and I love the slowness of some of the 1960s stories in comparison to today's Who....) I even took to watching it one episode per week as per original transmission in the hope that this may improve the interest level. No.
Be under no illusion, this story is boring. BUT, the restored quality is a treat, the extras, as ever, are interesting in explaining some of the raison d'etre of this 'story' AND it's a complete PT story so for that reason alone, is worth a look. Recommended for chronic insomniacs, die-hard fans and completists only!
on 19 August 2010
I *want* to be kind about this DVD. I mean, there's plenty to celebrate about it - it's one of a very limited number of Patrick Troughton Doctor Who stories available that wasn't wiped in the 1960s. But when you think about what *was* wiped instead, it's hard to forgive it. The plot is tedious and its contemporary shortcomings loud ("Why is that old man in a dress being chased around a quarry by kids in fridge-box monster costumes for two hours?"). The bonus features are good, but brief in both duration and seeming experience in watching five very slow episodes that don't really take anyone anywhere. For collectors only, who know why it's important this exists and is restored and respected (which, begrudgingly, it is).
The first story of Patrick Troughton's third and final season as Doctor Who comes to DVD. It runs for five episodes and it sees the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe visit the planet of Dulkis. The humanoid inhabitants of the place are all peaceful pacifists. So their leaders don't want to stand up and fight back when a spaceship from ruthless humanoid race the Dominators lands and takes over the place, with the intent of blowing up the planet in order to use it for fuel supply.
The two Dominators have robotic servants called the Quarks. Can the Doctor and his friends, plus a handful of Dulcians who go against the wishes of their elders, save the day?
But more importantly, do you care?
For this story is simply dull. The planet is dull. All sand and quarries. The people of the planet are dull. People who sit round talking and do nothing. They all wear dresses. Even the men. And the young male rebel is played by a middle aged actor.
The script is dull. Characters run around acheiving nothing for five episodes. The Dominators spend most of that time arguing with each other. Then everything is sorted out rather quickly in part five. Not least because the story was going to be six parts but the producer decided to cut it down.
The fault does lie with the length of the script. The realisation of the Quarks - tipped like several monsters to be the next big thing post the Daleks but never to be successful enough to return - and the direction and design. These are dull. Drab and silly costumes. Boring landscapes
Patrick Troughton and the two regulars do their best to inject some life into the whole thing, but it's an uphill struggle.
A quote I come back to on occasion is from the show's script editor in the early seventies who said their aim in making it was to prevent the bbc having twenty five minutes of blank screen every night. As with so many old doctor who stories, you end up marvelling at the fact that they managed to get this made and on screen. But for actual entertainment value, there are much better stories out there.
The dvd has the following audio options:
English audio captions.
English Language track.
It has a commentary from some of the cast and crew.
The radio times billings for the story as a PDF file.
Production information subtitles.
A photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.
A trailer for the next release in this dvd range.
A twenty three minute long making of documentary. Full of contributions from cast and crew, none of whom are shy of expressing their opinion about the story, this is a very good watch.
A thirteen minute long documentary called tomorrow's times. First in a series for these dvds that will look at press reaction to the show during various eras, this one deals with newspaper coverage of Patrick Troughton's time. Presenter Caroline John, who went on to play Liz Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor in 1970, does get past an initial stiffness in seemingly reading from an autocue to do quite a good job here, and some of the quotes are quite interesting. And surprisingly highbrow compared to more modern press coverage. So this is quite an interesting watch.
For an easter egg watch the disc on computer, go to the special features screen and move the pointer around it till you light up a hidden Doctor Who logo. Click on that to see a short piece of Doctor who related sock puppet theatre. A similar item was on an earlier dvd this year but this one is longer and funnier, so it's worth a look.
I can't quite say the same for the story. But this is another in this range that does the best it can with one of the weaker efforts from the show's history.
Patrick Troughton has long been one of my favourite Doctors, second only to Jon Pertwee. It is therefore with great anticipation that I look forward to a release of one of his all too rare surviving serials. Therefore I must admit to being a bit biased before reviewing this release.
It's a pretty good story. A planet of peace loving people is invaded by the ruthless Dominators, and their henchmen, the Quarks. The Doctor must help stop the invasion, but is hampered by the unwillingness of the natives to either believe his story of imminent invasion, and later, their inability to act and deny all their principles.
This is a story that works on several levels. It is an entertaining adventure, with lots of scrapes, cliff hangers, dastardly aliens with evil schemes. Doctor Who is always at its best when there is a juicy moral dilemma, and there is a great big one here. Just how do you save a people that do not want to be saved? Along with a decent performance from Troughton, Frasier Hines as Jamie and Wendy Padbury as Zoe this is a story with a lot to offer.
It's not all rosy and good. This was a troubled production, where the original script was butchered and changed so much that the writers took their names off it. This shows, especially in the final episode where the interesting original set up falls into a rather rushed ending. There were some very silly looking costume for the male Dulcians, though the female costumes were pretty good, especially on Wendy Padbury! The whole thing was done on the cheap, even by Doctor Who's standards, and this does show up in some of the sets. Finally there are the Quarks. Designed as a replacement for the Daleks, they are quite laughable boxes on legs with funny arms. Although the special effects the first time they kill someone are genuinely good and very disturbing.
This release from 2 Entertain is up to the usual standards. The picture and sound have been nicely restored and it looks pretty good. There is an interesting information text, with many fascinating notes, including the fact that it was cheaper to hire two people to play motionless mannequins than it was to hire two real mannequins! There is an interesting short film where Caroline John discusses the remarks made by TV critics in the newspapers about the Second Doctor. There are the usual stills, commentary and advert for the next release.
In summary, a good basic story, with some flaws toward the end and some dodgy production values, in a decent DVD release. Four stars.
"The Dominators" is one of the last surviving Patrick Troughton Doctor Who stories to get a DVD release, and there's a good reason it hasn't been rushed to release much quicker- it's a bit of a low point in the series. The waddling robot Quarks in particular now look rather embarrassing.
In the accompanying documentaries many of the cast and crew openly admit that it was "a big disappointment" and "not quite the worst story we did". Script problems meant the story was cut from six episodes down to five, and the result is that episodes one to four are relatively slow, and episode five all conducted in a panic.
Patrick Troughton, one of my favourite Doctors, takes a back seat for far too much of the story, as the Doctor spends most of his time captured and playing dumb to avoid detection. It ends up being the Jamie McCrimmon show, as it's left mostly up to Jamie to sabotage the Dominators. In some of the location filming it's clear that Troughton is not even there and that a double is being used. The tension between the two Dominators is an interesting dynamic but played with a bit too much 'ham'.
However on the plus side, the picture quality is great for the time. Five episodes on one disc mean you don't get much room for documentaries and extra features, but what you do get is thorough and worth watching. You even get an all-too-short acting role from childrens TV legend Brian Cant, though I wouldn't say it was worth it for that alone.
It's good to see The Dominators with a high quality restoration, but if you're only buying selected Who DVDs rather than the complete set, put this near the bottom of your Troughton wishlist.
on 31 July 2011
As other reviewers have said, this is not a 'classic' adventure but any survival from the Troughton days is a gem by definition....and this one is fun in its own humble little way. The Quarks are cute and they blow to bits very nicely. Troughton is in fine 'dotty uncle' mode.
The Dulcians live up to the first half of their name - unfortunately. The Dominators are more entertaining since they spend most of their time shouting at each other. Poor old Probationer Toba seems to be right most of the time. He wanted to shoot everyone on the planet as soon as they landed (which would have been a mercy, at least, for intergalactic fashion sense). But he was always getting told off by his boss. As each Quark gets knocked off, poor old Toba has to grit his teeth and pretend it hasn't happened. Am I the only one who felt a bit sorry for him? Probably.
There's an endearing touch of 'Play School' about the costumes, acting and plot in this story. This is underlined by the presence of the great Brian Cant, who gives a rather tactless speech about universal love and harmony until the poor Dominators can't take it anymore and throw him through......the round window.
on 6 February 2014
It's not terribly good. If I were looking for a classical allusion I'd be thinking of the Ancient Athenians confronted by the Roman Army, but what we really have here is an attempt to replicate the success of the Daleks in a story that resembles the first Dalek story not a little - the pacifists threatened by the ruthless aggressors - only it's not nearly as good.
Lots of reason for this - the Dulcians are dull, the Dominators shout at each other - one of them being reactionary and sulky - and the Quarks just aren't as good as the Daleks; they don't look half as impressive, they're not nearly as mobile, and they sound far less scary.
And over five episodes the only critical factors seem to be the amount of stored power the Dominators have got, and how well Dominator Toba can keep his temper.
The Dominator costumes look good - that's a good bit.
on 6 January 2012
Patrick Troughton's The Dominators is appauling, the story for me is the low point of the 60's in Who, and for a series that reached a low point so few times throughout its run of over 48 years, that's saying something. When I first watched this story, I fell asleep, but don't think you can get away from it that easy, because I woke up and it was still running. This story would have even been a bad 1-parter, so to have all 5 episodes existing when such classics as Power of the Daleks, Moonbase, Tenth Planet and Master Plan are missing is heartbreaking. I never thought I would wish blatant BBC destruction on a serial, but the Dominators is that bad, it derserves to die, I think it would be a good idea for the BBC to junk this serial now, in 2012. As you might have deduced by now, I am no fan of this serial. On many rewatches, some of which I have been awake, my opinion of it remains constant. Pure contentment. Patrick, Frazer and new star Wendy, save the day, but not enough to redeem it, I'm afraid. I am not surprised it has taken the BBC 20 years to re-release the Dominators back in to the UK market, as I feel certain its not the biggest hit with fans. The story is so simple and uninspiring that it beggars belief. The very next story "The Mind Robber" puts us back on track thank heavens, but this story astounds me for the simple fact that it exists, what a stroke of bad luck the BBC were having the day this story was returned to them.
The awful plot: On the planet Dulkis live a people of peace and harmony, however, when two alien Dominators turn up on an island looking to turn the planet in to a fuel slagheap, and enslave the population, things become less peaceful. The Dulcians are total cowards, they have no reasoning for defence and protection. So as ever, its up to our favouite trio to persuade them to fight! After a long and drawn out affair, the Dominators are defeated by the Doctor and the planet restored to harmony.
I don't think that my opinion of this thing will ever change, I only ever watch it when I am doing a run down in order from the first episode to the most recent. And I always have to mentally prepare to watch it. Even the writers and production staff hate this story, I feel sorry for the writers, but most of all Pat, Frazer and Wendy.
The DVD has gone some way to repairing the story's tarnished image, it is a budget release as this story has very little appeal to the market, apart from us completists of course. The special features are light and the release only really boasts one main documentary, Recharge and Equalise. This doc goes some way in to the production of the Dominators and also catches up with some of the original crew.
The Story - 2/10
The DVD - 5/10
Overall - 4/10
Many thanks for your time and attention.
on 1 September 2010
I'm a long time Who fan and always enjoy Pat Troughton's Doctor. This isn't one of his best stories by a long way (The Quarks aren't good replacements for the Daleks) but there are so few of his episodes left that's it always worth getting the new DVDs for the extras they now contain. Well worth getting at this price as well.