1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sadly underrated Doctor Who stories
The link between these two stories may be tenuous, but if we judge the stories on their own merits they both have a great deal to offer.
The first story is the William Hartnell story 'The Gunfighters' which is quite possibly the most maligned Doctor Who story ever and, having watched it, I cannot understand why. The story is a historical set in the wild west...
Published 2 months ago by Benjamin Coupland
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars " 2 Completely Dissimilar Things in a Pod"
Is there an end of term feel at 2 Entertain as they approach the end of complete classic story releases? Do they have a DVD boxset party game and is it beverage related? Who knows, but if they do it has given us Myths & legends and now The Awakening and Gunfighters, stories only connected by taking place on Earth (like that's a rarity). Still, they are both fun stories...
Published on 30 Mar 2011 by Bob Marlowe
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars " 2 Completely Dissimilar Things in a Pod",
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)Is there an end of term feel at 2 Entertain as they approach the end of complete classic story releases? Do they have a DVD boxset party game and is it beverage related? Who knows, but if they do it has given us Myths & legends and now The Awakening and Gunfighters, stories only connected by taking place on Earth (like that's a rarity). Still, they are both fun stories. They've been remastered as per usual, nice clear picture for Awakening & Gunfighters is a bit better than it looked on VHS.
The Gunfighters used to in the pre-video days have the reputation of lowest ratings ever & biggest Who turkey ever. the former was never true and the latter is unfair. The 2nd of 2 scripts by Donald Cotton*1, it's more like Dennis Spooner's the Romans in it's mix of comedy and drama than it is like Cotton's previous tale The Myth makers ( a recommended CD). Cotton's set up is very Abbott & Costello- the Tardis crew land in Tombstone on the eve of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and the Dr gets mistaken for Doc Holliday, something the infamous gunslinger himself encourages. The scene where the mistake occurs as the Doctor sits in Holliday's Dental surgery awaiting treatment is great;
"I suppose so"
The comedy elements are the most successful and you get the feel Hartnell really enjoyed it. He plays the comedy for all it's worth knowing he's getting the best lines, like the T-shirt worthy "People keep giving me guns, I do wish they wouldn't!" All the cast make the most of the comedy and it's a good cast all round. The top honours go to Anthony Jacobs (Pa to Matthew Jacobs who wrote the McGann Who movie) as the incorrigible yet likeable Holliday, Sheene Marshe as his world weary girlfriend Kate & Laurence Payne as a psychotic Johnny Ringo. Watch also for Shane Rimmer (Scot in Thunderbirds) & David Graham (Parker in Thunderbirds plus Dalek voices and Kerensky in City of Death).
Good costumes and great sets.
Where does it go wrong a bit? Well the direction by Rex Tucker, a man with a cowboyish sounding name and 1st Producer of Who *2, is very uneven with the dramatic material. While the callous gunning down of an innocent is one of the most shocking deaths in 60's Who, a threatened lynching & the gunfight itself fall flat.
Then there's the Ballad of The Last Chance Saloon. Fitting, well sung by Lynda Baron and a clever way to track the plot, but it's used too many times and grates in places.
All in all a very fun even if flawed tale, worth checking out if you've enjoyed what you've seen of Hartnell so far.
The Awakening is a fun but quiet little Peter Davison story by Eric Pringle. The tardis crew hop off to Earth to visit Tegan's grandad (you don't want to be in her family, 1st Auntie, then Cousin and now Grandad's in peril!).
they discover a village Little Hodcombe where historical re-enactment is taking a strange turn, all connected to the mailgn force of an alien entity called the Malus, which has been affecting people since the English Civil War. The Malus feeds off negative energy and is represented by a static figure which can burst through walls. It's a nice change to have an alien which is not a man in a costume for once and relies on the acting for atmosphere.
There is atmosphere but it never quite gets scary lacking say the operatic if slightly OTT quality of the Daemons, a story it resembles in many ways.
Good performances with Polly James & Denis Lill making the strongest impression amongst the guests & Peter Davison as with most of his last year giving a relaxed and charming performance. There's a nice link to the Visitation as the Terileptils are mentioned.
Nothing outstanding but an enjoyable 2 parter for Davison fans.
Peter Purves, Shane Rimmer and David Graham do a fun commentary for Gunfighters joined by Richard Beale (Bat Masterson) who reveals he was in the Green Death (he plays a minister who asks the PM to have a word with the Brig). They dicuss the pros and cons of Director Rex Tucker and that song! They mention John Alderson (Wyatt Earp) was a stalwart of Hollywood westerns and mention nuances such as how Steven's outfit looks like a costume rather than authentic weterns garb. All think it stands up well now.
End of the Line is a top notch look at Who's 3rd (& Hartnell's last) year. Interviewees include Peter Purves, Anneke Wills & Donald Tosh plsu there are soundbites (textbites?) read out from interviews with people like producers John Wiles & Innes Lloyd. there's also a Galaxy 4 clip of a Rill which I don't recall seeing before. 1st class doc!
It's well supplemented with Tomorrow's Times which has clearly found it's stride telling the story of the press loving Who for the 1st year or 2 then becoming disenchanted & how a paper writer tried to predict the "great success" of the Voord (from Keys of Marinus)!
Director Michael Owen Morris and Script Editor Eric Saward comment on Awakening, enjoyably recalling the shoot, script probles, JNT and comparing Matt Smith to Peter Davison e.g. both young men who can convey wisdom beyind years.
There's a double look at the Awakening locations with a now and then (nicely put together as always) plus Return to Little Hodcombe a making of documentary shot at the location used. It's a good doc with a range of interviewees including our commenters, actors Keith Jayne who thinks the famous outtake has earned him more in repeat fees than the story & Janet Fielding who wonders if treading lightly with an inexperienced director sold him short. A bit short but using the location is a definite plus as is interviewing residents who recall the show's visit
Making the Malus is a look at the creature, recalling its creation & showing it now in a collector's hands-a fun short.
Some extended and deleted scenes are included, notably Kamelion's lost scene and the Golden Egg Award from Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show where a horse destroys a lych gate is there too.
A trailer for Paradise Towers rounds things off.
It's a good all round package very well put together
*1 Cotton also wrote either a script or storyline called The Herdsmen of Venus/Aquarius where aliens herd creatures one of which ends up in Loch Ness but it was never made. He also novelised Myth Makers, Gunfighters & Romans. All written in the 1st person and all recommended.
*2 Tucker did pre-production work on Who prior to Verity lambert's arrival and briefly alongside her but the 2 clashed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Doc?" "Yes, what is it?" "Holliday?" "Holiday? Yes, I suppose so. Yes, you could call it that.",
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)It's late October 1881 in Tombstone and the Clantons are waiting in the Last Chance Saloon to knock off Doc Holliday when three (very) strangers drift into town: a Doctor calling himself Caligari (William Hartnell) who's looking for a good dentist, a singer calling himself Regret (Peter Purves) and a pianist called Dodo (Jackie Lane). When they mistake the eccentric Doctor for the gunman, Holliday decides to let them kill him to get a bit of peace and quiet once the Clantons assume he's out of the way. Naturally, things don't quite work out that way... especially since the Doctor is a time traveller whose TARDIS has just landed at the OK Corral. Yep, The Gunfighters is Doctor Who way out west - well, West London on a small TV soundstage masquerading as Tombstone's main street and populated by British actors with cowboy hats and dodgy accents and the odd Canadian like Shane Rimmer.
The casting isn't all bad, though: John Alderson makes a convincing Wyatt Earp, Anthony Jacobs is a decent Doc Holliday while the barkeep is played by David Graham, Brains from Thunderbirds and the voice behind many of Gerry Anderson's puppet shows including, perhaps most appropriately, the cowboy show Four Feather Falls. Best of all is Laurence Payne, usually typecast as tortured and ineffectual types (not surprising with a name like that) but clearly having a ball playing a charismatically rotten Johnny Ringo, a character who seems to have posthumously made up for missing the real gunfight by turning up in almost every fictional version of it.
Although from the last days when the series did historical adventures with no science fiction elements as part of a dimly remembered educational remit that had been part of the original pitch, this plays fast and loose with history with such rampant dime novel abandon that even Ned Buntline himself might have told writer Donald Cotton to hold his horses there for a moment. Urban legend has it that this was the lowest rated Doctor Who story ever (it wasn't, though it scored the worst audience appreciation rating of Hartnell's tenure), and while it does come from a period when it looked like the wouldn't be needing to regenerate its hero - then still a grumpy old traveller in time rather than a lord of it - it's more fun than its dismal reputation implies. It's certainly one of the more ambitious Who stories of its era, although that ambition isn't always realised and it often gets repetitive - the Clanton boys sure do spend a lot of time in the saloon talking about killing the Doc while Tristram Cary's Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon (sung by Lynda Baron) starts off as a nice nod to old Westerns but is quickly diluted by constant overuse, bookending just about every scene with only minor variations until you're hoping a stray bullet will shut the chanteuse up. The gunfight itself caused some friction behind the scenes, with director Rex Tucker taking his name off the credits because of the way it was re-edited, but despite one shot where the roof of the soundstage and its arc lights creep into view it's shot with some real panache.
It's hard to make a case for The Gunfighters as anything other than a modestly entertaining diversion, but it's a long way from the worst of the series even if its DVD release does treat it somewhat as leftovers, clumsily doubling it with an equally leftover story from the Fifth Doctor's third season and calling it a boxed set.
The Awakening is one of those Peter Davison stories that seems almost in danger of seeming overstretched at two episodes, and that when the series was still in its 25-minute format. With the Doctor, Turlogh and the less obnoxious than usual Tegan finding themselves in a 20th century English village where the local squire is disastrously turning the clock back with his increasingly draconian war games recreating the English Civil War - naturally part of a plot to revive a malignant alien that has been buried for centuries - it's an okay story that seems designed to fill in a gap between more ambitious stories. Once again it nods to Nigel Kneale's Quatermass and the Pit with its alien explanation for the Devil, but it never really builds up much tension or fear along the way as it hits the story points professionally enough but without much verve or inspiration. Rather like the character of Will Chandler, originally intended as a new companion along the lines of Jamie McCrimmon from the Patrick Troughton years but quickly discarded, you get the feeling that no-one knew quite how to make this one stand out from the crowd and just tried to salvage something passable from it all with only minimal interest.
Extras on The Gunfighters are an audio commentary by Peter Purves, Shane Rimmer, David Graham, Richard Beale, Tristan de Vere Cole and Toby Hadoke, a couple of featurettes (the best, The End of the Line, about the show's troubled future prospects at the time, while Tomorrow's Times - The First Doctor deals with contemporary press coverage of the show), stills gallery and trivia track. The Awakening gets an audio commentary by Michael Owen Morris, Eric Saward and Toby Hadoke, extended and deleted scenes, a trio of featurettes dealing with the troubled production, the making of the monster and the locations, an outtake and extract from the Golden Egg Award, isolated score, stills gallery and on-screen production notes.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honest? The Gunfighters is the better of the two,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)Not that either one is bad, but The Awakening suffers from the same fault as many 'filler' episodes of the 21st century series, in that forty-five minutes isn't enough in which to develop the story. We're given a picturesque location and a mystery involving clashing time zones that Sapphire and Steel would stare at each other for six whole episodes in. But in typical Davison fashion we get urgent running around instead, and like the Doctor, we don't get time to admire the scenery, nor piece the puzzle together in our heads. It's all rather lightweight really, and in the end the Malus could just be any old generic monster. Even the subplot concerning Tegan's family ties - especially after Aunt Vanessa - ends up feeling less substantial and important than it should be.
As for The Gunfighters, it's a story with a reputation that's definitely improved with age. It could hardly have got any worse - Doctor Who Magazine, in the dark days of a series tainted by more extant episodes and folk memories that were, at the time, unchallengable, latched onto The Gunfighters' low Appreciation Index figures and mercilessly beat the story to death with it. Yes, the style and nature of the beast seem utterly bizarre and corny now; but first and foremost, it's a comedy, and not a bad one. Embittered fans just don't seem to want to recognize this. As the first Western serial the BBC ever produced, it's also an experiment that could have gone much more awry than it did. But mainly, right up to the final climactic shootout, The Gunfighters has a genuine sense of fun about it. The principles are clearly having a much more enjoyable time than in the Celestial Toymaker before it, which rubs off onto the less closed-minded viewer; and Gerry Anderson fans will have even more fun spotting the familiar voices that turn up in the supporting cast.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sadly underrated Doctor Who stories,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)The link between these two stories may be tenuous, but if we judge the stories on their own merits they both have a great deal to offer.
The first story is the William Hartnell story 'The Gunfighters' which is quite possibly the most maligned Doctor Who story ever and, having watched it, I cannot understand why. The story is a historical set in the wild west in 1881, it concerns the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the events leading up to it. Donald Cotton's script is very well written; it's consistently very amusing and has loads of great dialogue. William Hartnell had apparently wanted to do a western and his performance here is a joy to watch. The rest of the cast are also pretty good, Anthony Jacobs in particular excels as Doc Holliday.
The sets constructed for this story are very impressive and are made to look even better by Rex Tucker's stylish and confident direction. Perhaps the most often criticized part of this story is the 'Ballad of the last chance saloon' which is sung by Lynda Baron and appears at various times throughout the story. The ballad is there to commentate on the action and if you listen to the lyrics they are very clever, I also found Baron's vocals to be more than satisfactory.
So in conclusion The Gunfighters is wonderfully entertaining and so I would urge you not to be put off by the undeserved criticism this story has received.
The other story is the Peter Davison story 'The Awakening', Davison's time on the show gave us many excellent stories and this is certainly one of the best. This is well acted and directed with especially excellent use of location filming. The sets for this story are also fabulous, but extra praise has to go to the magnificent church set which was so convincing that you could be forgiven for thinking the scenes it was used for were filmed inside a real church.
The antagonist is an incredibly malevolent entity by the name of the Malus which is buried inside the walls of the church and is breaking out, the design for the Malus too is impressive it really projects a sense of menace despite the fact that it doesn't actually speak. It has been said that his story is insubstantial due to it's brief length but I disagree, after all stories such as 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and 'Blink' which are both almost exactly the same length as this are rightly considered classics and I believe this should be as well.
In conclusion The Awakening is nearly faultless and is, for me, one of the finest Doctor Who stories ever.
So, we have two superb stories packaged together, I believe the quality of these stories more than compensates for the lack of reasoning for why they were released together in the first place.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yeehaw, Bland, Boring and Beige.,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)Upon reflection my opinion of this wild west opera has changed. The constant musical passages still annoy me but the actual story and accents do not. I find I enjoy watching this story more then most Sylvester MacCoy stories and Trial of a TimeLord, also it moves at a faster pace then some other stories from the Hartnell era, like The Ark and The War Machines.
Westerns were very popular in the 60's, even Star Trek did a version of this incident two years later.
The Awakening is a inappropriately titled story, as I could not stay awake whilst watching.
Peter "Yawn" Davison spoils it with his bland, boring and beige portrayal.
All in all a rather average package, only The Gunfighters saves it from complete disaster.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Odd Split But It Works,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)At first glance, it seems an odd split to put together these two stories under a rather weird title, but that's "Doctor Who" for you - never sitting still, never mundane, always on the go as a programme. For me, watching "The Gunfighters" was just like seeing new "Who", as I had absolutely no memory of it from the time it was first shown (I was probably out playing football on those Saturday afternoons....!). It was fun and entertaining, despite the sometime dodgy accents of the support cast, and the chance to see William Hartnell towards the end of his tenure is fascinating. WHile sometimes struggling, he is still very much an engaging and interesting Doctor, and it was a real shame that his health deteriorated enough that the production team decided it was time for him to go not too long after this story. (He only had four more left, two of which are, at present, completely lost from the BBC archive.) That decision, though, was to prove one of the great TV moves EVER, creating the concept of regeneeration, so that the show could always change its lead character and move on.
And four regenerations later, we have "The Awakening", one of my favourite Peter Davison stories. A two - part gem, with some nice performances and a really atmospheric feel to the "war games" of Little Hodcombe.
All in all, a great little package to add to your "Who" collection.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two quirky Doctor Who releases,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)The Awakening: the Tardis materialises in the abandoned church of Little Hodcombe, deep in rural England. Tegan is hoping to visit her grandfather Andrew Verney, the local Historian but it soon becomes apparent that the village is falling under the influence of an increasingly violent and sinister alien psychic force. Tegan's grandfather is missing and the village has been isolated by the local Civil War re-enactment Society.
Sealed within the walls of the derelict church, the Malus has awakened and is feeding on the violence created by its manipulation of Little Hodcombe's inhabitants. Unless the Doctor can prevent it, Tegan is doomed to be burned alive as Queen of the May, triggering an even greater slaughter which will destroy the Earth.
This two part story is a little unusual when compared with the majority of Peter Davison's adventures as the Doctor but is nevertheless an effective one, sharing its eerie qualities with certain other Davison stories such as the Visitation, Black Orchid, Castrovalva and to some extent even Mawdryn Undead. Actually, this is a story which, with a few appropriate adjustments, would have equally suited any of the Doctor's incarnations and in that sense, although it is by no means the finest example of the genre, even from Peter Davison, the Awakening is pure Doctor Who.
The special features are quite standard, with a commentary by the director and script editor as well as location features, extended and deleted scenes, prop design for the Malus etc. Overall, the Awakening is great fun despite its short running time.
The Gunfighters: Suffering dreadful toothache, the Doctor materialises the Tardis in search of urgent dental treatment. Unfortunately, they have landed in Tombstone, Arizona in the build-up to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Clanton's and the Earp's and the only dentist in town is Doc Holliday! The Clanton's are soon deceived into thinking that the Doctor is Doc Holliday and this mistake leads the action, while the real Holliday secretly shapes events to his own advantage.
Although I'm not usually a fan of the first Doctor's historical adventures, the Gunfighters is a remarkable success. Given the limited budget and the familiarity of the story from several classic and popular "Western's" of this same time, the Gunfighters could so very easily have been dreadful. Instead, it makes the story its own and is a period gem from the early years of Doctor Who. O.K. ,so some of the accents are peculiar and Peter Purves still isn't the most natural actor in the world but overall this doesn't distract from the strength of the story. The script has a distictly comic edge which nicely counterpoints the action while still working as a drama. The episodes are punctuated by verses from "the ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" which, apart from acting as a narrative device, is also a perfect 1960's period touch reminisent of TW3. Like the Awakening, in its own way, the Gunfighters is also an example of pure Doctor Who, so perhaps there is some justification in pairing them in this way.
The special features on this disc are better than on the Awakening and include new documetaries on the difficulties faced during this last year of William Hartnell's Doctor and contempory newspaper reviews on the impact of the first Doctor's adventures in the Tardis.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great to see but...,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)I wonder if I am alone in not wanting all the Hartnell adventures? Nice to see them of course, but there is a difference between doing that and wanting to have them as part of a collection. When the DVDs originally started being issued it was clear that to collect the whole lot would make it an expensive part-work. My decision was to, where I could afford it, buy the Davison, Pertwee and Tom Baker stories plus selected ones with the other Doctors. This release of a Hartnell and Davison story forces a collecter of a given era to buy a story that they would otherwise not want. The two stories are completely different eras too. This is very unfair and exploitative marketing and I will wait until the package drops to the price of a single disc before buying.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Time I've Struggled,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)I've been a Doctor Who fan for thirty of my 35 years and thanks to 2Entertain I've now seen almost every story that still exists and this is the first time I've struggled to get through a story.
It's the Gunfighters. It's seriously bad, from the huge mcguffin explaining why they're there (if you have cronic toothache Doctor why not get back in the TARDIS and keep going until you reach somewhere that at least has pain killers?) to the grating and endlessly repeated song. Once would have been a nice scene setter but the end of every scene is accompanied by another refrain and it just gets annoying, especially when the cast have a sing song at the end of the first episode. It does have a few good lines (as someone else said in their review "People keep giving me guns," would be a great T-Shirt) but on the whole this is not a story I'll be returning to any time soon.
The Awakening is pretty good, if like most of the 5th Doctor two parters it feels rushed, with an atmospheric setting and surprisingly effective monster and there are also some pretty interesting extras between the two discs hence the 3 star review but the Gunfighters just drags the whole thing down.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maypoles and Dentistry,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)I'm not going to start by pointing out how tenuously these two stories are linked - oops, I already did - since I quite enjoyed trying to find connections between them beyond the one they also share with most other Doctor Who stories. Both have very good design work, for example, with well-realised sets and costumes - The Awakening's imposing church set being a good example. Both are given an extra boost with some nice film work, though of the two, The Awakening benefits more in that regard; the Davison era strikes me as a particularly rich period for location work, and this is a prime example. Both stories favour smart dialogue over well-wrought plotting, and both suffer from variable guest performances. I was particularly surprised to see the usually reliable Denis Lill giving a one-note reading of his villainous part; had he played up the inner conflict as his interest in civil war re-enactments became perverted by evil, it might have helped sustain interest. For a two-parter, The Awakening still feels quite slow. A special nod to the Malus, though, which scared me as a child - its giant stone leer is the subject of a delightful vignette in which we discover the prop still works, even though its eyes are now energy-saving light bulbs. Plus ca change...
The Gunfighters also feels a little pedestrian, though that might be the lack of monsters. While some historical settings lend themselves to Doctor Who, most need a Sontaran or a Meddling Monk to drop in to liven things up. There's another problem with this one, too, which puts it for me in the same bracket as Delta and the Bannermen, and that's the variable tone, with silly knockabout stuff one minute and people being gunned down in cold blood the next. Bizarre to think that if this had been pitched for the new series, the fact that humans shoot other humans would have been the number one reason Russell T Davies would have nixed it.
Still, there's fun to be had. Stephen and Dodo make a rather hapless pair of time tourists, and Hartnell gives one of his better performances. It's a real oddity, though, and while it's not as bad as it used to be made out to be back in the eighties, it's also nowhere near as entertaining as the nineties revisionists would have us believe.
Other extras in the set are as you might expect - that well-known outtake is given plenty of coverage, including its Golden Egg Awards appearance; Return to Little Hodcombe is an adorable little making-of; while The End of the Line takes a broader look at Who's third year, shedding much light on some of the odder aspects of that period. Overall, then, while neither story is in danger of cracking many people's top ten, I found the set strangely satisfying.
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Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] by Peter Davison (DVD - 2011)