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5 of 5 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 10 months ago by Benjamin Coupland

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39 of 46 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sadly underrated Doctor Who stories, 8 Sep 2013
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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.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars " 2 Completely Dissimilar Things in a Pod", 30 Mar 2011
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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;

"Doc?"
"Yes?"
"Holiday?"
"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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They'll be blood upon the sawdust ....., 23 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. D. K. Smith (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)
The Gunfighters is still a story that polarises opinion, although not half as much as back in the 1970's and 1980's (when few of us had actually seen it and all we had to go on was received opinion). For me, it's a cracking little story, although very much a tale of two halves.

The first two episodes crackle with humour and everybody, Hartnell in particular, are having a ball. The Doctor's initial meeting with Doc Holliday, as a somewhat unwilling patient in the Doc's dentist chair, is a joy and Holliday (Anthony Jacobs) and Wyatt Earp (John Alderson) both get some lovely lines.

The Clantons are, it's true to say, a family of mismatched accents - some (such as Canadian-born Shane Rimmer) do come off better than others, but as they are played for laughs early on this isn't really a problem.

Mid-way through the story there's a sharp change of gear as the Clantons gun down Warren Earp, which leads Doc Holliday, Wyatt and Morgan Earp to line up against the Clantons and Johhny Ringo at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall. These events don't really involve the Doctor and his friends, so they could have left in the TARDIS in episode three and not really have been missed.

This apart, The Gunfighters is a definite highlight from the later Hartnell era, and much more entertaining than, say, the somewhat stodgy fare of The Ark. Special-features wise, the highlight is a very convivial commentary with Toby Hadoke moderating a lively discussion with some of the cast and crew.

The other story in the boxset is The Awakening, a compact two-part story from 1984, starring Peter Davison. There's a slight Sapphire and Steel air about the story as people's emotions are key to the return of the Malus - similar to some of the story concepts from PJ Hammond's writings. A very strong guest cast (Denis Lil, Polly James, Glyn Houston) give Davison plenty to work with and there's some nice location filming which is a good contrast to the two studio bound stories that preceded and followed it on original transmission. No classic, but a good, solid story that doesn't exceed its welcome. An informative making-of documentary (Return to Little Hodcome) and some extended and deleted scenes are the highlights of the extras package.

Well worth picking up for The Gunfighters which has much to recommended it (particularly Rex Tucker's direction which favours both high and low shots - given the cumbersome nature of 1960's TV cameras this is impressive) and The Awakening is a decent story as well. There's also plenty of bonus materials to put the two adventures into context. A good purchase for anyone who is only interested in picking and choosing certain Doctor Who stories to own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Odd Split But It Works, 28 Mar 2013
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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.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honest? The Gunfighters is the better of the two, 29 Mar 2011
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.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great to see but..., 9 April 2011
By 
R. NEIL (London) - See all my reviews
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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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GET OFF EARTH STORY'S BACK, 27 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)
Ok, so these two seemingly unrelated serials have been paired together in a box set, but at the end of the day they are both good stories. They are also from two different eras of the shows history and so wont suit all fans, but come on this set is only five pounds more than an individual release. I am not a big Peter Davidson fan, but the Awakening is a claustrophobic story with no padding and some very good location work. These are all characteristics of any good Doctor Who serial. However after watching these two short episodes I found myself thinking what was the point of it all when in the end, through no direct result of the doctors actions, the Malus ends up destroying itself. Despite this I will still watch this again and the Awakening is worth the five pounds I effectively paid for it.

Now onto the Gunfighters, which for some reason has such a bad reputation. One of the main niggles people have is the ballad of the last chance saloon. In my view this works well with the comedy aspects and also keeps the story moving along. Another one of the gripes are the dodgy American accents, but I have to say I never really noticed them. What other reviewers don't seem to mention are the impressive sets and a strong performance from William Hartnell, who seems to thrive on the comedy aspects more so than in the Romans. The first episode is by far the best and moves along at a decent pace, introducing the main characters and setting the scene well. Although it turned out to be a disappointment the cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode is a good one and made me want to watch the next episode straight away. The plot then moves along steadily, but with no real padding, and although the climatic gunfight is hardly cinematic in quality it does work well in my opinion. Overall the gunfighters is an enjoyable, fun serial, definitely not a classic but way underrated.

The highlight of the extras is the end of the line documentary, which gives a unique glimce of what the, mostly missing, third series of doctor who looked like.

All I can say to some of my fellow reviewers is shame on those who have rated this set at one or two stars as it is easily worth the three stars I have given it. Neither of these are classics but they are both well worth a watch.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ok, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)
Two different stories Peter Davison is Not bad ,gunfighters is not to good
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two quirky Doctor Who releases, 21 Jun 2011
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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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Time I've Struggled, 14 Jan 2013
By 
CunningSmile "CunningSmile" (Southampton, Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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.
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