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' Planet of Giants' finally slips in to the collection of complete Hartnell serials!
on 15 January 2013
Planet of Giants was the first commissioned serial of Doctor Who's second season and it was duly anticipated by viewers in 1964, according to the Radio Times at least. I have previously owned the VHS version of this serial, which was the first to receive the VIDFIRE process, and I always thought that it was an interesting story, though maybe a little too convoluted as a season opener. Upon discovering more information via this DVD I have learned a lot more concerning this particular serial, and I now have a newfound fondness for this three-part addition to the Who mythos.
The plot of the story revolves around the malfunction of the Tardis door opening mid-flight, resulting in the miniaturising of the occupants inside to roughly one inch tall. Suffice to say, conspiracy unfolds concerning murder and agricultural ethics in the form of an indiscriminate fertiliser. Originally, this serial was meant to air with four parts, but it was necessary to edit them down to three due to thoughts that the pace of the story was far too lagging. This led to a loss of some crucial plot elements, I think, and it is only through the reconstruction of the original episodes three and four that, in my opinion, has renewed 'Planet of Giants' to its intended status as a worthy second season opener.
The DVD itself contains the complete serial, at approximately 73 minutes in length, with digitally remastered picture and sound quality. This is particularly evident in comparison with the VHS release, and the team have done a brilliant job yet again at cleaning up the odd grain and dirt stain. The serial can be viewed with optional English subtitles and production notes, which provide significant insight into the making of and history behind the serial, along with information regarding the cast and crew. There is also an offering to view the story with an audio commentary with vision mixer Clive Doig, special sounds creator Brian Hodgson, make-up supervisor Sonia Markham and David Tilley, moderated by Mark Ayres. This provides an interesting account of the production of this particular serial and the show in general, and the people engage wholeheartedly in the programme to deliver an entertaining first-hand account. Also provided are two interviews, taken from 'The Story of Doctor Who' in 2003, with Verity Lambert and Carole Anne Ford, who played Susan, which provide an insight into characterisation and programme development. The real bonus, in my opinion, is the reconstruction of the original unaired episodes three and four, which were originally edited into one episode for reasons described above. The team have done an absolutely brilliant job in using stock footage and new material, alongside existing actors and impersonators to recreate these missing episodes, which provide an extension of the main story, with a lot more plot development and interactional dialogue. There is also a documentary detailing the making of the reconstructed episodes, alongside a photo gallery of on-set photographs and a PDF version of the Radio Times listings for this particular serial, with an integrated overview of the first season recounted by the article writer.
All in all, it is definitely worth picking up this DVD, even if you aren't a dedicated Whovian, as there is so much history to be explored within this little serial, with plenty of extra features to keep you occupied. As previously stated, I have a newfound fondness for 'Planet of Giants' and I am glad that it has finally received the treatment it deserves.