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4.4 out of 5 stars53
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 15 February 2010
The Doctor is attempting to return Ian and Barbara to earth, but when they get there they find that they have all been shrunk to 1 inch tall, and are in a garden where a powerful new insecticide has been tested, and has killed every living creature. They find themselves in all sorts of trouble, being menaced by a cat, Ian being stuck in a matchbox, the Doctor and Susan nearly getting flushed down the drain when the tap is turned on etc. And they have to try and stop the spread of the deadly insecticide.

This is a very amusing and unusual Doctor Who story, with plenty of excitement and some very cleverly construced props (I thought the giant plug and plughole were particularly convincing.) I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 5 May 2014
The first story of the second season, originally transmitted October and November 1964.Rather than just having The Doctor and the 3 original companions land somewhere, this story had the travellers shrunk to 1 inch tall, due to the Tardis doors opening pre materialisation. Ian witnesses a murder and the rest of the plot revolves around the travellers trying to expose the murderer and get Barbara back to the Tardis as quickly as possible, as she has been contaminated with an extremely dangerous insecticide. Needless to say all turns out well in the end.
An interesting story, somewhat different to what was originally offered at the time. The special effects, for the time, are well done, and the restoration team have done an excellent job, as the picture and sound quality are excellent.
The bonus material with this disc are once again excellent. This story was originally planned as a 4 part story, but was cut to 3. The bonus material recreates how it would have been if it was transmitted as a 4 part story. Carol Ann Ford expresses her time on the programme, which is interesting if you can remember her in the series all of those years ago. Altogether, I would recommend this story if you were a fan of the series when it first aired.I would think that viewers who have only seen the new series (from 2005 onwards) would probably find this story a bit dull.
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on 3 December 2001
Don't believe everything you read in reviews, especially when they're full of inaccuracies! This story is three episodes long, not because of problems with any other story, but simply because the last two episodes were edited together before broadcast to make a much more taut result. Ray Cusick's giant size sets work well, as do the optical effects used to render the TARDIS crew only one inch tall. Listen out too for future regular composer Dudley Simpson's very first incidental score for the programme. This is also the first Dr Who story where the direction was credited on screen to Douglas Camfield, arguably the series' finest director. Although not perfect the story is still highly entertaining and well worth buying, especially for the opportunity to see Hartnell's Doctor on "video" as opposed to "film" for the first time since the original transmissions, thanks to the new VidFIRE process being applied!
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The first story from the second season of Doctor Who comes to DVD. Originally broadcast in 1964, all three black and white episodes are presented here on a single disc dvd.

It features the First Doctor, along with his companions Susan, Ian and Barbara.

The story uses an idea that had been under consideration ever since the start of the show. What if the TARDIS shrunk? In Planet of Giants, the doors of the TARDIS coming open in mid flight lead to that happening. The ship has landed in the middle of the garden of an old house in a sleepy English village. But in addition to all the dangers the crew face from insects and nature as a result of their diminished size, they have another problem. In the house is a ruthless businessman who is so determined to get a new pesticide onto the market, despite it's devastating effects to all kinds life, he will stop at nothing, even murder, to achieve his aims.

Can the Doctor and friends survive, return to their normal size, and save the Earth from the perils of the pesticide?

In the early days of the show the ambition of the production team was never stopped by the limitations of tv of the time. Or by the budget. As anyone who has seen 'The Web Planet' will know. But whilst Planet of Giants does it's best to create a bit of drama, and it does do some set pieces reasonably well, it can't get past the problem of being rather dull. There's no great tension to any of the proceedings, and the dated visuals and effects make it very hard to suspend your disbelief or really get hooked on the story.

It's also rather lacking in pace. Which is one reason why it was cut down from the originally planned four episodes into three. The third episode is the result of the original parts three and four being re-edited into one.

This is by no means a bad story. It's just not the most involving of them.

The dvd has the usual language and subtitle options:

Languages: English. And also Arabic, since the BBC still hold a copy of the print that was sold to certain arabic speaking countries, so you can listen to it in that if you wish.

Subtitles: English.

It's also English audio captioned.

It has the usual features of this dvd range:

Production information subtitles.

A photo gallery of stills from the story and shots from it being made.

A commentary. None of the guest cast of the story are still with us, so this one is done entirely by members of the production staff.

A trailer for the next release in the dvd range.

And in addition to the usual Radio Times listings for the story as a PDF file you also get prop design plans from it.

Other extras:

Two more sets of interviews originally made for a 2003 documentary about Doctor Who. One with original producer Verity Lambert, and one with Carole Ann Ford, who played Susan. Both run for fifteen minutes [approx]. Both are good interviews. Both also need to be watched right to the end of the credits in order to see an additional moment.

The dvd also contains a reconstruction of the original full length third and fourth parts. This is run together as one long extra of just over fifty one minutes, but each part does have ending and opening credits. If you want to watch just one at a time you can get to the start of of part via the chapter button on the dvd remote, and pressing it till the part starts.

The original footage that was cut is no longer with us, so it has been restored by putting in reprised shots from elsewhere in the story. Occasional bits of cgi. And having a new recording of the dialogue. Given that William Russell [Ian] and Carole Ann Ford are still with us, they reprise their roles. And new actors do the other characters. The new cast are very good. The actor who does the Doctor's voice especially so. But you can't get by the fact that they all sound different to the original cast. And that is very noticeable.

Whilst this version of part three isn't too badly paced part four does feel slow and lacking in pace at points. So you can see why it was cut.

Be aware [Mild spoiler] that these two episodes do contain a couple of moments that young children and animal lovers might find a bit distressing. Although that might not be a problem since they may not be able to suspend their disbelief at the points in question [end of mild spoiler].

But these two new versions are nonethless an interesting look at what might have been.

There is also a seven minute long feature on how they were done, complete with lots of footage of the new voice cast at work.
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on 26 January 2014
It's good to see Doctor Who when William Hartnell was the first original doctor, takes me back to watching this in my childhood.
Enjoyed it and great fun to watch.
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on 5 August 2005
I don't really see what's wrong with this story. Everyone I've met and asked seems to like it, but most reviews on the internet always give it a bad one. The 'sink set' is very good effects wise, but some of the other things aren't... but so what? What makes it good is it is just very simple- the Doctor and his companions wandering round discovering deadly traps. Worth the money, so buy it!
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on 30 April 2012
Planet of Giants is a quaint little 3 part serial from 1964, it is set in contemporary day Earth and stars a small cast of established British actors. The story concerns the TARDIS crew landing on Earth and finding that they have been reduced in size to about 1 inch, then, the plot thickens when Forester, a big-time crook murders Farrow, a scientist who has deduced that DN6, Forester's latest invention is basically a poison, rather than an insecticide. The story then revolves around the TARDIS crew fingering the murderer and getting back to the TARDIS so they can resume normal size.

Planet of Giants was originally going to be a 4 part serial, but the producers felt that because the story had no monsters or battles etc, that it would be best to reduce the serial by one episode so as to add a more climactic end to events and faster paced season opener. Overall, the story works really well and is one of the better Hartnell stories, its always been one of my favourites and stands up very well today. The sets and design are very modern and although Doctor Who was produced on a miniscule budget, the giant sets used here work brilliantly well. This stands as probably one of the best Doctor Who visual serials and I certainly can't wait for the BBC DVD release this year to fully enjoy this classic.

The Doctor Who Restoration Team have done wonders in cleaning up these episodes for release. The VidFIRE process really shines here, the picture and sound quality is fantastic and a DVD release is really awaited with baited breath, the Restoration Team have even gone to the effort of recreating the missing and erased 4th episode by gathering all the remaining cast and re-recording the dialogue for the missing segments. Excellent stuff. As usual with the latest Doctor Who DVD releases, I'm sure that the Team will have pulled together a few more juicy extras to entertain us all.

Overall, I rate Planet of Giants very highly, I think it is an underrated little 3 {now 4} parter from the early years of the greatest show in the galaxy {which co-incidentally is released just before this story}.

Thank you very much for your time,

M.B.
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on 24 October 2013
Everything is quiet in the garden - which is hardly surprising since it has all been killed! Restored to an amazing standard, this is one of those 'makes you think' stories from Doctor Who's distant past. After the TARDIS doors open in flight, the crew are reduced to just one inch tall. The rest of the plot could really stand on its own without this extra element, but it does give the special effects department something to do. The edited episodes are cleverly restored, although I'm sure that some cat lovers will be dismayed at a couple of the animated scenes!
All in all, a good package with some useful extras. If you have never seen early Doctor Who, this isn't one of the most immediately exciting stories, but it has a strangely claustrophobic atmosphere and as I wrote above, it does make you think!
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on 29 April 2013
Whats really impressive with this release is the reconstruction by Ian Levine of the last two original episodes, originally re-edited into a single 26 minute episode for transmission in 1964. The production of the original unedited script in this version completely re-frames the story, making it a far more enjoyable character piece. This is a story I didnt rate terribly highly in its broadcast version - experiencing the original unedited script in such a lively and imaginative fashion, as carried out here, is a major improvement. A really worthwhile endeavour and this comes highly recommended.
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