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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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The first season of John Pertwee's Doctor Who has an identity all of its own that sets it apart from the following four seasons, particulary the latter three stories, which all feel like variations on a theme. Quite what possessed the production team to decide to film three seven-part stories set on scientific bases in contemporary Britain, back to back, is beyond me. But the odd thing is that it works. Filmed largely during winter, this season has a wonderfully bleak, depressing atmosphere that makes it feel as if the party of the 1960s is definitely over.

The Ambassadors of Death is a particularly successful story that seems to acquire more gravity with repeated viewing, thanks to the strength of the cast, the quality of the script and Dudley Simpson's score, which is one of the most memorable he created. John Pertwee hadn't quite hit his stride as the Doctor, but perhaps that was because the writers still had Patrick Troughton in mind. Indeed, the shadow of the Troughton era looms more largely over this story than the others in the season, but that's no bad thing.

The length of the story has been a contentious issue and although the narrative does proceed with a glacial speed at times, I'm not complaining. After watching the 'new Who's manic, 45-minute rollercoaster episodes, the slowness of The Ambassadors of Death is a welcome relief. This may be a four-parter padded out with a number of chase and fight scenes, but as padding goes, it's some of the best.

Is it too slow for younger Doctor Who fans? I don't know, but my six-year-old son loved this story (particularly the chase and fight scenes!) and has a curious attachment to the whole season, particularly Spearhead From Space, so I'd suggest that perhaps even in the age of the PS3, young viewers are still capable of watching sustained narratives without getting bored.

The special features are up to their usual standard, but are a little thin on the ground compared to some of the other releases. With two discs, I would have expected more. Nevertheless, that is a minor quibble (also, there are only so many times I want to see Terence Dicks talking about Barry Letts, however much I like them both).

Overall, this is a five-star story for me. The story is haunting and surprisingly menacing, justifying its seven-episode length. It's good to have the seventh season complete on DVD at last.
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on 25 February 2013
One of the better Jon Pertwee stories from what is definitely his best season, seasmlessly recolourised after the BBC rather shortsightedly destroyed the original colour version some years ago. This story, like the rest of season seven, is highly atypical of the Pertwee era overall, heavily influenced by the Quatermass serials and with a rather more serious tone than much of what came later, but it works well, and Ambassadors is pretty gripping stuff throughout. What's really impressive and gives pause for thought, of course, is that the real threat is not the aliens...
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on 27 December 2012
I first saw this in the early 90s on UK Gold in what was then very poor black and white, with sound that was barely audible in places. I recall the announcer apologising prior to one of the episodes, stating that the sound in particular hadn't travelled as well in time as the good Doctor himself! There are still some parts where the sound is notably distorted but this is a world away from the broadcast I saw around 1992!

For comparison purposes I would have loved to have seen some more detail surrounding the restoration of these episodes on the 2 disc DVD, for the Daemons they included a whole episode to demonstrate the advances made in technology since their first attempts in the 90s.

Pertwee is my favourite era and I especially love all the techy stuff that goes into these restorations. I was amazed when I first saw the Daemons restored and couldn't wait to get my hands on the DVD version. After seeing the amazing job done on Terror of the Autons I had high hopes for the Daemons, and for this release.

The biggest irritation with the Daemons is also very noticeable with this story - colour bleeding. In some scenes it's really distracting, episode one is of course taken directly from the surviving videotapes (the earliest known surviving story in this format) it looks like it was recorded only weeks ago thanks to some marvellous restoration work, move onto episode two and there is a significant drop in quality. Whilst the restoration work on this story is still impressive, considering the source material they had to work with and having to use multiple techniques to get back to full colour, I have to wonder if more could have been done to control the amount of colour bleed.

Anyone who owns the Daemons DVD will no doubt have seen the Tomorrow's World report on the original restoration. During this, they explain the issues with the different size and shapes of the colour NTSC video compared with the black and white images, and how they overcame the problem by warping the pictures electronically. When I watched (and recorded) the original restorations these colour problems were nowhere near as noticeable as they are now, so what's changed since then?!

As a story it's long - very long, lots of padding in places which is common in many of the older, longer episodes of this era but aside from all it's faults it's quite amazing to have all seven episodes in watchable colour again.

If you've watched previous colour restorations and you're expecting more of the same, if not better, then you will be disappointed with this release. If however you've longed to see the only remaining story from season seven that was still lost in its colour form, you will be chuffed to see what they've managed to produce, with such dodgy material!
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on 23 September 2012
Season 7 is a remarkable year of Doctor Who, and although it's hard to pick a favourite, this probably comes closest for me. Exceptionally atmospheric in places, with some of the creepiest music (i.e. the alien's theme) to grace the series. It might be an odd choice, but the quarry scenes of the cranes burying the thugs in gravel I find really affecting.
And now the story is available in full colour for the first time since broadcast. Really, this is one worth every penny.
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on 26 December 2012
As for the colour restoration, there is obvious halo effect around some edges for some reason in places where wasn't apparent on the original VHS. I have reviewed comparison screenshots to establish this. I wonder why these effects have not been removed when there are means to 'distort' the picture to resolve this, as has been used before. For me it's quite noticeable and apart form this, it's brilliant to get to see all episodes in a form near to what would have been shown in the seventies before the tapes were burned leaving only b&w transfers. The story itself is a slow burner and well thought of with most fans, but I didn't find it as great as Spearhead from Space, Inferno or Silurians from the same season. In all this is a worthwhile release and an experimental one to a degree. They've clearly been using new colour restoration techniques to bring this to a releasable form, however I feel could be improved upon further for a potential special edition release, albeit probably won't now happen for another 20 years?
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on 2 June 2013
The Ambassadors of Death is one of those great examples of what Doctor Who can do well - action packed, relevant and morally strong science fiction. If it has a flaw it's that it slows slightly in the middle to pad out the story a bit, but otherwise it's absolutely riveting.

The Cowboys and Indians style action sequences are wonderfully performed and edited with a sense of real momentum. The first shoot out in this story blew me away - I can say with utmost sincerity it was one of the best TV action set pieces I've ever seen and I've watched a lot of great TV.

This would be great for anyone who loves a good Doctor Who story or anyone wanting to get a feel of what the Pertwee era of Doctor Who was all about. Wonderful actors, wonderfully rendered characters, dramatic storytelling and a tasty sprinking of location shooting - all without breaking the laws of physics.
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2012
Good to see a release of The Ambassadors Of Death at long last! Now in full colour, the reason for the long delay has been the problem with the black and white footage but now at last fully restored in full colour, this is a good fun if slightly long Pertwee story about a Mars probe that brings something alien back from space. It's tense and a good example of the UNIT years of the show with the regular cast many of who are now sadly no longer with us. The UNIT years always reminded me of a cross between a James Bond movie and scifi alien invasion movie and this clearly demonstrates that. The story itself might have been better off as a 4 or 5 part story rather than the 7 parts here but still highly reccommended.
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on 4 October 2012
This is well worth buying. For years I only posessed a scratchy black and white VHS copy ( recorded from UK Gold in the early '90s). Viewing it in full colour, I can hardly believe it is the same story. The colour restoration does full justice to the special effects (CSO etc) that the production team were embracing in the early 1970s and, whilst primitive by today's standards ( the rocket launch still makes me wince a little), they are certainly ambitious for their time. This dvd shows the sheer scale of what the BBC was able to achieve with very little resource.

I have always loved this story. Today, of course, it would be unthinkable to have one 7 episode story with so many layers and elements to it and, whilst it seems to proceed at a fairly leisurely pace, it contains so much that it needs to be viewed several times. The number of disparate characters and settings, not to mention the amount of location filming is highly impressive. Jon Pertwee hits his stride with this story. The arrogance, compassion and the action man elements all blend together perfectly here for the first time and set the mould for his Dr. The action ( particularly the fight in the warehouse and the hijack of the capsule)is surprisingly vicious for a programme being broadcast at Saturday teatime. It is also good to see The Brig getting stuck in too!

The dvd extras are a little underwhelming, although the parallels with the real life Apollo 13 drama, which was taking place whilst the story was being transmitted, are interesting. The "Making of" documentary is a little disappointing, given the tortuous process involved in the development of the story, although watching it, I had the sobering thought that most of the key players ( cast and production) are no longer around- and I guess Terrance Dicks can probably only remember so much...

This is still a dvd well worth buying though and it has whetted my appetite for The Mind Of Evil.
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on 9 January 2014
Another addition to my ever growing collection. The story is good although not the best I personally have ever seen, but no doubt a gem if you are a Doctor Who fan like me and well worthy of addition to your collection.
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on 8 July 2012
This is the best story from classic Doctor Who in my opinion. The atmosphere in this story is amazing, helped along by Dudley Simpson's wonderful score. The haunting theme in episode 7 as the ambassadors approach the base is so brilliant. At 7 episodes it never feels slow and plodding and I cannot wait to own a full colour version. The entire Doctor Who DVD range is a fantastic example of what can be done when you have a group of people making them with skill and passion to provide not just episodes that look amazing but also with extras that really do blow most other British DVD releases out of the water.

Every Doctor Who fan who has only seen the new series should watch this and see just how amazing the original series could be.
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