91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
The Tenth Planet is a key story in the history of Doctor Who. It marks the departure of the original Doctor, William Hartnell, introduces the Cybermen and it is the first "base under siege" story, which would prove to be a staple of the Troughton era, particularly during season 5.
Although they would go on to menace the Doctor right up to the present day, it appears that the Cybermen were created purely as a one-off menace. Visually, of course, they are totally different from their later appearances - with their human hands, cloth covered faces and sing-song voices. On the one hand they look ridiculous, but on the other they are chilling in a way that no other Cybermen would ever be.
Soon, the Cybermen would be just another monster, their only goals being conquest and power. But in The Tenth Planet they merely want to survive - and if that means draining all the energy from the Earth in order to replenish their own planet, Mondas, then that's what they'll do. To them, this is logical, particularly if they can take the humans back to their planet and convert them into Cybermen. Why would anyone object to a life free from pain and disease? Certainly the Cybermen can't think of a reason, but the Doctor and his friends can.
Although William Hartnell didn't want to leave the show, his failing health sadly meant that there wasn't really any alternative. Indeed, a bout of illness meant that he had to be written out of episode 3 at very short notice, a particular problem given Doctor Who's treadmill-like year long production schedule.
But whatever his health issues or his feelings on leaving the part he loved, Hartnell is never anything but totally professional and rock solid. His confrontations with the Cybermen and General Cutler are particular highlights and his new companions, Ben and Polly (Michael Craze and Anneke Wills), provide him with good support.
Although the structure of the story is a little odd - the Cybermen arrive, go away for an episode, come back and then are defeated a little easily - The Tenth Planet, apart from the importance it holds in the history of Doctor Who, is a strong story in its own right, directed with assurance by Derek Martinus.
With the fourth and final episode missing since the 1970's, Planet 55 have re-created it via animation. Their work on Reign of Terror was a little controversial, but this works better and should gain more widespread approval as unlike Reign it sticks more closely to what the episode could have looked like. It's a very impressive effort with some good visual touches.
Toby Hadoke moderates with his usual skill and good-humour the commentary on episodes 1-3 (no commentary on episode 4). Joining him are Anneke Wills (Polly) and designer Peter Kindred, with a generous number of guest actors from the story - Christopher Matthews, Earl Cameron, Alan White, Donald Van Der Maaten and Christopher Dunham. Given that this story was made nearly fifty years ago, it's lovely to have so many participants on this one, particularly Anneke Wills whose love and affection for both the series, and her co-star, the late Michael Craze, still shines brightly.
Elsewhere, there's the Episode 4 telesnap reconstruction that was included on the VHS release. It may have been somewhat superseded by the animation, but it's still nice to have it included. The making of documentary - Frozen Out - has plenty of ground to cover, and is a good watch with Anneke Wills, amongst others, on hand with some interesting anecdotes. The thorny topic of Hartnell's difficult behaviour - both his racist attitudes and his general irritability - isn't shied away from, and there's also some interesting info on how the production coped with a Doctor-shaped hole in episode 3.
There's more of Anneke Wills on Doctor Who stories, which is culled from interview material shot in 2003 for The Story of Doctor Who documentary. Although it's quite short - at around 13 minutes - Wills' joy and enthusiasm make it another treat. She's been sadly under-represented on the DVDs due to the lack of surviving episodes from her time on the show, but with both The Moonbase and The Underwater Menace to come next year, I'm looking forward to spending more time in the company of Ms Wills.
Boys! Boys! Boys! sees Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson chat about their experiences on the show, and is a jolly little programme. It's a pity that Strickson couldn't have been in the studio with Purves and Hines (instead he appears by satellite) but it's still a very amusing watch as Purves and Hines, in particular, bounce off each other very well.
There's another couple of documentaries, Companion Piece and The Golden Age, a nice piece of archive footage from a 1973 edition of Blue Peter, the usual Photo Gallery and PDF materials, which leaves one more little gem on this DVD - an interview with William Hartnell shot shortly after he left Doctor Who.
Filmed in his dressing room whilst preparing for a panto appearance, at times the short interview finds him in a prickly mood, dismissing pantomime as not being "legitimate theatre" for example. This is the only on-screen Hartnell interview that exists and it was only recently rediscovered - and it's wonderful to have a brief glimpse of Hartnell, the man.
So not only is The Tenth Planet a very solid story it also has a high quality package of special features that make this DVD a must buy.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2013
A very important story for obvious historical reasons; last Hartnell, 1st Cyberman story, the beginning of the Kit Pedler/Gerry Davis writing partnership & 1st regeneration. Is it a good debut for the Cybermen and a good finale for the Billster? To be honest; yes.. and no.
Pedler and Davis (both misspelled for an episode each in the opening credits)delivered a good script with a large flaw but many virtues. The tardis crew turn up at space tracking station at the South Pole (its icy wastes well created for studio and over 40 years ago) just before the appearance of a new planet from which the Cybermen arrive.
Davis the old school dramatist always believed the companions should get a lot to do and go off on their own away from the Doctor at significant moments in the story. This proved to be a virtue given Hartnell's health (absent for an episode) necessitating a rewrite. Polly gets to be the main moral voice of the story berating both Warhorse commander Cutler and the Cybermen as the occasion commands. Anneke Wills does all this brilliantly and really sells it.
Ben played by Michael Craze gets to work out how the Cybermen might be tackled and if you've never particularly noticed Craze's acting before then watch the excellent moment where he conveys disgust at having to kill a cyberman!
A great debut for the Cybermen are characterised here better than in any other story since. They are not belligerent do-badders but they just no longer have or understand emotion.
They are a lot more logical than in some appearances. They offer to save the humans from Earth's expected destruction by taking them back to their planet Mondas but are not going to force them. It will not affect their plans so they let the base crew converse with some doomed astronauts and as Polly berates them for not caring they retort;
"there are people dying all over your world yet you do not care for them!"
How many other scripts give the Cybermen a retort like that?
Now they may look naff in photos but they tower over everyone and are much more impressive moving about onscreen. The only downside is in an attempt to sound inhuman they are given voices that sound Swedish and do not create the menace intended!
FYI the trait associated with 80' stories-vulnerability to their own weapons, actually begins here.
The Cybermen show why Pedler was such a find for Who. He knew a lot of real science & could successfully blend it with a strong imagination e.g. the organic part of the Cybermen is stated here to be their brain which seems plausible but their planet is a twin planet to Earth which is pure SF imagination. He also had a sense of humour nodding at real scientific achievements good and bad by going to the opposite end of the aphabet e.g. Zeus missions instead of Apollo ones and a Z bomb instead of an A Bomb
A good base set looking nice & functional and a the guest cast has 2 standouts- Robert Beatty as the ultra ruthless Cutler and David Doddimead as the sensitive scientist Barclay. Watch also for the marvellous Steve Plytas making a lot out of a small role with Secretary Wigner.
For William Hartnell it's not the best of finale's for a couple of reasons. 1) the Doctor's role and that of his companions is important but not central they have to keep things from escalating as the main threat resolves itself. For spoiler's sakes I won't go into detail but the resolution is a big flaw in an otherwise enjoyable story. 2) This was no one's fault but due to his health he wasn't able to give a strong performance although he does manage a few good moments- asking where their emotions are is one.
The restoration work is again good, I'd never noticed you can just about make out the eyes of the Cybermen actors when I had it one VHS for example.
The same crew who animated 2 eps of Reign of Terror did episode 4 where they were able to be guided by the telesnaps ( check out the telesnap and soundtrack reconstruction made for the VHS release among the extras which also includes some filmed of the telly moments). As a result this is a much better reconstruction combining the facial expressions I believe added a lot to Reign with cutting more suited to the time this was originally made. It's improved the story no end.
The commentary with main contributor Anneke Wills amongst others-notably the 2 doomed astronauts is a good one. Earl Cammeron remembers how comfortable the spacesuits were and Anneke remembers the problems of trying to look cold in fur coat in a hot studio. Shame there is no commentary for ep4.
Frozen Out is a top notch making of doc. Anneke again is the star. She remembers the excitement of Kit Pedler ("A real scientist"), hiow the regeneration went and be warned makes no bones about Hartnell's irascibility and bigotry! Reg Whitehead is wonderfully proud of being the 1st Cyberman "others will say it's them but is isn't!"
Also the original vision mixer tells us how the 1st regenration was done with the help of animation from Quiros (Ice Warriors).
Companion piece is a free ranging look at the companion role with some classic who companions and Arthur Darvill plus some professional fans turned writers (they actually have the most interesting things to say!)
Boys, Boys Boys is the male version of the previous girls features with Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and by satellite Mark Strickson. They're all fun but Frazer is especially entertaining.
There's also some Blue Peter stuff which I think featured on the 3 Doctors releases.
I shamefully neglected to mention this when I first posted the review but there's also a rare interview with William Hartnell(*1), yes a rare opportunity to hear him speak as himself not in character. This is backstage at a pantomime he did not long after leaving Who. It starts part of the way through a discussion about Daleks ( it's explained what we get is all that remains) which Hartnell admits are difficult to work with. It's clear he wasn't thrilled to be in a pantomime and the interviewer failed to make much of a rapport with him. A good insight anyway as Hartnell tactlessly distinguishes between pantomime and "legitimate" acting, makes it clear how much he values an agent ("the last thing I want to do is talk turkey"), says he was a good singer in his youth and has no interest in dancing (interesting in light of Reg Whitehead's memory of him tap dancing in "frozen out")plus had no fears of type casting. A bit of gold dust.
I also shamefully neglected Anneke Will's Doctor Who Stories interview. She recalls enjoying her time on the show and here there are several stories you may have heard before but as ever charmingly told but also less well known anecdotes like her being on a bridge over a canal as a boat passed under occupants shouting for "Polly" to join their party!
Dominic Sandbrook's Golden Age looks at whether there was any such thing as a golden age for the Police Box Show. Of course there isn't e.g., my golden age is Tom Baker's 1st 3 years but it may not be yours. The topic is quite well explored even if the feature could have been a little longer.
An enjoyable story with a packed set of extras, recommended highly.
*1 recently rediscovered pop over to the BBC Radio 4 website to listen to the Billster's appearance on desert Island Discs
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2014
Viewed head-on, this is deeply flawed; the narrative takes a massive dog-leg halfway through, when the central character - the Professor Challenger of the story - keels over, leaving the fight to his subordinates, until he finally revives, the general tries to shoot him, and the bad guys finally go away. Not outstanding storytelling.
Mondas is not a coherent threat; let's get this straight - it is draining energy how? There's no real answer - it's doing it by magic, isn't it? And the solution to magic is, well, more magic, which is pretty much what happens - Mondas eats too much energy and dies - it's not really thought through beyond 'keep the story going and they won't notice it doesn't make sense'.
Another problem is that the ideas are way, way bigger than the budget - this is a story of space rockets, secret bases in Antarctica, another planet, alien creatures and global disaster, and the BBC didn't have anything like the resources to spare to tell that story. While the snow set is commendable (apart from the flapping trapdoor), the control room doesn't have the scale, and nor does Wigner's office. The reactor room in Episode 4 looks the business, however.
For all that, it is a good yarn told with good spirit. While one can sardonically question the wisdom of whoever it was appointed Cutler in the first place, Robert Beatty plays him very well; I'm convinced by the man if not by the job title. The multi-ethnic crew works well, and nobody's accent seems to creak (so good to see Earl Cameron as Williams), but it's re-assuring to know there's an Englishman among them - Doctor Barclay is to be relied upon for a stiff upper lip and a well-presented cardigan - there is a particularly Quatermass-ish feel to this version of 1986.
But the stars of the show are the Cybermen - and what a design! They do look quite properly weird - other-worldly - but are they a credible threat? Not sure - I'd like to see one laugh off a machine gun - not that they do laugh, of course. For creatures governed by logic, there is a cobbled-together quality to them - and it is all credit to the performances and the direction that they're not funny. I'm not sure how logical design has produced guns that look like electric fires either.
And I like the way that when they speak, that weird sing-song Peter Hawkins/Roy Skelton voice issues from a wide open mouth with no visible articulation going on - they are menacing, but much more, just plain weird. (It's a pity that the 'Parka's they disguise themselves in do not in any way make them look like anything other than Cybermen).
The animated Episode Four is lovely (I especially like the silhouette Cybermen) but, all budgetary considerations aside, it's a story that succeeds almost in spite of its star - unwell for the first two episodes, absent for the third, and only half there for the fourth; this is not a great curtain call for William Hartnell.
'He could be a bit difficult to work with' is a refrain generally followed with 'but he was a marvellous actor' but rarely by an explanation of what made him so prickly; what emerges in The Making Of is a picture of a man enraged at Anno Domini and his own failing powers - showing off his tap dancing to Reg Whitehead comes across as maladroit at the very best - at worst peevish - and the dressing room interview shows a man untouchably convinced of his own professional prowess.
I'm glad it wasn't me working with him.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2013
The tenth planet is a fantastic story. Well worth 5 stars in its own right. The story itself is essentially about the means civilisations and individuals will go to to survive. Mondas, the home world of the cybermen is on the verge of destruction, having had all its resources used up. The cybermen's invasion of Earth is part of a quest to survive. The story is very compact in that it only uses a very small area of the world, but it still manages to feel as though things are happening on a larger scale. Of course the effects are limited, with the filming having been done in 1966, but the story still feels convincing even whilst you do realise the cybermen are 'just a man in a suite'.
However I have too issues with the DVD itself, which lost the 5 star rating for me.
Firstly, I found the DVD rather difficult to navigate if I wanted to watch a particular episode. In a normal series DVD, they have straightforward links to each episode. However this felt like a VHS tape had been copied onto a DVD instead.
Secondly, the quality of the animation in the 4th episode is terrible. It had an almost comic book feel to it.
But other than that, an excellent edition to the collection of any Whovian.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fans have waited years for this four episode set. Episode 3 is still missing and believed lost forever so it has been animated an matched with the original audio recording. This is a good result and it enables the whole story to be watched in its intended glory.
This is particularly special as it is the first outing of the Cybermen, and the last story featuring William Hartnell. Episode 4 features the first ever regeneration and for that reason alone this is a collectors item. A second DVD is included in the set packed full of special features.
This story was one I originally remember watching from behind the settee and unlike some it has kept its fear factor reasonably well. The setting in snow has made it very easy to keep the suspense.
An excellent Dr Who adventure!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
William Hartnell's final Doctor Who story comes to dvd. A two disc set with the episodes and some extras on disc one, and more extras on the second.
Originally broadcast in 1966, the Tenth Planet had four twenty five minute long black and white episodes. As with a lot of the 1960's stories, this one is incomplete. But where many had episodes wiped which the BBC thought they'd never need again, the last part of this one was lent to the Blue Peter office in 1973. And it ever came back. Nobody knows what happened. Only the last moments - since they were used in a Blue Peter feature, survive.
This has two versions of part four, though. One reconstructed using the soundtracks and photos from the episode. And one using the soundtrack plus animation for the visuals. Opinions on the quality of animation are subjective, but let's just say this doesn't have the rapid editing of one recent effort, or the seemingly simple figures of another, so it shouldn't meet with any disapproval.
The Tenth Planet see the Doctor, plus companions Ben and Polly, visit a polar base in 1986. Just as a strange planet fills the Earth sky. And strange silver humanoids arrive from it. Earth's long lost twin planet has returned. And it's inhabitants want to ensure it survives. By whatever means necessary.
The Cybermen have appeared. The show, and the Doctor, will never be the same again.
The Tenth Planet has a very different feel to some of what has gone before. It tries hard to create an international setting, and does this pretty well. With people from different countries at the base and scenes from around the world. It's a prototype for the base under siege story the show would often go on to do. With monsters attacking humans at a remote location and the Doctor and friends being caught in the middle between military minds wanting to shoot first and scientists trying to stop them.
The Cybermen are very different in style to what they've been like since. They look like humans who have undergone a lot of surgery rather than brains in silver casings. They also have highly distinctive sing song voices. Which once heard are never forgotten.
William Hartnell's health of the time means he is rather immobilised for a lot of this, and absent for all of part three. With Polly being left to put the kettle on Ben [Michael Craze] has to carry a lot of the story himself. He does this superbly well. Ben being an ordinary human in an impossible situation who the moral strength and determination to do the right thing. It's a great story for him. Even if, after seeing Cybermen being gunned down and gold plated with no compunction in 1980's stories, it's strange to see people here get broken hearted about having to hurt them.
A memorable story for the style, the setting, the monsters, and an ending which defined so much of what to come. It's worth five stars.
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
It's also English audio captioned.
Disc one also contains:
A commentary from a lot of the cast plus one of the crew.
The radio times listings for the story as a PDF file.
A photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.
A trailer for an upcoming release in this dvd range [in this case the second Doctor story the Moonbase].
Production information subtitles.
And a making of documentary. This one runs for twenty eight minutes. A lot of this is reminiscences from Anneke Wills, who played Polly. She is a very good interviewee with lots to say about the story and her working relationship with William Hartnell so this is very good viewing. She and other interviewees do paint an interesting picture of a man who clearly had a lot on his mind and a lot of mood swings.
Disc two has:
An interview with William Hartnell. Three minutes worth of recently found footage from a local BBC programme who interviewed him when he was in panto later in the year. Not all the interview survives, and some of it lacks any sound. But as pretty much the only interview there is with him from the time, it's fascinating viewing.
Doctor Who stories: Anneke Wills. This is more footage shot for a 2003 documentary on the show. It runs for twelve minutes. As with the making of, she's a very good interviewee with lots to say so it's a good watch.
Boys, boys, boys. Runs for eighteen minutes and follows the style of other extras on recent releases in getting companion actors together and letting them chat about their experiences. In this case it's male actors though. Thus Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson are allowed to reminiscence for eighteen minutes. The loose format of this does allow for some good chat.
Companion piece runs for twenty five minutes and has actors - from the old and new series - who have played companions talk about their experiences and why the show needs such characters. The fast pace of this makes for an entertaining watch.
The Golden Age runs for fifteen minutes and is just one person talking to camera, on how people perceive different eras of the show to have been better than others. And how the memory cheats. This is thought provoking viewing and well argued making it well worth a watch.
Blue Peter is the piece Blue Peter did on Doctor Who in 1973 to celebrate Doctor's Who tenth year. It runs for nine minutes and will appeal to those who grew up on the programme.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2015
The Tenth Planet has a reputation that will always be hard for it to live up to - the first Cybermen! The last 1st Doctor story/First regeneration story!
The story just isn't much cop though. It's a tedious base-under-seige story with forgettable supporting characters and a distinct lack of William Hartnell (he was presumably sick during the filming of this as he is absent for a significant amount of the story). No witty dialogue; not a particularly amazing plot. This story gets its fame from it's importance in the show's history rather than its own merits. As a good piece of drama it deserves faint praise at best.
The Cybermen aren't exactly poorly realised - I normally try to defend them as intended to be bizarre rather than frightening. But they do sound a lot like Peter Sellers' Bluebottle voice from The Goon Show. The concept of the Cybermen is really interesting, but their role in the plot once their concept has been explained is to behave like routine bad guys for the rest of the story.
It's still an enjoyable enough watch - the missing 4th episode has been very well reconstructed using animation as has been done with certain stories since The Invasion. This divides opinions with some people, but as long as the animation is of a good quality I think it's a great way of making the surviving soundtracks come to life.
So The Tenth Planet is probably a story I would categorize as being for completists only. If you watch the story on its own terms and try to forget about its subsequent reputation as a game-changer, it keeps chugging along being just about interesting enough to hold the attention. If you're new to Doctor Who or are curious about trying some Hartnell/Cybermen for the first time I definitely wouldn't recommend this one as it is not representative of either. Watched in the 21st century it's more of a curate's egg.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2014
This is a famous story of `Doctor Who' that is memorable for two things!
It's the first story to feature the Cybermen and it's the last story with William Hartnell as the Doctor.
I came across 'The Tenth Planet' when I first listened to the audio soundtrack CD with linking narration by Anneke Wills and saw the regeneration sequence on the 'Lost in Time' DVD as sadly the fourth episode no longer exists. The story is now complete with an animated `Episode 4' on DVD.
This DVD is a 2-disc set, with the story on the first disc and special features on the second disc.
`The Tenth Planet' is a four-part story shown in 1966 when 'Doctor Who' was changing. The show had been a huge success, but William Hartnell decided to leave after three years. The production team wanted to the show to continue and came up with casting a new actor to play the Doctor.
William Hartnell had been playing the Doctor since the show started, and enjoyed it immensely. He considered being the Doctor one of his finest career moments and was a hit with children of all ages. But as he progressed, he experienced changes in the form of the show and found it hard work.
Hartnell didn't get on with the producers that were constantly changing and taking over. He was also difficult with fellow actors and was quite demanding when things didn't go his way. He didn't like the way the show was changing with less historical stories and more space adventures.
Also, Hartnell suffered ill health as he was declining with having to learn all his lines and had to take a number of days. With these increasing health problems, Hartnell eventually and reluctantly decided to leave `Doctor Who'. He didn't want to go and was so upset to leave.
So, how would William Hartnell leave? What would his final story be like? It was decided that he should leave two stories into the fourth series of `Doctor Who' when the change-over from one actor to the next would take place.
His final story was by Dr Kit Pedler (and Gerry Davis), who was a scientific advisor to the series. This would be Kit Pedler's most significant contribution to the series, as his story would feature the first appearance of the most classic and popular 'Doctor Who' monsters - the Cybermen!
The story has the Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly arriving on the south pole of Earth in 1986. There they come across a Snowcap base where scientists are monitor a rocket in Earth's orbit. Trouble starts, as another planet appears looking exactly Earth.
This is the planet Mondas and visitors come from that planet to the Snowcap base. These are the Cybermen and they mean business. They come to invade and take Earth's people away as well as draining power from Earth to revive Mondas - causing a collision between both planets.
I found this story a little hard-going. It tended to be slow for me as there are lots of things going on with science and rocket launches that completely baffled me at times. Also with the third episode lacking William Hartnell as the Doctor made it less exciting and disappointing for me.
Regarding the Cybermen, I was absolutely shocked and horrified. These are the first Cybermen and they're very primitive. I'm spoilt from watching the new series Cybermen in 'Rise of the Cybermen'/'The Age of Steel', as I expect Cybermen to be robotic and made of steel from today.
In their first appearance, the Cybermen costumes are flimsy and pretty awful. They have hair dryers on their heads and wore cloth faces. They also had exposed human hands painted silver and looked rather silly when they walked with their clunky chest units with detachable circular guns.
These Cybermen have names such as Shav and Gern, which is unusual since Cybermen don't have names. I liked when they opened their mouths to speak and close them when they finish, resembling the new series Cybermen with their mouths glowing blue 'on' and 'off' when talking.
I found the Cybermen voices utterly shocking. They were done by Roy Skelton. The Cybermen voices are computerised and sound very strange, to which I call them 'confused' Cybermen. It was pretty terrible and sounded like they were singing when speaking and couldn't take them seriously.
So not my most favourite Cybermen I'm afraid. And yet even after this one, they became popular and were brought back to fight the Doctor again. I'm glad they got rid of that 'Tenth Planet' look for later stories, looking rather more splendid and robotic which is how they should be really.
The original Mondas Cybermen never appeared in `Doctor Who' again on TV, although they did appear in a famous and brilliant Big Finish audio drama with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa called 'Spare Parts' that focused on the creation of the Cybermen and are well-voiced by Nick Briggs.
William Hartnell manages to give a strong performance as the Doctor, despite his health. I like it when he seems to know about Cybermen. I like it when the Doctor challenges the Cybermen on emotions and manages to come back in `Episode 4' and stand up to them (in 'animated' form).
Michael Craze as Ben and Anneke Wills as Polly are the Doctor's companions. I hadn't seen much of Ben and Polly since most of their stories are non-existent. It's nice to get nearly complete stories with animated episodes to fill in the gaps, so that we can see more Ben and Polly.
I liked Polly's reaction to the Cybermen as she's shocked by their lack of emotion. She constantly defies the Cybermen emphasising the point they have no feelings. Ben gets to be the action hero, taking over from the Doctor in episode 3 and f speaks his mind to the scientists and Cutler.
The rest of the guest cast include Robert Beatty as the aggressive American General Cutler; David Dodimead as the sympathetic scientist Barclay; Dudley Jones as Dyson, Alan White as Schultz, Earl Cameron as Williams and Steve Plytas as Wigner (who I've seen `Fawlty Towers').
Eventually we come to the regeneration sequence. Before that once they defeated the Cybermen, the Doctor's rather frail - 'his body wearing a bit thin'. Seeing him even in animated form it was such a sad moment. 'It's far from being all over' he says, as he, Ben and Polly head back to the TARDIS.
To me, having the Doctor dying because he's getting old is a poor way to end William Hartnell's era and makes his Doctor rather undignified I'm afraid. Especially as this is William Hartnell's last story, he doesn't go out on a triumphant exit like the recent Doctors have done lately.
When they return to the TARDIS, the Doctor is at the console before he collapses to the floor. As the TARDIS takes off, the Doctor's face becomes emblazed in a white light getting stronger and stronger. Eventually the light dies down, and the Doctor has turned into a new man.
William Hartnell turns into Patrick Troughton. Even in animated form as well as surviving footage, it's truly spectacular. I'm glad Blue Peter managed to keep this sequence for it to survive all these years.
Of course, 'regeneration' is something we take for granted. Back then, it was unheard of. It started a trend of regenerations for actors to play the Doctor and is one of the reasons why it's lasted for over 50 years. Without this story, there would be no regeneration and no way to keep the show going.
Regarding the animation of `Episode 4', I was thoroughly impressed with it. I liked how they did the Doctor, Ben, Polly and the other characters as well as re-animating the Mondas Cybermen. It was impressive up to its regeneration sequence and was the exciting moment to watch in the story.
The DVD special features are as follows.
On Disc 1, there's an commentary with Anneke Wills, Christopher Matthews (Radar Technician), Earl Cameron (Williams), Alan White (Schultz), Donald Van Der Maaten (Cyberman), Christopher Dunham (R/T Technician) and designer Peter Kindred, moderated by Toby Hadoke.
There's a making-of documentary called 'Frozen Out'; a VHS reconstruction of `Episode 4'; a PDF file containing the Radio Times listing, an info-text commentary option; a photo gallery and a 'coming soon' trailer for the next Cybermen story 'The Moonbase'.
On Disc 2, there's a rare William Hartnell interview that was recorded in the 60s shortly after he left `Doctor Who'. There's the `Doctor Who Stories' featurette with Anneke Wills as Polly. There's also `The Golden Age' documentary with historian Dominic Sandbrook.
There's the 'Boys! Boys! Boys!' interview Peter Purves (Steven), Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Mark Strickson (Turlough). There's 'Companion Piece', a documentary focusing on the companions (including a reference to my favourite companion Nyssa); and there's a 'Blue Peter' item.
`The Tenth Planet' is a well-known Doctor Who story to feature the end of William Hartnell's Doctor. It's a decent send-off for the actor who played the First Doctor INot his greatest exit, but certainly a worthy and memorable one. William Hartnell, you will never be forgotten!
The next story for the Doctor, Ben and Polly is 'The Power of the Daleks'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2013
Having experienced only a few B&W era Who stories, but mainly loved the colour series from Jon Pertwee onwards, I underestimated both Hartnell's and Troughton's Doctor Who stories until actually seeing them in a fresh light allowed me to re-evaluate anew and mentally file their stories within the Who canon as a whole. "The Tenth Planet" is no exception. It works as the basis of "station under siege", a nod towards the Second Doctor's era oh-so-close, but yet-to-arrive tenure when this story was transmited back in 1966. As a genuine Moonbase would be small and cramped in any era, the less room for manoeuvre in the limits of the studio-bound story with actually works to the claustrophobic advantage of "The Tenth Planet".
Forgiving any shortcomings in the original outfits is a must, and trying to view as if seeing them for the first time, the Cybermen are truly creepy creations, just as they would have been to the viewer way back in the less-enlightened times of 1966. The Daleks were one thing; this is something that not only looked humanoid, it also moved and talked. And they are not robots, they were once human. It's that same feeling I get from seeing a ventriloquist's dummy coming to life ("Dead Of Night"), then cross that with a faceless Cybernaut killer robot for good measure. (Did I say 'Cybernaut'? Quick - gloss over any similarities.) You can feel that something may be alive inside, but cannot see it to understand. Creepy.
With the then-new knowledge of how the Cybermen evolved and developed, discarding their emotions along the way, that facet alone makes for interesting exchanges in dialogue which, having been well covered in other reviews I need not repeat here. That they are doing what they are is for a reason - self preservation - and not just some kind of "let's go and invade somewhere today 'cos we can" type whim. Just surviving out there in the cold, hard Universe is something amazing, an angle that gets more and more forgotten as time and ever-more fantastical sci-fi storytelling develops. Nu-Who take note.
This is a generous two-disk set. The story itself is on disc one, and having only seen the grainy VHS before, viewing this story on DVD for the first time was a pleasant surprise. The picture quality on the three existing episodes is amazing, and have been restored as much as possible to appear as they would have done back in 1966. That this could only be done on the first three of the four episodes makes it all the more sad that the pivotal episode four is still missing as of December 2013. The final part has been put together as an animation using the original soundtrack, which is very good with a lot of thought gone into it. Just be prepared to get into it though, for the motions of characters are a little different to those seen in the first three extant episodes. As far as the Cybermen's 'past-human' cold characters go, it actually helps. The usual informative text information is here, plus entertaining commentary with Anneke Wills, Earl Cameron and designer Peter Kindred amongst others, with Toby Hadoke doing the moderating.
Also on disc one is "Frozen Out" is the 'making of' feature, and there are Radio Times listings (DVD-ROM only), a Photo gallery and a 'Coming soon' trailer. Pick of the crop for me is the 'official' episode 4 reconstruction, as featured on the VHS release back in 2000. Telesnap reconstructions are something Who fans are familiar with via unofficial fan ventures but it was the first and remains the only full-length official BBC reconstruction of its type. Sad, because if the animated episode leaves you cold, try watching this instead as the use of screengrabs from that missing episode stands up rather well and includes all clips including that all-important regeneration scene in full.
Disc two is packed with gems as well, including all that's left of the recently-recovered, only surviving interview with William Hartnell. This was when he was in pantomime after he left Doctor Who in 1966. "Doctor Who Stories focusses on Anneke Wills as Polly, from an an interview recorded for "The Story of Doctor Who" back in 2003. "The Golden Age" examines the myth of the first ‘Golden Age’ of Doctor Who. Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson entertain us with recollections of ther tim in the show in "Boys! Boys! Boys!", while in "Companion Piece" is all about what bing a Time Lord’s fellow traveller means. "Blue Peter: Doctor Who's Tenth Anniversary" comes from Blue Peter. That that show's producer Biddy Baxter notoriously refused to junk any editions of her show is something Who fans have long been grateful for, as this particular item preserved that first regenration scene, after which TP episode 4 strangely disappeared. I hope it was only taken for 'safekeeping' somewhere by a fan aware of its importance and will one day be rediscovered and returned.
Footnote - after having seen the remarkable "An Adventure In Space And Time" covering William Hartnell's era, "The Tenth Planet" has taken on more than being just a Doctor Who story. It brought to a close a string of stories with an actor who it is apparent not only loved the show, but believed in it by the time his health was failing. As well as all the other reasons why this stroy is important, knowing more about the background story better made it more important to me too, and increased my viewing pleasure.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2013
One of those mythical adventures in the Who canon, 'The Tenth Planet' has two things going for it - the first appearance of the Cybermen and the original regeneration. The 'base under siege' plotline that would come to the fore during the Troughton and Pertwee eras debuts here and evokes a suitably claustrophobic atmosphere that the monochrome picture seems to intensify. The Cybermen themselves are uniquely creepy in this story, with their cloth faces, blacked-out eyes and disembodied 'telephone answer machine' speech patterns, less robotic than they quickly became and still possessing recognisably human qualities as though their transformation were still midway through the process.
The knowledge that this story was to be William Hartnell's swan-song hangs over events and it's hard for the viewer's attention to veer far from him, searching for signs of his impending end; some carefully-placed enigmatic lines and Hartnell's accidental absence from episode three due to genuine illness actually work in preparing the viewer for the story's climax. That we are denied this climax in full is naturally something of a disappointment, but thanks to 'Blue Peter' we do at least have the regeneration itself, and the animated episode four as well as the photographic reconstruction do a decent job in the absence of the real thing. Ben and Polly continue to impress as companions, with Hartnell's abrupt disappearance midway through the story providing them with extra dialogue and fleshing out their characters nicely, emphasising once again what a shame it is that more of their stories haven't survived.
Anyway, it's great for me to finally see this story after making do with photos all these years, and unless episode four turns up in Darkest Africa, this DVD is as good a package as we could hope for.