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The Cybermen from Mondas
, 26 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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