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" 2 Completely Dissimilar Things in a Pod",
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD] (DVD)
Is there an end of term feel at 2 Entertain as they approach the end of complete classic story releases? Do they have a DVD boxset party game and is it beverage related? Who knows, but if they do it has given us Myths & legends and now The Awakening and Gunfighters, stories only connected by taking place on Earth (like that's a rarity). Still, they are both fun stories. They've been remastered as per usual, nice clear picture for Awakening & Gunfighters is a bit better than it looked on VHS.
The Gunfighters used to in the pre-video days have the reputation of lowest ratings ever & biggest Who turkey ever. the former was never true and the latter is unfair. The 2nd of 2 scripts by Donald Cotton*1, it's more like Dennis Spooner's the Romans in it's mix of comedy and drama than it is like Cotton's previous tale The Myth makers ( a recommended CD). Cotton's set up is very Abbott & Costello- the Tardis crew land in Tombstone on the eve of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and the Dr gets mistaken for Doc Holliday, something the infamous gunslinger himself encourages. The scene where the mistake occurs as the Doctor sits in Holliday's Dental surgery awaiting treatment is great;
"I suppose so"
The comedy elements are the most successful and you get the feel Hartnell really enjoyed it. He plays the comedy for all it's worth knowing he's getting the best lines, like the T-shirt worthy "People keep giving me guns, I do wish they wouldn't!" All the cast make the most of the comedy and it's a good cast all round. The top honours go to Anthony Jacobs (Pa to Matthew Jacobs who wrote the McGann Who movie) as the incorrigible yet likeable Holliday, Sheene Marshe as his world weary girlfriend Kate & Laurence Payne as a psychotic Johnny Ringo. Watch also for Shane Rimmer (Scot in Thunderbirds) & David Graham (Parker in Thunderbirds plus Dalek voices and Kerensky in City of Death).
Good costumes and great sets.
Where does it go wrong a bit? Well the direction by Rex Tucker, a man with a cowboyish sounding name and 1st Producer of Who *2, is very uneven with the dramatic material. While the callous gunning down of an innocent is one of the most shocking deaths in 60's Who, a threatened lynching & the gunfight itself fall flat.
Then there's the Ballad of The Last Chance Saloon. Fitting, well sung by Lynda Baron and a clever way to track the plot, but it's used too many times and grates in places.
All in all a very fun even if flawed tale, worth checking out if you've enjoyed what you've seen of Hartnell so far.
The Awakening is a fun but quiet little Peter Davison story by Eric Pringle. The tardis crew hop off to Earth to visit Tegan's grandad (you don't want to be in her family, 1st Auntie, then Cousin and now Grandad's in peril!).
they discover a village Little Hodcombe where historical re-enactment is taking a strange turn, all connected to the mailgn force of an alien entity called the Malus, which has been affecting people since the English Civil War. The Malus feeds off negative energy and is represented by a static figure which can burst through walls. It's a nice change to have an alien which is not a man in a costume for once and relies on the acting for atmosphere.
There is atmosphere but it never quite gets scary lacking say the operatic if slightly OTT quality of the Daemons, a story it resembles in many ways.
Good performances with Polly James & Denis Lill making the strongest impression amongst the guests & Peter Davison as with most of his last year giving a relaxed and charming performance. There's a nice link to the Visitation as the Terileptils are mentioned.
Nothing outstanding but an enjoyable 2 parter for Davison fans.
Peter Purves, Shane Rimmer and David Graham do a fun commentary for Gunfighters joined by Richard Beale (Bat Masterson) who reveals he was in the Green Death (he plays a minister who asks the PM to have a word with the Brig). They dicuss the pros and cons of Director Rex Tucker and that song! They mention John Alderson (Wyatt Earp) was a stalwart of Hollywood westerns and mention nuances such as how Steven's outfit looks like a costume rather than authentic weterns garb. All think it stands up well now.
End of the Line is a top notch look at Who's 3rd (& Hartnell's last) year. Interviewees include Peter Purves, Anneke Wills & Donald Tosh plsu there are soundbites (textbites?) read out from interviews with people like producers John Wiles & Innes Lloyd. there's also a Galaxy 4 clip of a Rill which I don't recall seeing before. 1st class doc!
It's well supplemented with Tomorrow's Times which has clearly found it's stride telling the story of the press loving Who for the 1st year or 2 then becoming disenchanted & how a paper writer tried to predict the "great success" of the Voord (from Keys of Marinus)!
Director Michael Owen Morris and Script Editor Eric Saward comment on Awakening, enjoyably recalling the shoot, script probles, JNT and comparing Matt Smith to Peter Davison e.g. both young men who can convey wisdom beyind years.
There's a double look at the Awakening locations with a now and then (nicely put together as always) plus Return to Little Hodcombe a making of documentary shot at the location used. It's a good doc with a range of interviewees including our commenters, actors Keith Jayne who thinks the famous outtake has earned him more in repeat fees than the story & Janet Fielding who wonders if treading lightly with an inexperienced director sold him short. A bit short but using the location is a definite plus as is interviewing residents who recall the show's visit
Making the Malus is a look at the creature, recalling its creation & showing it now in a collector's hands-a fun short.
Some extended and deleted scenes are included, notably Kamelion's lost scene and the Golden Egg Award from Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show where a horse destroys a lych gate is there too.
A trailer for Paradise Towers rounds things off.
It's a good all round package very well put together
*1 Cotton also wrote either a script or storyline called The Herdsmen of Venus/Aquarius where aliens herd creatures one of which ends up in Loch Ness but it was never made. He also novelised Myth Makers, Gunfighters & Romans. All written in the 1st person and all recommended.
*2 Tucker did pre-production work on Who prior to Verity lambert's arrival and briefly alongside her but the 2 clashed.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jun 2011 13:48:38 BDT
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jun 2011 12:47:22 BDT
I have made many answers to this question on previous reviews' comments and have nothing new to add
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jul 2011 15:32:40 BDT
Derek Donnell says:
Another review of The Awakening that doesn't mention the music! It's great imo.
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jul 2011 12:22:17 BDT
Hi Derek I can't say the music made a great impression on me. It didn't seem anything out of the ordinary. I'll give it another listen though.
Posted on 3 Jul 2012 23:19:39 BDT
The Gunfighters is one of the all time worst Doctor Who episodes. I have almost every DVDs of Doctor Who and this is one I may sell off.
Posted on 8 Jul 2012 17:10:23 BDT
Gordon Dalby says:
Wouldn't it have been a lot more appropriate if they had paired "The Awakening" with the the release of "The Daemons" as a box set. The two stories are closer related than "The Gunfighters" and wouldn't have done 2 entertain's sales any harm either!
In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jul 2012 12:22:58 BDT
Hi Gordon yes it would indeed have made a better pairing but then there appears to be no real logic to the boxset contents policy at 2Entertain e.g. Ambassadors of Death now for release this year, had it been ready last year would have been paired with SunMakers as a Solar System boxset!
This year's what are they on? Boxset is Shada and More than 30 years in the Tardis, and they're calling it The Legacy box!!!!!
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