25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A must for Who fans - far from ideal for the casual viewer.,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Lost in Time [DVD]  (DVD)For a dedicated Dr Who fan like myself, this is a lovely release. Its format is rather strange, however, and deserves further explanation.
In the 60s and 70s, vintage episodes of Dr Who were wiped by the BBC. The policy seems to have been rather haphazard, and a result of it is that single instalments of many Dr Who serials starring William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton, are now "lost in time", as it were - separated from the rest of the episodes in the serial. This collection showcases 18 "orphaned" episodes, all of them coming from stories of which only one or two (or in one case three) episodes survive.
For established fans who know about this stuff, this couldn't be recommended more highly. Obviously the main draw is the Hartnell material, and it is here that the highlights are to be found, specifically the first and third episodes of "The Crusade", which are wonderfully written and acted. Even the last episode of "The Celestial Toymaker", a badly-regarded story, is almost unbelievably good (given its reputation).
Ironically, these episodes outshine "Day of Armageddon" (the recently-discovered second episode of "The Daleks' Master Plan") the centrepiece of the collection, and arguably the reason it was released. "Day of Armageddon" itself is not the best and not the worst of the surviving episodes of this story - the best is probably Escape Switch, the worst certainly Counterplot. (As an aside, the episodes on the first disc offer more proof - as if more were needed! - that Steven, played by Blue Peter's Peter Purves, is a companion of the first rank, and not the dull cypher some seem to think he is.)
But of course, two-thirds of this material is composed of Troughton episodes, and not to recognise this would be to do them a great disservice. Thoughts on the Troughton era in Who fandom are imprecise - at first heralded as a golden age, and since, with the discovery of "Tomb of the Cybermen" and the release of the missing-episode soundtracks, quite harshly criticised. I myself, judging by the episodes here, get the distinct impression that the Troughton era taken as a whole was very good indeed. "The Web of Fear", episode 1, for example - after a rather woeful beginning which resolves plot threads from the previous story - swiftly becomes Dr Who of the very highest quality, well acted and dripping with atmosphere. This was no surprise to me, as this story has always been regarded as a classic. But the revelation of episode 2 of "The Abominable Snowmen", the original tale featuring "Web"'s Yeti, certainly was. It is strong in every respect - frankly, it rocks!
These two episodes, together with episode two of the 7-part epic "Evil of the Daleks", are amongst the strongest on what proves to be an absolutely excellent release. Of the other 2nd Doctor episodes, only universally-hated "The Space Pirates" part 2 is a real stinker, and even "The Wheel in Space" 3 and 6 are surprisingly good! Strangely, it falls to two very well thought of episodes, "The Moonbase" 2 and 4, to constitute the real disappointment.
So for fans, a definite hit. But little explanation is provided on the DVDs - beyond narration-less soundtracks of a further four episodes - for what happens inbetween the isolated episodes, who the characters are, and what, in general, is going on. To the uninitiated, this will probably be offputting, to say the least.
In conclusion, the quality of the material is, (in the main) indisputable. However, for new, or potential, Dr Who fans, I suspect this is one to avoid.