16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Beginning of a Legend,
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Beginning (An Unearthly Child  / The Daleks  / The Edge of Destruction ) [DVD] (DVD)This DVD set really is a must-have for any Doctor Who fan. It contains the first three stories of the classic TV programme that started in 1963, initially ran for twenty-six years, and has now thankfully returned to enthral us once again. The opening episode, "An Unearthly Child", is still a great piece of television, relying on the interplay between the main characters rather than special effects to generate tension and set up the situation. The initial story has an atmospheric, gritty quality, and has the TARDIS crew travelling back to prehistoric times and getting mixed up with a tribe of cavemen. The first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell, is everyone's idea of the crotchety, eccentric old professor type. At this point we know little about him, not even if he is good or bad. Indeed, in the first episode he virtually kidnaps the two schoolteachers, Ian and Barbara, when they stumble into the TARDIS after going to see him when they become concerned about his grand-daughter Susan. Carol Ann Ford, who plays Susan, certainly has a suitable `other-wordly' quality about her.
The next story, with the first appearance of the Daleks, is where things really took off for the programme. Nothing quite like them had appeared on British TV before. Despite the programme's low budget, and the technical limitations of the time, they were (and still are) impressive creations. Completely lacking any human characteristics, the Daleks compare favourably with other `robotic' creations that had appeared in films up to that time. Far from being the galactic conquerors they would become in later stories, here the Daleks are slightly pathetic beings, confined to their metallic citadel and plotting the destruction of their enemies, the Thals. The third story, "The Edge of Destruction" is an unusual two-parter. Set entirely on board the TARDIS, it sees the Doctor and his companions seemingly under attack from an unknown entity. Intense and claustrophobic, we get to see more of the TARDIS than in perhaps any other story, and by the end, a better understanding has developed between the Doctor, Ian and Barbara.
As is usual with BBC `classic' Who DVDs, there are plenty of extras included. Most interesting are four comedy sketches, three of which feature Mark Gatiss and David Walliams. My favourite is "The Pitch of Fear", which has Walliams as the shows creator, pitching the idea to Gatiss' BBC boss. There are some informative documentaries, one about the creation of the programme itself, also one about the development of the Daleks. "Inside the Spaceship" takes a look at the TARDIS, and "Masters of Sound" is about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which created electronic music and sounds for Doctor Who. There is also a 30 minute recreation of the long lost fourth story, "Marco Polo", using the soundtrack and still photos. All in all, this is a very impressive package. However, the extras are only the icing on the cake. What really matters are the episodes themselves. This is Classic TV, and an essential purchase.