72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
"It's far from being all over",
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet [DVD] (DVD)
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 choice. 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.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Oct 2013 22:47:44 BDT
Dark Jimbo says:
I don't often feel moved to comment on these, but this is a damn fine review! Comprehensive, informative and really whetted my appetite for the DVD!
In reply to an earlier post on 16 Oct 2013 16:58:42 BDT
Cheers, glad you enjoyed the review and hope you enjoy the DVD!
Posted on 18 Oct 2013 20:49:24 BDT
D. A. Johnston says:
As I've got the video of this one I think I'll sit this one out. Hopefully the person who stole episode 4 will return it someday. To my knowledge if was never officially junked but `went missing'.
Posted on 25 Nov 2013 16:00:01 GMT
AK 1957-05 says:
Excellent review, also spurred me to order the DVD. I agree that the Cybermen would never be the same again - I was very young (9) when I first saw this but even allowing for that, I was genuinely unsettled by that fluting voice and their unemotional approach to genocide (I loved the Daleks but they were always on the verge of hysteria compared to the Cybermen). For what it's worth, I hate what Modern Doctor Who has done to the Cybermen - once a truly unique, creepy and terrifying foe, now a run of the mill robot.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2013 18:32:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Nov 2013 18:32:33 GMT
Thanks! Glad you found something of interest in the review.
As a child of the 1970's I didn't get to see The Tenth Planet until 1990. By then I'd seen pretty much every other Cyber story that existed at the time.
But I do remember that even on a poor quality pirate copy there was something about these Cybermen that was totally chilling. As you say, their matter-of-fact approach to genocide was deeply unsettling. In this story they're not interested in power or conquest, simply survival - and their plan of survival is logical to them.
I agree about modern day Cybermen, although you can make a case that this started even in the Troughton days. I love The Invasion, but even by that stage the Cybermen are run-of-the-mill monsters, with no particular motivation other than conquest.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Dec 2013 23:40:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Dec 2013 23:46:26 GMT
J HALL says:
I have the video too (transfered to DVD) but the official DVD has a better picture, it also has some great extras (look them up) spread across 2 discs and it has the animated episode 4 which, whilst not as good as a restored original, is a considerable improvement over the old tele-snap reconstruction, at least you get full screen and movement rather than a blury, static image suspended in about 60% of the available space. If the missing episode is ever recovered, and that is a big if, any release is likely to be a rush release vanilla like Enemy and Web, and with this release being current any re-release would be low on priority and far back on any release schedule.
Go on, update your nearly 20 year old video from the last century. Available here from less than £10, its one of the better 1st Doctor releases, just look at all the glowing reviews here.
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2013 14:38:17 GMT
Excellent review, Mr. Smith! The Cybermen on display in these episodes are without doubt the creepiest ever. The modern day cliched robot Cybermen are bland and boring - the 10th Planet Cybermen, with the "bandaged" face look are basically the advanced technological equivalents of Egyptian Mummies.
Your review has prompted me to get this DVD as soon as.
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2013 11:57:33 GMT
Princess Spider says:
I wonder if the BBC technician who took the missing episode, and whoever now holds it, are the ones who voted your comment unhelpfull!
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2013 16:55:55 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Dec 2013 21:03:38 GMT
Heh! Could be!
I've never yet written a review for a Doctor Who DVD that hasn't collected a few neg votes. I like to think that my reviews ade fairly informative, but you clearly can't please everyone :)
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2013 19:06:40 GMT
Princess Spider says:
They are probably jealouse because you write better reviews than they can.