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"Read it and Weep!",
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This review is from: Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes (Paperback)
This is the definitive look at how Dr Who episodes were lost/destroyed & then in some cases recovered.
Molesworth sets his scene very well by establishing the culture that led to so much destruction of TV history(and not just Dr Who. Basically it was not seen as a permanent medium and there was a built in destruction in that without additional agreement, transmission and 1 repeat within 2 years was allowed. There was a haphazard system whereby anyone could request retention of a programme (and many directors of early Who did just that) but with no guarantee their request would be granted or not rescinded later.
Molesworth establishes how Dr Who was recorded, transmitted and then copied for possible overseas sales before wiping. Some of this is very sad e.g Troughton's second story The Highlanders was wiped before his last one War Games was even written! There's also a few near misses e.g. the Yeti stories survived a bit longer as potential repeats.
A very illuminating fact is that at the time of Troughton's Dalek stories, creator Terry Nation was trying to launch a Dalek spinoff & an agreement restricted foreign sales of new Dalek stories which meant that as Troughton's 1st story had Daleks, it was difficult to sell his others without it.
The depth of Molesworth's research is impressive in areas such as the factors which needed to change to make mass TV preservation possible e.g. Equity renegotiating what actors needed to be paid for the out of time repeats was a big step.
When he moves on to the recovery and restoration of old stories, it's a much happier tale, full of unsung heroes but as the even handed Molesworth points out-there are no real villains. Those responsible for junking stories were doing their job! The story of the recovery of episodes, stories and clips is told in some detail, covering all the detective work and negotiating tactics employed e.g. superfan Ian Levine held some recovered episodes back from the BEEB temporarily as he felt it might be easier to get copies of missing ones for collectors by giving them other missing eps in return!
The restoration of recovered episodes to their former glory is covered up to the recolouring of an episode of Planet of The Daleks.
We end with a look at some of the most popular myths & hoaxes e.g. why so many people beleived Hartnell's last episode still existed (Tenth Planet part 4) & here Molesworth admits he used to for a laugh carry a video marked Tenth Planet 4 around at conventions!
There's a look at what's in the archives up to the publication and Molesworth's last thoughts are that there could be nothing left to be found given the passage of time since their transmission/foreign sales etc. but you never know.
This is obviously a book for the biggest and most committed of fans because fans who just enjoy watching episodes/DVDs could not be expected to be interested. I've given it my highest marking because it achieves what it sets out to do. Highly recommended for the more passionate fan.
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Initial post: 12 Dec 2011 12:19:52 GMT
Bob Marlowe says:
What a post script, an a episode a piece of Galaxy 4 & The Underwater Menace (1 Bill & 1 Pat respectively) have just been found! Finding just announced on DRWho Online!
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