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This review is from: Doctor Who: Dalek War (Frontier in Space / Planet of the Daleks) [DVD]  (DVD)
I've been a Pertwee fan since BBC2 repeated "Spearhead from Space" and "Doctor Who and the Silurians" way back in 1999. Since I didn't grow up with Doctor Who during the 90's he was the first Doctor I watched so I've retained a loyalty to him ever since, although I am gravitating more towards Troughton as the best Doctor these days. As all Who fans know by 1973 the series under JP was pretty much at its peak in terms of popularity through the creation of new enemies, such as the Autons, Axos and of course the Master. For the 10th anniversary it was of course felt that old favourites should be included, the Daleks to be precise, and that it would be effective to use them over two stories of that season.
Before I give a quick review I'd just like to point out that after several years of analysing the Pertwee era, I feel that during the time of Barry Letts producing the show each season had an iconic story,a total turkey and a hidden gem. Season 9's a good example of this with "The Sea Devils" undoubtedly one of the most popular stories of all time, "The Time Monster" one the most hated and "The Monster of Peladon" is for me one of the very best of the entire Pertwee era, but it often gets overlooked.
So working to that formula where do "Frontier in Space" or "Planet of the Daleks" sit in Season 10:
Frontier in Space:
For me this the total turkey of the season, and I'd actually argue that it's the worst story in the entire Pertwee era. Nothing happens over 6 episodes, and I really mean nothing. The Doctor and Jo are taken captive several times, there's a lot of posturing going on as the threat of war heightens and a lot of padding. It's poor, very, very poor. As I understand this story is rated highly amongst Who fas but for the life of me I don't understand why. I found it slow (which all TV from the 70's is compared to today but normally it never bothers me), with perhaps too many guest performers and an unsatisfying ending.
There are some positives as Roger Delgado makes his first (but sadly final) appearance of the season, and once again is terrific. It's a shame he didn't have a more fitting end to his time on the programme. The Dracoians, introduced as a new alien race, are brilliantly realised and well played by the actors. They bring great nobility and arrogance to the roles.
Overall then I'm not a fan of this story. Let's hope things get better.
Planet of the Daleks:
When I bought this boxset I fully anticipated this to be the stinker. I've read plenty of reviews to suggest that this is considered to be the weakest of season 10 but I was pleasantly surprised. With David Maloney returning to direct the programme for the first time in 4/5 years it's a big step up in quality. Although the Spiros jungle is very obviously a set it still has a real atmosphere and is very convincing. It's a much stronger story for Jo, although the idea of her settling with one of the Thals is rather crow barred in at the last second and one feels it was merely added to prepare the audience for Katy Mannings departure in the next story. Bernard Horsfall (who sadly passed away recently) gives a great performance as the leading Thal, a strong yet agonised performance. Pertwee is better here than in Frontier, and his purple velvet suit is one of my absolute favourites of his entire wardrobe.
Overall it's a solid, enjoyable romp with the Daleks, which actually for me ranks as Pertwees best Dalek story, and sits comfortably in mid table when looking at his era as a whole.
Finally just returning to my theory I'll give you my selections for season 10:
Iconic: The Green Death
Turkey: Frontier in Space
Hidden Gem: Carnival of Monsters