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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 30 March 2011
Is there an end of term feel at 2 Entertain as they approach the end of complete classic story releases? Do they have a DVD boxset party game and is it beverage related? Who knows, but if they do it has given us Myths & legends and now The Awakening and Gunfighters, stories only connected by taking place on Earth (like that's a rarity). Still, they are both fun stories. They've been remastered as per usual, nice clear picture for Awakening & Gunfighters is a bit better than it looked on VHS.
The Gunfighters used to in the pre-video days have the reputation of lowest ratings ever & biggest Who turkey ever. the former was never true and the latter is unfair. The 2nd of 2 scripts by Donald Cotton*1, it's more like Dennis Spooner's the Romans in it's mix of comedy and drama than it is like Cotton's previous tale The Myth makers ( a recommended CD). Cotton's set up is very Abbott & Costello- the Tardis crew land in Tombstone on the eve of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and the Dr gets mistaken for Doc Holliday, something the infamous gunslinger himself encourages. The scene where the mistake occurs as the Doctor sits in Holliday's Dental surgery awaiting treatment is great;

"I suppose so"

The comedy elements are the most successful and you get the feel Hartnell really enjoyed it. He plays the comedy for all it's worth knowing he's getting the best lines, like the T-shirt worthy "People keep giving me guns, I do wish they wouldn't!" All the cast make the most of the comedy and it's a good cast all round. The top honours go to Anthony Jacobs (Pa to Matthew Jacobs who wrote the McGann Who movie) as the incorrigible yet likeable Holliday, Sheene Marshe as his world weary girlfriend Kate & Laurence Payne as a psychotic Johnny Ringo. Watch also for Shane Rimmer (Scot in Thunderbirds) & David Graham (Parker in Thunderbirds plus Dalek voices and Kerensky in City of Death).
Good costumes and great sets.

Where does it go wrong a bit? Well the direction by Rex Tucker, a man with a cowboyish sounding name and 1st Producer of Who *2, is very uneven with the dramatic material. While the callous gunning down of an innocent is one of the most shocking deaths in 60's Who, a threatened lynching & the gunfight itself fall flat.
Then there's the Ballad of The Last Chance Saloon. Fitting, well sung by Lynda Baron and a clever way to track the plot, but it's used too many times and grates in places.

All in all a very fun even if flawed tale, worth checking out if you've enjoyed what you've seen of Hartnell so far.

The Awakening is a fun but quiet little Peter Davison story by Eric Pringle. The tardis crew hop off to Earth to visit Tegan's grandad (you don't want to be in her family, 1st Auntie, then Cousin and now Grandad's in peril!).
they discover a village Little Hodcombe where historical re-enactment is taking a strange turn, all connected to the mailgn force of an alien entity called the Malus, which has been affecting people since the English Civil War. The Malus feeds off negative energy and is represented by a static figure which can burst through walls. It's a nice change to have an alien which is not a man in a costume for once and relies on the acting for atmosphere.

There is atmosphere but it never quite gets scary lacking say the operatic if slightly OTT quality of the Daemons, a story it resembles in many ways.

Good performances with Polly James & Denis Lill making the strongest impression amongst the guests & Peter Davison as with most of his last year giving a relaxed and charming performance. There's a nice link to the Visitation as the Terileptils are mentioned.

Nothing outstanding but an enjoyable 2 parter for Davison fans.

Peter Purves, Shane Rimmer and David Graham do a fun commentary for Gunfighters joined by Richard Beale (Bat Masterson) who reveals he was in the Green Death (he plays a minister who asks the PM to have a word with the Brig). They dicuss the pros and cons of Director Rex Tucker and that song! They mention John Alderson (Wyatt Earp) was a stalwart of Hollywood westerns and mention nuances such as how Steven's outfit looks like a costume rather than authentic weterns garb. All think it stands up well now.

End of the Line is a top notch look at Who's 3rd (& Hartnell's last) year. Interviewees include Peter Purves, Anneke Wills & Donald Tosh plsu there are soundbites (textbites?) read out from interviews with people like producers John Wiles & Innes Lloyd. there's also a Galaxy 4 clip of a Rill which I don't recall seeing before. 1st class doc!
It's well supplemented with Tomorrow's Times which has clearly found it's stride telling the story of the press loving Who for the 1st year or 2 then becoming disenchanted & how a paper writer tried to predict the "great success" of the Voord (from Keys of Marinus)!

Director Michael Owen Morris and Script Editor Eric Saward comment on Awakening, enjoyably recalling the shoot, script probles, JNT and comparing Matt Smith to Peter Davison e.g. both young men who can convey wisdom beyind years.

There's a double look at the Awakening locations with a now and then (nicely put together as always) plus Return to Little Hodcombe a making of documentary shot at the location used. It's a good doc with a range of interviewees including our commenters, actors Keith Jayne who thinks the famous outtake has earned him more in repeat fees than the story & Janet Fielding who wonders if treading lightly with an inexperienced director sold him short. A bit short but using the location is a definite plus as is interviewing residents who recall the show's visit
Making the Malus is a look at the creature, recalling its creation & showing it now in a collector's hands-a fun short.
Some extended and deleted scenes are included, notably Kamelion's lost scene and the Golden Egg Award from Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show where a horse destroys a lych gate is there too.

A trailer for Paradise Towers rounds things off.

It's a good all round package very well put together

*1 Cotton also wrote either a script or storyline called The Herdsmen of Venus/Aquarius where aliens herd creatures one of which ends up in Loch Ness but it was never made. He also novelised Myth Makers, Gunfighters & Romans. All written in the 1st person and all recommended.

*2 Tucker did pre-production work on Who prior to Verity lambert's arrival and briefly alongside her but the 2 clashed.
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on 7 September 2014
This is an excellent little boxset!

The Gunfighters
William Hartnell - 1st Doctor
Peter Purves - Steven Taylor
Jackie Lane - Dodo Chaplet
(It ranked 202 in the 2014 Doctor Who Magazine pol)

This is an entertaining little story, which is effectively a comedy! The only irritating thing is the woman singing all the way through it! This DVD also features a few special features. One of interest is The End Of The Line which focuses on the turbulent third year of Doctor Who.

The Awakening
Peter Davison - 5th Doctor
Janet Fielding - Tegan Jovanka
Mark Strickson - Turlough
(This serial rated 155th In the Doctor Who Magazine Pol published in 2014)

This is a great story, it is amazing and the acting is great, all in all a great little boxest.
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on 17 October 2016
Being a 55 year old Doctor Who Fan, and trying to collect all the episodes of the first 7 Doctors, I was pleased to receive this. It consists of two stories- "The Gunfighters" (William Hartnell) and ""The Awakening" (Peter Davison) . It seems a strange two episodes to put on a DVD, surely "The War Machines" (which I have) would have been more feasible?

As I was a bit young to fully understand "The Gunfighters" when it first came out, I was glad to receive it. It is the only Hartnell story that one can't buy separately!

The Gunfighters is set in the town of Tombstone, where the Doctor has toothache and finds that the local dentist is none other then the famous Doc Holliday.Doc Holliday is feuding with the Clanton family. Wyatt Earp, the Marshall (John Alderson) is also involved. Earp wins the shootout. Lynda Baron sings "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon". William Hartnell plays the Doctor, and William Hurndell plays Ike Clanton.

"The Awakening" is Peter Davison as the Doctor. This takes place when the Doctor takes Tegan (Janet Fielding) to visit her Grandfather. Whilst visiting her Grandfather, they come across George Hutchinson, paying fantasy war games. Unfortunately, those war games become real when a character from 1643 appears, and Tegan is designated Queen of May- a human sacrifice. The Doctor finds out that this has been caused by the Malus, who have been awoken by the deranged mind of George Hutchinson. AS the Doctor finds a way to cut the villagers emotions from the Malus, it takes George's death for the Malus to destroy itself!

Subtitles very helpful!
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on 29 March 2011
Not that either one is bad, but The Awakening suffers from the same fault as many 'filler' episodes of the 21st century series, in that forty-five minutes isn't enough in which to develop the story. We're given a picturesque location and a mystery involving clashing time zones that Sapphire and Steel would stare at each other for six whole episodes in. But in typical Davison fashion we get urgent running around instead, and like the Doctor, we don't get time to admire the scenery, nor piece the puzzle together in our heads. It's all rather lightweight really, and in the end the Malus could just be any old generic monster. Even the subplot concerning Tegan's family ties - especially after Aunt Vanessa - ends up feeling less substantial and important than it should be.

As for The Gunfighters, it's a story with a reputation that's definitely improved with age. It could hardly have got any worse - Doctor Who Magazine, in the dark days of a series tainted by more extant episodes and folk memories that were, at the time, unchallengable, latched onto The Gunfighters' low Appreciation Index figures and mercilessly beat the story to death with it. Yes, the style and nature of the beast seem utterly bizarre and corny now; but first and foremost, it's a comedy, and not a bad one. Embittered fans just don't seem to want to recognize this. As the first Western serial the BBC ever produced, it's also an experiment that could have gone much more awry than it did. But mainly, right up to the final climactic shootout, The Gunfighters has a genuine sense of fun about it. The principles are clearly having a much more enjoyable time than in the Celestial Toymaker before it, which rubs off onto the less closed-minded viewer; and Gerry Anderson fans will have even more fun spotting the familiar voices that turn up in the supporting cast.
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on 16 March 2015
The BBC has a strange way of packaging it's products from time to time and this is one of them, the Dr Who story of the gun fight at the ok coral is supposed to be the worst one of Bill Hartnell's tenure but it's not that bad, the repetative tune in it can grate after a while but remember this is 1964 tv and they are stuck in lime grove with a micro BBC budget so don't be too quick to judge,it is nice to see the original Tardis crew doing their level best to make a silk purse out of it. the other story the awakening is one of those where they changed the day of broadcast to midweek and stretched each episode to 45 minutes, it is also known for the famous outtake of the horse and cart demolishing the church entrance prop (great laughs) the story has some interesting elements, but being 90 minutes long in total it seems like it's over before it had a chance before anything shattering takes place, but they do seem to be having fun with it so not a total loss.
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on 4 January 2017
"The Gunfighters" show a video quality between very bad and reasonably good. Although interior scenes are OK, the exterior shots show "ghosting frame problems". Although these problems, I think that all the content was really restored. I really don't undestand what has made this "framing problem".
Wow! "The Awakenig" is presented in a very wonderful way. Nice restored exterior shots, as a real motion picture remastered type. It's very nice to watch.The interior shots are OK too, although not too great quality as the exterior shots.
The special features in this are really outastading. The error segments are very funny. The image quality is really excellent.
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on 27 June 2011
Ok, so these two seemingly unrelated serials have been paired together in a box set, but at the end of the day they are both good stories. They are also from two different eras of the shows history and so wont suit all fans, but come on this set is only five pounds more than an individual release. I am not a big Peter Davidson fan, but the Awakening is a claustrophobic story with no padding and some very good location work. These are all characteristics of any good Doctor Who serial. However after watching these two short episodes I found myself thinking what was the point of it all when in the end, through no direct result of the doctors actions, the Malus ends up destroying itself. Despite this I will still watch this again and the Awakening is worth the five pounds I effectively paid for it.

Now onto the Gunfighters, which for some reason has such a bad reputation. One of the main niggles people have is the ballad of the last chance saloon. In my view this works well with the comedy aspects and also keeps the story moving along. Another one of the gripes are the dodgy American accents, but I have to say I never really noticed them. What other reviewers don't seem to mention are the impressive sets and a strong performance from William Hartnell, who seems to thrive on the comedy aspects more so than in the Romans. The first episode is by far the best and moves along at a decent pace, introducing the main characters and setting the scene well. Although it turned out to be a disappointment the cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode is a good one and made me want to watch the next episode straight away. The plot then moves along steadily, but with no real padding, and although the climatic gunfight is hardly cinematic in quality it does work well in my opinion. Overall the gunfighters is an enjoyable, fun serial, definitely not a classic but way underrated.

The highlight of the extras is the end of the line documentary, which gives a unique glimce of what the, mostly missing, third series of doctor who looked like.

All I can say to some of my fellow reviewers is shame on those who have rated this set at one or two stars as it is easily worth the three stars I have given it. Neither of these are classics but they are both well worth a watch.
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on 18 July 2015
The Gun Fighters - Loved it. Could have done without the singing though, stayed with me for a long time after.
Earth Story - No Comment - I don't swear.
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on 9 April 2011
I wonder if I am alone in not wanting all the Hartnell adventures? Nice to see them of course, but there is a difference between doing that and wanting to have them as part of a collection. When the DVDs originally started being issued it was clear that to collect the whole lot would make it an expensive part-work. My decision was to, where I could afford it, buy the Davison, Pertwee and Tom Baker stories plus selected ones with the other Doctors. This release of a Hartnell and Davison story forces a collecter of a given era to buy a story that they would otherwise not want. The two stories are completely different eras too. This is very unfair and exploitative marketing and I will wait until the package drops to the price of a single disc before buying.
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As some people have suggested this is a very tenuous way of linking two very different stories that are separated by some sixteen years in terms of production. However, the two-part The Awakening from peter Davison's third season probably needed to be paired with something and I'm not complaining about any new DVD releases.
The awakening is an oft-forgotten story but I remember it well and always had a bit of a soft spot. A sinister alien presence under the church in Little Hodcombe leads to the villagers acting strangely and we almost get an early departure for motor-mouthed Aussie companion Tegan, as the villages May Day celebrations stray into the macabre. The story borrows heavily from other Doctor Who serials, with elements such as the intelligent schoolteacher aiding The Doctor while her peers are possessed, the link between two times in Earth's history, and the buried creature literally awakening and exerting control over malleable humans. However, these are all elements I like in Doctor Who, and the overall pace and style of the serial makes it very enjoyable.

The Gunfighters is another serial that is often less than fondly regarded by fans: The First Doctor develops toothace and ends up in the Wild West where he finds the notorious Doc Holliday and has his tooth removed. Unfortunately, he and companions Steven and Dodo quickly become embroiled in events that culminate in the gunfight at the OK Corral.
I'm not entirely sure why this serial is so poorly regarded, however it does take huge liberties with historical events, and perhaps the musical narration 'The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon' sung by Lynda Baron added to the unpalatable nature of the story. I think it's okay, and despite the flaws there are good performances from the three leads and the historical aspect to the story, while innacurate, remains interesting.
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