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Customer Review

on 12 March 2013
In short - YES, absolutely!
Some of us long-term Doctor Who collectors' are growing tired of these constant reissues, or 'Special Editions' of stories that have already had the restoration treatment and been released on DVD in the past 13 years. Some of us feel compelled to buy every classic Doctor Who release - in my case, this is simply out of habit and not wanting to fall behind with my collection. It is disappointing to look at the future release schedule, only to find that many of the releases are titles that I already own. This reissue of The Aztecs is exceptional though. I'm usually not very interested in most bonus material and it's not an incentive for me to buy any title. I bought this 2013 edition because I was hoping for improved picture quality over the 2002 release. I'm pleased to report a noticeable improvement in picture quality. Disc one though, is virtually identical to the 2002 single disc edition, containing exactly the same bonus material. I was quite excited at the prospect of seeing the feature 'Restoring The Aztecs'. I was under the impression that this would be a new 2013 restoration feature that would provide details and give us a good idea of the comparison between the quality of the 2002 release and the 2013 release, a tangible justification of the need for a reissue. How wrong I was. The restoration feature is in actual fact the same feature, produced to showcase the 2002 restoration techniques. It seems rather odd to include this restoration feature as it doesn't do the new transfer justice. I've compared 2 identical frames - one from the 2002 release and one from the 2013 release. This shows up the fact that the picture HAS undergone significant improvement in the past 11 years. The new version is much cleaner with a lot less dirt and grain - as well as sharper edges, deeper blacks and smoother textures.

Playing the second disc of this special edition, only went further to confirm that this release is worthwhile. The main item of interest is the long lost season 3 opening story 'GALAXY 4'. Broadcast in 1965 as a 4 part story, all episodes were wiped out of existence leaving nothing behind other than off-air audio recordings and a couple of short clips. However, in 2011 episode 3 was recovered. The story has now been reconstructed as a 64 minute omnibus story with episode 3 slotted in between various clips, stills, simple 'live' animation and the soundtrack, only 3 or 4 captions are needed to provide information about lost action shots. Episode 3 looks to have been fully restored, I have no idea how it looked when it was recovered but the presentation of the episode looks pristine compared to many other lost and recovered black & white episodes from the '60s. I really enjoyed this reconstruction of Galaxy 4 and it kept my attention from start to finish. In spite of the lack of motion pictures I found it remarkably easy to follow the plot, without feeling like I was missing vital detail. Galaxy 4 has a very simple plot, the kind of story that wouldn't be out of place in 21st century Doctor Who. I'll try not to spoil the plot too much - but many comparisons could be made to many plot devices and twists commonly found in modern day Doctor Who; such as the Doctor making grave errors of judgment and learning from his companions not to be so hasty in his decisions. In fact, you could go as far to compare this story with some of the adventures and situations that we've seen Matt Smith's Doctor negotiate along with companions Amy and Rory. It's a refreshing twist in such an early Doctor Who story that we find the male companion Steven in danger while his companion Vicki is the one to finally negotiate a resolution, preventing the Doctor from making a terrible mistake and saving Steven's life in the process. I won't give anything else away. I recommend buying this special edition, if only for the sake of Galaxy 4.

Besides Galaxy 4 there is a very lengthy, entertaining and educational documentary from the 'Chronicle' series, all about the actual Aztecs (Completely unrelated to Doctor Who;) a fun feature which documents the history of Doctor Who toys and merchandise over the years (If like me, you're pushing 40 - or beyond, you may well find yourself getting excited, pointing at the screen and exclaiming "I had one of those!") There is an all-too-brief B&W feature showing footage behind the scenes and the making of 1 of 2 big-screen 1960s colour Dr. Who movies featuring the Daleks and Peter Cushing as "Dr. Who". This is an odd, random inclusion but interesting and welcome all the same. There is also a B&W comedy sketch - loosely based on Doctor Who from 'It's A Square World', very daft but it did make me laugh a few times.

As I started off saying, I am prone to be very critical and dissatisfied with the Special Edition Reissue range but, this one is exceptional and certainly worth buying - especially if you've never seen or bought The Aztecs in the past.

On reflection, I do think this product would have been better if it had been presented as a double set with a separate sleeve and case for the second disc with the title 'Galaxy 4' - rather than lumping all of this wonderful material together with the Aztecs. It's a shame really, as it's highly likely that the contents of this release will be overlooked due to the overall title of the release. At the very least they should include a sticker on the front stating that it "Includes previously unreleased bonus story Galaxy 4".
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