DVD REVIEW: Classic Doctor Who New Releases
Relive the greatest Who stories from the past...
It’s a great time to be a fan of classic Doctor Who as BBC is releasing wave upon wave of old stories on DVD. Just about every month a new batch comes out, bringing back the greatest stories from all of the Doctors of yesteryear going as far back as the First Doctor in 1963-1966! BBC has gone back to the archives for these DVDs, putting together the best available video and audio and re-mastering it all with some neat special features that you’ve probably never seen or heard. In the current lineup of new releases the stories range from The Seeds of Death with Patrick Troughton in 1969 to The Happiness Patrol with Sylvester McCoy in 1988.
The full lineup of new releases include:
- The Seeds of Death 2-Disc Special Edition: Patrick Troughton Years 1966-1969
- The Daemons 2-Disc: Jon Pertwee Years 1970-1974
- Carnival of Monsters 2-Disc Special Edition: Jon Pertwee Years 1970-1974
- Nightmare of Eden: Tom Baker Years 1974-1981
- Resurrection of the Daleks 2-Disc: Peter Davison Years 1982-1984
- Dragonfire: Sylvester McCoy Years 1987-1989
- The Happiness Patrol: Sylvester McCoy Years 1987-1989
Spanning 19 years, these seven volumes tell the adventures of five different Doctors (Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh). They start with Patrick Troughton, the clever and manipulative Second Doctor, in Seeds of Death fighting the Ice Warriors’ takeover of the Earth by deadly fungus. Next we fast forward to the 1970s with Jon Pertwee in two stories. The Daemons pits the Third Doctor against the Master and his summoned “demons” from space in a 1970s era small village while Carnival of Monsters takes the Doctor and his companion to a “reality show” on a faraway world. Next up is the Fourth Doctor in Nightmare of Eden confronting Mandrels on collided spacecraft while dealing with the dangers of drug abuse. The Fifth Doctor takes over in Resurrection of the Daleks, confronting his ancient nemeses in London circa 1984 with the return of Davros. Finally, the Seventh Doctor fights a “dragon” aboard an icy colony in Dragonfire and helps an alien people overthrow an anti-sadness regime (that kills dissenters in molten candy) in The Happiness Patrol with a healthy dose of political satire.
Throughout these various stories you get to see plenty of great classic aliens and companions in addition to the five Doctors. From Martian Ice Warriors to space alien daemons, the Master, Inter Minorians, Drashigs, Cybermen, Mandrels, Davros and the Daleks, the criminal Kane, and Helen A and the Happiness Patrol. Some of those, especially the Master, Cybermen, Davros, and the Daleks would continue to appear in Doctor Who series to this very day, so it’s cool to see how they appeared in the past. And like Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor today, all of his predecessors had friends and companions in their travels. The Second Doctor had Jamie and Zoe, the Third Jo, Fourth Romana and fan-favorite K9, Fifth Tegan and Turlough, and the Seventh Mel and Ace.
The classic episodes are presented in their original formats, meaning black and white for the Seeds of Death. All of them have been remastered, though it must be said that there is some degree of different in the quality in video and audio between the various volumes. With that said, these are still far and away the best editions of these stories ever on DVD, and in several cases the only. All seven of these new releases also include some pretty impressive special features like audio commentaries with cast and crew, “making of” segments, deleted and extended scenes, photo galleries, featurettes, isolated scores, modern retrospectives, trailers, notes, and more! They really add to the quality of these collections and provide fans with great additional content from the past and present.
Doctor Who is interesting in how its classic episodes are presented on DVD. While most shows are packaged and sold by seasons, Who instead collects by story/event as you can see here. Especially for the earliest years, this makes it easy to collect the specific storylines that you remember and enjoyed, and to fill in gaps in your collection according to Doctor, year, or specific aliens. With the exception of Seeds of Death and Resurrection of the Daleks (both due out on June 12), the other volumes discussed here are currently available wherever DVDs are sold. Check them out and add to your classic Doctor Who collection today!
Review by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of BBC Home Entertainment
Re: DVD REVIEW: Classic Doctor Who New Releases
I, for one, would vastly prefer for the BBC to release the Original Series in the season set format. The way they release these stories piecemeal and at around $20 a pop makes collecting the old Doctors a lot harder on the wallet.