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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Gunfighters (Story No. 25/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Gunfighters (Story No. 25/BBC DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A     Episodes: B



Doctor Who’s first foray into the Old West (and the BBC’s first treatment of the Wild West genre) pits him against the likes of Doc Holliday (Anthony Jacobs) and the Clanton gang.  The Gunfighters” finds William Hartnell’s Doctor and companions Steven (Peter Purves) and Dodo (Jackie Lane) visiting Tombstone, AZ around the time of the epice shootout at the OK Corral.  Plagued by a terrible toothache, the Doctor soon finds himself under the tender care of the Doc--Doc Holliday that is!  This gunfighter turned dentist tries to lay low from the searching eyes of his enemies, the Clanton brothers, but he soon finds it more convenient to set up a seemingly naive Doctor to take the fall for him. 


In one of this four episode arc’s more memorable moments, the unwitting Doctor complements Mr. Holliday, remarking that he’d not only pulled his tooth for him, but also given him a lovely gun.  Of course, the Doctor’s not quite so guileless as some might think, and manages the sticky situations with these outlaws with a sort of doddering aplomb that only WIlliam Hartnell could pull off.  Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo are taken for entertainers and forced to perform at the Clantons’ pleasure, including doing seemingly endless renditions of the story’s theme song and sole musical accompaniment, the “Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon.”  Hearing this once or twice might have been nice, but it circulates throughout the episodes on an endless loop.  By the second part most viewers will have likely had quite enough of it. 


While not William Hartnell’s best work on the series, “The Gunfighters” contains enough fun moments to make it well worth viewing, and collectors and fans of the show will also enjoy the rich bevy of extras.  The featurette on this disc discusses the somewhat fraught transition between Mr. Hartnell and his successor, Patrick Troughton.  In addition to usual commentaries and other goodies, the story’s feature song is also made available on an isolated audio track.



-   Scott Pyle


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