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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Politics > Thriller > Technology > Doctor Who: The Krotons (1968/Story No. 47/BBC DVD)/Things To Come (1936/Network U.K. Region B Blu-ray w/PAL DVD)

Doctor Who: The Krotons (1968/Story No. 47/BBC DVD)/Things To Come (1936/Network U.K. Region B Blu-ray w/PAL DVD)


Picture: C+/B     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/B     Episodes: C+     Film: B



PLEASE NOTE: The Things To Come Blu-ray here is only available in the U.K. from our friends at Network U.K. and can be ordered from them exclusively at the website address links provided below at the end of the review.  This is a Region B Blu-ray and will only play on players capable of handling that kind of software, so this excludes most U.S. players.  The DVD included is a Region 2 encoded PAL DVD and also can only be played on DVD players capable of that format, which also excludes most U.S. players.



British Science Fiction has the tendency to be underrated and not discussed as much as it should be, including a slew of film and TV productions in black and white.  This gets lost too often in the mix of new product, much of it junk, but here are two examples of how this worked when the genre was striving for intelligence.



Dr. Who #2 Patrick Troughton was doing just fine redefining his version of the classic character when Doctor Who: The Krotons was made in 1968.  Though it has dated in mixed ways, it is an interesting entry as the title machines did not go on to become another Daleks or Cybermen for the series, but is still a good one as Who, Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) arrive on a planet of Gonds, who have been taken over by the killer robots and the technology.  Of course, the trio is going to do what they can to end their reign of terror, but complications ensue.


Though a huge hit and still a good show, the series had not hit its stride yet, so some things work and others do not.  Age notwithstanding, the show is ambitious and unlike post-Tom Baker Who entries with Daleks or Cybermen, never treats the robots as jokes.  Nicely done and the underrated Philip Madoc is a big plus here as Eelek as guest actors always help these older shows to be more interesting.


Extras include audio commentary on the episodes including actors Madoc, Richard Ireson (Axus), Gilbert Wynn (Thara), plus David Tilley (assistant floor manager), Sylvia James (make-up designer), Bobi Bartlett (costume designer) and Brian Hodgson (special sounds designer), all hosted by Toby Hadoke, “Second Time Around: The Troughton Years" featurette, "Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines (Part One)" (a 2003 interview with Hines, who plays the Doctor's companion Jamie McCrimmon), "The Doctor's Strange Love: The Krotons" by fans Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier, a doming soon clip, PDF of the Radio Times Listings, Production Note Subtitles and Photo Gallery.  With all that, it is worth a look for all serious Who fans.



Now we get to look at the second Blu-ray release of William Cameron Menzies’ Things To Come (1936), the British Science Fiction classic in a new British Blu-ray from Network U.K. with a bonus DVD.  We first looked at the film in its U.S. Blu-ray debut from Legend at this link:





That was a good version and better than just about any version I saw, even if some footage was missing, but this upgraded HD version from Network is a successor to their DVD edition that was considered almost definitive save its sound.  This is only here in black and white and we’ll get to more on the playback in a minute, but this is a smoother, more complete copy.  Too bad it is not U.S. Blu-ray player friendly.


Extras include an expanded version of the booklet by Things To Come scholar Nick Cooper first offered in the DVD-only Network edition, a bonus DVD with Virtual Extended Edition which is a viewing option that allows for including text and images from long-missing and unfilmed scenes of the film, On Reflection: Brian Aldiss on H.G. Wells (1971) 25-minutes long documentary, Ralph Richardson interview by Russell Harty in 1975 and The Wandering Sickness off of an original 78-rpm record.  The Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary by Cooper, Comprehensive HD image gallery including many rare stills, HD merchandise image gallery, US re-release trailer and a screenplay PDF.


With all those extras, this is as definitive an edition as you can get currently, but it has a few drawbacks despite all those goodies.



The 1.33 X 1 black and white video image on Krotons was shot on professional analog PAL video and the BBC has restored and cleaned this up just about as much as they could, so expect pretty good playback save the dated nature of the tape and some flaws (including production flaws).  The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Things apparently uses original negative footage, so it is warmer, more detailed and has better Video Black than the Legend Blu-ray.  Unless a huge amount of money was spent, I could not imagine this looking too much better.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Krotons is fine for its time and age, with some distortion and on-set recording flaws, but it is as clean as it is going to get and makes the episodes easier to enjoy.  The PCM 2.0 Mono on Things should be the best the film has ever sounded, especially at 24 bits, but a distortion and filtering problem on the DVD has only been partly eradicated and the result is that the soundtrack (including the music score) is not as good as it could sound, even for a film 76 years old.  It is the one place the Legend Blu-ray can actually compete.


Hope this gets fixed down the line.



As noted above, you can order the Things To Come Blu-ray/DVD import set exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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