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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > TV > Doctor Who Planet Of Evil/Timelash/Time Warrior (BBC DVD Singles)

Doctor Who Planet Of Evil/Timelash/Time Warrior (BBC DVD Singles)


Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: A+ Episodes: A-



Few television series have enjoyed as long and rich a life as the BBC's Doctor Who. Beginning in 1963 and continuing uninterrupted until 1989, Doctor Who has enjoyed an amazing revival in the 21st century featuring incredible stories and production values. This review covers three discs from the classic period of Doctor Who covering the 1970's and 1980's. Ten different actors have played the Doctor during the series' long run, and these talented actors have brought some amazing stories to life.


Jon Pertwee (the Doctor from 1970-1974) stars in Time Warrior, a disc featuring four linked episodes pitting Pertwee's wily Doctor against a mighty Sontaran alien amidst the backdrop of a medieval clash of rival English nobility. Determined to save the modern day scientists the Sontaran has kidnapped back to the ancient days of England's past, the Doctor must also contend with arrival of his newest companion, the effervescent Elisabeth Sladen as the plucky journalist Sarah Jane Smith. Once the two manage to get on the same page, they combine forces to foil the Sontaran's plans. Though appearing like a bit of a dandy in his garish green jacket and bowtie, Pertwee's portrayal of the third Doctor is alive with energy and dynamism. As is often the case, many of the supporting cast members more than pull their weight in bringing this four-part story to a rollicking conclusion.


Destiny of the Daleks features the incredible Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor (1974-1981), and for many fans, Tom Baker epitomizes the spirit and energy of Doctor Who. Destiny represents vintage Tom Baker, matching him against perhaps his most dangerous foes, the Daleks, and their evil creator, Davros. Lalla Ward plays Romana, a female Time lord and the Doctor's companion for this adventure. Though always built on a budget, the sets, costumes, and effects for this story are top-notch when viewed in the proper context. Destiny represents the best of the vintage Doctor Who shows produced by the BBC.


Colin Baker's years as the sixth Doctor (1984-1986) are not as highly regarded as some other periods in the show's lengthy history. If the stories and performances found in Timelash represent a down period for the show, they still manage to deliver some wacky fun. Colin Baker's take on the Doctor is a bit stranger and sillier than some others, evidenced by the motley garb he wears. Timelash itself features American companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant), whose performance fails to live up to those of some of her predecessors. Still, for Doctor Who fans, Timelash manages to deliver that satisfying sci-fi strangeness that has so long been a hallmark of the show. Paul Darrow delivers an excellent performance as the villainous Tekker, and the story introduces a young H.G. Wells to the wonders of time travel.


These three discs offer plentiful extras, including photo galleries, commentaries, interviews, optional enhanced effects, documentaries, and more. While the extras are impressive, picture and sound on these discs are not. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound quality is uneven, and snatches of dialogue are sometimes difficult to hear, particularly on the older shows. The 1.33 X 1 picture lacks vibrancy at times and can even be characterized as poor in spots. The episodes were shot on analog PAL video, so this is the likely culprit, but even with the sometimes poor audio visual quality, the episodes are all extremely enjoyable.


For fans of the "new" Doctor Who airing on BBC and Sci-Fi Channel, these old discs provide a wonderful opportunity to delve into the character's rich and varied history. The genius of Doctor Who is that no matter how many actors play him, everything that has gone before remains part of the show's larger continuity. When an actor moves on, the series' writers work this into the plot, engineering some crisis where the Doctor is injured and must regenerate, transforming into a new version of himself. These old episodes provide the context for the succeeding stories, and form the backbone of one of the richest traditions in the history of the science-fiction genre.



- Scott Pyle


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