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Dr. Who Vintage on DVDDr. Who - Vintage

From Hartnell to Baker

The ongoing DVD releases of vintage “Doctor Who” episodes are an incredible treat for me and other fans who did not get hooked on the show until the fantabulous David Tennant took over the role of the Time Lord known as the Doctor a few years back.

I do not think that the older shows are aired anymore, and these releases are priced reasonably; they additionally offer a chance to watch some of the 10 other actors who played the Doctor and to see new stories with the Daleks, the Master, and other current villains.

Five recently-released stories range from the series’ first season in 1963, which is three years before “Star Trek” premiered, to a 1979 story starring Tom Baker, who is arguably the second-best Doctor behind Tennant. Each set has wonderful extras that, in addition to the standard commentary, have interviews and documentaries regarding the specific stories and other elements of the series.

Going chronologically, despite the Doctor teaching us that time is not linear, the first DVD set has the 1965 stories “The Space Museum” and “The Chase.” William Hartnell plays the Doctor in both segments.

“Museum” has the Doctor and his companions landing on a planet with a museum that is a tribute to the victories of the Morok Empire; discovering that these exhibits include this group of travelers through time and space provides the main catalyst for the story.

“The Chase” has the Daleks pursuing the Doctor et al through time and space to exterminate them because of the serious threat that the doctor poses to the conquest plans of these menacing large salt-shaker appearing villains. Their stops include the top of the Empire State Building in 1965 and a wonderfully bizarre nightmare house that has Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster taking on the Daleks.

These stories had a great live theater look to them, the black-and white format provides great contrasts that add to the sense of being on an alien planet, and the early look at the Daleks was very entertaining. I also enjoyed seeing the origins of this terrific series and its depiction of time, which had a key role in “Museum.”

“The Time Monster” was a wonderfully bizarre 1972 story starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor; this one had evil Time Lord the Master, who played a significant role in the Tennant’s final turn as the Doctor, posing as a professor at Cambridge University. His goal was to control the mythical creature Chronos as part of his plot to control time.

This story had a terrific psychedelic tone and style. It additionally included the collaboration between the Doctor and British authorities that often contributes to the fun of a story.

I am particularly pleased that these DVD releases include two separate sets of Baker stories; the first, which is titled “Underworld,” from 1978 has the Doctor helping a group of good Minyans retrieving what is essentially their genetic code from a group of not-so-good Minyans. The Minyans need this code to continue the process of regeneration that is crucial to preventing this nearly extinct race from dying out entirely.

The second Baker story, which is titled “The Horns of Nimon, is from 1979 and features a wonderfully ridiculous looking bull-like creature named the Nimon that prompted laughter when it first appeared.

The Doctor discovering that a freighter is transporting a group of teens to serve as a sacrifice to the Nimon leads to wonderfully campy fun with liberal use of ray guns. This adventure also involves a very interesting story in which the Nimon and its allies are taking advantage of each other and that reveals some great secrets regarding the Nimon’s history.

The Baker stories were the best of this good lot because, aside from having the best Doctor in the group, the stories were the most interesting and had the best pace. The writers put Baker’s wry humor to good use, and the energy level all around was higher in these stories than the others.

I admit that my being in the generation to which theses episodes were directed may influence this opinion. I confess further that I K-9, the highly intelligent and charming robot dog, and that Romana the highly intelligent and more feisty than charming companion is one of my favorite sidekicks.

I would love to hear from other “Who” fans; my e-mail is tvdvdguy@gmail.com. I would again like to remind current Doctor Matt Smith that the TARDIS time and spaceship would fit in my guest spot.


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Review by John Stahl
John Stahl is a freelance legal writer who is also a fan of classic and cult television programs. He can be reached at tvdvdguy@gmail.com.

 

 

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