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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 5)

In my previous posts, I discussed the various 50th Anniversary activities in Doctor Who Magazine, the Radio Times and the TV Times, as well as the various television celebrations, in particular the 50th Anniversary Special itself, The Day of the Doctor, and the remarkable historical drama An Adventure in Space and Time.

The final big November 50th Anniversary landmark (as far as I'm concerned) was the much-anticipated DVD release of The Tenth Planet. The recent rediscovery of classic Patrick Troughton stories The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World had already caused a huge buzz in the world of Doctor Who, and the release of The Tenth Planet certainly added to that. One of the most important Doctor Who DVD releases of the year, it features the final adventure of the William Hartnell Doctor, as he and his companions Ben and Polly have their first-ever encounter with the Cybermen. The story is also a landmark as it features the very first regeneration of a Doctor into a new incarnation.

The DVD release of The Tenth Planet was something that I had been looking forward to for many years, never having seen the original VHS video release, although I have seen various surviving clips which feature on the Lost in Time DVD box-set. I do have a few very dim memories of some parts of this story from its original 1966 airing on BBC1, although these are only extremely brief, vague flashes of individual scenes. Quite understandable, as I was only five-going-six years old at the time. My first really strong memories of Doctor Who didn't come from until shortly afterwards, during the Troughton era.

But it was my first encounter with the Target Books novelization of The Tenth Planet during my teens that was the real revelation, confirming it as one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. This was the first time I had actually come across the story in full, as opposed to the much shorter synopsis I had read in the 1973 Doctor Who 10th Anniversary Radio Times Special. And did I enjoy it? Damn right I did! It has always been one of my favourites from the Target Books range.

Now, with the 50th Anniversary DVD release of The Tenth Planet, we get to see the story in full, although the original final episode is still missing. Instead, we have an animated reconstruction, produced by the talented team who did the animated episodes for The Invasion, The Ice Warriors and The Reign of Terror. The original VHS Telesnaps reconstruction of the final episode is also available in the bonus featurettes, as is the original short regeneration sequence that was featured on Blue Peter.

There are lots of other extras as well, but I'll leave elaborating on those for a proper review of The Tenth Planet, which will be coming up in a later posting.

To Be Continued...

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