All of a sudden we’ve got to the fourth release in Doctor Who: The Collection. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Season 12 was released with much fanfare. After releases of Tom Baker’s final season and Peter Davison’s debut season, Third Doctor Jon Pertwee gets his first release in the range. Doctor Who Season 10 is released on Blu Ray today. But have these releases run out of steam or does the momentum continue?
Doctor Who: Season 10 is a tough sell. Should fans invest in another boxset for five stories that have already been very well served by the DVD range? Two of the five received special edition releases too. So what more can be added to make yet another version an essential purchase? The task is made even more difficult with the sad fact that so few of the contributors are still with us. There’s no interview with the leading man for Matthew Sweet this time. No Nicholas Courtney, Barry Letts or Derrick Sherwin either.
Not phased by such limitations the creative minds behind the release have attempted to deliver another superlative product. Fortunately, the era is well served by previous material so a faithful trawl of the archives allows for those now absent to still be important contributors. That’s not to say that there is a simple repackaging of already released material. There is still plenty to get excited about with this new boxset, not least the stunning product itself.
Once again the standard of the physical boxset stands out. When the release was announced and the artwork was unveiled, there was something troubling. As it turned out the reference image of Jon Pertwee had been flipped. The result was that for some of us it didn’t quite look right. Happily, Lee Binding has corrected this for the final release and the focus is quite rightly drawn back to the villains. Omega. Draconians. Ogrons. And of course the Daleks. There are some wonderful creations which are perfectly placed in the now standard format for the cover. The artwork inside is also a treat with the TARDIS on Spiridon being used.
The TARDIS interior and console as seen during ‘The Three Doctors‘ is also captured. Gavin Rymill has also utilised these visuals for the wonderful DVD menus. Additional imagery is provided by Jonathan Picard and Pixelogic. Once again Peter Crocker and SVS are on picture restoration duties, with the sound in the very capable hands of Mark Ayres. Yet again the overall product is flawless. I cannot see demand slipping for this release, even if it is the fourth piece of the collection.
Despite what the frankly ludicrous ‘cinematic’ trailer released last week suggested, this is not “the season that changed everything”. Instead, Season 10 is a continuation of the successful Pertwee era. After narrowly avoiding cancellation following Patrick Troughton’s departure, the show had gone from strength to strength. Under the stewardship of Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks, and with Jon Pertwee in the lead role, Doctor Who became a hit. So the show had a reason to celebrate reaching its 10th anniversary.
‘The Three Doctors‘ is momentous not only for the returns of Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell but the introduction of Omega. ‘Carnival of Monsters‘ is an entertaining excursion with the wonderful drashigs. Further additions to the monster menagerie come with the introduction of the Draconians in ‘Frontier in Space‘. The Ogrons also return alongside the Daleks who become the focus again in ‘Planet of the Daleks‘. Finally, ‘The Green Death’ provides gruesome chills and a strong ecological message before delivering one of the most emotional companion departures in the show’s history.
It is a strong season, full of solid and entertaining stories. Jon Pertwee’s incarnation is at the centre in what would prove to be his penultimate year in the role. There are plenty of colourful creatures and of course the Daleks. What more could you want?
In addition to the substantial features which had already been released on DVD, there is some new material. Perhaps the highlight is ‘Keeping up with the Joneses‘ which sees Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan return to the village of Deri in South Wales where ‘The Green Death‘ was filmed in 1973. It is a beautiful film which showcases the impact that filming Doctor Who had on the little mining village. There is also lots of poignancy with Katy and Stewart reconnecting and the transformation seen since the mine closed.
Another new feature filled with poignant moments is ‘Looking for Lennie‘. Host Toby Hadoke ventures out to uncover more details of Lennie Mayne who directed ‘The Three Doctors‘ for Season 10. From revealing the details of his tragic demise, Hadoke uncovers a lot of previously unknown information. The conclusion is hugely emotional and it feels only right that this much loved man has received the celebration that his life richly deserved.
A personal thrill is a new version of ‘Planet of the Daleks‘ with updated effects. As someone who vividly remembers watching Episode 3 in black and white, because that’s the only version which exists in the archive, it is amazing to watch the entirety in colour, high definition and with stunning modern effects. The new ‘Doctor Who and the Third Man‘ documentary covering the Pertwee era combines archive material with new interviews. Matthew Sweet sits down with Katy Manning plus Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss to discuss Doctor Who of the early to mid 1970’s. It is a great new addition with a running time that passes quickly.
Of course there are also all the photo galleries, PDF production paperwork, commentaries and much, much more to keep the viewer entertained.
The latest release for Doctor Who: The Collection is yet another success. Released a day after what would’ve been Jon Pertwee’s 100th birthday, it is a wonderful tribute of his incarnation of the Doctor. I hadn’t watched any Pertwee episodes for a while but his is a Doctor who is a thrill to revisit. His serious, all action incarnation made for some truly memorable adventures. Quite rightly the fabulous Katy Manning has a significant impact on what was her final season playing Jo Grant. She pops up in a number of the best bonus features and is always a joy to watch.
Season 10 maintains the high standard of releases in the Doctor Who: The Collection range. Despite stories being so well served by bonus features on DVD, it is still worth the investment. If nothing else it will provide the opportunity to revisit an important incarnation of the Doctor. There are some great stories and some even better tales from behind the scenes. If you love good Doctor Who and are interested in its production then this is the boxset for you. Ultimately, Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10 is yet another essential purchase.