This is a big moment! The Collection box set releases venture into the 1960’s for the first time. Season 2 is an obvious choice given it’s near complete status. But how good can black and white Doctor Who look in high definition?

As it turns out, black and white Doctor Who is really good in HD! This boxset is big. Not just in terms of episodes. Physically it has NINE discs stacked full of content to enjoy. As usual it is a beautiful item to hold with more stunning artwork from Lee Binding. Picture restoration has again been completed by Peter Crocker/SVS and they have done a superb job especially in the context of the age of the material. The Lion is particularly stunning! Mark Ayres has also supervised the sound restoration, which I’m sure was also a challenge. There is a wonderful and highly skilled team of people involved in bringing these discs to our shelves and our thanks have to go to all involved.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 2 (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

It is a shame that the two missing episodes of The Crusades have not been animated. Particularly as the last few minutes of The Knight of Jaffa is quite visual with little dialogue. However, the telesnap reconstruction of the two missing episodes is perfectly good at conveying the story. Maybe one day one or both of those episodes may turn up! There is however a clever reconstruction of the 12 missing seconds from the final episode of The Time Meddler. Although given the nature of the closeup violence, it’s no wonder the censors cut it!

Stories

Season 2 has a wide variety of stories to enjoy. Kicking off the season is Planet Of Giants which provides a strong idea which is well realised on screen. Next up see a return for the Daleks in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. Some of the imagery generated by this story is truly iconic before the departure of Susan is deeply emotional. For my mind The Rescue is a near-perfect little story. It successfully introduces a new companion, features an impressive looking alien creature and delivers an unexpected twist. The Romans is the first historical of the Season and is actually intended to be a comedy. Although I’m not sure how successful it is at delivering a comedy, instead it’s a little bit bonkers.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 2 (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

I may be in the minority but I adore The Web Planet. It’s so imaginative and creative. The Zarbi are wonderful and the shots of the Menoptera in flight are superb. Similarly, I believe that The Crusade is a bit of a masterpiece. Written and performed largely as a play, it features some wonderful performances from Julian Glover, Jean Marsh and Bernard Kay. By contrast The Space Museum is only wonderful for the first episode. Then it turns a bit rubbish. Our second Dalek story of the Season The Chase is also not particularly strong but is thoroughly entertaining. Finally, with new companion Steven Taylor in tow, Season 2 finishes on a real high note with The Time Meddler. The introduction of Peter Butterworth as The Monk is a sublime bit of casting within an excellent story.

Bonus Features

Given so many contributors to Season 2, be they in front of or behind the camera, are sadly no longer with us you’d be forgiven for pondering if there would be a limited amount of material. Far from it. There are two brand new In Conversation interviews with Matthew Sweet alongside William Russell and Maureen O’Brien. Both are excellent and provide wonderful detail into the experiences of two companions of the early days of Doctor Who. O’Brien‘s tale is particularly fascinating. Not initially keen to join the show, content with her stage roles. Then she’s tasked with appeasing Hartnell. As usual these interviews are wonderfully broad and yet detailed. A sheer delight to watch.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 2 (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Perhaps the most emotional piece is Looking for David. This documentary presented by the eternally fabulous Toby Hadoke tries to uncover a key contributor to the early success of Doctor Who; David Whitaker. I was caught off guard by how emotional I became watching and huge praise to Hadoke, Simon Guerrier and all involved. It really is a rollercoaster and should be the first thing you watch! Another new documentary provides an overview of Season 2. The central cast changes so much over the nine stories but things were also moving behind the scenes with Dennis Spooner joining for instance. William Hartnell remained a constant and the stories of him come to the fore. However it is Verity Lambert who rightly receives the most praise as a key influencer on the season.

Behind the Sofa

Once again there are number of Doctor Who companions watching the episodes of Season 2. Appropriately, we have Carol Ann Ford, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves telling their stories and providing opinions on stories that they were not involved in. Offering alternative opinions are Janet Fielding, Wendy Padbury and Sarah Sutton, who have a wonderful dynamic together. Also watching are Bonnie Langford and Sophie Aldred with everyone largely positive and thoroughly enjoying the experience. It’s a shame there isn’t a Behind the Sofa episode for The Crusade, because I think it’s wonderful but it isn’t complete. Why there isn’t one for Planet of Giants I’m not so sure.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 2 (c) Bedwyr Gullidge

Of course these nine discs are stacked with audio commentaries, previously released documentaries, PDF archives, photo galleries and more. There is also a new commentary provided for The Lion which discusses the recovery of the episode back in the late 1990’s, chaired by Toby Hadoke and featuring Paul Scoones, Neil Lambess and Bruce Grenville. The previously recorded links to cover the other missing episodes of The Crusade recorded by Sylvester McCoy and William Russell are also included and provide a nice bit of nostalgia for those of us from the VHS generation. One particular hidden gem is The Panopticon Archives which features Jacqueline Hill, Adrienne Hill and Michael Craze sharing Doctor Who production stories at a convention.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 2 is out now from Amazon, HMV, Zavvi and other retailers but strictly subject to availability.

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