Here are details of all the new and official, digitally re-mastered and updated DVD re-releases for 2012 (which makes for a good opportunity to replace my worn-out VHS versions), and which feature all of the Classic Doctors from the original 60s-80s series, apart from Peter Davison; so far, at least!
I am a huge fan of the original series, especially Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker (who I grew up with), and had great pleasure in adding my own views on these latest DVD releases,
Ratings given are average customer ratings from Amazon.
The Sensorites - William Hartnell
(DVD released 23rd Jan 2012)
Average rating: 3.9 out of 5
Here we have the six episodes from the seventh story of the first ever Doctor Who season, and although this hasn't been rated by fans as being amongst the very best stories (I suspect this is mainly due to a lack of action sequences), neither is it one of the worst and let's remember that it takes more than fast-paced action to create a good story.
The adventure is set on an alien world, and although the 60s set is never going to be up to today's standards, this was an ambitious attempt to create something half decent, and it has plenty of imagination. As I've already mentioned, this isn't a fast-paced story, but this allows for the development of the characters (the sensorites are excellent) and also deals with the issues of racism very well.
The picture and sound quality is vastly improved from the original tape and the extras are above average on this release. Very enjoyable and definitely one for the collection.
The plot: The Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions land on a spaceship
orbiting a distant and mysterious world, where a human crew lie frozen
somewhere between life and death.
The planet is the
Sense-Sphere, home of the Sensorites, beings of immense intelligence and
power. Unable to leave, the Doctor and his companions must deduce the
Sensorites’ intentions: are they friendly, hostile, or frightened? And
what is the deadly secret at the heart of the Sense-Sphere?
Revisitations 3: The Tomb of the Cybermen/Robots of Death/The Three Doctors
(DVD Boxset released 13th Feb 2012)
Average rating: 4.9
This box set is widely regarded by fans as being one of the best, if not THE best releases. The best adventure is Tomb Of The Cybermen, in which Patrick Throughton gives one of his best perfromances, and the story stands up well against more recent Cybermen stories.
The Three Doctors does what it says on the tin. Here we see Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee together (which is kind of surreal), and the rivalry between the latter two is enjoyable, although there isn't too much to see of Hartnell as he was ill at the time.
The weakest of the three stories is Robots Of Death, although some fans may disagree with me as it's still well above average and extremely stylish, but it's up against two particularly classic adventures here and I'm scraping the barrel trying to find something negative to say!
To sum up, here we have three gripping stories (Especially Tomb Of The Cybermen) which are an example of Doctor Who at its very finest - all remastered to bring you excellent picture quality and well-packaged with decent extras. If you only ever buy one box set, then it simply has to be this one!
5 Discs - 291 mins.
Special Editions of three classic Doctor Who DVD releases. Remastered.
Repackaged. Reappraised. With exclusive new Special Features...
1. The Tomb of the Cybermen - Special Edition with Patrick Troughton.
2. The Three Doctors - Special Edition ft. Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton & William Hartnell
3. The Robots of Death - Special Edition ft. Tom Baker
The Face Of Evil - Tom Baker
(DVD released 5th March 2012)
Average rating 4.5
As well as the joys of seeing Leela in her skimpy costume (this was the first appearance of the gorgeous Louise Jameson who stayed for two seasons), we also have a well-written story with lots of cliffhangers, combined with eary, alien jungle scenes - this can be classed as proper sci-fi.
The highlight for me amongst the extras was the appearance of Louise Jameson on Swap Shop and being interviewed by Noel Edmonds. The 70s was definitely a golden era for Doctor Who, although I am biased because I grew-up watching this stuff. This was released at a time of record audiences, and with a strong script like this it's not hard to see why. This is a very decent adventure which is oozing with atmosphere - well worth adding to your collection.
Description: When the TARDIS arrives on a jungle planet, the Doctor (Tom Baker) encounters two
warring tribes, the Sevateem and the Tesh. The Sevateem worship a god
called Xoanon and the Tesh are supposedly keeping Xoanon prisoner…
why do the Sevateem call the Doctor the Evil One? And what are the
invisible creatures in the jungle? The Time Lord, with the help Leela, is about to find out.
The Dæmons - Jon Pertwee
(DVD released 19th March 2012)
Average rating: 4.7
If you're a fan of the Jon Pertwee era then this will not disappoint. This is the fifth and final story from his second year as the doctor, with five episodes and another disc of extras. With nice settings and a quality script, perhaps the only let-down is the fact that these are re-coloured, from the black and white recordings, rather than the original colour recordings which were wiped by the BBC in their moment of madness. However, anyone who didn't know this bit of info would probably not even notice, and the picture quality is now far better than the previous releases - a restoration job well done!
In the peaceful village of Devil’s End something very strange is
happening. A professor is preparing to open a nearby burial mound and a
local white has foresees death and disaster. Meanwhile, the new vicar
looks suspiciously like the Master and he is using black magic to
conjure up an ancient Dæmon.
Can the Doctor, Jo and UNIT stop their old enemy before he succeeds?
Nightmare of Eden - Tom Baker
(DVD released April 2012)
Average rating: 3.8
This is the fourth story from Tom Baker's sixth season in 1979 with four episodes. The plot shows a high level of imagination and Tom Baker is on his usual top form, with plenty of humour to be had. The Mandrels may look a little cheesy these days, although, personally, I love them and they would still send many kids behind the sofa - I'm pretty sure I spent a lot of time there while watching this back in the 70s. Perhaps the biggest let down, though, is with the extras DVD as they're quite brief compared to other releases.
The Plot: Two spacecraft fuse in a hyperspace collision, and with the dimensional
instabilities threatening everyone aboard, it’s fortunate the Doctor
(Tom Baker), Romana (Lalla Ward) and K-9 arrive to help. But when a
crewmember is found clawed by a ferocious creature, it seems there’s
something even more frightening stalking the corridors. But what can
this have to do with a zoologist, Professor Tryst, his CET projection
machine, and a planet called Eden?
Ace Adventures Box Set - Sylvester McCoy
(DVD released 2nd May 2012)
Average rating: 3.5
Eight customers at Amazon have given this a 5 star rating and four customers give it just 1 star, so who is right?
The main problem seems to be with the Dragonfire story which has quite a weak script, and the fact that there are only three episodes for each two stories. The Happiness Patrol has a much better script, but is let down by the poor 80s production. At this price I would say that this is strictly for fans, and would be best purchased when the price has dropped a bit, which may be quite a while yet.
Ace Adventures Box Set: In these two stories Ace joins
the Seventh Doctor aboard the TARDIS where she’s soon battling a
biomechanoid and liberating a world where just feeling sad can get you
Dragonfire On the planet Svartos, the
Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Mel unexpectedly encounter an old friend –
The Happiness Patrol On the planet Terra Alpha, the
population constantly displays happy smiles. Anyone feeling remotely
Death To The Daleks - Jon Pertwee
(DVD released 18th June 2012)
Average rating: 3.8
This has received some pretty good customer ratings at Amazon, although I'm not sure who the two idiots are who gave this a one star rating and they have pushed the rating lower than what it should be.
Here we have some good, solid acting and great-looking daleks (they look in far better condition than in Planet Of The Daleks), although their high-pitched voices (all provided by the same person) and the choice of music are both rather odd to say the least, and these two factors have led to points being decucted by many customers. But I like the choice of bleak location (a quarry) and the Exxilon City has also been well-crafted.
The story: A power failure in the TARDIS draws it off course, and the Doctor and
Sarah Jane Smith end up stranded on the bleak planet of Exxilon. They
soon meet members of an Earth expedition in a similar situation.
The humans are searching for a rare mineral, but first they must find
out what is draining their power and avoid what’s inside another
grounded spaceship – the Doctor’s oldest enemies, the Daleks…
The Krotons - Patrick Troughton
(DVD released 2nd July 2012)
Average rating: 4.4
Well, nobody has given this anything lower than a three star rating yet, and the Patrick Troughton stories rarely get poor reviews. From memory I can say that this four-part story was written by Robert Holmes who is an excellent writer, and all of the actors put in some great performances. Of course, this updated DVD has yet to be released and the reviews are based on the VHS version, but you can pre-order at Amazon.
When the TARDIS arrives on the planet of the Gonds, the Doctor, Jamie
and Zoe discover a world ruled and enslaved by the Krotons. The
brightest Gonds are always chosen to serve as companions of the Krotons
and are never seen again.
The Doctor and his companions decide
to put a stop to their rule – but in doing so, inadvertently unleash the
true power and terror of the Krotons instead…
The Greatest Show In The Galaxy - Sylvester McCoy
(DVD released 30th July 2012)
Average rating: 4.3
As this hasn't yet been released and I don't own a VHS version I can't add my opinions yet, but I certainly will when I get my hands on a copy! It is, however, available for pre-order at Amazon if you want't to beat me to it!
Description: Although Ace hates clowns, the Doctor decides to take his companion to
the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax. There they find a group of
scared performers who live in fear of the sinister and creepy Chief
But what is so dangerous about this particular circus,
why is there such a small audience and will Ace be able to overcome her
fear before it’s too late?
Planet Of Giants - William Hartnell
(DVD released August 2012)
Average rating: 3.8
This is a pretty unusual Doctor Who story which sees everyone become bug-sized, including a miniaturised TARDIS! Considering this is low-budget 60s sci-fi, this is pretty damn good and a lot of effort appears to have been put into the set, with lots of clever visual effects.
However, this loses points for the fact that the serial was hastily cut down from four episodes to three a couple of weeks before it was aired, but apart from that, I really enjoyed this one and I think it has been harshly rated by some customers at Amazon.
Plot: The TARDIS doors open while the ship is still in flight by accident.
Although they have arrived back on Earth in the 1960s, a time they have
been trying to return to since they all met, the travellers soon realise
that something is very wrong.
The Doctor (William Hartnell), Ian, Barbara and
Susan discover that they have all be reduced in size and the world they
are now exploring has dangers at every turn…
Vengeance On Varos - Colin Baker
(Special Edition DVD released 10th Sept 2012)
Average rating: 4.0