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Doctor Who- The Gunfighters and The Awakening DVD Reviews


“The Gunfighters” is a fun western episode that suffers from maddening music.

“The Awakening” is worth a watch, but the episode does little with the interesting concepts proposed.“The Gunfighters” finds the Doctor, Steven and Dodo arriving in Tombstone, Arizona only to find trouble the minute they step out of the TARDIS. The real trouble begins when the Doctor happens to gets mistaken for Doc Holliday (who is being targeted for death by the Clanton Brothers). This case of mistaken identity also lands Steven and Dodo in trouble as well. As if matters weren’t complicated enough, the dangerous Johnny Ringo rides into town causing further chaos. Can Wyatt Earp and the REAL Doc Holliday save the day or are the Doctor, Dodo, and Steven doomed?

As a fan of the western genre, I was always rather fond of “The Gunfighters” as it was the only televised “Doctor Who” episode to visit that era. It’s hard not to crack a smile when the Doctor encounter legendary figures such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo. I may be alone in this, but I was also greatly amused by the Doctor’s toothache situation in the first part of this episode. There’s something about seeing the normally tough First Doctor grumbling, whining, and acting like a child about his tooth pain. It was classic Hartnell.

Of course, the episode is not perfect. Like most fans, it’s hard not to be annoyed by the seemingly endless tune “The Ballad Of The Last Chance Saloon” which plays in different variations throughout the entire episode. To say that it is out of place is an understatement. How this song idea was approved I will never know.

“The Awakening” is a two part Fifth Doctor era story in which Tegan, Turlough, and the Doctor arrive in a small village in 1984 with the intention of visiting Tegan’s grandfather only to get caught up amidst a bizarre English Civil War game reenactment. The confusion continues when the Doc and company discover strange goings on at the local church. Is there an alien force at work behind the scenes or has the town lost its mind? Tune in to find out.

While I am certainly a fan of episodes that are shorter in length and tighter in pace, I have to admit that “The Awakening” is rather rushed. While there are some intriguing story elements about past and present being mixed together and war game re-enactments, they don’t really amount to much. The plot turns out to be rather routine once the villain (Malus) is introduced which is a shame because there was so much potential here. Granted, Malus’s appearance is quite creepy and visually interesting, but that’s beside the point.

Another element that was wasted was the relationship between Tegan and her grandfather. Instead of seeing the two interact to develop Tegan’s character more, the two barely share the screen together at all. It’s these type of throwaway elements that make the episode a little frustrating to watch.

Summary: Despite their flaws, “The Gunfighters” and “The Awakening” are still worth watching. They aren’t classic episodes by any means, but there’s still much to admire about both episodes.


As with most Peter Davison era episodes, the fullscreen picture quality for “The Awakening” is worthy of a round of applause. Likewise, “The Gunfighters” looked surprisingly clean for a 60’s era episode. This print was in far better shape than some of the Hartnell era episodes I have viewed in the past.

The Dolby Digital Mono does the job for “The Awakening” while the track for “The Gunfighters” is also quite satisfactory. The restoration team deserves praise for their clean-up work here.

“The Awakening” Extras:
* “Doctor Who” series 5 and “Paradise Towers” trailers, photo gallery, info text, Radio Times Listings, and isolated music score.
* “The Golden Egg Awards”- Footage of Peter Davison accepting a goofy award.
* “From The Cutting Room Floor”- Deleted, extended scenes, and outtakes. The highlights here are a deleted scene with Kamelion and an outtake with a horse taking down a set.
* “Now And Then”- A look at a few of the locations in Martin, Shapwick, Tarrant Monkton when the episode were shot and in present day.
* “Making The Malus”- Visual f/x artist Tony Harding and model creator Richard Gregory reminisce about making the Malus. 
* “Return To Little Hodcombe”- A making of complete with interviews with the cast and crew. They chat about the script, the locations, set experiences, the famous outtake,
* Commentary by Michael Owen Morris, Eric Saward, and Toby Hadoke. None of the stars appear on this commentary which is a bit of a letdown, but there’s still plenty of behind the scenes stories that will appeal to fans.

“The Gunfighters” Extras:
* Photo gallery, Radio Times Listings, “Doctor Who” series 5 and “Paradise Towers” trailers, info text,
* “Tomorrow’s Times: The First Doctor”- A featurette hosted by Mary Tamm about the press reaction to the First Doctor era as well as the Peter Cushing films.
* “The End Of The Line”- A documentary about the third season (and parts of season 4). Topics include crew changes, individual episodes, character departures, Daleks, and so forth.
* Commentary by Peter Purves, Toby Hadoke, Shane Rimmer, David Graham, Richard Beale, and Tristan de Vere Cole. This is far from one of the best commentaries but there are some engaging discussions about the sets, set experiences, the script, etc.

July 11, 2011 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , ,

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