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Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet DVD Review

Doctor Who- The Tenth Planet DVD

“The Tenth Planet” is a landmark “Doctor Who” episode.

The plot: While the South Pole space command center is overseeing a mission involving the Zeus IV ship in 1986, it is revealed that Earth’s twin planet (Mondas) is approaching Earth. As if on cue, the Doctor, Polly, and Ben arrive in the TARDIS at the South Pole during this critical time. Further trouble arises when the citizens of Mondas also arrive at the South Pole. Those citizens are, of course, the robotic and emotionless Cybermen (in their first on screen appearance). As the Cybermen state their plan to destroy Earth, all hell breaks loose as the foolhardy General Cutler begins to consider using nuclear weapons to destroy Mondas and the Cybermen (consequences be damned). Can the Doctor prevent the annihilation of Earth and Mondas or are the two planets (and races) destined for extinction?

Throughout the history of “Doctor Who,” there is no question that one of the most pivotal moments of the series is the first Doctor’s regeneration at the end of “The Tenth Planet.” Unfortunately, most Whovians have never been able to see the game changing ending that ensured formula we know and love because it is sadly one of the many missing episodes. Thankfully, the missing episode 4 has now been fully animated so we can view the 4 parter in whole with this new DVD release.

From a screenwriting perspective, “The Tenth Planet” is actually rather clunky. The villain plot is tired, the main character (The Doctor) largely takes a back seat until part 4 (due to William Hartnell’s health issues), the majority of the characters are one dimensional, and the ending is rather anti-climactic. With all of that said, however, the story is notable for introducing two major components- Regenerations and Cybermen.

As most fans know, the regeneration angle was an idea used to keep the show going after William Hartnell departed the series. It was a brilliant plot device to allow cast changes and a sure fire way to keep the story (and series) fresh. While not the best regeneration scene around, the actual scene of the First Doctor regenerating is still emotional and would have no doubt been shocking had it been viewed at the time of its airing.

While not the most memorable Cybermen (my vote goes to the version in “Earthshock”), the Cybermen featured in “The Tenth Planet” still deserve praise for being the first version. Sure, their costumes are clunky, their voices are grating, and the open and close mouths with out of dialogue synch is laughable, but it’s still not hard to see why they became the second most popular alien/villain behind the Daleks. They are far and away one of the best robotic creatures in sci-fi history, and when done, right, can be rather creepy. You can even spot moments of creepiness in ‘Planet’ (mostly when they don’t speak).

Video/Audio

Presentation: 4:3. How does it look? Despite looking a tad fuzzy at times,‘Planet’ looks much sharper than most 60’s era episodes. As far as the “The Reign Of Terror” styled animation goes, it looks impressive to be sure. I can only hope that more missing episodes will be animated in the future.

Audio Track: Dolby Digital Mono. How does it sound? Good! From the sound f/x to the Cybermen voices, this is a clear sounding track from start to finish.

Extras:
* Trailers for “Doctor Who” Series 7, Part 1 and “The Moonbase,” photo gallery, Radio Times Listings, and info text.
* An episode 4 reconstruction.
* “Frozen Out”- The standard making of featurette containing cast and crew interviews and discussions about the script, the production, the Cybermen, science, William Hartnell and the regeneration. Easily one of the best making of featurettes I have seen on a “Doctor Who” DVD.
* A candid interview with William Hartnell in which he talks about Daleks and pantomime.
* “Blue Peter”- A Blue Peter segment that celebrates the 10th anniversary of “Doctor Who.”
* “Companion Piece”- Everyone from cast members to psychologists discuss the role and importance of a companion on “Doctor Who.”
* “Boys! Boys! Boys!”- Actors Frazer Hines, Peter Purves, and Mark Strickson talk about how they came on board, production stories, fame, and acting gigs. Loads of fun.   
* “The Golden Age”- Dominic Sandbrook hosts this intriguing featurette about the mythical golden age of “Doctor Who.” This featurette also touches upon violence in the show, opinions, viewing figures, the versatility of the series, etc.
* “Doctor Who Stories- Anneke Wills”- The actress who portrayed Polly talks about the character she played, her experiences in filming “Doctor Who,” and more.
* Commentary by Toby Hadoke, Anneke Wills, Christopher Matthews, Earl Cameron, Alan White, Donald Van Der Maaten, Christopher Dunham, and Peter Kindred. The group chats about careers, the cast, sets, costumes, etc. An informative albeit bland track. Note: Not everyone comments on every episode.

Overall Thoughts: “The Tenth Planet” is an important serial adventure in the history of “Doctor Who,” but it’s not one of the best by any means.

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December 23, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , ,

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