A review by Nalini Haynes
The 50th anniversary collection is comprised of 4 disks.
Reviews of the first 3 disks are in the above list with the 4th disk reviews below.
An Adventure in Space and Time
‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ is a romanticised history – a dramatary – of the birth of Doctor Who up until William Hartnell, the first doctor, was sacked and replaced by Patrick Troughton.
‘Adventure’ opens with William Hartnell (David Bradley) in 1966, sitting in a car staring straight ahead with downturned mouth, staring at a police box until a police officer taps on the car window, instructing him to move on. Thus the tone is set: although other issues – sexism, racism and the powers-that-be trying to shut Doctor Who down – are mentioned in passing, this romanticised history seems more concerned with justifying the BBC sacking of the first doctor than recounting the battles fought and won to keep Doctor Who alive.
My enjoyment of the story was tempered because I was saddened by how, if anyone was the villain in this story, the BBC portrayed William Hartnell as the villain, also portraying him as a washed-up old man at the age of 58. The focus of An Adventure in Space and Time makes me wonder if William Hartnell’s sacking is still an issue for the BBC and within fandom 50 years after the pilot, 47 years after he was sacked and 38 years after his death.
William Hartnell: the original
With a run-time of about 5 minutes, this is a really short piece about William Hartnell as the Doctor, his illness, being replaced by Patrick Troughton and returning for ‘The Three Doctors’. It includes the rare film footage of William Hartnell taken as he prepared for a pantomime performance about 3 months after leaving Doctor Who.
The Making of An Adventure: narrated by Carol Ann Ford
At almost 11 minutes, this was a short trip behind the camera. Carol Ann Ford played Susan, the first Doctor’s granddaughter, in the beginning of the series. She narrates from her perspective, her commentary juxtaposed with other key figures’ comments, people like David Bradley (William Hartnell in ‘Adventure in Space and Time’), Mark Gatiss (writer and Jon Pertwee impersonator), Waris Hussein and his actor counterpart.
Reconstructed scenes, title sequences and deleted scenes
The reconstructed and deleted scenes are recreations of scenes from the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who made for ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ with the ‘Adventure’ actors.
The Five(ish) Doctors
This is a comedy about actors trying to get in to the 50th anniversary special with a special focus on former doctors. At just under 31 minutes, the Five(ish) Doctors features Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison (writer), Paul McGann, Matt Smith, David Tennant and Tom Baker as well as an impressive cast of non-Doctors like John Leeson (K-9), Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies and many more.
Peter Davison’s script is fannish and funny, quirky and self-deprecating. I’m interested in seeing more of his comedy if given the chance.
Doctor Who at the Proms 2013
Doctor Who aims to educate the unwashed masses in the delights of classical music. Although I thoroughly enjoy a good DW at the Proms, my snarky ire was raised at comments made on YouTube by the likes of Moffat after a previous Proms special.
Setting those somewhat patronising comments aside, this Proms special aims to engage the fans in a positive experience featuring live — or, in this case, non-studio recording — event with visible orchestral accompaniment. One wonders why it took the Beeb (BBC) so long to realise that fans love the music. I’d love some CDs of soundtracks; they’d be good to write by.
50th anniversary collection
My review copy is part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection to be released on 10 September 2014. Thanks, Roadshow.