Doctor Who – The Dominators

It’s a long wait until the next new Doctor Who material appears, but at least we’re getting regular releases of the surviving classic episodes[1]. This is the latest, and it’s one of the depressingly rare intact Second Doctor stories, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, Frazer Hines as Jamie an Wendy Padbury as Zoe. First shown in August and September 1968, it was intended to introduce a new monster that would replace the Daleks, following Terry Nation’s decision to withdraw the rights while he planned their own TV show, which never actually materialised. But more of that later…

Dulkis is a planet known for being peaceful in the extreme. So why is there a an island showing all the signs of having been blasted with a nuclear weapon? And who are the quite unpleasant Dominators, and what do they want? And how nasty are their robot servants, the Quarks?

Well, the Quarks, intended as Dalek substitutes, don’t quite make it. Yes, they’re quite deadly, but their constant need to recharge and their squeaky voices mean they lack the creeping menace of the Skaro Psychos. And being relatively stupid robotic servants rather than autonomous, intelligent villains in their own right makes them a bit naff really. They never did return, though they made a lot of appearances in the comic strip in TV Comic in the late 60s, of which I have vague memories.

The story is not one of the strongest or most memorable, and suffered from what are generally termed production problems. Problems that led to the writers having their names taken off the credits, in fact. Still, it’s worth watching at least once, if only for the odd costumes of the Dominators and the slightly nasty Quarks.

Special features are quite light on this release. Apart from the usual commentary, production subtitles, photo gallery and Radio Times Listings, there are just two items:

  • Recharge and equalise – a quite nicely done “making of”, with contributions from cast and crew
  • Tomorrow’s Times – The Second Doctor What the papers had to say during Patrick Troughton’s era, presented by Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw in Jon Pertwee’s first year on the job.

[1] Though at the current rate, they’re going to run out of material in the next few years. But there will be some reissues of some of the earliest DVD releases, with improved pictures and loads of new extras. And yes, of course I’ll buy them all again.