Doctor Who – Earth Story

In my Mannequin Mania post, I mentioned that some Doctor Who box sets make more sense than others. The one with the two Auton stories made perfect sense – a clear theme, and both were “new beginning” stories of a kind. This one is a different thing altogether, where the only theme is that both stories are set on Earth[1], which is something that could be said for many more of the Doctor’s adventures. But perhaps the common factor is that both would be difficult to sell as single full-priced releases, for reasons I’ll go into as I babble about each one in turn.

The Gunfighters

This was first shown in April and May 1966, with William Hartnell as the Doctor, Peter Purves as Steven and Jackie Lane as Dodo. It’s basically a moderately twisted retelling of the gunfight at the OK Corral. With a song. And pretty much played for laughs most of the way. There’s the traditional bit of the Doctor being mistaken for Doc Holliday, Steven in a comedy singing cowboy outfit, and not a lot more, really. Worth watching at least once, if only for the Doctor addressing Wyatt Earp as “Mr Werp” every time, but not what I’d call one of the most significant stories.

Though with a bit of retrospective wossnameness, you could point at it as being an early indication of the TARDIS having a very real mind of its own in its apparently random landings. The Doctor needs a dentist, so the TARDIS drops him off where he can meet Doc Holliday, with all the fun that you might expect to follow from that.

Extras are also pretty light this time. In addition to the usual bits and bobs, there are a couple of items:

  • The End of the Line At this point, the series was in trouble. No longer as popular as it had been, with William Hartnell’s health getting worse, could the end be in sight? People involved at the time discuss what was happening, and how the concept of replacing the lead actor came about…
  • Tomorrow’s Times: The First Doctor Mary (Romana I) Tamm introduces newspaper reports, some of which sound remarkably familiar…

So, this DVD, while being an enjoyable enough thing, isn’t really something you’d want to pay anything approaching the full price for. Which probably accounts for it being in a box with…

The Awakening

Moving right along to January 1984, where the Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough (Mark Strickson) arrive in a sleepy English village, intending to visit Tegan’s uncle. Naturally, they arrive at just the right time to get involved in some sinister time-bending evil, in which an alien known as the Malus is influencing the locals to take a bit of Civil War re-enactment a little too seriously. This was originally intended as a four part story, but as that wasn’t working out too well, it was squeezed into two parts, which I’m afraid doesn’t really work too well either. There are some good bits, and overall the story is good enough, but somehow it doesn’t all fit together as well as it might have done. Perhaps one more episode would have given it enough room to breathe…

But there are some good extras, in addition to the usual, etc, etc, we have:

  • Return to Little Hodcombe Not quite the usual style of documentary this time. Janet Fielding, guest actor Keith Jayne, script editor Eric Saward and director Michael Owen Morris return to the three villages used in the making of the story and do the usual reminiscence thing, with some contributions from villagers.
  • Making the Malus Small, but fun piece involving the creators of the Malus prop, which is now owned by a collector who has it on his wall…
  • Now and Then Given the format of the first documentary, there’s a bit of overlap here, with this look at what’s changed in the locations
  • From the Cutting Room Floor Extended scenes, deleted scenes, including a bit with the often forgotten Kamelion leaning against a TARDIS corridor
  • The Golden Egg Awards During the recording, there was a slight problem caused by a horse deciding to follow the actors through a lych gate leading to the church. As it was tied to a cart at the time, this did lead to the gate getting a bit broken, what with it being a prop rather than a real one. This little oopsie earned the show a “Golden Egg Award”, presented to Peter Davison on Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show[2]

So there you have it – a curious collection, really, but enjoyable enough to get the box, which was cheaper than two single releases…

[1] Though Gary Gillat, writing in Doctor Who Magazine, helpfully points out that both involve lots of people on horses, so perhaps that would have been a better theme…
[2] An odd thing shown on Saturday evenings, hence the name

One thought on “Doctor Who – Earth Story

  1. DAVIE

    I feel exactly the same. what a pointless box set of Doctor Who. The two stories make absolutely no sense together!! Why make a box set of episodes if they have no meaning to begin with?? Weird…. William Hartnell and Peter Davidson are completely different Doctors in completely different eras. there is nothing in common with anything.

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