It’s a long time to wait until the Christmas episode, but never mind! I’ve got lots of classic DVDs to talk about. This is one of the far too few intact Patrick Troughton stories, first shown in December 1968 and January 1969. Joining the Doctor are Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) in an adventure from Pat’s last series.
The story involves the travellers arriving on the planet of the Gonds – a humanoid race who’ve been dominated for thousands of years by their unseen alien masters, the Krotons. In the finest tradition of such things, the Krotons demand that the most intelligent Gond teenagers, selected by their teaching machines, become their companions. This is, of course a Great Honour, done with Proper Ceremony, and involves the lucky people passing through a door never to be seen again.
Well, never to be seen again until the Doctor and his friends arrive just in time to see the most recently honoured young person being let out of the Krotons back door and vaporised by some not very well placed tubes.
And then, it’s pretty much the usual kind of thing – divisions in the Gonds, as some decide to fight, others preferring the relative safety of the status quo. When the Krotons are revealed to be embodied in slightly naff robot form, it does run the risk of getting a bit silly, but overall it mostly works. It’s notable for being not only the first appearance of Philip Madoc in a guet role, but more significantly, the first Doctor Who story written by Robert Holmes, who went on to create some classics.
Extras, in addition to the usual commentary, subtitles, pictures and things, include:
- Second Time Around – a proper documentary on the second Doctor’s era, starting with the audacious concept of changing the appearance and character of the lead character. That’s something Doctor Who fans take for granted now, but at the time it was a damn clever way to continue a popular show when the leading man couldn’t continue. It passes through the development of the series, and features many of the usual suspects. A nice piece of work.
- Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines (Part One) – the 2003 Story of Doctor Who is providing a lot of material for DVDs these days. It looks like a lot of long interviews were recorded, with bits being extracted as needed. We’re now getting a lot more detail, as in this example, where Frazer Hines talks about his time on the show.
- The Doctor’s Strange Love – a bit of light hearted chat with writers Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier
This is a nice package overall. Well worth watching if you’re not familiar with 60s Doctor Who.