Category Archives: Series 6

An Adventure in Space and Time to Screen in Australia on 24 November

Standard

Image

The Doctor Who Club of Australia has today reported that An Adventure in Space and Time, the 90 minute drama on the beginnings of Doctor Who, is to screen on ABC1 at 8.45 p.m. on Sunday 24 November 2013. The Mark Gatiss penned docudrama will be broadcast following the repeat of the 50th Anniversary Special, The Name of the Doctor, at 7.30 p.m. The Name of the Doctor will first be simulcast early on the morning of 24 November.  The time has not yet been announced.

David Bradley with Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) in An  Adventure in Space and Time

David Bradley with Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) in An Adventure in Space and Time

Together with showing repeats of Series 6 of Doctor Who each weekday evening at 7.40 p.m.  ABC2 is also screening a series of Doctor Who Specials on Sunday nights at 7.30 p.m. Episode 1, which screened last Sunday night and is repeated this evening at 10.30 p.m. is The Science of Doctor Who.  Next Sunday, 3 November, is The Women of Doctor Who and the following Sunday, 10 November is The Timey-Wimey of Doctor Who. All specials are repeated on ABC2 on the Tuesday following their original broadcast and are available on iTunes for at least a week thereafter.

Sacha Dhawan as Waris Hussein, the Director of An Unearthly Child and Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert, Doctor Who's first Producer

Sacha Dhawan as Waris Hussein, the Director of An Unearthly Child and Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert, Doctor Who’s first Producer

To read our article on An Adventure in Space and Time click here.  For a detailed article on Doctor Who from an Australian perspective click here.

Vivien Fleming

10 Tips for Building a Complete Doctor Who DVD Collection

Standard

Image

Having just received in the mail the last two Classic Series Doctor Who DVDs required to complete my collection, it’s probably an appropriate time to discuss the best ways to build a DVD collection. With the exception of Spearhead from Space, the Third Doctor’s debut, Classic Series Doctor Who is only available on DVD.  Spearhead from Space  has been released on Blu Ray as it is the only Classic Series serial produced entirely on film.   New Series Doctor Who is now released on both DVD and Blu Ray, although Series One through to Four and the 2009 Specials are DVD only. Please note that this article is written from an Australian perspective. Unless otherwise stated, all references to box sets refer to Region 2 and Region 4 releases only. American Region 1 Classic Series Doctor Who DVDs have been released by individual serial only.  To the best of my knowledge there are no American Classic Series box sets.

1. BUY ONLINE

This is probably stating the obvious, however procuring a complete Doctor Who DVD collection would be prohibitively expensive if all your titles are purchased from bricks and mortar stores.  Also, finding any one title that you require in a physical store could very likely see you traipsing the length and breadth of your city.  Retailers of DVDs/Blu Rays tend not to stock extraordinarily large catalogues of Doctor Who DVDs. JB Hi Fi is perhaps one exception and you can generally find a very long shelf full of Who titles in each store. Even then, you’ll only find a small percentage of releases at any one store.  JB Hi Fi’s website has search functions enabling you to search by title and then ascertain stores with stock.  Delivery is available from JB Hi Fi for only 0.99c per DVD.

First Doctor DVDs

First Doctor DVDs

When considering purchasing online look for stores that offer free postage.  Postage charges can be a real killer and you can potentially save a great deal with free or low cost postage. Online retailers in Australia that offer free postage include Fishpond and The Nile.

2. BUY FROM OVERSEAS

For Australian purchasers it is unfortunate that the prolonged period of a high Australian dollar has come to an end.  After reaching a high of around 108c US, the dollar has now plummeted to 91c US.  I was fortunate enough to do the bulk of my collecting when the Australian dollar was at its peak but nonetheless, significant savings can still be made. Region 4 DVDs can be prohibitively expensive however Region 2 DVDs are frequently more affordable.  Please see the paragraph below on UK Region 2 DVDs for further details. In recent times I’ve found the most competitive prices are available at Fishpond.

Second and Third Doctor DVDs

First, Second and Third Doctor DVDs

When purchasing from overseas be prepared to wait for your titles to arrive rather slowly. Between four and six weeks is not an uncommon time frame for arrival from the UK.

3. UK REGION 2 DOCTOR WHO DVDS ARE DUAL CODED REGIONS 2 AND 4

When perusing an online store such as Fishpond you will generally find up to three listings for each DVD title – one for each of Regions 1, 2 and 4. Region 1 titles are from the US and are even more expensive than the Australian and New Zealand Region 4 titles.  Region 2 titles, from the UK,  are nine times out of ten the cheapest.

Third Doctor DVDs

Third and Fourth Doctor DVDs

What these websites invariably don’t tell you is that the BBC’s Doctor Who DVDs are dual coded for Regions 2 and 4. Instead the titles are generally listed as Region 2 only, with the usual disclaimer stating that you will require a multi-region player. It’s only when you have the DVD in your hands that the dual coding is obvious . Once you’ve bought your first Region 2 advertised Doctor Who and seen for yourself that it’s dual coded, you’ll wonder why you’ve been wasting your money on the higher priced Region 4 ones for so long.

The Region 2 release of The Five Doctors.  You will note from the back cover that it is dual coded Region 2 and Region 4

The Region 2 release of The Five Doctors. You will note from the back cover that it is dual coded Region 2 and Region 4

Region 2 DVDs are also more attractively packaged than the Region 4 ones.  Nearly all DVDs have the whole of the disc covered in a colour graphic from the serial.  The Region 4 DVDs are generally a solid colour only with no pictures.  Region 2 DVDs also have a 4 page brochure setting out the production details and special features.  This is a great deal handier than the Australian and New Zealand releases that have this information printed on the reverse side of the cover.  This necessitates removing the printed cover from the sleeve if you wish to read it.   The Region 2 brochure is also in a larger font than the Region 4 releases, therefore making reading easier.

An example of a Region 4 Doctor Who disc.  Note that it doesn't have any photographs or otherwise interesting artwork

An example of a Region 4 Doctor Who disc. Note that it doesn’t have any photographs or otherwise interesting artwork

An example of a Region 2 New Series disc.  Classic Series Region 2 discs also generally have photographs and interesting graphics

An example of a Region 2 New Series disc. Classic Series Region 2 discs also generally have photographs and interesting graphics

4. EVEN CHEAP REGION 4 DVD PLAYERS MAY BE MULTI-REGION

If you’re still not convinced that the BBC’s region 2 DVDs are dual coded for Region 4, consider that even your cheap Region 4 DVD player may be multi-region.  My Studio Canal release of The Dalek Collection which includes the two Dalek movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD, is listed as Region 2 only.  It’s a non BBC release. It plays perfectly on one of my $25.00 K-Mart Region 4 DVD players. You can read two interesting articles from the Sydney Morning Herald here and here.  In these articles, and the numerous comments to them, you will find discussion of Multi-Region (Region-Free) DVD players being marketed in Australia as Region 4 only.

Fourth Doctor DVDs

Fourth Doctor DVDs

If you want to be 100% certain then I would suggest buying a multi-region DVD player which can be picked for as little as $35.00. You’ll make the purchase price up dozens of times over with the savings you’ll obtain buying Region 2 DVDs.

5. COMPARE PRICES and BUY DURING SALES

It is more than worthwhile to shop around a number of websites and compare prices before every purchase.  In my experience prices can vary frequently so what is cheaper one day at a store may not be so the next day. Try eBay as well. Also be on the lookout for sales. JB Hi Fi seem to have 20% off DVD sales every few weeks. It’s worthwhile subscribing to the stores’ emails so that you can be advised of upcoming sales.

Fourth Doctor DVDs

Fourth and Fifth Doctor DVDs

6. COLLECT BY CHEAPEST FIRST RATHER THAN FAVOURITE TITLES

If you are looking to buy the complete collection then it’s worthwhile purchasing titles when you find them on special even if they’re not your favourites.  If you’re going to buy them all eventually you’ll be kicking yourself that you missed the chance for a bargain.

Fourth and Fifth Doctor DVDs

Fifth and Sixth Doctor DVDs

7. DON’T BUY IMMEDIATELY UPON RELEASE

Especially when it comes to Special Editions, don’t buy your DVDs immediately upon release.  Prices for new releases are always at a premium so if you are prepared to wait you can often save up to $10.00 on the purchase price.

Sixth and Seventh Doctor DVDs

Sixth and Seventh Doctor DVDs

8. KEEP A LIST AND MARK OFF TITLES ORDERED AND RECEIVED

This is another fairly obvious point however it’s easily overlooked. There are 155 Classic Series serials, 90% of which have been released as individual stories and not as part of a box set.  Unless you’ve rote learnt the names of every title then you’re sure to forget what you’ve bought and also ordered.  In completing my collection I used Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who. The Complete Guide, to mark off the serials as I ordered then, and again as they were received.  The book has the added advantage of allowing me to see what’s next in my marathon and also quickly consult a list of cast members, writer, directors and the like for each serial.

Classic Series Revisitations Box Sets, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures

Classic Series Revisitations Box Sets, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures

9. ACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH THE CONTENTS OF BOXED SETS

Probably around 10% of Classic Series titles have been released as part of a box set.  Find out what serials are included in each box set as generally you can’t search by story title for those serials contained in a box set. A complete list of DVD releases can be found here.

New Series Doctor Who

New Series Doctor Who

Although New Series DVDs are packaged as Series box sets, Classic Series DVDs are generally sold by single serial only.  The only Classic Series Seasons released in a single box set are Season 16 (the Fourth Doctor and Romana I) The Key to Time,  and Season 23 (the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Mel) The Trial of a Time Lord. This unfortunately means that Classic Series collecting can be an expensive past time and also takes up a great deal of shelf space.

The Key to Time is Season 16 of Doctor Who.  It is one of only two Classic Series Seasons released as a box set

The Key to Time is Season 16 of Doctor Who. It is one of only two Classic Series Seasons released as a box set

The Trial of a Time Lord is Season 23 of Doctor Who

The Trial of a Time Lord is Season 23 of Doctor Who

The most inexpensive (and shelf efficient) way of buying Series 1 through to 4 of Doctor Who (2005-2008) is by the Complete Box Set. Purchased from the UK this Box Set costs around $70.00

The most inexpensive (and shelf efficient) way of buying Series 1 through to 4 of Doctor Who (2005-2008) is by the Complete Box Set. Purchased from the UK this Box Set costs around $70.00

10. DISPLAY YOUR COLLECTION WITH PRIDE

Once you’ve finished your collection display it with pride and sit back and enjoy watching 50 years of Doctor Who history.  You’re in for a great ride!

Mark Campbell's Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial.  This book has been of invaluable assistance to me in building my complete collection of Doctor Who DVDs

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial. This book has been of invaluable assistance to me in building my complete collection of Doctor Who DVDs

SUGGESTED ONLINE DVD RETAILERS

The ABC Shop – http://shop.abc.net.au/

eBay – http://www.ebay.com.au/

Fishpond – http://www.fishpond.com.au/ (Australia) and http://www.fishpond.com/ (world-wide)

JB Hi Fi – http://www.jbhifi.com.au/

Mighty Ape – http://www.mightyape.com.au/

The Nile – http://www.thenile.com.au/

WOW HD – http://www.wowhd.com.au/

ZAVVI – http://www.zavvi.com/home.dept

I’ve posted several UK based online retailers with free or low cost world-wide delivery here.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and the author does not purport to be an expert in the sale or operation of DVDs or DVD players.  The information is made available on the understanding that the author is not  engaged in rendering professional advice. Buyers of DVDs and DVD players should make their own inquiries in respect of compatibility issues.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Gunfighters

Standard

Image

Recently released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor WhoCelebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every broadcast episode of Who.  Available as a free PDF download from http://celebrateregenerate.weebly.com/ this mighty tome features a page long article on every serial.  The authors of The Gunfighters article, Mike Greaves and Andrew Boland, succinctly summarize received fan wisdom on this Western adventure. Dreadful, terrible, boring, and badly made are some of the words and phrases used by Greaves and Boland to describe the average fan’s dismissal of this tale.  So convinced were they that the viewing experience would be tortuous and entirely unenjoyable that once viewed, they questioned whether  they’d watched the right serial.  Were there two 1960s Doctor Who Westerns, they wondered.   There was indeed only one and clearly there was something peculiar going on. Greaves and Boland had actually thoroughly enjoyed The Gunfighters.

Edited by Lewis Christian, Celebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every Doctor Who episode

Edited by Lewis Christian, Celebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every Doctor Who episode

Phil Sandifer in his book Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell examines this received wisdom in depth and identifies three distinct stages of fan criticism.  The first he describes as 1980s fandom; the second as the Great Re-evaluation of the 1990s; and the third, the Reconstructionist era beginning in 2002. The first era occurred in a time when there was neither video releases of Doctor Who nor the internet.  Fan opinion was derived from memories of the programmes when originally broadcast and a limited number of books, the most notable of which was Peter Haining’s 1983 Doctor Who: A Celebration. This coffee table book was almost seen as the Bible of Who and its critical analysis of episodes taken as Gospel.   Haining’s review of The Gunfighters was scathingly negative and it is most probably from this source that received fan wisdom grew.

The Doctor and his companions visit Tombstone, Arizona

The Doctor and his companions visit Tombstone, Arizona

The Great Re-evaluation that followed the release of stories on VHS cassette was not so much a detailed reappraisal of stories, but rather discussions to produce a general consensus on the relative merits of each story.  It was not until all existing stories had been released on VHS, and Loose Cannon had completed their reconstructions, that what Sandifer describes as the democratization of fan criticism began.  The ordinary Who fan was now in a position to access the stories for themselves and with the re-launch of Who in 2005, new fans had little concern for what the Classic Series critics of old said. With the pervasiveness of the internet and instant access to television programming everyone had become a media critic.

Steven and Dodo enjoy dressing up as Cowboys and Cowgirls

Steven and Dodo enjoy dressing up as Cowboys and Cowgirls

It is from this new position of fan criticism that The Gunfighters has been reappraised.  That the story is unique cannot be denied.  It is the only Doctor Who story with a sung narration, in the form of The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. Sung by Lynda Baron, the Ballad is heard at times of climatic tension throughout the serial.  The lyrics change to reflect the action and it’s also sung by Steven and Doc Holliday’s girlfriend, Kate, in the saloon.  It’s the latter renditions that are posted below for your viewing pleasure.

The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon

Written by Donald Cotton, the author of The Myth Makers, the serial has a similar comedy format to Cotton’s previous Who outing.  Again it mirrors the events in Troy when episode four descends into tragedy. The Gunfighters  is set in 1881 America and follows the film The Gunfight at the OK Corral  as one of its primary sources.  Doctor Who would not return to the American Wild West until the Eleventh Doctor’s 2012 adventure A Town Called Mercy. Having broken a tooth eating one of the Cyril’s lollies in The Celestial Toyroom, the Doctor uses his unexpected arrival in the American mid-west to procure the services of the local dentist, Doc Holliday. He is immediately mistaken for Holliday by the town’s residents and hunted down by the Clanton family. Throw into the mix the Earp brothers, Virgil and Warren, and add Johnny Ringo (who historically wasn’t involved in these Tombstone, Arizona events), and you have a ripping good yarn.

The Doctor has a tooth extracted by Doc Holliday

The Doctor has a tooth extracted by Doc Holliday

William Hartnell absolutely shines in The Gunfighters, undoubtedly because it was a comedy and the genre in which he most enjoyed to act. The Doctor is given some fabulous lines and rarely does he stumble on them.  Except, of course, when he refers to Steven as a “she”!  Peter Purves does a superb job, as always, and Jackie Lane, as Dodo, is at last afforded the opportunity to act.  Her scene with Doc Holliday when she threatens him with a gun is just fabulous.  The set work was superb even if the stair railings did wobble when Ike Clanton fell to his death. The Doctor Who production team must have recently found the services of an animal wrangler.  Less than two months earlier they’d had an elephant in the studio for The Ark and this time a horse.  I wonder what the cleaners thought at the end of the day’s filming!

The Doctor in Doc Holliday's dentist chair.  Beside the Doctor is Kate, Doc's girlfriend

The Doctor in Doc Holliday’s dentist chair. Beside the Doctor is Kate, Holliday’s girlfriend

There are a couple of interesting facts to note in this serial.  The original working title was The Gunslingers, and as anyone who has viewed the Series 7 episode, A Town Called Mercy, would be aware,  there’s a character by that very same name. The Gunfighters  also stared the Thunderbirds voice artists, David Graham (Brains) and Shane Rimmer (Alan Tracey). Graham played the unfortunate barman, Charlie, and Rimmer the character of Seth Harper.  Lynda Baron, the off camera singer of The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon appeared in the Series 6 story Closing Time as Val.

The working title of The Gunfighters was The Gunslingers.  That name was not forgotten and the character, The Gunslinger, appeared in 2012's A Town Called Mercy

The working title of The Gunfighters was The Gunslingers. That name was not forgotten and the character, The Gunslinger, appeared in 2012’s A Town Called Mercy

Guess which two Thunderbirds voice artists appeared in The Gunfighters

Guess which two Thunderbirds voice artists appeared in The Gunfighters

The Gunfighters was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 April and 21 May 1966

The Gunfighters was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 April and 21 May 1966

The Gunfighters DVD was released with the Fifth Doctor adventure The Awakening in the Earth Story Box Set

The Gunfighters DVD was released with the Fifth Doctor adventure The Awakening in the Earth Story Box Set

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Lewis Christian (ed), Celebrate, Regeneratehttp://celebrateregenerate.weebly.com/, 2013.

Phil Sandifer, Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell. Self published, 2011.