Tag Archives: Mark Campbell

10 Tips for Building a Complete Doctor Who DVD Collection

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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 Ark

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I let out an audible “Hooray” as I checked Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide and discovered that the next serial, The Ark,  was 100% complete.  For the first time since The Time Meddler, which was the last serial in Season 2, I could sit back and relax after I’d put the shiny DVD into the Blu Ray player. After two seasons with all but two serials alive, kicking and released on DVD, it came as somewhat of a drag to be confronted by an almost continuous stream of missing episodes and reconstructions.  The BBC did a superb job in reconstructing the three missing episodes of Galaxy 4  in condensed form which appeared, together with the recently found episode three, on The Aztecs Special EditionMission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, the epic 12 part The Daleks Master Plan, and The Massacre were all viewed on YouTube using Loose Cannon’s splendid reconstructions.  Only three episodes in that 21 week run from Mission to the Unknown  to The Massacre are no longer lost and available for our viewing pleasure on Lost in Time, the triple DVD set of orphan First and Second Doctor episodes.

Mark Campbell's Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial

It would be fair to say that The Ark doesn’t have the best reputation. Frequently dismissed as not a great  deal better than utter nonsense, it is nonetheless praised by some, such as Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke, for its originality and brilliant direction by Michael Imison. It’s generally the second half of this four part story which attracts the greatest criticism and it has been posited  by Ian K McLachlan that the serial is actually “two two-part adventures stitched together.”

Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark

Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark

Episodes one and two of The Ark are set in the far future, the 57th segment of Time, on an enormous space ship (the Ark) headed for the planet Refusis 2.  The Doctor estimates that they may be up to 10 million years in the future. As was the case with all of the First Doctor’s adventures, the Doctor was unable to programme the Ship’s route and it landed slap bang in the middle of the Ark. On board the Ark are the sole survivors of Earth who have left the dying planet for the safe refuge of a new planet.  Refusis 2 is 700 years travel from Earth and yet the closest planet with similar atmosphere and vegetation.  To ensure the human race’s survival millions of humans have been miniaturized and stored on trays for reanimation upon arrival at Refusis 2. The humans are  not Christian, Jewish or Muslim as they do not know the story of Noah’s Ark.  Also travelling on the spaceship are an assortment of animals and the Monoids, a peculiar mute race whose most  distinctive feature is their one eye.  This single eye is in their mouths, or at least what would’ve been their mouths if they had human anatomy. These eyes are actually painted ping pong balls which the actors held in place with their mouths.  Now that’s ingenious small budget special effects for you!  On the top of their heads is a long Beatles style mop top wig, whilst the rest of their bodies are clothed in green ill fitting garb. They have webbed hands and feet and move slowly.

The Ark is so large that it even has a jungle full of a vast array of animals, including this elephant

The Ark is so large that it even has a jungle full of a vast array of animals, including this elephant

The Monoids are the servants of the human occupants of the spaceship.  The humans are referred to as the Guardians, so named for their responsibility maintaining the human race. Not surprisingly for the 1960s, all of the Guardians are white and hardly representative of the earth’s racial diversity.  One can only assume that there are non Caucasians miniaturized and stored for later reanimation.  In the eyes of Doctor Who they clearly can’t be trusted to staff a space craft. The Guardians are of the belief that they treat the servant Monoids with respect, however their inferior status is profoundly obvious when the common cold, introduced by the new companion, Dodo, begins to decimate the population. The common cold had been eradicated in the 20th Century and as such none of the occupants of the spaceship have an immunity to it. Such diseases are said to have been one of the contributing factors to the decimation of indigenous societies upon the arrival of Europeans.  Even Steven, who comes for several hundred years later than Dodo, has no immunity. Notwithstanding the earlier death of a Monoid, it isn’t until the first death of a Guardian that the humans take action against the perpetrators of this crime against them, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo.  It is only with the Doctor’s assistance that a cure for the common cold is found and both the humans and the Monoids saved from extinction.  The Doctor and his crew are quickly forgiven for the destruction that the cold virus had wrought.

The Doctor tends to the ill Commander.  Beside him is the commanders daughter and a Mark 1  Monoid sans voice box

The Doctor tends to the ill Commander. Beside the Commander is his daughter and behind the Doctor is a Mark 1 Monoid sans voice box

A very obliging Mark 1 Monoid assists the Doctor as he attempts to find a cure for the common cold

A very obliging Mark 1 Monoid assists the Doctor as he attempts to find a cure for the common cold

Having effectively overcome the damage they had caused, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo depart the spaceship, which is now known affectionately as the Ark, at the end of episode two.  It is with surprise, therefore, that upon the Tardis materializing it is immediately evident that the Ship has landed in the very same spot it had left from. Making their way back to the control room of the Ark, the Tardis Crew are unable to find any of the Guardians. It is only upon seeing the enormous statue that the Guardians had been building that they realized that something was very wrong.  During their first visit to the Ark, our heroes had been advised that the massive statue would take 700 years to construct.  The statue which the Doctor and his companions were now staring at was not only complete, but had a head of a Monoid, rather than a human’s. At least 700 years have passed and the Ark must now be nearing its destination.

The statue, which took 700 years to carve, has been completed with a Monoid head

The statue, which took 700 years to carve, has been completed with a Monoid head

All is soon revealed. The Monoids can now talk.  Not having a voice box (presumably because they have an eye in their mouths) an artificial one was invented by the Guardians during their time as overlords.  The voice box looks not unlike a badly made paper necklace. The Monoids are now in control and their usurping of the Guardians was not, as one might expect, the consequence years of oppression but rather because of a mutation of the common cold which in same way had effected the will of the humans.  The Doctor and his companions, therefore, have more to answer for than originally thought.

A Monoid complete with voice box

A Monoid complete with voice box

The tables have been reversed and the humans are now enslaved by the Monoids.  Most have been killed, although a small number have been spared and are imprisoned in the “Security Kitchen.” That has to take the cake for the most imaginative portrayal of  a prison. In the Security Kitchen the humans cook for the Monoids, although preparation is now more efficient.  There’s no need for real potatoes as a tablet dropped into water immediately produces beautifully peeled ones.  The special effect is very well realized and made me wish for my own bottle of food producing tablets!  Any humans that are out of line are executed, without trial, by the Monoids’ heat guns.   The Monoids use of martial law evidences the deterioration of order in the society and their “payback” for the years of enslavement to the Guardians.  The manner in which they treat the humans is far harsher than the Guardian’s treatment of them previously.

The Guardians, with their appalling dress sense, are now slaves of the Monoids

The Guardians, with their appalling dress sense, are now slaves of the Monoids

So aggrieved are the Monoids at their past treatment that they intend to relocate to Refusis 2 without the humans, and to blow the humans and the Ark up with a bomb which has been hidden in the head of the statue.  In cute looking shuttles the Monoids and a few human slaves leave the Ark to scout out the previously unseen Refusis 2. Unknown to all, the planet is inhabited by benevolent (at least to humans) but invisible creatures.  Needless to say, the arrogance and aggressiveness of the Monoids soon sees them almost embark on a Civil War, with Steven contemplating that they might soon wipe themselves out.  From being rather quaint non-threatening creatures in episodes one and two, the Monoids have become the typical malicious monsters.  Perhaps because speech is such a new phenomena to them, the Monoids have the most annoying trait of explaining their devious plans out loud. Intelligent creatures they certainly aren’t.

The Monoids have placed a bomb in the head of the statue

The Monoids have placed a bomb in the head of the statue

Having won the confidence of a native Refusian, the Doctor has the invisible creature pilot one of the space shuttles back to the Ark.  It is there that the Refusian’s incredible strength comes in handy as he lifts the statue from the ground and throws it out of the escape chute.  It explodes in space shortly thereafter.  The humans have been saved from destruction, but how will they deal with  the murderous Monoids on Refusis 2?  The Refusian and the Doctor both offer the humans some advice.

Steven and Venussa.  The Doctor has advice to offer the Guardians

Steven and Venussa. The Doctor has advice to offer the Guardians

REFUSIAN: We’ll do everything we can to assist you in settling on our planet.

DASSUK: Thank you.

REFUSIAN: But one thing you must do.

VENUSSA: What’s that?

REFUSIAN: Make peace with the Monoids.

DOCTOR: He’s right.  A long time ago, your ancestors accepted responsibility for the welfare of these Monoids.  They were treated like slaves.  So no wonder when they got the chance the repaid you in kind.

REFUSIAN: Unless you learn to live together, there is no future for you on Refusis.

DASSUCK: We understand.

DOCTOR: Yes, you must travel with understanding as well as hope.  You know, I once said that to one of your ancestors, a long time ago.  However, we must be going.  Goodbye.

After facilitating peace our heroes depart

After facilitating peace our heroes depart.  Dodo, the Doctor and Steven.

And so ends The Ark.  The above was a succinct summary of the story’s moral however it was all rather unsophisticated and infantile.  We have no idea if the Monoids would accept the need to co-operate with their former overlords.  Given their actions in episodes three and four it’s just as likely that would maintain the rage and continue their devious plots for vengeance. One can only hope that the human’s enhanced understanding of stewardship will facilitate a reciprocal abatement of hostilities by the Monoids.

The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966

The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Mark Campbell, Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide (Robinson, London: 2011).

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),