Depending on how you look at it, the Doctor Who: Revisitations series is either a chance to give some of the greatest Doctor Who tales the care and attention they deserve, or a major case of double-dipping. Personally I think these remastered and spruced up editions from the Whovian archives are a great entry point of entry for those who are interested in old Who or are a minor fan, but wouldn’t class themselves as obsessed, and otherwise wouldn’t know where to start with classic Who.
Like the previous Revisitations entries, Volume 3 features some truly classic Doctor Who stories, with Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell all popping up in the title role. Things kick off with the 1967 serial, Tomb of The Cybermen, regarded by Who acolytes as one of the greatest stories in the history of the series and also the earliest complete Who tale featuring Patrick Troughton’s second Doctor to exist in its entirety.
It sees the Doctor and assistants Jamie and Victoria ending up on the Planet Telos and getting involved in an archaeological dig that’s investigating the remains of the Cybermen, who supposedly died out five centuries before. As you might have guessed, the Cybermen aren’t quite as extinct as everyone believes. It turns out the archaeological site was part of an ancient plan to ensure the Cybermen’s survival, and the people funding the dig may be well aware of that and have plans of their own.
Next up is The Three Doctors, made for the 10th Anniversary of the show in 1972/1973, and which unites the first three doctors for the first and last time on screen. William Hartnell sadly died just a few years later, so these were the last Who scenes he filmed, and indeed in The Three Doctors illness meant his part was limited to a few pre-recorded scenes which see him on a screen interacting with the other Doctors.
The serial features Jon Pertwee’s exiled Third Doctor dealing with Earth coming under attack from what look like giant, walking piles of vomit, but which are apparently anti-matter beings. Pertwee calls on the Time Lords to help him, and with limited resources they break all the rules and send Troughton’s second Doctor to help out. The two Doctors don’t exactly see eye to eye, but agree the situation is dire, which leads them to a run-in with a powerful foe who lives in a world of anti-matter.
The final tale is the hyperbolically titled Robots Of Death, which is kind of like an Agatha Christie country house mystery, but with more metal men. Tom Baker’s Doctor and his companion Leela end up on a giant mining vessel, just as a murder takes place. Unsurprisingly suspicion immediately falls on the newcomers, although the Doctor suspects that despite the robots onboard supposedly having safeguards to prevent them going berserk, one of the metallic beings could be the killer and that perhaps one of the nine human crew could be controlling that murderous robot.
Tomb Of The Cybermen is a great black and white serial, with Troughton on fine form. The Cybermen may look a little strange compared to what we’re used to from more modern Who, but it’s a well told tale that has a lot of fun with bringing the Cybermen back to life. The Three Doctors is less successful, and to be honest probably wouldn’t be considered a classic if it didn’t bring the classic actors together. It has its moment and the final episode is very good, but getting there is a bit of a struggle. Robots Of Death meanwhile is great, and still entertains massively with its murder mystery set-up. It works surprisingly well and deserves to be a classic.
As you’d hope, each serial comes with a great set of extras, including a lengthy making of ’ featurette for each tale, along with all sorts of other bits and pieces, ranging from excerpts from Who related moments in programmes like Blue Peter and Pebble Mill, to trailers and some interesting audio and effects test shots. There are also other worthwhile featurettes, including a half-hour look at the history of the Cybermen, three of the 1970s female companions getting together for a chat about their time on the TARDIS and perhaps most interesting, a piece called Was Doctor Who Rubbish?’ The latter is a passionate and largely successful attempt to rehabilitate classic Who from those who claim it was all crap scripts, wobbly sets, hideous production values and lacking in emotion. Although I think it’s tough to claim the production values weren’t sometimes lacking largely due to budget otherwise it does a good job of explaining what 60s and 70s Who did so well.
It’s a perfect set if you’re intrigued by old Who and need somewhere to start. You get three tales, two of which are excellent, plenty of extras that help explain how what you’re watching fits into the grand history of Doctor Who, along with featurette that put other aspects of the serials into context. If you’re a major Who fan, this is also worth getting hold of, with nicely remastered versions of the episodes that look pretty good on DVD.
Overall Verdict: Revisitations is a great way for those interested in old Who to find some of the classic tales, with nicely remastered editions of much-loved Doctor Who tales, surrounded by plenty of interesting special features.
Tomb Of The Cybermen:
Morris Barry Introduction
Title Sequence Test
Late Night Line-up’ Excerpt
The Final End’ Footage
The Lost Giants’ Featurette
The Curse Of The Cybermen’s Tomb’ Featurette
Cybermen Extended Edition’ Documentary
The Three Doctors:
Pebble Mill At One’ Excerpt
Blue Peter’ Excerpt
Five Face Of Doctor Who’ Trailer
40th Anniversary Promo
Happy Birthday To Who’ Documentary
Was Doctor Who Rubbish?’ Featurette
Girls Girls Girls 1970s’ Featurette
Robots Of Death:
The Sandmine Murders’ Featurette
Studio Sound Comparison
Model Test Shots
Studio Floor Plan
Reviewer: Tim Isaac