Event Reviews / Home Entertainment

Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks (1973) Review and Blu-ray Preview [BFI Event]

Doctor Who fans from far and wide descended upon the BFI Southbank this weekend for another splendid event to usher in the launch of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10. The latest in the ongoing line of Blu-Ray remasters and arguably Third Doctor Jon Pertwee‘s best season in the role, the five stories collected within said-set represent Pertwee and his era at its most inventive, confident and entertaining. One such story, 1973’s Planet of the Daleks, provided the centrepiece of yesterday’s event.

Planet of the Daleks marked the return of Dalek creator Terry Nation to Doctor Who as a full-time writer for the first time since 1965. Coming slap-bang in the middle of the show’s tenth anniversary season, the story plays as a ‘greatest hits’ of Nation’s previous adventures, as the Doctor and companion Jo (Katy Manning) assist a group of stranded Thals in defeating a secret Dalek plot on the planet Spiridon. As well as the threat of the Daleks, the team must also tangle with invisible natives, deadly viruses, icy volcanos and predatory plants. The story, whilst occasionally saggy in places across it’s six episodes, plays out like a classic 50’s B-Movie serial, all ‘Boy’s Own Adventure’ thrills and pulpy sci-fi at it’s most imaginative and daring.

Screened in the BFI’s glorious NFT1 and accompanied by the now customary quiz and a Q&A with star Katy Manning (herself proving a true, passionate and entertaining ambassador for all things Doctor Who and fandom), the story’s B-Movie sensibilities lend itself well to the cinema screen, with the HD clean-up and new sound mix on full display. Once again, the BBC Studios team have done a cracking job, the episodes themselves looking better than they ever have before.

As well as the newly restored HD picture and sound, the screening included the first glimpse of the new CGI effects created specially for the Blu-Ray release. Animator Rob Ritchie‘s new effects sequences blend seamlessly with the 1973 material, improving upon the serial’s more technical shortcomings whilst remaining totally in tune with the 1970’s aesthetic. The attention to detail on display is particularly inspiring.

We were also treated to a glimpse of the new special features created for the box-set, including a fascinating overview of the Third Doctor era from Doctor Who‘s resident documentarian Chris Chapman. Suffice to say, the new retrospective promises plenty of fresh insights into an era of the show that has previously been well-documented elsewhere.

Also included on the discs are a lovely lighthearted reunion between Katy Manning and guest star Stewart Bevan and more instalments of the Behind the Sofa, the now-customary Gogglebox-esque feature that sees Pertwee regulars Manning, John Levene, Richard Franklin and others watching favourite moments, reminiscing and providing often-hilarious commentary over proceedings and that doesn’t cover even half of the new special features included on this bumper 6-disc collectors set.

A must-buy for fans of all things Who, Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10 offers yet another great opportunity to revisit some true classics from one of the show’s most accomplished and well-regarded eras, whilst the raft of superb special features included is enough to warrant a purchase alone.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10 is available to pre-order here on Blu-Ray and is released 8th July. 

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