The BBC have outdone themselves. The first Doctor Who serial has hit Blu-ray and it is spectacular!!
Spearhead From Space, the first story of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, is phenomenal. This is, with no doubt, the best the classic series has ever looked. The clean transfer of the 1970 story is terribly engaging. Noting that this serial is the first introduction of the Autons, new fans will see these villains in their original style — which is far more disturbing than what the Nestene Consciousness brought upon us in 2005. I’ve always been adamant about starting the series from the beginning for new fans. While we have seen a few releases of the original first Doctors that are clean, this set is just spoiling old fans. The episodes look like they were filmed yesterday and the sound is superb as well. There are really no complaints when watching it — especially when you notice that Jon Pertwee has a tattoo on his arm. Perhaps I’ve been watching very dirty copies of the old episodes, but I had never noticed this before.
The features on the Blu-ray are very enjoyable. Watching frame by frame comparisons of how the film was cleaned may seem boring, but the restoration featurette is intriguing. There is a 45-minute feature on the life of Jon Pertwee that is incredibly insightful. The feature shows how likable a man he was — which transfers to his portrayal of the Doctor easily. Caroline John played the Third Doctor’s first companion, Liz Shaw. There is a 30-minute feature on her life, as well. Fans will also love the title sequence feature that last over 20 minutes showing alternate cuts and versions of what could have been. For as iconic as the theme tune and opening are for Doctor Who, sitting through the entire feature is actually fun — even if it is lacking the music, as fans will hear it pounding in their own minds.
Everything about this Blu-ray is wonderful. BBC, we need more. Now.
Also released on DVD is The Green Death. This Third Doctor story from 1973 is adventurous, throwing the Doctor this time with companion Jo Grant. The only problem with this DVD release is the fact that I was so terribly spoiled by the Blu-ray of Spearhead From Space that the transfer on this looks a bit blurry. However, unless remastered, this is probably the best this serial will look. Doctor Who always relied on film, video, and stock footage, and this release has all three, which poses the problem for remastering.
The transfer may be a bit wonky, but the two-disc set has all of the episodes from the serial on one and special features on the other. And there is a plethora of special features. These start off with one titled The One With The Maggots, which basically explains The Green Death. The making of featurette will more than likely cause nightmares for many people. There is a mockumentary about the happenings in the Doctor Who serial, with Mark Gatiss playing investigative reporter Terry Scanlon, titled Global Conspiracy? If you get the humor, the feature is absolutely ridiculous and hilarious. Visual effects gets just over ten minutes to show the large puppet maggots and such used in the episode. There are various other features like interviews with director Robert Sloman and actor Stewart Blevan, and part of the news program Wales Today showing Jon Pertwee returning to the Welsh town the episode was filmed in. A bit mismatched is an interview with Russell T. Davies, who brought the series back in 2005, but that is followed up with Katy Manning’s next role after Doctor Who, and then a full two-part story from the show The Sarah Jane Adventures from 2010! Death of the Doctor united Jo Grant with Sarah Jane Smith and threw in a guest appearance by Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. There is commentary on these episode. The disc is then topped off with photo galleries and other materials. The Green Death DVD, while not a Blu-ray, is truly a fan’s delight with all of the goodies!