We ran a whole bunch of classic Doctor Who giveaways this month, and now I’ve finally had a chance to check out all the awesome new releases myself. It really was a banner month for fans of Doctor Who, with four classic adventures landing on DVD, three of them being special edition releases! Here’s a look at what March offered up to the Whovians, with full breakdowns of each release’s special features.
“Tomb of the Cybermen” Special Edition (Story 37)
Early in Patrick Troughton’s tenure on Doctor Who, the Second Doctor ran across the Cybermen, an enemy of the First Doctor and a villain that would beguile the TARDIS’s adventures for decades to come. “Tomb of the Cybermen” originally aired as a story in four parts in September 1967. The Doctor, along with his companions Jamie and Victoria, travel to Telos, the homeworld of the Cybermen, long dormant and believed dead. After finding the last Cyberman in his cavern tomb, they realize they’ve stumbled into a trap and have to deal with the seeming resurrection of the entire race. These episodes are particularly important for the ongoing series mythology, as they introduce the Cyber Controller for the first time, and they also comprise the first Doctor Who adventure that features the Second Doctor in its entirety.
In addition to the four episodes (all of which have been digitally remastered), this new two disc special edition comes packed with bonus features:
- New audio commentary with Deborah Watling (Victoria), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon), Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan), Reg Whitehead (Cyberman), and Victor Pemberton (script editor)
- Original audio commentary from the previous DVD release, featuring Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines
- The Lost Giants – making-of featurette
- The Curse of the Cybermen’s Tomb – featurette about the ancient Egyptian origins
- Cybermen: Extended Edition – a history of the Cybermen throughout Doctor Who
- Introduction by Morris Barry (director)
“The Three Doctors” Special Edition (Story 65)
Originally airing as a four part serial from December 1972 through January 1973, “The Three Doctors” broke with Doctor Who tradition by featuring all three of the Doctor’s incarnations to date. Produced during Jon Pertwee’s time as the Third Doctor, this adventure presents the Time Lords with a crisis that is draining their energy and threatens their very existence. When not even the Third Doctor is up to the challenge, his previous two selves, the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) are called to assist. Joined by companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and recurring ally Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), they must face a menace that just might have its origins in the ranks of the Time Lords themselves.
“The Three Doctors” has been digitally remastered and presented as a two disc special edition with an array of bonus features:
- Audio commentary with Katy Manning (Jo), Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), and Barry Letts (producer)
- Happy Birthday to Who – making-of featurette
- Girls, Girls, Girls: The 1970s – featurette with Katy Manning, Caroline John (Liz Shaw), and Louise Jameson (Leela)
“The Face of Evil” (Story 89)
“The Face of Evil” is one of the Fifth Doctor’s (Tom Baker) adventures and originally aired in four parts in January 1977. The adventure opens with the Doctor landing the TARDIS on a jungle planet inhabited by two conflicting tribes. The Sevateem worship the god Xoanon, whom they claim the Tesh have imprisoned. The Doctor soon encounters a girl exiled from the Sevateem named Leela (Louise Jameson), who will go on to be one of the Doctor’s popular companions of this era. It is up to the Doctor, accompanied by Leela, to investigate this intertribe war and the secrets of the jungle planet, as well as the reasons behind the Sevateem calling him The Evil One.
This is the first time “The Face of Evil” has been released on DVD, and it gets a digitally remastered treatment, along with a collection of extra features:
- Audio commentary with Louise Jameson (Leela), Leslie Schofield (Calib), David Garfield (Neeva), Mike Elles (Gentek), Harry H Fielder (Assassin), Philip Hinchcliffe (producer), and John McGlashan (cameraman)
- Into the Wild – making-of featurette
- From the Cutting Room Floor – behind the scenes featurette
“The Robots of Death” Special Edition (Story 90)
March’s fourth classic Doctor Who DVD release is “The Robots of Death,” another adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson). This one is the serial that immediately follows “The Face of Evil” and aired in four parts from January through February 1977. The story finds the Doctor and Leela arriving inside a giant sandminer vehicle that is harvesting minerals from a desert planet. The human crew of the sandminer relies on robots to do everything for them, and they have grown accustomed to blindly trusting the usefulness of their robotic aides. That trust comes into question when the crew begins to disappear and the Doctor falls under suspicion.
Like the other three adventures released on DVD this month, “The Robots of Death” features a digital remastering. Having seen an earlier release on DVD, this time it also gets a special edition release with bonus features, including:
- New audio commentary with Tom Baker (the Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Pamela Salem (Toos), and Michael E. Briant (director)
- Original audio commentary with Philip Hinchcliffe (producer) and Chris Boucher (writer)
- The Sandmine Murders – making-of featurette
All four of these classic releases arrived on DVD on March 13, 2012, and are available in stores now.