18 August 2012

Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products

Written By: Louis Marks

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 20th August 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 18th August 2012

When the TARDIS doors open as the Ship is landing, The Doctor (William Hartnell), with Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian (William Russell) find themselves reduced to an inch in size. Faced with a whole new world of dangers - from insects to cats, pesticides to homicides, there's a lot standing between the tiny travellers and a very, very small blue Police Box...

Planet Of Giants is a wonderfully imagined three part story featuring the original TARDIS crew. It's a very different idea for this early stage of Doctor Who (although Irwin Allen's Land Of The Giants made a much longer story of the same subject matter on US television a little later on) but works very well indeed, with some brilliant props on the show, some wonderful back projection shots set at Ealing Film Studios, and some stellar performances from both the main and supporting cast.

The audio and visual properties are top notch as usual in this single-disc release, with the restoration showing the vintage material in the best possible light. The release is also bolstered by some great extras... and a truly baffling one.

Special Features:

Episodes 3 & 4 Reconstruction - Back in the day, Sydney Newman ordered the editing and rejigging of episodes three and four into one instalment, as they dragged, lacked tension and took too long to resolve the story. It works very well as a result and the story moves along at a cracking pace. So why in the name of sanity would you now get the half-completed scenes and reusing existing footage and photographs undo that editing to provide two episodes where the story drags along, instead of the finished article? Frankly it's a mystery, however it's here if you want to put yourself through it. Not a bad extra per se, but certainly a puzzling one, as it's completely unnecessary.

Rediscovering The Urge To LiveIan Levine, William Russell and Carole Ann Ford reminisce about Planet Of Giants almost 50 years on from the original story, whilst Ed Stradling talks about why they decided to remake the cut scenes for this release. Ford looks bored, although her coaching of the Hartnell "soundalike" is a moment of sheer wonder. A very short piece, but it amuses me no end that Ian Levine wants us to see if we can tell the difference between his scenes and the original filmed ones. Promoting an unnecessary extra with another unnecessary extra at the expense of a proper look back at the serial seems to verge on the ridiculous.

Suddenly SusanCarole Ann Ford talks Susan Foreman and her role in Doctor Who; her clothes and hair, her co-stars, and shooting schedules. Ford seems to remember her time on the show very clearly, both the good and the bad of the series, and she's certainly honest about it all. There's a warmth and humour to Carole Ann Ford, and her views show this effortlessly. An often overlooked character in Doctor Who, Susan Foreman really did go through a great deal during her time in the TARDIS, and it's refreshing to hear Ford reminisce. The whole interview, as with so many on recent DVD releases, is culled from The Story Of Doctor Who.

The Lambert Tapes: The Doctor - The late, and exceptionally great Verity Lambert talks about the genesis of the characters from the very earliest days of Doctor Who and where the programme has gone since then. Lambert, who was never less than entertaining and informative in any interviews, covers many subjects in this archive footage and makes some perfectly valid points when it comes to things like whether children found the show too frightening. With some fantastic name checks and recognition for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's finest (step forward Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson). Culled footage from 2003 (again) it may be, but this above any other recent DVD interview is required viewing. Verity Lambert was a genius, and her views hold as true today as they were back in 1963, or 2003. Simply wonderful.

Coming Soon Trailer - When the TARDIS suffers the failure of its transpower systems, The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) make an emergency trip to Varos. With cannibals, public executions and the odious Sil (Nabil Shaban on amazing form), the Time Lord has to fight for his continued existence – all screened on public television to keep the populace entertained… Vengeance On Varos: Special Edition is next up for release!

As always with the Classic Series DVDs Audio Description is available, should it be wanted or needed, and there’s a Photo Gallery of stills from in front of, and behind the camera. There’s also the Radio Times segments from the story in PDF format, for which you’ll need to be viewing on a computer. There’s the obligatory Info Text to give you facts and figures on screen as you watch the unfolding story, and as already mentioned, the DVD has been remastered for optimal visual and audio quality.

Planet Of Giants is an odd tale in itself – the idea may not lend itself to Doctor Who mythos easily, but the execution and production of the story proves what a versatile format the show is. The tale itself entertains effortlessly, and most of the extras are great; with the exception of the main one. The reconstructed parts offer little value and the usual “making of” documentary could have been a lot better. Balancing this are the two interviews with Ford and Lambert, which are both wonderful, insightful and worth the price of the DVD on their own. A must have, certainly; but not for the reconstruction.

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