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June 2009

DVD: Doctor Who: The War Machines

It was time for another Doctor Who, and this time it was time for The War Machines, a First Doctor Story from 1966. Actually the last of the First Doctor stories that is available (mostly) intact, since all the rest after this were lost when the BBC decided to trash a bunch of old stuff to make space.

This was four 20 something minute episodes, and it took us three weeks to watch it, because we kept falling asleep. So yes, this story sort of sucked. Well, it had its moments I guess, like they all do, but basically it sucked. There was the usual slow pacing of the stories from this era. There was the usual really bad special effects. And you expect all that of course. But it also had things like being the only story in the 46 year history of the show where The Doctor was actually called “Doctor Who” on screen… because the writers screwed up. Oops. I’d say even out of the First Doctor stories, which are most definitely not my favorites, this is one of my least favorites.

There was one really good bit though, which was one of the DVD Extras. Now, I often don’t watch these, but I did this time. One of the extras is actually a documentary about how this story was reconstructed. Because this was actually one of the stories that at one time was “lost”. But over time, bits and pieces of it were found from a variety of different sources, including edited copies that had been used for broadcast in various countries, as well as audio recordings made by fans straight off their televisions. The little documentary goes through how these various bits were found, then how they were combined in order to reconstruct the original episode, basically as it was originally aired… the exceptions being a few seconds here and there where they only had audio, so they “patched” the video with generic shots from elsewhere in the episode to make it seem like things were continuous and nothing was missing. There were also bits about how they dealt with the differing quality of the video from the different sources. It was fascinating stuff. Uh… way better than the episode itself.

So… if you’re watching all of these for completeness like I am, you will of course watch this. If you’re just looking for something fun to watch though, you can probably just skip it.

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