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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 175 minutes (7 episodes on 2 discs), audio commentary, two documentaries, 3 featurettes, photo gallery, production notes, Radio Times Listings
VIDEO: 1.33:1 (Full Frame 4:3)
AUDIO: English Mono
Subtitles: English

STUDIO: BBC Video/ 2 entertain/ Warner Bros. Home Video
Original Broadcast Date: 1-31 to 3-14-1970 (UK- BBC)

The seventh season of DOCTOR WHO started out strong for Jon Pertwee's debut year as the Third Doctor. I've never seen DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS in color. I only saw it in black and white back in the 1990s on PBS. Writer Malcolm Hulke penned some of the best DOCTOR WHO stories for the Jon Pertwee eara (THE SILURIANS, THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH, and FRONTIER IN SPACE). Jon Pertwee is still my favorite actor to play The Doctor.

The seventh season found The Doctor exiled to Earth by the Time Lords. This season and some of the stories from the next two fell into the category of stories from QUATERMASS. THE SILURIANS found The Doctor at odds with many people including his friend, The Brigader. The choice made by the Brig at the end is even followed up in the next story. The seven episode format gave TEH SILURIANS a lot of time to develop. The cast and crew in the audio commentary point out that the new series misses out the chance to develop and be deeper by going with a 45 minute story format. THE SILURIANS felt like it could happen. Given the ways things happened and what species came on top, an intelligent race of reptiles such as the Silurians isn't too out-there. The Doctor had the moral high ground and he wanted to learn about the Silurian science and have peace between humans and the Silurians. The natures in each species put them at odds and plays out during the story. This story in the season was Malcolm Hulke's chance to subvert the two basic storylines (alien invasion and mad scientist) by having The Doctor bound to Earth. The acting, writing, direction and doing so much on a small budget makes this stand out as one of the best Doctor Who stories.

The audio commentary for the episodes is by actors Caroline John (Liz Shaw)- episodes 1 to 3 and 5 and 7, Nicholas Courtney (Bridgader Lethbridge Stewart)- episodes 5 to 7, Peter Miles (Lawrence)- episodes 1 to 6, and Geoffrey Palmer (Masters)- episodes 4 to 6; director Timothy Combe- episodes 1 to 4, producer Barry Letts- episodes 1 to 4 and 6 to 7, and script editor Terrance Dicks- episodes 1 to 4 and 6 to 7. It's a very enjoyable commentary to listen to and they lighten things up with some humor while letting some bits slip like Jon Pertwee was unsure about playing The Doctior at first. Also the viewer can turn on the production note subtitles to learn about the production of the story. The early scripts for what became the third serial (THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH then known as CARRIERS OF DEATH) were unusable and Malcolm Hulke was early delivering the scripts which lead this story to go into production first and Malcolm Hulke to rewrite the next serial. I still love the actor (farting in a Silurian costume) story. Also the episodes have an isolated music track option.

DISC 1- WHAT LIES BENEATH (35 minutes) cast and crew explore how the socio-political climate shaped the story. The period clearly shaped the Third Doctor stories. Also the ideas in Malcom's script are discussed.

DISC 2- GOING UNDERGROUND (19 minutes) is a making of documentary from casting, set design, Silurian design, and the Who 1 plate story.
NOW AND THEN (9 minutes)- compares the locations as shot in the story to what they look like today.
MUSICAL SCALES (13 minutes)- explores the experimential scores of THE SILURIANS and THE SEA DEVILS while also mentioning THE MUTANTS and DAY OF THE DALEKS in addition to stock music being used for INFERNO. Eventually the experimental scores by others lead to Dudley Simpson being the composer of every DOCTOR WHO story. Out of the 7th season stories, I think Dudley's score for AMBASSADORS is better than Carey Blyton's score for THE SILURIANS. Interviews with Doctor Who Restoration Team member Mark Ayres , producer Barry Letts, director Timothy Combe, compser Malcolm Clarke, and the director of THE SEA DEVILS.

COLOR SILURIAN OVERLAY- shows how the story was restored to full color for DVD and how the color overlay technologies along with Vidfire made it look better than the first go for the VHS release in 1993.
Rounding out the extras for disc 2 are a six minute Photo Gallery slide show and Radio Times Listings (DVD-ROM extra).

FINAL ANALYSIS: DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS is a top-notch story from the John Pertwee years as Doctor and the DVD release is fantastic.

this DVD review is (c)6-10-2008 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  

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