Doctor Who and the Ambassadors of Death
This has been a long time coming; the release of
Ambassadors of death rounds out Jon Pertwee’s first season as Doctor Who
and means that all third doctor episodes except The Mind of Evil
have been released on DVD.
Jon Pertwees first season was a cracker, starting
with the justifiably classic Spearhead from space then the
equally well respected Doctor who and the Silurians this was
really only the third doctor’s third story but it contains many of the
things that define the third doctors era.
To really enjoy this story though you really have to
buy some things that might be hard to swallow. For a start the British
have a thriving space exploration program, ok so this is alternate earth
and I know it’s sci-fi but the idea that the British were casualty
sending astronaughts to Mars in 1970 is just a little bit jarring, (I
know, I know, aliens exist and such and that’s what I pick on?, well yes
because the best sci-fi is set in a believable framework). That does
not detract from the fact this is a really enjoyable story. Although
it’s clearly based on Quatermass (again, poor Nigel Kneale, really hated
doctor who and given how often they ripped him off I can genuinely see
A mars mission goes mysteriously wrong and a rescue
crew is sent to investigate, Mars Probe seven (seven!) but now the
rescue crew is not answering although the craft sent seems to be coming
back under it’s own power. A strange noise alerts the Doctor to trouble.
And they take a trip to mission control. The recovery probe makes it
back to earth (in like a few days, rather than the MONTHS it would
actually take) and immediately people try to capture it in an avengers
style raid (IE: there’s a helicopter and therefore a budget) by the time
that the capsule is recovered, it is revealed to be empty.
This is where it gets complicated so you’ll have to
bear with me.
Sir James Quinnlan is working with General Carrington
and under Quinnlans orders Carrington orchestrated the attack and
abduction and has transported the astronaughts who are really aliens in
astronaught suits who need massive amounts of radiation to live to a
“safe” location. Except a criminal named Regan then Kidnaps them, as
well as kidnapping Liz Shaw because the scientist he already has Lennox
is getting lonely and maybe he can get them to breed and he’d get a
superscientist or something. They do build a control box for the Aliens
who go and kill Quinlan under orders and then Liz Shaw helps Lennox
escape but Reegan kills him. Then the Doctor takes a Rocket to mars,
meets the aliens (who are fairly pissed) comes back and discovers that
the orchestrator of the whole mess is none other than……..
Yes well it has 7 episodes to fill with plot so it’s
bound to be twisty and turny because there’s just not enough story to
sustain seven episodes. There’s never enough plot to fill 7 episodes.
Audio: Sound is fine nothing special though.
Video: Video is good especially good considering that
the color version of episode’s 2,3,4,6 and 7 were recovered using a
technique called Croma dot recovery where a witch waves bones and
mutters over the original video and bingo it’s in colour.
Special Features: Well thank goodness that when the
BBC took over creation of the DVD’s the quality and quantity of DVD
special features went up rather than down. (he says in an alternative
universe where this happened) . Now I know that the reality is that most
of the major players both infront and behind the camera have sadly
passed on. But earlier 2Entertain releases had a great sense of fun
about them and a genuine desire to give the fans everything they could
In contrast BBC worldwide seems to be trying to coast by doing the
bare minimum. Since this is the last Pertwee episode we will get how
about a Pertwee retrospective? How about putting some of the VHS
material that we didn’t get and bunging it on a disc? How about getting
someone to talk about an overview of how important these years were to
Doctor Who? All you get is a thin making of with Terrance Dicks and a
couple of other people. Can’t wait for the inevitable special edition.