Doctor Who Earth Story DVD Review - -
Doctor Who Earth Story
Reviewed by
Chris Tyler
Doctor Who Earth Story DVD Review The big problem with The Awakening is that it’s not good. The script, the acting and the production all suck away from what could have been a good spooky English village pot-boiler.

Feature 3.5*
Video 4.0
Audio 6.0
Special Features 4.0
Total 5.0
Distributor: BBC
Running Time: TBA
Reviewer: Chris Tyler
: PG


Earth Story

Earth Story is an upcoming Classic Doctor Who release comprising of two completely unrelated stories; the First Doctor Story The Gunfighters and the Fifth Doctor Story The Awakening.  These stories are separated by almost every conceivable distance any yet here they are lumped in together because they happen to take place “on Earth” (as if that didn’t comprise a majority of Doctor Who stories).

Also to be honest, within the scope of Doctor Who fandom these are not sought after stories. They’ve never topped the polls of favourite stories and I struggled to even find a message board or any single individual crying out for their release.  So you have to think that these are two stories that the BBC has conveniently packaged together so you can avoid buying both at the same time.  Are there any saving graces?  Perhaps they are lost classics waiting to be rediscovered?  Let’s check them out.  First up, The Gunfighters.

The Gunfighters is an almost accurate retelling of the shootout of the O.K. Corral.  The Doctor, Steven and Dodo arrive in the Old West so the Doctor can get a tooth looked at that is causing him trouble.  The Doctor gets mistaken for Doc Holiday and they generally get embroiled in the schemes and ultimately the gunfight in Tombstone.  If I’ve made that sound vaguely good it’s because you’re imagining one of the many good movies that have been made about the shootout.

The Gunfighters is not like that.  It’s a studio bound story and it shows.  It’s also from a time when people still thought that Doctor Who needed to be; A: a children’s show and B: directly educational -hence the ‘Historicals’.  And on top of these handicaps it is ostensibly a comedy. However, apart from a good recurring joke about the Doctor continually being handed guns when he really doesn’t want and a giant comedy tooth, there’s precious little to laugh at here.  Time has not been kind to The Gunfighters and oh god English people trying to do American accents is every bit as painful as Americans trying to do English accents.

The Gunfighters raises lots of questions that it never answers. Why does the doctor seek a dentist in the Wild West? Why not a place where they have highly advanced medical technology?  Why does he seem so content to let lots of people die? Why does he seem so ignorant about what’s going on around him? But the big question it raises is who thought it would be a good idea to have “The Ballad of the Last chance saloon” play every five seconds because I will happily go the rest of my life without hearing it again.

The Awakening is a Fifth Doctor two-parter and because of that you might think that the pacing might be better than some of the examples from the period, but there seems to be the requisite running up and down corridors; although because it’s on location they run up and down streets.  And there is lots of classic Doctor Who hiding in plain sight. The Doctor , Tegan and Turlough arrive in a little English village in 1984 just in time for the villages recreation of  a battle from 1643 between the roundheads and um..people who’s heads weren’t so round.  And it just happens to fall on the exact 341st anniversary of the battle.  However, the recreation is to be going too far, the soldiers are really rounding people up and the local barrister who is the head of the roundheads has gone power mad and isolated the town from the outside world, demanding that everyone takes part in the recreation. Then a giant rubber face bursts through a church wall. This is “The Malus” (Malice, get it?) which is an alien probe that crashed on earth long ago and to quote the Doctor it’s “Pure Evil” (yes very scientific). The Malus is controlling the minds of the villagers and making them want to want to kill and maim and be generally unpleasant. Only Colonel Wolsey is immune as he has seen the horrors of war.  The Malus ends up being a salamander like creature in the Tardis, the Doctor does some *Insert Technobable here* some bloke gets his head cut off, the Barrister gets thrown into the Malus, the church explodes and hooray, everything is ok again.

The big problem with The Awakening is that it’s not good. The script, the acting and the production all suck away from what could have been a good spooky English village pot-boiler. As it is, there’s nothing to recommend; although I do think I found the connection between The Gunfighters and The Awakening; the Doctor’s casual acceptance and indeed tacit approval of killing the people who were annoying him.

Bottom line? I can’t recommend this set.


The video quality of The Gunfighters is consistent if a little better than what you would expect from a series that was first broadcast in 1966. It’s obviously been Vidfired and looks pretty good.

The Awakening video quality is fine for a show that was broadcast in 1984.  


Audio quality for both series is adequate.

Special Features:

Both series sport special features but none of them are particularly special.  The Gunfighters features a documentary about the production of this era of Doctor who which somehow manages to be really boring despite key players admitting that The Gunfighters isn’t a great story.

The Awakening features a documentary about the making of The Awakening and one of those “Now and Then” doco’s where they go back to the villagers where these stories were filmed and look a things that may or may not be still there.  As a cure for excitement this pretty much does the business. And finally a “Where is it now” tracks down the Malus prop and find that it’s in the house of a fan. Yay!

* Features (The Gunfighers: 3/10 & The Awakening: 4/10)


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