First the good news. The first two stories are among the very best the series has to offer. The Seeds of Death, a Troughton story, is a classic "people get stuck in a remote location with nasty monsters (Ice Warriors)", and it’s all great fun.
The pace is obviously not that of a modern story but this is likeable and engaging. Better yet, in the “making of” documentary most of the cast and crew clearly have a sense of humour about what they were making – something sadly lacking in some of the commentaries on the later stories. OK, some of the plotting is ridiculous – the world being dependent on a single form of transport, the resolution being down to something so simple, but it’s from a more innocent time. Enjoy it for what it is – it just works.
The second, from 1973, is a Pertwee corker – The Carnival of Monsters. I won’t spoil the story for people who haven’t seen it – the first time around there’s a genuine sense of wonder at what the Doctor and Jo have got themselves into this time. Performances are perfectly pitched throughout, the parallel plotting inside the "thing" and outside it slot together wonderfully. Unfortunately either the money or the designers’ imagination run out during the scenes inside the innards of the machine, and the monsters are bit more like finger puppets than anything genuinely scary. I remember thinking so at the time, although I remember my brother – then aged 3 – being terrified, so what do I know.
So far, so perfect. The third story in the box set is Resurrection of the Daleks, which starts off as a corker. Police unexpectely armed with machine guns, Daleks in a deserted Docklands warehouse, the return of Davros ... then there’s part 2. The problem with so many of Saward’s stories, and I count the ones he edited as well as wrote, is that the endings are so often confused. This is no exception. There’s a floating special effect which wanders away from the plot to which it’s supposed to be anchored; there’s a fleeting mention of a war on Gallifrey, there’s the revelation of Dalek duplicates of the Doctor and his companions (which are shown and then not used), there’s a fight between Dalek factions without any way of distinguishing which is which ... it’s a rotten shame. On the bright side you can now see this in its original two-part format rather than the four-parter it later became.
EXTRAS ★★★★★ A stellar package from 2Entertain, extended for this reissue ... Disc 1: Commentary – with actors Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, director Michael Ferguson and script editor Terrance Dicks; Audio Trailer – an off-air amateur recording of the original BBC1 trailer for the story; Coming Soon; Programme Subtitles; Subtitle Production Notes. Disc 2 (DVD5): Lords of the Red Planet – a look back at the creation of the Ice Warriors and their re-appearance in the The Seeds of Death; Sssowing the Ssseedsss – Ice Warrior Sonny Caldinez, Ice Lord Alan Bennion and make-up designer Sylvia James recall their experiences of bringing the Martian warriors to life; Monster Masterclass – director Michael Ferguson interview; Monsters Who Came Back For More! – Nick "Voice of the Daleks" Briggs and Doctor Who Magazine’s assistant editor Peter Ware take a look at the reasons why monsters often return for further adventures; Photo Gallery; TARDIS Cam no.6 – a model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who websitee; PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format. Carnival of Monsters Disc 1 (DVD9): Commentary 1 – with actress Katy Manning and director Barry Letts; Commentary 2 – with actors Peter Halliday, Cheryl Hall and Jenny McCracken, script editor Terrance Dicks, sound effects designer Brian Hodgson. Moderated by Toby Hadoke; Episode Two: Early Edit – a longer early edit of the second episode, featuring the subsequently rejected "Delaware" version of the theme music. Which incidentally is terrible; Behind the Scenes; Visual Effects Models; "Five Faces of Doctor Who" Trailer – a trail for the 1981 repeat season; Director’s Amended Ending; CSO Demo – director Barry Letts in a BBC training film; TARDIS Cam no.2 – a CGI model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who website; Coming Soon; PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format; Programme Subtitles. Disc 2 (DVD5): Destroy All Monsters! – cast and crew look back at the making of the story; On Target with Ian Marter – Tributes to actor Ian Marter; The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos; Mary Celeste – Padding about missing ships; Photo Gallery. Resurrection of the Daleks Disc 1 (DVD9): 2 x 45 min colour episodes with original mono audio and optional Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; Commentary with actor Terry Molloy, writer Eric Saward and visual effects designer Peter Wragg, moderated by Nick Pegg; Casting Far and Wide – Jobbing actors speak; On Location; Extended and Deleted Scenes; Breakfast Time – Janet Fielding and John Nathan-Turner interviewed on the BBC’s breakfast show; Trailer; The Last Dalek – a behind-the-scenes look at the Ealing studios filming for 1967’s epic Dalek story, The Evil of the Daleks; TARDIS Cam no.4 – a model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who website; Isolated Music – option to view the episodes with isolated music scores; Coming Soon;PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format; Programme Subtitles; Subtitle Production Notes. Disc 2 (DVD9): 4 x 25 min colour episodes with original mono audio and optional Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; Commentary with actors Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, director Matthew Robinson; Come In Number Five – a retrospective of Peter Davison’s tenure as the fifth Doctor; Tomorrow’s Times – The Fifth Doctor – the ongoing series looking at the press reaction to Doctor Who through the years; Walrus – an oddity from the BBC’s archives. A Welsh woman comes face to face with a Dalek; Photo Gallery; Coming Soon; PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format; Programme Subtitles; Subtitle Production Notes.