Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes review pt1

Audio Go have just released a boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.

First up is The Dalek’s Masterplan.
This is a hefty set, comprising of five discs in total. The first disc is an oddity, in that it features Mission into the Unknown- an episode of Doctor Who in which none of the regulars appear. It works well as a prologue and is a nice set up for the story to come. The rest of disc one is an interview with Peter Purvis, who played the Doctor’s companion Steven in the adventures in this set, and who also provides the linking narration between scenes. It’s an interesting interview, and Purvis’s opinions are refreshingly honest. Be warned though- if you haven’t yet heard The Dalek’s Masterplan, don’t listen to this first, as it spoilers the story to quite a degree!

Now, on to the main event. This is a very long tale- weighing in at twelve episodes. At this length it is probably too long, and there are a couple of episodes that are pure padding- however things still seem to go at quite a lick and one of these episodes, The Feast of Steven, provides one of the unexpected highlights. This is a Christmas caper were we see The Doctor and his companions visiting a police station and then a Hollywood film set and become embroiled in some film making shenanigans- including starring in a Keystone Cops film (no, I’m not making that up). However, it is the last line that makes it a classic, when Hartnell goes (I suspect) widely off script and wishes the viewers at home a Happy Christmas!

As for the rest of the tale. It is the standard Terry Nation Dalek plot if we want to be honest about it. The Daleks have the ludicrous and meaningless plan to invade the universe. Actually, the plan starts off as invading the galaxy (starting with Earth in ‘The Solar System’), but after a few episodes this expands to destroying the Galaxy and invading the universe. One cannot fault their ambition.
And when they are well written, Daleks are always worth it. So for every time they inexplicably don’t murder someone we get a scene of them debating whether white mice are a threat or not. For every clunky piece of exposition when they explain their plan to each other we get a wonderful line like “You make your incompetence sound like an achievement.”
Hartnell is great, and somehow his fluffed lines add to the charm and even the believability of his Doctor rather than detract from it.  
Some of the other acting is… variable. Purvis is superb. For those of us who grew up with him as a Blue Peter presenter, it may come as a surprise to discover he is actually a very fine actor. This is balanced out by Kevin Stoney, who plays Mavic Chen. His acting is quite woeful for most of the story. Nobody seems to have let him know that he’s not on stage or performing in a pantomime.
Apart from that though (or even because of it!), this is well worth a few hours of your time.


  1. Wow, what a thing to find in their vaults. Can't wait to give these a listen!

  2. They really are wonderful!