Audio Go have just released a third 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, as with the previous collection, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.
We will begin with The Smugglers.
One of the things I don’t like about modern Who (and in that I include stories from the late ‘70s onwards) is there treatment of the historical stories.
I like the fact that, in these older tales, the Doctor and his companions would turn up in an historical setting and have an adventure there. There would be no crashed spaceships or mysterious alien visitors to deal with, just a contemporary problem to be solved.
And this is one such story. Here the Doctor, along with new companions Ben and Polly, land in Cornwall in the seventeenth century and quickly become involved in an adventure that sees them encountering pirates and buried treasure in creepy old church yards.
Hartnell is brilliant in this one. There are other episodes when you can sense that his heart is not in it, or that he is too ill to muster the energy to make the effort, but he seems to be enjoying himself in this one. Perhaps it was the fact that they got to do some proper location work that lifted him a bit..?
Companions Ben and Polly, played by Michael Craze and Anneke Wills (who also provides the splendid narration), are a strong addition to the cast, and both are entertaining as they go through the familiar not-quite-believing-they have-travelled-in-time thing at the beginning.
Good as the cast are, and as exciting a premise as this is, the story is not quite up to scratch and does dip in places.
However it ends on a strong note, with the TARDIS heading off on a new adventure, and one that I can only imagine was supremely shocking to the poor unsuspecting public at the time…