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Doctor Who: The Rescue/The Romans by Directed by Christopher Barry
Review by Charles Mohapel
BBC Video / Warner Bros. DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B001U3ZYXO
Date: 26 July 2009 List Price $34.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Even though I used to watch Doctor Who on the local PBS station on a regular basis, all they showed in those days were the last of the episodes starring Jon Pertwee and the entire Tom Baker era. Thanks to a friend with contacts in the UK, across the US, and in Canada I had the good fortune to see a few grainy black and white episodes with William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

This 2-DVD set contains The Rescue (Episode 11) and The Romans (Episode 12), the third and fourth stories of Season 2 and starring William Hartnell, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, and Maureen O'Brien as Vicki.

Disc 1:
Promo for Doctor Who, Series 4 (1:31)

Promo for BBC America (1:22)

The Rescue (Episode 11): Grainy black & white with scratchy mono audio
The Powerful Enemy (25:12)
Desperate Measures (24:38)

Special Features:
Mounting "The Rescue" (21:47)
Recent interviews with actor William Russell, avid viewer Ian McLachlan (1963 - present), director Christopher Barry, actress Maureen O'Brien (Vicki), and designer Raymond Cusick talk about replacing the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman (played by Carole Ann Ford) who had wanted a more substantial role and was afraid of typecasting. "The Rescue" was envisaged as the show's way to introduce Vicki. "The Rescue" and "The Romans" were treated as a single 6 part story. Australian actor Ray Barrett talks about playing the dual role of Bennett/Koquillion. Very enjoyable.

Photo Gallery (8:07)
Not your run-of-the-mill photo gallery, this was very interesting.

Audio Options:
Episodes with Commentary by Toby Heyduk, Raymond Cusick, William Russell, and Christopher Barry. Frankly I enjoyed this option much more than the episode without commentary.

Info Text On/Off
Watch the episodes with info appearing onscreen.

PDF Materials - Insert into DVD drive of PC or Mac for viewing.

Even though this story had more than 13 million viewers, a figure not matched until the Tom Baker years, I found it tedious and not enjoyable viewing. That said, it accomplished the desired purpose of introducing Vicki, the Doctor's newest companion played by Maureen O'Brien.

Disc 2: The Romans (Episode 12):
The Slave Traders
All Roads Lead to Rome
Conspiracy
Inferno

Special Features:
What Has "The Romans" Ever Done For Us? (33:33)
Dr. Mark Bradley (Lecturer in Ancient Histories, Nottingham University), actor Anthony Andrews (Emperor Nero in A.D. (1985)), actor Christopher Biggins (Emperor Nero in I Claudius (1976)), actress Kay Patrick (Poppea), actor William Russell, avid viewer Ian McLachlan, designer Raymond Cusick, actor Barry Jackson, Ian McLachlan, James Moran, and Tom Spilsbury discuss Rome at the height of their empire and their subsequent slide into destruction.

Roma Parva (2:34)
Christopher Barry talks about setting up the set for photography - interesting for budding videographers and cinematographers.

Dennis Spooner - Wanna Write A Television Series (17:46)
Actor William Russell, Rob Shearman (Doctor Who Script Writer 2005 - ), Peter Purves (who played Steven Taylor), Brian Clemens (friend and colleague of Dennis Spooner), Janet Clemens, and Donald Tosh remember the late Dennis Spooner.

Blue Peter (7:15)
Dining Roman style

Girls! Girls! Girls! - The 1960s (17:05)
With Carole Ann Ford, William Russell, Christopher Barry, Peter Purves, Donald Tosh (Doctor Who Story Editor 1965-1966), actress Honor Blackman, actress Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), and Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield) talk about how the 1960s influenced the Doctor's female companions.

Photo Gallery
Another photo gallery accompanied by wonderful period music to match the moods of the photos.

Audio Options: Episodes with Commentary

Info Text On/Off
Watch the episodes with info appearing onscreen.

PDF Materials - Insert into DVD drive of PC or Mac for viewing.

I found "The Romans" to be vastly superior to "The Rescue" and enjoyed it immensely. I observed something that rather surprised me when I heard Hartnell's doctor talking to himself and chortling with glee. Suddenly it dawned on me that he acted and sounded just like Yoda when we first met him in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. It makes me wonder if this influenced a young George Lucas...

Whether you're a longtime Doctor Who fan or new to the show, watching all the early episodes (or what's left of some of them) is something I recommend heartily and this double DVD set is a good addition to your collection, especially "The Romans".

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