Part two focuses on the technical aspects of this classic collection…
Video and Audio
Season 8 has a storied history of how its stories were restored for rebroadcast and then home media. Most of the episodes in this set do not exist on their original UK broadcast tape, but instead as 16mm monochrome (Black & White) film print and/or off-air NTSC colour recordings made in the 1970s.
In the early 1990s, a group who became known as the Doctor Who Restoration Team got together to work on a project, wherein they would try and restore The Dæmonsback to colour by combining the existing 16mm monochrome film print with the off-air colour recordings made from US broadcasts.
The project was a success, and this restored version was transmitted on BBC 2 in 1993, and then released to VHS later on. This story is further detailed in our Science, not Sorcery! feature, which you can read here.
A newer technique known as “colour Recovery” was also utilised to restore some of the Pertwee era to colour. This involved using a technology which had been developed to extract colour information embedded in B&W film print.
Episode 1 of The Mind of Evil couldn’t be recoloured with this method however, so was instead manually recoloured for the 2012 DVD release by Stuart Humphryes, and the results were very impressive.
For this new release, some restorations were started from scratch and with specific episodes the techniques used resulted in a slight amount of image being lost around the edge of the picture, but better overall picture and sound quality.
The Claws of Axos episodes 2-3 and Colony in Space episodes 1-6 are available to watch in either their 2005/2011 DVD restorations or their new 2021 BD restorations for this reason, so that both options are available for those who want it.
Overall, I thought the video quality for Season 8 was impressive considering the quality of the now almost 50-year-old source material. The effort to include older restorations for those who may wish to view them was also a nice touch.
The audio presentation continues to impress also, with solid audio levels that improve upon the DVD and new optional 5.1 Surround Sound mix by Mark Ayres, this time for Terror of the Autons and The Dæmons.
Season 8 utilises the same packaging we’ve known to know with The Collection line – for better or worse – with a foldout book format and a compartment housing an informative and wonderfully illustrated booklet written by Pete McTighe (which reportedly has some misprints and some buyers have received duplicates) alongside a stack of disc trays that present a recurring issue of being rather flimsy and loose – my bonus disc was loose and rattling when this set arrived from HMV.
The cover and interior art – once again provided by Lee Binding – is a delight, wonderfully incorporating the Axon colour scheme alongside scenes from Terror of the Autons and Colony in Space.
The Special Features
Season 8 continues to offer the comprehensive array of special features, old and new, that we’ve come to expect from The Collection line.
We get five new episodes of Behind the Sofa, this time with Katy Manning & Stewart Bevan, Janet Fielding & Sarah Sutton, and Sacha Dhawan & Anjli Mohindra. These offer some nice new perspectives, especially with Dhawan drawing comparison between Delgado’s portrayal of The Master and his own.
Matthew Sweet presents another In Conversation feature, this time interviewing Katy Manning, whose eccentricities and varied life makes for a fascinating 75 minutes, offering poignant insights and charm throughout.
There’s also the wonderfully constructed tribute to Terrance Dicks, Terrance & Me, which sees Frank Skinner setting out to meet the family, friends and colleagues of the late beloved writer.
We get some explorative documentaries as well with A Devil’s Weekend, wherein Katy Manning and John Levene revisit Aldbourne where The Dæmons was filmed. The Direct Route, meanwhile, sees directors Michael Briant, Graeme Harper and Tim Combe embark on a road trip to visit filming locations from Season 8.
There is also another entry from the Panopticon archive in the form of a Jon Pertwee panel, which offers some insights into Pertwee’s career beyond Doctor Who.
Looking to the future, we have Season 24 as the next entry into The Collection line, though as of this review a release date hasn’t been announced, though a May/June release seems possible.
As for what comes next, I speculate that another Tom Baker season isn’t far off, likely a choice from the Graham Williams era (15-17). Covid restrictions may result in the remaining Peter Davison seasons (20/21) being delayed (due to possible filming abroad for VAM and wanting to feature Mark Strictson who resides in New Zealand) leaving 22 and 25 as possible entries for the 80s era, though the latter may be held off as 24 is coming soon.
As for the 60s seasons, animations and episode counts make them a heavier task to produce, so maybe another Pertwee season could be upon us sooner than I anticipated. My wild guess for the next few releases would be seasons: 15 or 16, 22, 11 and then 20 sometime in 2022. This likely won’t come true but it’s fun to speculate!
4.5/5 – This quintessential Pertwee season has never looked or sounded better despite the limitations of the available prints, with a strong selection of stories and a trove of new special features. Another must-own – if you can still acquire a copy that is. Now if only they could sort the disk trays out.
Look back at Part 1 of the review for more detail on the stories included.
By HW Reynolds
Images provided by BBC