Part two focuses on the technical aspects of this classic collection…
Video and Audio:
Season 9, like much of Pertwee’s first three seasons, suffered from master tapes being wiped, though unlike the 97 B&W episodes currently missing from the archives, these episodes survived thanks to NTSC colour tapes existing overseas, which were returned to the BBC when efforts to gradually restore the archive began taking effect in 1978.
These tapes were then converted to PAL via RSC (Reverse Standards Conversion) for the older home media releases. For this new boxset, 14 of the 26 episodes have received new restorations, which took the original existing black & white copies, VidFIREd them and then combined this with the colour from the NTSC tapes. As with Colony in Space on Season 8, the films are slightly cropped through the new restorations so the older restorations have also been included in SD (The Curse of Peladon 1-4, The Sea Devils 1-3, The Mutants 1-2, The Time Monster 1-5).
These new restorations are very impressive indeed, with stories like The Curse of Peladon looking the best they ever can without the PAL master tapes being recovered. The audio restoration, meanwhile, is handled once again by Mark Ayres, is typically great, and The Sea Devils gets both a 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mix – a first for The Collection range (please do another for Season 25 and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy!)
Season 9 maintains the fold-out book styled packaging, with a compartment for the booklet and a stack of disc trays. Unlike Season 2, which suffered from having an extra disc which damaged some copies with the trays coming loose, this eight-disc set thankfully doesn’t suffer the same fate.
The exterior artwork by Lee Binding, like Season 2, initially left me a bit uncertain, mainly due to the likeness of Jon Pertwee, and though he does appear to have an extra finger on the final box art, in person the cover is very nice, with prominent purple throughout, as teased by Binding prior to the announce. We also get another detailed booklet with retrospective content by Pete McTighe which packs in the little details for these stories that makes it an essential element of these boxsets.
This boxset collates most of the previous DVD special features from Season 9’s previous individual releases, though notably some content has been altered, including part of the commentary for The Time Monsters being excised, alongside part of the documentary for The Mutants, so it’s worth holding onto those DVDs.
Season 9 boasts a selection of new special features including Location Location Location Season Nine, a Chris Chapman-helmed documentary which sees Katy Manning, alongside several guests, revisit several key locations from the season – it’s a lot of fun and Manning is a true joy to watch.
Stuntman Stuart Fell, who notably doubled for Katy Manning in one sequence this season, gets a retrospective look at his varied career in stunt work in The Fell Guy, which was a lot of fun. Forgoing an In Conversation piece, we instead get another career retrospective on director Michael E. Briant’s career, which was also a great watch owing to the likability and talents of the subject interviewee.
Briant also makes for a great new member of the Behind the Sofa segments, appearing alongside Katy Manning, whilst regulars Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, & Peter Davison make up the other sofa, with Sophie Aldred & Wendy Padbury making up the third. Manning and Briant are good value here, whilst the other sofas provide about what you’d expect based on past sets, and I think the segments would benefit from more variety i.e., other directors and producers having their say.
The Time Monster gets a new making-of that takes the cast and crew back to Woolton Cambridge with Toby Hadoke, as they reminisce on the production and the shortfalls of the story. John Levene is on form here, especially when reminiscing about Producer Barry Letts, and Richard Franklin is featured through some archive interviews alongside Letts. Franklin also gets featured in the set through an interview done for the series’ 50th Anniversary Revisited features.
As of publication, there have been no further sets announced but Season 20 is surely on the cards, hopefully as the next release (stay tuned for any announcements). There’s also been word of filming at a location where The Stones of Blood was made, so Season 16 could potentially be on the cards too. I’m hopeful, however, that we finally get our first Patrick Troughton set, though we may well be getting another two animations too- we’ll see!
4/5 – Season 9, whilst not Pertwee’s strongest, does have some real highlights, and begins to break away from the earthbound formula previously established, which would result in the following season being one of the overall greats for the show’s 26-year run. The presentation here for the episodes is very impressive, offering the best quality video and audio these serials will likely ever have.
Look back at Part One of the review for more detail on the stories included.
By HW Reynolds
Images Courtesy of the BBC