I? not sure I really altogether approve of the idea of LOST IN TIME, a handy three-disc boxset of assorted DOCTOR WHO odds??ods scrubbed up and presented as a nice 41st anniversary gift for the series?hardened fans. It? not that there? anything intrinsically wrong with the episodes on display – eighteen black-and-white instalments from stories sadly incomplete in the BBC Archives – it? just that it? a bit frustrating to be mercilessly teased by snapshots of classic DOCTOR WHO stories, swamped by the knowledge that all we?e ever likely to see of great stories like ?ury from The Deep?are a couple of clips censored by Australian TV or grainy behind-the-scenes studio footage. Boo hoo. It? also a bit strange for the BB to release these remnants when there are loads of sensational complete stories out there just waiting their moment of glory on DVD. But then the catalyst for this entire release is the recently-returned ?ay of Armageddon? the second episode of the twelve-part William Hartnell story ?he Daleks?Master Plan?
Misgivings aside, ?ost in Time?is a real selection box of goodies, the sort of collection you can sit down with and pick your way through according to taste. To be fair, most of what? on offer here is marvellous stuff, television of a quality and imagination way out of reach of today? TV makers (apart from, we trust, a certain Mr Russell T. Davies and his team). The episodes here are examples of DOCTOR WHO at its finest – lovingly restored by the BBC Restoration Team they look startlingly good. Here then are such greats as episode two of ?vil of the Daleks?(Daleks in Victorian England!), part one of ?he Web of Fear?(Yeti in the London Underground!), parts one and three of ?he Crusade?(Julian Glover – proper actor! – as the Lionheart), part four of the surreal ?elestial Toyroom?(Batman? butler Michael Gough as a cosmic gamesman). There are some duffers too, but even they look good in this format – part three of ?he Underwater Menace?is bad pantomime, part two of ?he Space Pirates?is as fine a cure for insomnia as Man has ever invented. Others enjoy a reappraisal; the two surviving episodes of ?he Wheel in Space? oft criticised because of its slow pace and the presence of only two Cybermen, is actually rather creepy and the monster-free third episode of ?nemy of the World?is an intriguing espionage thriller complete with madman intent on world domination (played by Troughton in a classy doppleganger role). The aforementioned ?asterplan?instalment gives fans their first proper look at short-lived companion Katarina (Adrienne Hill) before her unfortunate disagreement with a spaceship airlock and the two episodes of ?he Faceless ones?have a timeless contemporiness about them belied by the fact that they?e not much short of forty years old.
I? one of the few DOCTOR WHO who still clings to the belief that there are more missing episodes out there somewhere so I can? help thinking that the release of LOST IN TIME may be a bit premature. As it stands, it? a splendid release and, if nothing else, it?l help to pass the time until March 2005 when a certain Police Box will reappear on British TV screens at last?
THE DISCS: I?e already commented on the awesome restoration work displayed on each of these episodes but there are plenty of other bits and pierces for fans to discover. Six episodes boast commentaries of varying quality, missing clips – some literally just a couple of seconds long – appear dotted about the set and the documentary ?he Missing Years?(first released on an earlier VHS boxset) turns up again and is ruined by the gurning presentation skills of Deborah Watling.