Command… Accepted! With so much of Patrick Troughton’s iconic performance as the second DOCTOR WHO seemingly lost forever, it would be churlish to suggest that it’s rather a shame that THE DOMINATORS, which was the opening story of his final year in the role, survived when classics like THE POWER OF THE DALEKS or THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN were wiped, although maybe if it had been a “lost story” its mythical status would have improved. As it is this really isn’t a high point of the Troughton era but it’s a solid enough five episodes that lead directly into the next story THE MIND ROBBER which has been available on DVD for years and is regarded rather more fondly by fans of black and white DOCTOR WHO.Nonetheless even run of the mill episodes of DOCTOR WHO starring Patrick Troughton are well worth seeing and there’s quite a lot to enjoy in this troubled (and very 1960s) reflection on the nature of pacifism against brute strength. The Dominators themselves are a surly pair who bicker rather too much and have rather intrusive command hierarchy which tends to prevent them from managing to live up to their name, but despite this, their malevolent contrast with the peace-loving Dulcians is quite effective. Less effective is Cully the thirtysomething eternal teenager, not because of any lack of conviction in his performance it’s just he seems to come across as being as much of a teenager as Steve McQueen does in “The Blob”. The Dominators use robotic Quarks to do much of their dirty work and they make an impressive enough threat who are particularly sinister in episode one but the quirky eccentricity of their design did not do enough to ensure their iconic status and they would only appear once more in a tiny cameo at the end of Mr. Troughton’s swansong THE WAR GAMES. The costume design is very odd. The Dominators themselves are quite nicely realised, but the Dulcians are dressed in outfits which look quite fetching on the young girls and yet manage to look slightly ridiculous on their male compatriots. Thankfully the older “wiser” characters get longer robes otherwise it could have got kind of scary (and not in a good way). Still any story that’s got “national treasure” Brian Cant in it can’t be all bad, so there’s a fair amount of enjoyment to be had along the way.However, it is the restoration job that has been done on these episodes really lifts them and they have never looked better and so the rather muddy print that made up its previous VHS release can now be well and truly forgotten. Some scenes trimmed for their “violence” have been restored too, so this is a much more complete version than was previously available and the cleaned up prints restore much of the subtle magic and sparkle of Patrick Troughton’s characterisation of the Doctor. Patrick Troughton is on electrifying form and the magical alchemy of the three leads is magnificent throughout, with both Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) making up an excellent TARDIS crew that is very fondly remembered.When it comes to the extras package there are the now usual text commentaries, PDF materials and so forth alongside a couple of short documentaries. Troubles with the script are the main thrust of the 22 minute “behind the scenes” feature and another feature recording the press reaction to the programme over the course of the Patrick Troughton years is effective enough if a little disappointingly executed. The rather lively commentary is once more moderated by Toby Hadoke who deftly uses his wide knowledge of the programme to keep the many contributors – including Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury – on topic and manages to tease out one or two enlightening insights into the everyday stresses behind the scenes on the show.
The deadly dull dominators The first story of Patrick Troughton’s third and final season as Doctor Who comes to DVD. It runs for five episodes and it sees the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe visit the planet of Dulkis. The humanoid inhabitants of the place are all peaceful pacifists. So their leaders don’t want to stand up and fight back when a spaceship from ruthless humanoid race the Dominators lands and takes over the place, with the intent of blowing up the planet in order to use it for fuel supply.The two Dominators have robotic servants called the Quarks. Can the Doctor and his friends, plus a handful of Dulcians who go against the wishes of their elders, save the day?But more importantly, do you care?For this story is simply dull. The planet is dull. All sand and quarries. The people of the planet are dull. People who sit round talking and do nothing. They all wear dresses. Even the men. And the young male rebel is played by a middle aged actor.The script is dull. Characters run around acheiving nothing for five episodes. The Dominators spend most of that time arguing with each other. Then everything is sorted out rather quickly in part five. Not least because the story was going to be six parts but the producer decided to cut it down.The fault does lie with the length of the script. The realisation of the Quarks – tipped like several monsters to be the next big thing post the Daleks but never to be successful enough to return – and the direction and design. These are dull. Drab and silly costumes. Boring landscapesPatrick Troughton and the two regulars do their best to inject some life into the whole thing, but it’s an uphill struggle.A quote I come back to on occasion is from the show’s script editor in the early seventies who said their aim in making it was to prevent the bbc having twenty five minutes of blank screen every night. As with so many old doctor who stories, you end up marvelling at the fact that they managed to get this made and on screen. But for actual entertainment value, there are much better stories out there.The dvd has the following audio options:English audio captions.English subtitles.English Language track.It has a commentary from some of the cast and crew.The radio times billings for the story as a PDF file.Production information subtitles.A photo gallery of stills from the story and it’s production.A trailer for the next release in this dvd range.A twenty three minute long making of documentary. Full of contributions from cast and crew, none of whom are shy of expressing their opinion about the story, this is a very good watch.A thirteen minute long documentary called tomorrow’s times. First in a series for these dvds that will look at press reaction to the show during various eras, this one deals with newspaper coverage of Patrick Troughton’s time. Presenter Caroline John, who went on to play Liz Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in 1970, does get past an initial stiffness in seemingly reading from an autocue to do quite a good job here, and some of the quotes are quite interesting. And surprisingly highbrow compared to more modern press coverage. So this is quite an interesting watch.For an easter egg watch the disc on computer, go to the special features screen and move the pointer around it till you light up a hidden Doctor Who logo. Click on that to see a short piece of Doctor who related sock puppet theatre. A similar item was on an earlier dvd this year but this one is longer and funnier, so it’s worth a look.I can’t quite say the same for the story. But this is another in this range that does the best it can with one of the weaker efforts from the show’s history.
Quark, Strangeness and Charm. Season Six.On the planet of Dulkis lies the “Island of Death”, the Island had until recently been a nuclear test site, before the Dulcians had embraced the doctrine of pacifism, and gave up all weapons.Only a Dulcian survey team resides their now, checking the remaining levels of radioactivity.It’s upon this island a ship from the Dominator spacefleet lands to refuel,and very soon after this Cully and his latest batch of paying thrill-seekers arrives, unfortunately for them, it turns out to be a very bad trip, man.The Tardis crew, Cully and the survey team, have a fight on their hands to stop the Dominator’s and their robot servants the Quarks, from turning Dulkis into an intergalactic fuel station!~~~~If ever a Who story were a product of it’s time it was this one. Troughton has a Beatle haircut, and the, “Summer of Love” was but a fading memory in the minds of Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln when they wrote this.But the Hippy Ideal of Love, peace and pacifism had struck a chord, they summized, how would a society that had accepted those ideals as a way of life react if confronted by a militarilistic loving one.Would they give up their lives to save their beliefs or give up their beliefs to save their lives? Luckily for the Dulcians the Doctor and his party decide to resolve the problem for them.It’s also not surprising the young of Dulkis go in for adventure holidays that Cully provides as never have I seen a more stilted, stifled and claustrophobic society ever portrayed on Who.When confronted by a problem all the elders do is form a council meeting and have a mass debate! At times I was rooting for the Dominators.~~~~Troughton as usual, is excellent. The way he redirect’s the “Flash Gordon” travel rocket that he and Jamie are travelling in whilst eating Jelly Babies, then falling head first into the circuitry always emits a chuckle from me.Jamie is less of a comic character and a bit of a hero for once.The gorgeous Wendy Padbury playing pixie featured Zoe, in some ways the Doctors intellectual equal, continues with her air of aloof intellectual detachment.(I think she looked her best in The Krotons. But thats another story.)Although I liked the Hartnell era very much, it was the Troughton era that grabbed me and made me a life long Whovian.~~~~Trivia:~The Quark costume was so small the production team hired schoolboys to operate them.Although the name of the writer was Norman Ashby it was really Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln (the Yeti creators.) they had become very disgruntled with the script editor making so many changes to their story they insisted their names be taken off the credits.This is one of only three, five episode stories in the shows history.The others being The Mind Robber and The Daemons.DVD extras:-CommentaryRecharge and Equalise – Featurette – 22’55″Easter Egg – 2’34″The Dominators – Photo Gallery – 5’46″Tomorrow’s Times – How the media reported on the Second Doctor – 13’12″Don’t let the fact it’s in B&W put you off.Airdate:~ 10/8/68-7/9/68.
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