The early black and white years of Doctor Who are incomplete
- it's a sad fact and one that still rankles with fans. Great
swathes of episodes were consigned to the bin by an inconsiderate
BBC and as a result many classic stories are either missing
entirely or survive only partially. In an attempt to round
up these 'odds and ends' the BBC has issued Lost in Time,
a three-disc compilation of orphaned episodes, clips and trailers...
those of us of a certain age - let's say into our fourth decade
- this DVD release provides a welcome window into a TV past
that is probably characterised by memories as fractured as
the narratives contained on Lost in Time. For example,
I clearly remembered the table thumping sequence from The
Daleks' Master Plan episode 2 which helped add a little
extra thrill when watching it again after so many years. I
also recall Moonbase very well so the loss of two episodes
(although included as audio files) doesn't break the action
for me in a way that perhaps someone new to the story might
here's the problem - albeit an unavoidable one. By collecting
together odd episodes and snippets you create a fascinating
glimpse of the show's early days which is also often very
frustrating. Doctor Who, at its best, was designed
to build to a cliff-hanger, release the tension and then build
again. It's a simple formula but one that can't be replicated
when offering up a seemingly random collection of excerpts
the fact that Lost in Time works as well as it does
is proof of how well Doctor Who has aged. There are
of course frustrating problems - Space Pirates episode
2 boasts fantastic picture quality but is virtually unwatchable
in all other respects - while Evil of the Daleks episode
2 is endlessly enjoyable despite it being the sole representative
from this classic story. It's a different type of frustration
in that you want more, not less.
episodes themselves have been lovingly restored and therefore
often look breathtaking when compared to past VHS releases.
Some of the clips haven't been given quite the same levels
of restoration attention and there are some minor lapses in
presentation as with the Space Pirates film inserts
which would have benefited from a little extra information
about which episodes they came from. But these are minor quibbles.
Lost in Time is at heart a historic document, a glimpse
into a past that will never be fully visible. Its shortcomings
are inherent in its subject and therefore it is impossible
to criticise it for often being frustratingly incomplete.
I can guarantee that you'll want to know what happened next
after watching The Daleks' Master Plan episode 2. Sadly,
the same probably won't hold true for Underwater Menace
but this isn't a 'best of' compilation, it's a concluding
roundup and must be viewed as such.
in Time is therefore a 'fans only' release but if you
are a fan it is simply indispensable.
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