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Thread: Classic Doctor Who Episodes In Blu Ray Format

  1. #1
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    Classic Doctor Who Episodes In Blu Ray Format

    Any Doctor Who fans here? Somewhat recently, The BBC started releasing classic Doctor Who episodes in Blu Ray format. Has anyone watched them? How are they? Should I consider buying them, even if I already have some of them in Standard DVD format?

    Thanks in advance,

    Library Jon

  2. #2
    I don't have a Blu-Ray player, so I haven't seen them. So far, I'm only aware of them releasing "complete first season sets" for the Tom Baker and Peter Davison years. Apparently, each set has all the bonus content from the DVD's, plus a bunch of new stuff, so if youre one of those people who sits there watching all those documentaries, Blue Peter clips, etc, then you might want to consider it.

    I'm kinda miffed at the moment, as a lot of the Doctor Who DVD's were expensive to begin with, for whatever reason, but now they've seemed to only become more expensive. Some of them are going for like a hundred bucks on Amazon (including the only two I'm missing from 72-78). Ridiculous! But, I guess the DVD's were bound to be discontinued sooner or later.

  3. #3
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    There was a sweet spot just after the classic episodes were released on Netflix, or some similar service, and the DVD prices tanked. I didn't avail myself of it, but a remember noticing.

    I ordered the first season of Tom Baker about a week ago. I noticed his last season is out now, but they haven't done anything in between. I'm not sure how much of the other Doctors I am going to pick up. I guess it depends on how much I watch these. I really don't much TV anymore.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  4. #4
    I've only watched "Robot" - picture quality is an improvement, but it's not knock-your-socks-off (like Lost in Space, The Professionals, UFO, The Prisoner and other shows that were filmed vs taped as most of Dr Who was). I do like that they are being released in season sets and porting over all the extras from the DVD's and adding a few new extras. The first Tom Baker season has been around $35 which is a really good price (but be aware that the initial pressing had two faulty discs, and there is a replacement program if you get stuck with one of those). If the other seasons drop to the $30'ish range I'll likely pick them up.

    On a side note, the first 8 seasons of Red Dwarf have also come out on blu-ray in the UK - I think the set runs approx $50 delivered and it's region free...but like Dr Who, it's an upscale HD presentation from surviving video masters.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by notallwhowander View Post
    There was a sweet spot just after the classic episodes were released on Netflix, or some similar service, and the DVD prices tanked. I didn't avail myself of it, but a remember noticing.
    Let me guess, that was sometime between 2009 and 2014, right? That was during the time when I was unemployed and therefore couldn't afford even to buy deeply discounted DVD's. Oy!
    I ordered the first season of Tom Baker about a week ago. I noticed his last season is out now, but they haven't done anything in between. I'm not sure how much of the other Doctors I am going to pick up. I guess it depends on how much I watch these. I really don't much TV anymore.[
    Well, to me, Tom Baker's first series was right in the middle of what I consider to be the apogee of the show's run. The years that Barry Letts (which coincided exactly with Jon Pertwee's run in the title role) and Phillip Hinchcliffe (first couple years of Tom Baker's run) were the show's producers I think was the best stuff was done. And in fact, the first three Tom Baker series was my introduction to Doctor Who, because back in the early 80's, that was what PBS was showing, basically the entire run from Robot up through The Invasion In Time. So to me, that's a good place to start.

    Has anyone seen any of the so called Special Edition DVD's for Doctor Who? I see quite a few being listed on Amazon, but Amazon being the twats that they are, don't tell what's different on the Special Editions vis-a-vis the original DVD releases. You can't even figure it out from the reviews, because Amazon combines all reviews for any given title, regardless of which edition is being released, onto one page (so, for instance, you get reviews the original, remastered, and "Legacy Edition" versions of a given album all on one page, and you can't figure which version anyone is reviewing at any given time).

  6. #6
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    Tom Baker was my introduction to Dr. Who as well. I think my favorite is his second season. I haven't seen a lot of Pertwee, but I have caught the season preceding Tom Baker, and it was very cool. They managed some disturbingly surreal imagery there, if I remember correctly, particularly in those episodes with daffodils and carnival masks.

    For those in the know: is there word on a region-free release of Blake's 7? There was only ever a region 2 release on DVD.
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    My biggest concern is that the new versions of the episodes might have been altered. When I saw the "Genesis Of The Daleks" screening in the theaters, it had been edited down to about 90 minutes.


    Library Jon

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Library Jon View Post
    My biggest concern is that the new versions of the episodes might have been altered. When I saw the "Genesis Of The Daleks" screening in the theaters, it had been edited down to about 90 minutes.
    I wonder if that wasn't one of the omnibus editions that the BBC produced back in the 70's for repeats. Very very seldom did the BBC ever air reruns...well, they didn't reruns at much at all, neither did ITV. If I remember correctly, there was some sort of union rules that severely limited reruns on UK television. That's why so much stuff got junked during the 70's, because as far as anyone was concerned, it was literally useless. I think the reason for such regulations was that there were those were afraid that excessive repeat airings (as we do Stateside) would eventually limit the amount of new productions that were done.

    But back to my original point, when the BBC did air reruns of Doctor Who, they almost invariably took a given serial and cut it down to around 60-90 minutes. One of the DVD's I watched in recent weeks had a production note saying it was one of the very few to have to have been repeated by the Beeb in it's entirety, I think it might have been Destiny Of The Daleks, but I'm not sure off hand.

    So that might have been what you saw in the theater. I wouldn't imagine they'd be putting out the omnibus versions on Blu-Ray, as they certainly haven't done that on DVD, mostly. Planet Of The Spiders is the only one of the DVD's I've seen where they somewhat superfluously included the omnibus version as a bonus feature, but it's only a bonus feature, the full episodic version is also there as well.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by notallwhowander View Post
    For those in the know: is there word on a region-free release of Blake's 7? There was only ever a region 2 release on DVD.
    Now, that's a head scratcher, that they haven't done a proper US compatible release of Blake's 7. I know it was never as big as Doctor Who, but I remember watching it on PBS, and it must have some kind of Stateside following, as a result. I also remember watching the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (my introduction to the demented mind of Douglas Adams) and the first year or two of Red Dwarf, back in the late 80's and early 90's.

    Come to think of it, there was an interesting quirk with PBS and those BBC sci-fi things in our area. Our cable TV system got two different PBS stations, Channel 25 (WVIZ, Cleveland), and Channels 45 and 49 (it was one channel, but it broadcast on two different VHF stations in different areas). Channel 25 had been showing Doctor Who since at least 1980 or so, first showing the Tom Baker run I mentioned earlier, in episodic form, but then later, around 84 or 85, the distribution system changed, and they went over to showing the full run (or as much of the full run as was available at the time) in omnibus form (but these were just the regular episodes, edited together, with opening credits of all but the first episode and closing credits of all but the last spliced out, sometimes very sloppily). They were billing themselves as "the only TV station in Northeastern Ohio showing Doctor Who", or something similarly silly.

    So I think at one point, Channels 45 and 49 planned to start running Doctor Who, but since there was overlap in viewing areas between the two stations, and I guess because Channel 25 was getting a certain degree of cache out of the "only station in this area" thing that 45/49 dropped those plans. I never knew if Channel 25 literally got a court order in their favor, or if they did it over a bargaining table or what, but I think maybe 45/49 started running The Hitchiker's Guide..., Red Dwarf and Blake's Seven as sort of a consolation prize, as it were, when their plans for Doctor Who fell through. And I think that in turn led to them airing a lot of other BBC stuff, mostly sitcoms, but some sick fuck/Kenny G fan decided they should also run EastEnders (another rabbit hole I got sucked down, much to my disgrace).

  10. #10
    If the price of DVDs keep heading south I'm going to be looking into some classic Doctor Who seasons. A friend of mine burned a bunch of them for me, but I'd rather have the real deal. Thank PBS and WOR 9 for creating another fan.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ytserush View Post
    If the price of DVDs keep heading south I'm going to be looking into some classic Doctor Who seasons. A friend of mine burned a bunch of them for me, but I'd rather have the real deal. Thank PBS and WOR 9 for creating another fan.
    If by "heading south", you mean prices are going down, I don't see that trend with Doctor Who. If anything, the prices are going up! I believe some of the titles are out of print, as I don't see them listed anywhere except on Amazon and E-bay, where they're going for outrageous prices. Quite a few are going for over a hundred bucks. The reason I still don't have Underworld and The Image Of Fendahl (the only two from the original package that PBS was airing in the early 80's) is because last time I checked, they were going for circa 75-100 dollars!

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    May I suggest that you search for older Doctor Who DVDs at Barnes & Noble? I think that they might have harder to find episodes in stock and not even realize it. Sometimes they have sales, too. For example, I bought the new standard DVD version of "Shada" there at Christmas time for $9. Yes, $9!


    Library Jon

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Library Jon View Post
    May I suggest that you search for older Doctor Who DVDs at Barnes & Noble? I think that they might have harder to find episodes in stock and not even realize it. Sometimes they have sales, too. For example, I bought the new standard DVD version of "Shada" there at Christmas time for $9. Yes, $9!
    I'll have to look into that.

    Edit: B&N turned up about the same results as Amazon, i.e. the DVD's I'm looking for (some of them anyway) are going for extortionate prices. I did at least find a listing of what's on the "special editions", so I'll have to compare to them to the regular editions that I already have to see if it's worth buying them again.

    (and of course, I'm eventually going buy everything again when I finally get a Blu-Ray player)
    Last edited by GuitarGeek; 01-23-2019 at 11:54 PM.

  14. #14
    With regards to broadcast repeats, the original broadcasts would typically be four episodes per series. Episodes were, essentially, 25 minutes. If the series were to be edited into a continuous broadcast, then three lots of opening & closing credits would go, plus three lots of overlap at the beginning of episodes. So a four episode series broadcast continuously would run to 80-85 minutes.

    Genesis of the Daleks was relatively rare in being a six episode series.

    I have recently been revisiting some of the more experimental Peter Davison series - such as Kinda & Snakedance, the Black Guardian trilogy - I'd pretty much given up watching back in the day by this time (I started with late Troughton, but Pertwee was "my" Dr). I have been very impressed by the ambition & the writing in these series. Enlightenment, in particular, is outstanding (& I'm guessing the only classic series to have been written by a woman & directed by a woman).

    The great Fiona Cummings was involved in the production of the special/legacy edition of Enlightenment. My sense is that it has not been overly well received - it has been significantly edited down (by around 15-20 minutes), with a lot of important & good quality material having been excised. In addition, whereas, for instance, the CGI of the Mara at the end of Kinda is transformational, it is largely superfluous for Enlightenment.

    For what it's worth, I think part of the pleasure of these classic series is that they are "of their time" - the limitations enforced on the production teams by tight budgets, timescales, etc, frequently generated remarkable creativity (whilst also, of course, leading to some clunkers!). I have no problem with minor upgrading, but to take the example of Bluray, it seems largely pointless, given that the video stock for the majority of the original productions was fairly poor, as noted above.

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=per anporth;875260]
    With regards to broadcast repeats, the original broadcasts would typically be four episodes per series. Episodes were, essentially, 25 minutes. If the series were to be edited into a continuous broadcast, then three lots of opening & closing credits would go, plus three lots of overlap at the beginning of episodes. So a four episode series broadcast continuously would run to 80-85 minutes.
    Are you talking about the BBC repeats, or the ones that aired Stateside during the 80's? The BBC would prepare their own edits for serials they chose to repeat. The BBC didn't just cut out opening and closing credits and overlapping material, they cut large stretches of dialog and so forth. A 100 minute, 4 part serial, would be cut down to around 60 minutes.
    Genesis of the Daleks was relatively rare in being a six episode series.
    Six part serials were most definitely not "rare". They produced at least one per series during the 70's. Jon Pertwee's first season actually had three seven part serials, with only one four parter. Barry Letts complained on at least one of the audio commentaries on the DVD's, as this decision was made by his predecessor and it was down to him and Terence Dicks to figure out how to stretch those three stories out over 7 episodes a piece.

    Each series during the rest of Barry Letts' tenure as producer had at least two, I believe, six part serials, so by the time you get to Genesis Of The Daleks, six parters was actually a very common practice. It was only after that it became commonplace for them to do on only one per series.
    I have recently been revisiting some of the more experimental Peter Davison series - such as Kinda & Snakedance, the Black Guardian trilogy - I'd pretty much given up watching back in the day by this time (I started with late Troughton, but Pertwee was "my" Dr). I have been very impressed by the ambition & the writing in these series. Enlightenment, in particular, is outstanding (& I'm guessing the only classic series to have been written by a woman & directed by a woman).
    A lot of those I haven't seen since the 80's. I think I have Mawdryn Undead on VHS, taped off PBS, back then. That's the one where the Brigadier reappears, in both his older and slightly younger selves, isn't it? I've got a few of the Peter Davison shows on DVD, and apart from the sometimes less than great synthesizer scores (the use of synthesizers during the 70's was much better, particularly during the Jon Pertwee years) and the less than great costumes (John Nathan-Turner decided he wanted everyone wearing the same outfits all the time, and let's don't talk about the question marks), they're not that bad. But I have to say, I liked Janet Fielding with the shorter hair and the "civilian" clothes she had in Arc Of Infinity.
    The great Fiona Cummings was involved in the production of the special/legacy edition of Enlightenment. My sense is that it has not been overly well received - it has been significantly edited down (by around 15-20 minutes), with a lot of important & good quality material having been excised. In addition, whereas, for instance, the CGI of the Mara at the end of Kinda is transformational, it is largely superfluous for Enlightenment.
    So far, the only one where I think the CGI effects are anything but superfluous is Destiny Of The Daleks, where they did a CGI version of the Movellan ship landing and taking off, with the option of seeing either the original or CGI version. That one actually looks really good, actually better than the original. But the CGI effects on, say The Ark In Space, I think are terrible, I never watch them because there's no way they actually improve on the original.
    For what it's worth, I think part of the pleasure of these classic series is that they are "of their time" - the limitations enforced on the production teams by tight budgets, timescales, etc, frequently generated remarkable creativity (whilst also, of course, leading to some clunkers!).
    Yeah, I think it's part of the charm of the show. I actually rather like what they came up with under the circumstances. And a lot of what people say about how "bad" classic Doctor Who was, i.e. the "wobbly sets" and so forth, is greatly exaggerated. Yeah, there are instances where the sets wobble, but there's usually a reason for that, for instance, in Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, where they have these large corrugated metal panels dropping down, blocking the Doctor's route in the underground bunker, that caused the walls to wobble a bit. But most of the time, the walls didn't wobble.

    But there's certain bits that are just kind of strange, such as the man who appears in the background of a scene in Earthshock. Someone just wandered onto the back of the set, apparently unaware they were in the middle of a take, and nobody noticed until the show went out. And it's there to see in the DVD. I wonder if they "fixed" it for the Blu-Ray (I hope not).

    That same story also has a bit, where a Cyberman takes a woman as the Doctor and a group of people are entering the TARDIS. But then inside the TARDIS, suddenly, she's there, apparently unharmed, then later when they exit the TARDIS, she's missing again. What happened was they had to film the TARDIS interior scenes on a separate day from everything else, and someone messed up about which actors to recall to shoot on the second day of filming.

    What's actually interesting is hearing how little cooperation the show's production team got from other departments at the BBC. THere's a bit on one of the production notes on one of the DVD's, where it's mentioned that the BBC had a certain video system that caused the images to go a bit wonky when doing roll back and mix shots, for instance, when the TARDIS is supposed to appear or disappear. And the comment they got back from the technical department was that you're only supposed to use roll back and mix when dissolving from one scene to another, apparently totally clueless that being able to make things appear and disappear was an important part of this particular show.

    And you hear about them having to wrangle time for the use of the BBC's video disc machine to do certain kinds of special effects. Usually, they had to wrestle it from the sports department, who apparently were using to do instant replays during cricket matches or some such.

    So there was all kinds of headaches. But they got the show done, and I think in general, the results were excellent.
    Last edited by GuitarGeek; 01-24-2019 at 12:26 PM.

  16. #16
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    Periodically, Barnes & Noble has sales on BBC brand Blu Ray & DVD. That's how I got the "Shada" episode for so cheap. When I see the sale being advertised again, I will post something here.

    Library Jon

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Library Jon View Post
    Periodically, Barnes & Noble has sales on BBC brand Blu Ray & DVD. That's how I got the "Shada" episode for so cheap. When I see the sale being advertised again, I will post something here.

    Library Jon
    That's cool, but I really think the ones in question are basically out of print, and only avilable from "third party dealers". Both B&N and Amazon have "Marketplaces" which I think is basically people in whichever store wherever, trying to off load their outstanding stock.

    What I need, is to find a Goodwill or something that has the stories I'm pining after. Unlikely, I know, but I don't see Goodwill charging $75 American for a gotverdammter DVD!!!!!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    If by "heading south", you mean prices are going down, I don't see that trend with Doctor Who. If anything, the prices are going up! I believe some of the titles are out of print, as I don't see them listed anywhere except on Amazon and E-bay, where they're going for outrageous prices. Quite a few are going for over a hundred bucks. The reason I still don't have Underworld and The Image Of Fendahl (the only two from the original package that PBS was airing in the early 80's) is because last time I checked, they were going for circa 75-100 dollars!
    Well, Doctor Who is probably a specialty item so likely wouldn't follow the general trend of reduced prices. I haven't been as on top of the situation as you have, but I've been checking in stores whenever I'm there (infrequently) and there's been slight movement if there's a sale. Not really enough for me to do anything about it as of yet, but I'm not really in any hurry either.

    Wouldn't surprise me if they eventually started going up due to limited interest. That stuff never really flooded the market like maybe more widely popular DVDs might have so there just might not be as much out there.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by ytserush View Post
    Well, Doctor Who is probably a specialty item so likely wouldn't follow the general trend of reduced prices. I haven't been as on top of the situation as you have, but I've been checking in stores whenever I'm there (infrequently) and there's been slight movement if there's a sale. Not really enough for me to do anything about it as of yet, but I'm not really in any hurry either.

    Wouldn't surprise me if they eventually started going up due to limited interest. That stuff never really flooded the market like maybe more widely popular DVDs might have so there just might not be as much out there.
    SIGH! Which probably means I will forever have an incomplete set of Doctor Who DVD's.
    (INHALING DEEP) KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AHN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Oh wait, that's the wrong franchise. (Emily Lintilla mode) Never mind.

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