Doctor Who ‘The Legacy Collection’ DVD review

‘Shada’ leads Doctor Who ‘The Legacy Collection’, out on DVD from 7 January 2013

Doctor Who Shada

Though ‘Shada’ and ‘More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS’ take point in ‘The Legacy Collection’, they’re perhaps the most ill-served by it – Douglas Adams’ legendary incomplete Doctor Who episode in particular crying out for some real love.

Apparently the original plan was for the missing segments of the strike-crippled story to be animated, much like those of Sixties serials ‘The Reign Of Terror’ and ‘The Invasion’, but the BBC weren’t impressed with the finished product and so what remains is a creaky up conversion from the 1994 VHS, complete with Tom Baker’s game, but cheapjack narrating links from a museum backroom.

Similarly, ’30 Years In The TARDIS’ is as it was, and despite the quality of the cast and crew interviews (which include archive interviews with spry looking Patrick Troughton, and then new ones with Jon Pertwee, and producers Barry Letts and Verity Lambert) and the obvious warmth it still engenders in fans, the production values date stamp the whole thing with the early Nineties (especially the footage of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred running around a Laser Quest, and Jon Pertwee strutting around the South Bank under the misconception that 1960s brutalist architecture is still somehow futuristic) to such a degree that the whole experience is less a fan-pleasing DVD edition of a much loved story arc and documentary, and more like a 3am viewing of UK Gold.

Obviously younger Whovians who haven’t encountered either of the early VHS releases have a stake in ‘The Legacy Collection’, or old hands looking to roll out DVD replacements for their battered old videos, will find ‘The Legacy Collection’ utterly vital.

For the more discerning fan, though, it’s the smaller features that make it worthwhile – most notable among them a wonderful last interview with the late Nicholas Courtney reassembled as a tribute to the former Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart,  ‘Strike! Strike! Strike!’, a fascinating featurette about the effects that industrial action had on the BBC and ITV well beyond the production of ‘Shada’, as well as an all-new ‘Shada’ making of featuring Tom Baker and guest star Daniel Hill.

With the new Making Of and the piece on industrial action, it wouldn’t have taken much for them to hold out for some new animation or script reading to make ‘Shada’ a fantastic package in itself – especially given how many alternative version there are out there, from Gareth Roberts recent adaptation to the Big Finish retelling with Paul McGann, but it’s cynically easy to see the rest of ‘The Legacy Collection’ video material as having precious little commercial value come the fresh retrospectives and documentaries doubtless lurking across the 50th anniversary year.