The TARDIS arrives in December 1986 at a South Pole Space Tracking station where the personnel, under the command of General Cutler, are engaged in trying to talk down a manned space capsule that has got into difficulty. The Doctor realizes that the problem stems from the gravitational pull of another planet that has entered the solar system and is now heading for Earth. His words are borne out when the base is invaded by a force of alien Cybermen. The Cybermen’s world, Mondas, is draining energy from Earth – once its ‘twin planet’ – and the situation will soon become critical.

drwhotenthplanetdvdStudio: BBC Home Entertainment
Year: 2013
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Run time: 93 minutes
Rating: NR

Audio: Dolby Digital mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 3 DVD
Region: A

This William Hartnell, first Doctor adventure, originally broadcast between 8 October through 29 October 1966 introduces the Cybermen in a dramatic adventure which also marks the departure of Hartnell from the show and the first ever Timelord regeneration.

So much, packed into such a short time. One must applaud the work done to get this particular story out given the missing fourth most crucial episode. Given the abysmal treatment of the actual show by the BBC originally in dumbing it down and finally disposing of it, it is a credit to them that they have devoted so much care, time and attention to the delivery of the shows on VHS and DVD formats.

As readers of my reviews will know by now, I often refer to the educational mission of the BBC in it’s original charter. This story is no exception. The Hartnell years, more than any other, were characterised by the inclusion of new versions of historical events as well as being more overly likely to bring in new scientific developments or moral issues.

In this story we discover that the Cybermen originated on the planet Mondas, shown as being an inverse of earth, which was earth’s twin planet until it’s orbit changed. In order to survive the inhabitants of the planet developed cybernetic techniques, firstly to replace body parts and laterto replace the brain where emotional centres were removed as they were unneccesary. Ultimately, life – but not as we know it – continued but in the process the Mondians lost their humanity. Readers might recall the larger than life movie version of Darth Vader in the Star Wars epics.

It is this which makes the Cybermen so meanacing, the fact that their decisions are made on the basis of logic alone and where they have no other concerns than purely practical matters. Given that the first heart transplants had only recently been undertaken by Christian Barnard in South Africa, it seems a remote concern for the time but indicates the seriousness with which the debate about such things was conducted.

Movie Quality: 9/10

Special Features

  • Commentary. Commentators include Anneke Wills (plays Polly), Christopher Matthews (plays a radar technician), Earl Cameron (plays Williams), Alan White (plays Schultz), Donald Van Der Maaten (plays cybermen Shav and Gem), Christopher Dunham (plays R/T technician) and Peter Kindred (designer).
  • Photo Gallery
  • Episode 4 VHS Reconstruction
  • “Frozen Out”
  • Production Notes Subtitles
  • Coming Soon Trailer
  • “Doctor Who Stories: Anneke Wills”
  • “The Golden Age”
  • “Boys! Boys! Boys!”
  • “Companion Piece”
  • “Points West: William Hartnell Interview”
  • “Blue Peter: Doctor Who’s Tenth Anniversary”
  • PDF Materials: Radio Times Listing

Overall Rating: 9/10

Final Thoughts

For a finale, this was one of Hartnell’s greatest performances as the Doctor. The crotchety old man at the start of the Doctor Who programmes had turned the role into one in which he had stature and commanded respect. It is a testimony to the man that he could turn his last show as the Doctor into such a vintage, virtuoso performance.
Overall Rating: 9/10