November 21, 2012


In April, 1970, a national space agency had a near fatal disaster with one of its manned missions. As a result, three astronauts came very close to losing their lives, and we nearly avoided an interplanetary war on a massive scale.

I'm talking about, of course, 1970s Doctor Who - The Ambassadors of Death, a classic Doctor Who story which was aired (ironically) at the same time Apollo 13 had a near fatal disaster in deep space. This story is also part of the original Series 7, which was a significant shift in the tone of the show, becoming much more earthbound, more "gritty" and adult, and more mature in themes and storytelling.

The Ambassadors of Death, written by David Whitaker (the latter half ghostwritten by Malcolm Hulke), is a seven-episode story that begins as a mystery, has a middle that is a James Bond-style action romp, and leads to a conspiracy-style conclusion. Like Inferno (the story that happens after this), there is very little padding - in fact, the story moves at a pretty strong pace. Unlike Doctor Who and the Silurians (the preceding story), there are very few let's-kill-time-in-the-lab-style scenes, and it feels very well plotted despite its tricky production history.

The other major aspect of this release is the remastering - this particular story has seen multiple delays due to restoring color, picture quality, and being a full-blooded DVD release, and the Restoration Team has definitely earned their stripes. Six out of seven episodes simply sparkle, looking as if they just came from the studio yesterday. My only minor quibble - episode two's color tends to look a little washed out, but the quality of the other episodes more than make up for that single glitch.

This is also one of the few Doctor Who classic stories that I don't remember ever watching, and ended up spreading out the viewing over a few days....and quite honestly, I was hooked. Well-directed by Michael Ferguson, crackling script, great acting....I can understand why many classic Who fans love this story - it simply is that good.

Well worth your time and attention.

Doctor Who: Ep. 53 - Ambassadors Of Death Dvd from Warner Bros.Doctor Who - Ambassadors of Death

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