Monday, March 12, 2007
The Doctor that *I* grew up with was mostly Tom Baker, with just a hint of Pertwee. But I have to say that, by far, my favourite Doctor/companion combination is Patrick Troughton, Zoe, and Jamie.
I can't really explain why I like Troughton so much; I think it's because he so convincingly switches between glee, silliness, fear, and viciousness. As others have said, he's like a wonderful, slightly scary, crazy uncle. Throw in Jamie and Zoe, who are the most lovable non-sibling siblings ever, then add the fact that the three of them got along so INCREDIBLY well off-screen, and you have almost as much fun watching them as they supposedly had during rehearsals. Not to mention Zoe with That Catsuit.
Along comes the release of 1968's "The Invasion" on DVD. The cyberman story that doesn't really have cybermen in it. Instead it's got the debut of UNIT (who I've always enjoyed), Tobias Vaughn (best villain ever), Sally Faulkner as the rude mod gal (empowered just long enough to get a soldier killed, then settles down to tea-making duties)...somehow it's eight episodes that DESERVES to be eight episodes, never dull, always something new, even if you DO have to see the same stock footage of missile silos over and over and over again.
What's more, the BBC has gone out on a limb and animated the two missing episodes, synced up with the surviving audio soundtrack. It's cheap but absolutely watchable. Particularly fun is seeing animated characters try to sell the trademark Hines & Troughton mumbling ad-libs.
But best of all -- yes, it gets better! -- is the 15-minute documentary about the sad people who recorded the soundtracks off their TVs. Yes, the kids who audio-taped every episode of Doctor Who, some of them from the time of Marco Polo. The kids that everybody probably made fun of. The kids who, after the infamous wiping of 109-odd episodes by the BBC, are now the only source of those long-lost soundtracks.
They're slightly-embarassed middle-aged men now, but they chatter about the lovingly obsessive care they took recording the shows, and Mark Ayres (audio guru) explains the process of lovingly and obsessively cleaning them up for DVD. My brain just about exploded when he explained his technique for restoring a complete 10-second audio drop-out during "The Abominable Snowmen": sampling Patrick Troughton's phonemes from other episodes, then pitching, equalizing, and splicing them together to make a mostly understandable replacement.
Personal sentimental anecdote: I never recorded Doctor Who off the TV, mainly because I didn't have enough audio tapes. But I DID consider "Phantom of the Paradise" to be tape-worthy, though it ended up being grumbly City-TV jingles and me yelling at my sister to keep quiet.