Doctor Who: Dalek War

Somebody's been colouring in the Daleks! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

After several seasons of being exiled to Earth, the end of The Three Doctors (the first storyline from the show's tenth season) saw John Pertwee's Doctor finally being given free-reign to roam the cosmos once again. While the subsequent adventure Carnival of Monsters found the time traveler and his companion Jo (Katy Manning) trapped inside an alien sideshow attraction, the next story Frontier in Space truly embraced the space-faring concept with a piece of pure space opera.

This six-part story found the Doctor and Jo getting caught up in an outer space cold war between mankind and the Draconian Empire. However, our hero soon realises that both forces are being manipulated by an old foe - The Master! But there's another danger on the horizon, an even older enemy whose surprise appearance towards the end of the season is sort of ruined by the title of this box set and the inclusion of the next story in the season Planet of the Daleks. This second six-part tale has the TARDIS materialising on the planet Spiridon, where a gravely injured Doctor must stop an army of Daleks from sweeping across the galaxy.

Bringing back the colour
Arriving as a four-disc set, with two devoted to each story, the Dalek War DVD boxset is yet another magnificent example of the work 2 Entertain and The Doctor Who Restoration Team put into bringing this series to DVD. And while the quality is easily up to the standard of other releases from the same era, even more work went into Planet of the Daleks than usual.

This is all down to the story's third episode, which only survived as a black and white 16mm film recording. Yet, this DVD release presents the episode in full colour, thanks to a combination of re-colourisation techniques - the first the traditional technique you are probably already familiar with, the second a new process that can actually recover the original colour information from the black and white 16mm recording. While neither process produced perfect results individually, when used in conjunction with one another the result is simply remarkable. For a more detailed account of the processes used, I recommend you visit the appropriate page on The Doctor Who Restoration Team website. I can only hope that the success of the process in this story encourages the funding necessary to do the same with the other episodes from colour Doctor Who stories that only exist today in black and white.

Old hands
The actual content of the DVDs themselves breaks down identically across the two stories. The first disc for each includes all six episodes with optional audio commentary, while the second disc for each contains the bulk of the supplementary material. The commentary tracks themselves are as informative and fun as ever, with the participants clearly having a fun time remembering the shoots and offering up plenty of amusing anecdotes and asides. For the record, Frontier in Space's commentary features Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and moderator Clayton Hickman (all of whom are old hands at these commentary tracks now and get into the swing of things right from the start), while Planet of the Daleks finds Manning, Letts and Dicks being joined by actors Prentis Hancock and Tim Preece.

Bigger on the inside
Frontier in Space's bonus disc kicks off with The Perfect Scenario: Lost Frontiers (30mins), a detailed look at the themes and concepts Doctor Who was tackling at the time, albeit presented in its own rather gimmicky setting that doesn't really add to the experience. The Space War (18mins ) is a more traditional retrospective featurette about the making of the series. Roger Delgado: The Master (32mins) is a moving tribute the late actor who made his last appearance as the Doctor's nemesis in this storyline. Stripped for Action: The Third Doctor (16mins) is the latest in the series of featurettes devoted to uncovering a specific Doctor's comic book adventures and is every bit as fascinating as its predecessors. Rounding things off are an animated Photo Gallery (6mins), PDF Material (Production Design Drawings, Radio Times Listings and BBC Enterprises Sales Literature) and a trailer for the next classic Who DVD release, a double-pack of The King's Demons and Planet of Fire.

The Perfect Scenario: The End of Dreams (30mins) kicks off Planet of the Daleks' second disc, acting as a follow-up to Frontier in Space's ...Lost Frontiers, with all of the same strengths and weaknesses. The Rumble in the Jungle (17mins) serves up another solid retrospective Making of... featurette. Multi-Colourisation (11mins) takes a detailed look at the work done to bring colour back to Planet of the Dalek's third episode and manages to make what is cleary a very complex process seem perfectly understandable.

With the Third Doctor's comic strip adventures already charted on Frontier in Space's bonus disc, we now come to my favourite extra in the set - Stripped for Action: The Daleks (14mins). Having grown up reading many of the Dalek strips here, it was great to be reminded of not only how beautiful they were, but how innovative and experimental many of the stories were. Popular tea-time show Blue Peter turns up again in the form of two extracts (the first in black and white, the second in colour) following the theft and recovery of a pair of Daleks (13mins). Finally, there's an animated Photo Gallery (9mins), another batch of PDF Material (Production Design Drawings and Radio Times Listings) and a repeat of the trailer for The King's Demons and Planet of Fire double-pack.

2 Entertain Video, Region 2 DVD, £35 approx, On sale now