The "Lost in Time" DVD's include:
1. The Nightmare Begins - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)
Another thing to note is that even with such a massively long story, we don't have to wait until the end of the first episode before the Daleks are revealed - whether you count "Mission to the Unknown" or "The Nightmare Begins" as the true first episode. This is a plus; thank you Terry Nation! But it is then very odd that the first episode has such a weak cliffhanger. Prior to the release of the soundtrack on CD, not to mention the rediscovery of episode two on film, I couldn't claim to have any accurate idea of the episode endings for this first group of missing episodes, particularly as the endings I would have chosen would move many of the short clips into episodes other than the ones they are often labeled for.
I have to say, the dialogue continues to be really bad in many places - the arguments are very irritating to listen to, particularly as each character sounds pretty much the same and none of them come up with points that are any more enlightened than those of the person they are shouting down. It would all be easier for the audience to listen to and understand if the characters themselves would start listening to each other. As they irritate each other, so I feel irritated watching them. Through all this, I'm reminded of story editor Donald Tosh in his interview in Doctor Who Magazine issue 191 pages 11-12, where he wanted to take credit for fleshing out the dialogue in Terry Nation's thin Dalek Masterplan scripts, after such had been praised in a review. Well, if this is the Tosh flavour, I'm not favourably impressed myself.
2. Day of Armageddon - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)Things at last get really good again in the middle of the second episode. Bret's reactions, considering his occupation, really sell the Doctor's heroic nature here. Add to that the fact that the Doctor's actions set the entire plot rolling for the middle eight episodes, so this moment will not be soon forgotten. Right on, Terry Nation, you've given the main character his due at last! Thank you! Add to this the fact that the entire Masterplan Alliance is in attendance, and, as I originally wrote my review for this story in 2000, this became the number one Masterplan episode that I would have most liked to see recovered next. Well, lo and behold, four years later, wishes did come true!
Finally we got to see an episode showing the Masterplan Alliance: although still a bit juvenile in design, they do manage to be quite a bit more respectable here under Camfield's direction. Malpha has grown uncharacteristically silent, as Trantis takes over as spokesman for the collection of non-Dalek alien members. Actor Roy Evans manages to do interesting things with his look, even if vocal qualities aren't a particular strength this time around.
Episode Two's cliffhanger is excellent, and early enough to leave lots of good stuff for episode three and make it far more interesting than I had previously anticipated.
3. Devil's Planet - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)Now "The Chase" is on, again, but it is a large improvement on Terry Nation's previous Dalek adventure, mostly because our four main characters have a very specific goal in mind, and the tools to make that an achievable goal as well.
Things drop to an all-time low later on in terms of plot interest as we make a big detour. Thank God this only lasts for half an episode and not a full one as I had anticipated from Rosemary Howe's novelization. There is some significance to this sequence after all though, but telling would be spoiling....
4. The Traitors - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)The actual available clip isn't too riveting in itself, when wrenched out of the proper context of the story. All four men present seem to be simply getting on each other's nerves with every line of dialogue, while the entire clip's soundtrack is laced with unpleasant, agonizing screeching. The clip builds suspense, then ends before the main event, thus its significance is really diminished in my opinion. The soundtrack goes on to reveal much of the missing payoff, which successfully brings quality back into balance. All in all, after excusing the script and placing it within the story's context, the part we can watch is still well directed and acted out.
Episode four then gives us as near a total main cast as any single Masterplan episode, featuring Katarina, Bret Vyon, Sara Kingdom, Trantis, Lizan, and Karlton, not to mention more intrigue and gut-wrenching plot twists than any other episode as well. Shades of "Blake's 7"! If the Masterplan story is never completely recovered, this episode might well best represent the entire story. It is certainly a significant, "must-have" one!
5. Counter Plot - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)Once more, we get to see a full, original episode. As a continuation from episode four, it works fairly well, but on its own, it seems to start off a bit silly, and Tristram Cary's light and quaint music is a major factor, as is the distraction of the experiment before its impact on the plot is revealed. William Hartnell barely has time to show any strength in his performance as the Doctor before he hits his Masterplan acting low-point, making silly faces while a superimposed white-wash suffices as a cheap source of BBC special effect. Please stay tuned though, as things quickly get much better.
Characters press each other for information on "what just happened", creating an excellent sci-fi mystery investigation, one which also keeps our main characters exploring a new frontier and confronting new, mysterious creatures. Right on! Everything you'd want from a good sci-fi adventure! We soon get a sequence that is beautiful and haunting, as Camfield masterfully overlays a variety of images, producing the kind of questions that really inspire healthy artistic debate. Cary's music becomes suitably weird and atmospheric at this point, which is a very welcome return shift. And there's never any real danger of not understanding what's going on, because the scenes of explanation are so perfectly juxtaposed. The blend of science, mystery, and wonder is perfect.
Now, here we get a perfect example of how to make a story that needs padding work even better than if it didn't. After spoken words fill us with awe and wonder, we get a nice, long, atmospheric motion shots over the creatively realized sets, complete with forlorn music, to make sure that the ideas we've just heard make a lasting impression on us viewers. In fact, this happens several times this episode, at appropriate points. Richard Martin, Mervyn Pinfield, take notes! Good stories need atmospheric moments of much music and no dialogue - it helps make them POWERFUL! And unfortunately, writers often have a tendency to focus on dialogue and action, and forget the purely emotional techniques that cinematic art can draw upon. At least Douglas Camfield was on his material, as usual.
Emphasis switches from minor characters back to our main characters closer to the end of the episode, putting the Doctor back in the lime-light as the lead problem solver and group leader, allowing the companions to confront each other on recent events, and focusing once more on the main plot with the Daleks. All this builds to a nice high dramatic note to create a cliff-hanger out of!
6. Coronas of the Sun - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry NationThe writing hat finally changes, and the change is noticeable in at least one significant respect. Dennis Spooner writes for a much smaller cast than does Terry Nation. However, the main characters themselves have more to do in the Dennis Spooner scripts, and this in itself is also a good thing.
Sara's most memorable line written for this episode is one which skips by on the soundtrack without any real emotion in it or surrounding it. Most disappointing. Sara's character arc is potentially the most interesting thing in this story, and it seems too easily to have been ignored in the production..... Jean Marsh is capable of much more.... perhaps she did something visually to make up for what wasn't in her voice. One lives in hope.
The action bringing the Masterplan story to a temporary conclusion for its first half is dramatic enough, but also a little bit two dimensional and contrived. Still, it works well enough, and nicely brings a lot of main characters together. Satisfying, and good.
7. The Feast of Steven - by Terry NationNow we come to the December 25, 1965 special Christmas episode that many people feel does not need to be truly counted as part of "The Dalek Masterplan" proper. Well, it may not impact plot very much, but I feel very strongly that it impacts character, Sara's in particular. However, this comes out in John Peel's novelization more than anywhere else, and the television episode is quite lacking without paying as much attention to this aspect.
You have to love the classic moment of the Doctor proclaiming his universal citizenship in front of the precinct's highest ranking officer, who would rather believe that the Doctor is some crazy homeless vagrant. This episode is designed to be full of good, humorous moments, which I like.
I anticipated that I'd sooner see this episode recovered than number three (Devil's Planet) any day, until I heard the soundtracks. Devil's Planet has extra goodies all through the beginning, making it more worthwhile than I had expected, while The Feast of Steven was disappointing. Not only does the script drag Sara through the episode without focusing on her internal development, but it instead focuses on a heck of a lot of quite humourless inanity. Is it the Donald Tosh flavour of fleshing out scripts that brings us a pile of characters ragging and nagging at each other once more? This is not my idea of humour. The actors brought in don't help matters much either, and perhaps the worst offender is sadly the director's wife Sheila Dunn in the Blossom LeFavre role. She will be great in "Inferno" (story no. 54) and decent in "The Invasion" (story no. 46), but here she does little more than force the volume meters to full distortion at the top end of the scale with constant uncharismatic screams. The rest of the cast is forced to try to shout over her to make themselves heard, and the whole fiasco misses the mark. This is probably the least effective episode that Douglas Camfield ever directed. At least poor Sheila delivers some redeeming lines later on. If only the rest of her performance had been as good.....
William Hartnell (and possibly Camfield as well) threw a nice bit into the ending of the episode.... Haha! This MAKES the episode as far as I'm concerned, and puts the mostly aimless, light-hearted shenanigans into the context that it so badly needs. Good for you, Billy! This made script editor Donald Tosh a bit upset, did it? Doubly good! It would have been even better if the companions had timed themselves as though they were in on it as well, so as not to drown out the beginning of it..... Even so, the moment still manages to be the highlight of the episode.
8. Volcano - by Dennis Spooner, based on Ideas by Terry Nation and Dennis SpoonerThis episode has more time-machine movement than you can shake a stick at. That's quite a number of possible effects-shots which Camfield and the BBC might be tempted to cut corners on. The soundtrack seems to indicate that a high percentage were tackled and done well - good stuff.
The episode's content features a wide variety of elements of varying quality. The centerpiece is a short subplot surrounding a returning guest character - an interesting diversion, but one that only deserves about half an episode, which is about exactly what it gets.
Some of the other bits work well, while some are truly bland. John Peel has made some more very good additions to the novel here concerning character. Meanwhile, the television version seems once more to be scrounging to find material to fill out the time slot, without clueing in to character development in the regulars. Development among the villains is working well here though, and is enough in the end to balance the episode and make it feel logically paced.....
9. Golden Death - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry NationFor all its unnecessary gruesomeness, the episode's title seems to have little to do with anything in the episode, and a change would be most appropriate. In fact, the working title "Land of the Pharaohs" seems to be a lot better.
At last we come to one of the best-developed settings of the Masterplan story, probably second only to Kembel itself. Judging by the sound, time machine effects all seem to have received their due. Somehow, it feels like there is much more scope for character interaction than what we actually end up with on screen, although the episode still manages to deliver some truly unique moments.
William Hartnell seems to have had one terrible sore throat for the taping of this episode, but to his credit, he is a real trouper and does not fail to put his struggled-out all into the delivery of all of his lines to hit the emotional mark.
The episode would be rather bland and one dimensional if it weren't for the inclusion of one of the guest characters, who manages some great interaction and injects huge amounts of humour into the proceedings as well. The best written scenes of the episode, special effects wonders aside, are his confrontations with others. The actor seems a little unsure how to play his first scene, but quickly improves.
10. Escape Switch - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation
The Doctor takes his time to show up on the scene, but when he does, he makes a dramatic entrance and maintains a very commanding presence throughout the rest of the episode. Nicely done!
Excusing the poor design of the technique for the Dalek negative beam effect, Douglas Camfield makes the most of it with a careful, conscious planning of exactly who and what will be in the shot when the black and white gets reversed. The action is very believably and clearly done, and all participants remain within their characters the whole time. However, the script has failed to build this moment up to anything more than yet another dispassionate display of Dalek (and writer's) callousness, a bland spectacle with little encouragement for the viewer to root for or care about either side in the struggle. John Peel's novel helps matters somewhat though, in creating a bit of a story arc for this action sequence to resolve. That was good. However, he manages to take it a little too far with the suggestion that it explains a bit of Earth history.
The memory of high-energy mayhem from this randomizing element in the plot carries over to lend weight to the rest of the scenes wrapping up this episode, scenes which are very well-done dramatically, but whose more quiet nature might seem to be lacking something without the action sequence preceding them. Some of the effects are done on the cheap this time. However, acting performances seem to be much better here than in the previous three episodes, so perhaps the shift in emphasis away from effects shots has its benefits after all, but ideally it would be nice to have both.
All in all, episode 10 here manages to be one of the most enjoyable of the entire Dalek Masterplan story, with a large cast of the story's most important characters all interacting with each other successfully, and none of the irritating dialogue that plagued many of this epic's earliest episodes. I think we can consider ourselves very lucky that this is one of the episodes we still have available to watch.
11. The Abandoned Planet - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry NationA big mystery surrounds this episode's production.... Exactly why was it rewritten at the last minute to pull another missing Doctor stunt on the audience? Normally this is done to give star William Hartnell a week off, either for illness, injury, or holiday purposes. That would have meant taping the bulk of this episode, and probably the beginning of the next, during the week that Hartnell was not there, and then as he returned the following week, they could then record his one scene for episode eleven, (kind of like a POST-filmed insert), and complete the bulk of episode twelve. However, according to Andrew Pixley's ever informative Archive features in Doctor Who Magazine, Hartnell was on hand both weeks for both episodes' rehearsals and recordings, and certainly doesn't sport the sore throat he had back in episode nine. Each week also saw a whole episode being recorded, with nothing out of sequence between episodes. The goal of this exercise therefore remains an enigma.
However, the end result is clear. The Doctor's absence is not particularly well dealt with on this occasion, as Steven and Sara's achievable goals in dealing with the main plot are now upstaged by the useless, unachievable goal of finding the Doctor, which tempts the audience to notice the absence and miss his presence all the more. Dennis Spooner has made this mistake before.... Or is it Donald Tosh repeating the error this time?
On the one hand, I'd love to have this episode recovered to see the resolution of some of the story's subplots, which is this episode's particular well-deserved and interesting strength. On the other hand, this resolution really requires the Doctor's presence in order to work for me, as none of the companions have the character traits to believably pull off these scenes for me. Perhaps it's better to remember this episode as it was originally scripted, and as John Peel quite rightly decided to novelize it - with a fully present Doctor.
Even with the usual minus marks of a Doctor-less episode, there is still enough intrigue and atmosphere to make the episode still very worthwhile. It's also got Douglas Camfield as a director. And William Hartnell does get at least one scene of good length in near the beginning - the first time he's been so well represented during one of his "absences". Perhaps I'll take my chances and brave the taped episode anyway should it be recovered, Doctor-less or not.
Still, in terms of voice performances, some characters still manage to seem far more juvenile than they deserve to be. Camfield may have done a few things visually to have them come off a bit better - he usually does, but vocally they don't seem to be enough of a draw to make the episode desirable with Hartnell not there.
12. The Destruction of Time - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry NationAt last the grand epic story of the William Hartnell era comes to its final conclusion. The cast has been reduced a little too much in order for it to be everything it could have been though. John Peel amends this somewhat in his novelization, but still doesn't go far enough in my opinion. The soundtrack reveals that there is good time for more to be squeezed in here and there....
Episode Twelve's biggest strength is in all the drama surrounding certain unique sci-fi effects. At least the Doctor gets good screen time and significant things to do - the best William Hartnell ever got in any of his Dalek stories. The companions also get their due, and by the time it's all over, the odyssey and the drama all feel quite worthwhile.
and the special prologue episode "Mission to the Unknown", in two formats:
Music by Tristram Cary
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