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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally released in America
This docu-drama, released as part of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who last November, presented the origins of the series through the eyes of producer Verity Lambert and actor William Hartnell. Both characters are brilliantly played by Jessica Raine and David Bradley respectively. Bradley, in particular, acts with charm and grace to bring us an interpretation of a man...
Published 10 months ago by B. Newby

14 of 79 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Discs
I want to make it clear that the docu-drama itself is a masterpiece of the genre and if I were rating this product on the content of the primary film alone it would get a full 5 stars. The extras which are listed in some of the other reviews are valuable as well.
My beef with this edition is first, I don't want or need a Blu-ray - I don't intend to switch anytime...
Published 10 months ago by Matt Harnick

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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally released in America, March 24, 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
This docu-drama, released as part of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who last November, presented the origins of the series through the eyes of producer Verity Lambert and actor William Hartnell. Both characters are brilliantly played by Jessica Raine and David Bradley respectively. Bradley, in particular, acts with charm and grace to bring us an interpretation of a man whose life is more a series of anecdotes than actual history. While many people associated with DW's start are either still alive or are well-documented in interviews and archive footage, very little exists regarding Hartnell, and that left Bradley with a lot of research to do with few resources. He lives up to the challenge, though, portraying Hartnell as tough but kindly, a gruff man with a heart of gold and a fierce loyalty to the show. He becomes an endearing character whose immanent departure from the series will tug at your heart-strings. The best part of his performance is how he portrays Hartnell's embrace of change at the beginning and slowly eschews it over time. The concept of life-changes plays such a major part in this film and is wonderfully embodied by Bradley in the character of Hartnell, especially in his final scene playing the Doctor.

The movie is a lovely mixture of humor and drama, just what you would want from a tv dramatization of real life. Whether it will hold much appeal for non-DW fans, I cannot say, though it is a strong enough piece to be admired just for its construction. DW fans, however, should find much to intrigue them and perhaps they will learn a thing or two they didn't already know about the series. The story very closely resembles the facts about the creation of the series, as reflected in the commentary, text-track, and documentaries associated with "An Unearthly Child." After watching this movie when it aired last November, I read up as much as I could about the origin of the series and found that this film was surprisingly accurate in its portrayal of just about everything (though some events are conflated in order to keep the narrative moving).

I am glad this film is getting a release in America. I did not wait and bought a R2 copy from Britain. According to release details, the American release has all the same special features as the British version. Regarding those, this is where I removed a star. While the making-of featurette and the small discussion about Hartnell are fine viewing, they were far too short for my taste and left me feeling unsatisfied. The reconstructions of original episodes involve about 1 minute of actual reconstructions, most of which can be found in the film itself. The only truly unique reconstruction is the Doctor's breaking of the 4th wall during the Christmas special "The Feast of Steven."

The American release of this movie makes up a bit for the lack of special features by adding "An Unearthly Child" as a bonus disc. Judging by the fact that the entire "10,000 BC" serial is included, plus the unaired pilot, this is most likely the same as the release found in the "Beginnings" box set. If so, the special features are excellent and will only add to your appreciation of "An Adventure in Space and Time."

Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in the origins of the Doctor Who televsion show. I would also recommend it for anyone who appreciates a well-developed docu-drama.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BluRay AND DVD COMBO PACK - Many Extras and They're GREAT!, March 21, 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
1966 England, an elderly man is driving alone on a foggy night. It's a country road, a bare grassy plot on the left, a perimeter of trees barely showing through the haze. And ahead, a small blue box with a light showing through its window. He stops the car and stares. It's a police box, a blue police box. A policeman exits the box and walks towards the stopped car. But the driver doesn't notice him. He's lost in his memories. Memories starting only three years before.

That would have been 1963, and we're taken back, too. Sydney Newman reigns as BBC's Head of Drama, brash, confident, waving his cigar like a baton. They need a new show to fill a 25 minute time slot. Syd settles on science fiction. It's IN. It's BIG. Valentina Tereshkova has just orbited the Earth and the space race is in full swing.

Syd shocks the untested Verity Lambert by offering her the producer's slot. He selects a director, Waris Hussein, who equally has something to prove. And he recommends an actor for the protagonist, the irascible William Hartnell.

Verity and Waris take Hartnell for a drink to sell him on the show. Verity assures the prickly actor that Doctor Who is "C.S. Lewis meets H.G. Wells meets Father Christmas. That's the Doctor."

Hartnell replies: "Doctor who?"

You saw that coming!
And the rest is history.

This is an excellent special. David Bradley is superb as William Hartnell. There is comedy, there is tension. One of my favorite TV shows was THAT close to never happening.

If you check out the entry for this special on, you'll see a great run-down of differences between the script and real life. For example, in the special, it's implied that Hartnell's inability to get companion Ian Chesterson's name correct is due to his failing health. Actually, it was scripted that way as a comic touch.

There are many insider touches in this show. Did you notice that Harry, the security guard, is played by William Russell, who played, of course, the original companion Ian Chesterson? Watch Verity's party sequence and you'll see Anneke Wills (played companion Polly) and Jean Marsh in uncredited cameos. Toby Hadoke, who I think has done a great job moderating commentaries on classic Dr Who DVD releases, has a part as Cyril. Carol Ann Ford (played the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan = the original Unearthly Child) has a part as Joyce.

This is a 3 disc set, with 1 Blu Ray and 2 DVD discs. I think it's great. This is how I have been purchasing new and re-issued Disney movies, for example. The idea is that you can pop the DVD in the computer while traveling with the kids (of any age).

Note: There is going to be a big "Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection" issued on DVD sometime late 2014, and "An Adventure in Space and Time" will probably be included in that set.

The film's original broadcast in England was immediately followed by a rebroadcast of William Hartnell in the original 4-episode "An Unearthly Child" (1963). This 1st series is already available on DVD in the 3-episode set, "Doctor Who: The Beginning" as well as the older "Lost in Time Collection of Rare Episodes - The William Hartnell Years and the Patrick Troughton Years" (2004). I think it's neat to watch the special followed by the real show.

The 2013 TV special "An Adventure in Space and Time" is 85 minutes without commercials. English subtitles are available on the Blu Ray and DVDs. Here is what you'll get on the discs, and there's a LOT of extras:

DISC 1: Blu Ray
1. "An Adventure in Space and Time" (85 minutes) Presented in 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound.
2. "William Hartnell: The Original" (5 minutes, TV special 2013) Commentators include Jessica Carney (Hartnell's granddaughter), Mark Eden (plays Marco Polo in the original "Marco Polo" (1964) series), Waris Hussein (the 1st Dr Who director), William Russell (plays companion Ian Chesterson), Peter Purves (plays companion Steven Taylor), Terrence Dicks (script editor "The Three Doctors" with a Hartnell cameo), David Bradley (plays William Hartnell), Mark Gatiss (writer & executive producer), Carole Ann Ford (plays Susan, the 1st Doctor's granddaughter), Peter Davison (plays the 5th Doctor) and Matt Smith (plays the 11th Doctor and has a wonderful cameo in this TV special).
Hussein doesn't mention the discrimination he had to fight in the day, but instead says: "I feel more like a dad than a director about this, ... because I was at the birth of this show, and it makes me very proud."
3. "The Making of 'An Adventure in Space and Time'" (10 minutes) This is narrated by Carol Ann Ford with commentators Mark Gatiss, Brian Cox (plays Sydney Newman), Jessica Raine (plays Verity Lambert), David Bradley, William Russell, Sacha Dhawan (plays Waris Hussein), Waris Hussein, Claudia Grant (plays Carole Ann Ford), James Glover (plays William Russell) and Jemma Powell (plays Jacqueline Hill).
Gatiss says, "I still can't quite believe it, because I first sort of pitched this story about thirteen years ago. And then I tried very strongly to get it made for the 40th anniversary." The 50th is better than never!
4. "Reconstruction: Four Sequences" These show how careful the producers of "An Adventure in Space and Time" tried to be in recreating true life. The sequences shown here are basically unedited versions of scenes that do appear in the special:
...A. Scenes From An Unearthly Child: Pilot and Episode 4. These B&W reconstructions include the blooper where the TARDIS door accidentally opens and you can see the hunched-over tech closing them again from the other side.
...B. Regeneration. Bradley turns into Reece Shearsmith (playing Patrick Troughton) who turns into Mark Gatiss (playing Jon Pertwee in a hilarious wig).
...C. Farewell to Susan. A recreation of the Doctor's speech at the end of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (1964). Susan leaves the show, poignantly, and her Grandfather tells her goodbye.
[Trivia: At different times in her life, Susan is known as "Susan Foreman", "Susan English" and "Susan Campbell". All of these names are aliases, as her Gallifreyan birth name is Arkytior.]
...D. Festive Greeting. It was common for characters in popular TV shows to make short holiday greetings to the audience during the Christmas season. This is a recreation of Hartnell's greeting during the series "The Dalek's Master Plan" (1965).
5. "Title Sequences"
6. "Deleted Scenes" There are two: an extended version of a scene at The Radiophonic Workshop, where Celia Derbyshire demonstrates the newly created Doctor Who theme music, and the appearance of a Monoid (from the series "The Ark") at Verity's farewell party.

Items # 1 & 2 can most recently be found on the 3-series DVD set "Doctor Who: The Beginning" (2006).
1. "An Unearthly Child" (100 minutes, 1963) The is the original broadcast version of the very first Doctor Who series, in 4 episodes. You'll see two hallmarks of Dr Who in this very first series. 1) The TARDIS sometimes goes where she wants to go instead of where the Doctor wants to go. 2) On landing in a strange landscape, the Doctor exits the TARDIS and mutters, "It's still a police box! Why hasn't it changed? Dear dear, how very disturbing."
2. "An Unearthly Child Pilot" (40 minutes, 1963) This rough version was shot a month before the "real" episode, and was the pilot used to convince the powers that be to go with this new TV show. It is unedited, with outtakes.
3. Theme Music Videos. These are B&W 2-minute extended remixes of the Title Sequence. Three versions: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 2.0, and Mono.
4. Comedy Sketches (18 minutes total):
...A. "The Pitch of Fear" Sydney Newman (David Williams) pitches a new science fiction show to Mr. Borusa (Mark Gatiss). This is funny with all kinds of inside references. Watch it twice to make sure you catch them all.
...B. "The Corridor Sketch" This B&W sketch dates from 1996. A reporter is in the corridor outside of Studio D, trying to get interviews from the participants of the first rehearsal of a new show, "Doc' True", episode "An Unearthly Chill". Lots of confusion, including the fellow who thinks the show will resemble "Dr. Kildare". At the end, the reporter wonders, "But what of the future for this new series? I have with me the director general of the BBC. So, Horace, how long do you think this new series will last?"
Played by an elegant Nicholas Courtney, the director says, "About 26 years, 1 week and 6 days."
...C. "The Web of Caves" B&W mini-episode. The Doctor (played by Mark Gatiss in another wig) lands on a planet with a mildly confused alien menace. "He's rather nice, isn't he?"
...D. "The Kidnappers" The teenaged Mark (Gatiss, of course!) is woken by his best friend bringing him a present. It's Peter Davison, who plays the 5th Doctor, with his hands bound and mouth taped. The two fans, no not fans, but "enthusiasts", are dying to ask him questions.
5. Photo Gallery. There are B&W production and rehearsal stills of the real show and behind the scene and publicity shots of the real actors. Also a few color photographs of the commentary recording.
6. Audio Options. You can listen to a Commentary track on the 40 minute pilot (unaired) of Episode 1, as well as on Episodes 1 and 4 of the originally aired "An Unearthly Child".
PILOT Episode 1: Moderated by Gary Russell, commentators are Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein. Lambert explains why there were given the luxury of shooting episode 1 twice: "Dr Who was envisioned to last at least a year, which was incredibly unusual."
Of course, as Russell notes, the first episode 1 was "not really a pilot, because we didn't do pilots in England in the 1960's."
Check out the differences between the pilot and the aired versions. Lambert says that the biggest changes were made to increase the pace. They also toned down the Doctor, as he was very "austere and unpleasant" in the pilot. (He remained pretty sinister in the aired version!) When the teachers get into the TARDIS, Susan is wearing a metallic-like tunic to look space-agey. They changed her into a simple top to make her seem more like a regular teenager.
AIRED SERIES, Episode 1: Moderated Gary Russell, commentators are Verity Lambert, Carole Ann Ford and William Russell. Russell comments on the team of Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert: "The man [Newman] represented a new type of character coming in television.... The BBC television department, in a sense, reminded me of school. There was something about it that was like that. They were very nice people. Probably very talented people. But they were extremely cautious. I enjoyed this breath of Canadian fresh air [represented by Newman and Lambert]."
AIRED SERIES, Episode 4: Gary Russell moderates, with commentators Carole Ann Ford, William Russell and Waris Hussein. This first education series for kids, was meant to take them back to before "civilization", what it would have been like. The savage fight to the death between the two primitives was meant to be realistic. Waris comments: "I wanted to put a sound effect of a crunched skull. We actually had one, by bringing down something hard onto a cabbage. Verity Lambert said to me, 'you cannot use that sound.'... We had a big argument in the control room."
7. Information Text. Always great tidbits of information, such as that blue police boxes were used in England from 1929 into the 70's, when radios took over.
The paleolithic (or palaeolithic, in British spelling) tribe was supposed to have one more female. The pretty woman hired for the part, however, was a model who thought she'd be modeling fur coats. She refused to remove her false eyelashes and left in a huff right before filming started when the make-up artists tried to blacken her teeth.

1. "An Adventure in Space and Time" (85 minutes)
... And the same 5 bonus features shown above on the BluRay disc.

[Note: Additional details added after my set was received and viewed.]

Happy Reader
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The birth of the legend, March 25, 2014
Graves (Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
In 1963 the BBC started a new children's show through the drama department about a cranky old man and his craft that could travel anywhere in time and space along with his granddaughter and two of her school teachers. The man was known simply as "The doctor" the ship was the TARDIS and the program was Doctor Who and in the 50+ years since it was broadcast it has become a world wide phenomenon but it wasn't always so and this docudrama looks at those early stages.

Ignored by the drama departments it relied on for sets and props, given dreadful facilities where the fire sprinklers turned on without warning if the lights got them too hot, saddled with a cranky lead actor who was typecast as an army or police sgt with no sense of humor the deck seemed stacked against Verity Lambert, the first woman producer at the BBC, but she and her staff battled on and produced a program that went from the red headed step child to become one of the cultural icons of Britain.

This follows that struggle focusing n the early days of the program but goes through the change in 1963 when William Hartnell, the first actor to play `the doctor' had to step down due to ill health. It shows the problems in production and acceptance at the home corporation and even how cranky Hartnell changed as he became crankier to coworkers but enjoyed the previously unknown affection of children.

It is fun and done with affection, though a few bits seem way over the top, it is not for the casual viewer but for the fan of BBC productions to see how they were done or better yet fans of Doctor Who it is great.

The packet includes the very first adventures of Dr Who as produced and broadcast. Rating were dreadful because it came at the time of the Kennedy assassination and no one cared about a children's show but they still serve to show where the show started and having seen the behind the scenes elements it is interesting to see them before the camera.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who - a bit of pioneering in 1960s BBC programming, April 11, 2014
H. Bala "Me Too Can Read" (Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
In 2013, two side projects enhanced the celebration of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary. One is the 7-minute webisode, "Night of the Doctor," that re-introduced Paul McGann to the mythos. The other is this remarkable biodrama, Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space & Time. While social media blew up over "Night of the Doctor," I don't think An Adventure in Space Time received its just propers. This is a must-see picture for Doctor Who fans. And for those others who are too cool for school, the absorbing narrative may beckon to them as well.

It's a narrative presumed to be heavy on facts and figures, and it's so. What's unexpected is how it compels on an emotional level. The plot focuses sharply on a trio of misfits that banded together to launch Doctor Who. "C.S. Lewis meets H.G. Wells meets Father Christmas - that's the Doctor," is how one character breaks down the show's peculiar protagonist. And also "stern and scary but with a twinkle."

Matt Gatiss wrote the thing, and he should be tremendously proud. The performances are spot-on. It's bananas how uncannily David Bradley channels William Hartnell, how closely Jessica Raine resembles Verity Lambert. Verity Lambert happens to be a trailblazer in British television. In 1963, when everyone smoked like chimney stacks, Verity Lambert was only 28 years old when she was tapped by the BBC's Head of Drama, Sydney Newman (Brian Cox), as the Beeb's first ever female producer and tasked with riding herd on this upcoming longshot of a sci-fi series. For Verity, it must've been harrowing being promptly thrown to the wolves, in dubious company with an insecure, aging actor for the series star and a young, untested Indian director. The movie doesn't shy away from documenting the obstacles these three faced. This was an era in which sexism and racial prejudice essayed no apologies, in which opinionated persons didn't scurry behind politically correct conduct. We see the contempt and dismissiveness with which Verity - that "pushy Jewish bird" - is treated. We see the Indian director, Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), repeatedly fail to get the bartender's attention.

If I had my druthers, the film would've tracked more of Verity's and Waris's respective personal lives. Instead it fixates only on William Hartnell's. Maybe it's appropriate. Out of the three, Hartnell is the one who most requires the humanizing touch. The teleplay probes beneath the man's cantakerous surface to reveal his frailties and insecurities. David Bradley, whose part is so contemptible in Game of Thrones, shows us a warmer, more vulnerable side to William Hartnell. In the end, it's Hartnell's arc that gives the narrative its beating heart.

I'll take the word of those I know who were around in the '60s and who professed themselves impressed with the execution of the film, with how it captures the zeitgeist of that period, with how the sets and props and costumes all came together. Those steeped in Doctor Who lore can pick out this and that Easter egg (there is a bunch). One historical event locks down the time frame. Doctor Who was already an underdog series when the JFK assassination snatched away the headlines, commandeered Doctor Who's air time during its debut broadcast. We note Ms. Lambert's fight to keep the creepy Daleks in the show (despite complaints from the suits that they were "cheapjack science-fiction drek"). Bradley provides the poignancy, but Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert is as equally accomplished, just as pivotal. More than anyone else, Lambert put herself on the line, fought for the show, tooth and nail, and she did this time and again. Thanks to her and to Hartnell and Hussein and, okay, to the Beeb's Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, there may be a future after all for a show about an alien gent what explores time and space in a blue police box. This movie is so good that, in a way, that it's about the genesis of Doctor Who becomes almost incidental to me. I was caught up in the struggles of the people behind the scene, with how hard they fought against the old guard and how they upended pre-conceptions and how, ultimately, they walked away and left their show to carry on. Pop culture's not been the same since.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth The Wait - I Hope., May 30, 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
This docudrama was aired in late November of 2013, as part of the 50th Anniversary of one of the most celebrated shows in television history. I was lucky enough to see it when it aired, and now that my physical copy as arrived, I'm even more elated with what this has to offer.

The Blu-Ray edition is a 3 disc set, which has An Adventure In Space & Time as, of course, in Blu-Ray format, but it also includes this in DVD format, I supposed for those who may not yet have a Blu-Ray player, but intend to buy one soon, so they'll already have the best quality disc for that. There is an additional disc which is An Unearthly Child on DVD. If you already have An Unearthly Child on DVD, this is somewhat useless, since I compared it to my other, earlier released version, and found that they are exactly the same. It would have been nice to offer this 3 disc set as a 1 or 2 disc set, and lower the price.

Since I am already on the topic of, An Unearthly Child, I will tell you that there are audio commentary tracks ONLY for episodes 1 and 4. WHY? There are also 4 parody sketches from the writer of AAIS&T, which are well worth watching.

In regards to the main attraction, I have to agree that is so beautifully done, it's almost unreal. Although I have to say, my opinion on this can only be appreciated by a true Whovian. I never go into the synopsis, since so many others do that it is redundant. But I will tell you about the extras.

William Hartnell: The Original - Just over 5 minutes. This shows a very rare interview with the 1st Doctor three months after he left the role. Since there are so few of these, this is priceless. In my humble opinion. His granddaughter and other actors contribute to this.

The Making of an Adventure - Almost 11:30. Self explanatory, and again, well worth watching.

Reconstructions - A 4 parter. The first one shows, how much this docudrama really tried to recreate what happed in the early days. If you have never seen the unaired pilot of An Unearthly Child, you may not get what they are doing here. But said same pilot is on the 3rd disc. The second one is a self glorification of the creator, Mark Gatiss regenerating into the 3rd doctor. The third one is the recreated farewell speech of this 1st Doctor to Susan. And the fourth one is a recreation of the closing scene of The Feast of Steven, which was one episode of The Dalek Materplan. This was the first time that Doctor Who aired on Christmas day, and back then, it was thought that no one cared to watch it, so it was essentially a throw away episode. HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED. The Doctor breaks the 4th wall by wishing a Merry Christmas at the end of the episode.

The Title Sequence - 1.24 - I believe this to be a promo for this special, or just a comparison of the original credits to what was done for this special as it shows the original title sequence morphing into the opening credit sequence was for this special. Eh....

Deleted Scenes - Just a tad over 1:30 of... well, do I have to spell it out?

My only complaint is that there is no commentary track for this, which is why I titled this "Well Worth The Wait - I hope." It took almost 6 months to make this available to the States, but at no point did anyone think to add a commentary track? Considering how much went into making this, it is absolutely absurd that a commentary track was not recorded. I swear that if this gets re-released in less than a year with this missing feature added, I'm going to be super duper psycho Dalek ticked off. That is the only reason why I gave this 4 out or 5 stars. I bring this up only due to the fact that the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, "The Day of the Doctor," was announced to be RE-RELEASED later this year with additional bonus features. The re-release date and pre-order date have not yet announced, but this announcement was just days after I received my, what will soon be, a less than complete version, if you're an extras hog like me.

MY BOTTOM LINE: Any true Whovian would be remiss at not adding this to their collection. And if you don't shed a tear near the end, then clearly, you are a Cyberman.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The entire anniversary year was worth it for this, April 11, 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
After the first time surprises of Day of the Doctor, you're left with a perfectly exciting story, but not necessarily one that stands the test of time. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the highlight of the 50th Anniversary year was this docudrama. I've been heavily involved in the Doctor Who fandom for years, and I was following the production of this since back in early 2012 when a want ad for the job of assistant producer (with a helpful knowledge of 1960s television history and Doctor Who) went up on the BBC website, and those of us who were already thinking ahead to the 50th started wondering if this meant a docudrama about the show's origins was a possibility. It literally was that fast, although plenty of us were aware that Mark Gatiss had been trying to get this story made for years beforehand.

Eventually, this was confirmed, and we all waited with bated breath because Gatiss isn't known for writing great Doctor Who on the show itself, but the early reviews were fantastic, and the early pictures of the TARDIS sets seemed to be spot-on accurate to those of us who spent too much time memorizing early TARDIS consoles. Fun fact: some of the antique components found in the recreated TARDIS were actually from William Hartnell's original TARDIS. Talk about period detail!

It's no secret that many people, including me, were disappointed with the split Series 7, and the poor quality of episodes during the celebratory 50th year, not to mention the overall secrecy of what was planned. Leading up to this, it seemed like the 50th itself was bound to disappoint. And then An Adventure in Space and Time aired. And not only was it a faithful rendering of the early 1960s at the BBC, with the hardships faced by the show's producers (none of whom fit the typical description of a BBC producer at the time), it was a heartrending depiction of the devotion to the program shown by William Hartnell, and above all else, a love letter to the show that we all love so much. Mark Gatiss may be on the writing staff, but this had the feeling of being made by a fan, for the fans, because nothing has ever shown the sheer love of Doctor Who the way this docudrama did. It works as a period drama, as a quality piece of TV, and as a wonderful addition to the annals of Doctor Who itself.

Let's just say that by the end I was in absolute floods. I actually haven't made it through yet without choking up, and fifty years from now, I probably will still be in tears as I watch it. Just absolutely beautiful.

I don't know why it took them so long to release the DVD copy in the US, but now that it's here, get it, it is absolutely worth it. And in fifty years, I'm looking forward to the docudrama about how they brought the show back in 2005.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice tribute to the show, and a solid Blu Ray release, July 2, 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
"An Adventure in Space and Time" was one of the highlights of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary celebrations, and it deservedly gets a very nice Blu Ray/DVD release.

I'm no technical genius, but to me the Blu Ray print is excellent. This is a very colorful production, with tons of 1960s period detail, so it's great to see it presented in crisp high-def. The special features, meanwhile, are pretty good; the highlights are a short making-of special, and a brief profile of William Hartnell featuring his original Doctor Who co-stars and his real-life granddaughter. Other features include a couple of deleted scenes and recreations of famous scenes from 1960s Who. It's a nice package overall, but none of the features is particularly long or deep, so you can blast through them all pretty quickly.

As an added bonus, you also get a DVD copy of "An Unearthly Child," the first televised Doctor Who adventure. To be honest, it appears to be exactly the same DVD that was previously released in the "Beginning" collection, which disappointed me; I was hoping for a newly remastered copy, or a DVD with more appropriate special features than the weird comedy sketches that have always come with it. Oh well, I shouldn't really's a nice extra, obviously intended for people who don't already own the original DVD.

As for the program itself...well, Mark Gatiss is one of Doctor Who's super-fans, and he put a lot of love and effort into writing this. It's a great tribute to early Doctor Who, and the scenes of Hartnell struggling with his ill health are very poignant. That said, Gatiss does take some liberties with history and exaggerate a few things in order to enhance the drama. Also, while I like most of David Bradley's performance as William Hartnell, he really doesn't capture the charisma of Hartnell as the Doctor; indeed, the First Doctor was a much more funny, charismatic character than the stiff old man presented here.

Still, most of my complaints are minor. I love early Who, and I'm glad they made this cool tribute to it. The solid Blu Ray release is icing on the cake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building the First Doctor, June 23, 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
I've watched three or four seasons with the first two doctors of the series reboot, but found only about 1 episode in 3 held any interesting concepts. And then there's the cheesy costumes and cheap sets and strange British cinematography... which all relates to the history of the show, I guess. I couldn't get people's love for the character. This film does a great job of recreating the BBC of the early 60's, when Dr. Who was just a sketchy idea handed down to writers and producers and a young director who all had no clue what they were doing. Given virtually no budget, and a studio no bigger than a Tardis, they struggled through endless resistance from BBC higher-ups and minor production catastrophes that are comical, compared to the slick, big money industry TV is in the US. Perhaps the heart of the story is William Hartnell, the original Dr. Who; Verity Lambert, the producer who convinced him to take the role and the person most responsible for putting the show together; and Waris Hussein, the director who persevered through the initial adversities. The show's co-creator, Sydney Newman, played by one of the most talented and recognizable character actors working, Brian Cox, disagree's with the choice of Hartnell as the Doctor after watching the first episode, and gives him another chance by making them reshoot it. When the episode finally makes it to air, it has the misfortune of coinciding with the Kennedy assassination. The trials and eventual successes of the trio and their boss makes for a compelling drama, and it's even moving, at times. David Bradley (best known in the US as the hated Walder Frey, prime instigator of the Red Wedding, in HBO's 'Game of Thrones') is excellent as Hartnell, and bears a striking resemblance to the prematurely decrepit actor, who became the 1st Doctor when he was only 53, but looked as old or older than the 73 year-old Bradley who played him. His poor health and problems remembering lines would lead to Newman's decision to replace him, setting a precedent and plot twist that would open the Tardis door to multiple incarnations of the character and series. An interesting film. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate Recreation of the Early Days of a Classic Series, August 31, 2014
Dr. Laurence Raw (Beckenham, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
In reviewing AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME, a reviewer inevitably runs the risk of incurring the wrath of the legions of Who fans who enjoyed it, especially when this reviewer has never been attracted to the program.

Having said that, I found Terry McDonough's production highly effective and affecting at the same time. Some of the Sixties recreations are a little clichéd: the sight of a Ford Anglia in the BBC studio parking lot; a red Routemaster bus passing by carrying Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) to work: and the sight of flickering archive footage of the early soap COMPACT on a living-room television. Brian Cox's performance as the drama producer Sydney Newman is a bit one-note; he comes across as bluff, talkative and overbearing, rather than the genius Newman actually was.

What lifts this production above the ordinary telly-bio are the central characterizations of William Hartnell (David Bradley) and Verity Lambert. Bradley is perhaps a little too old for the role - Hartnell was only in his mid-fifties when he first essayed the part - but he communicates the actor's basic insecurities, especially when faced with the kind of role he had never played before. Hartnell had spent many years as a reliable character-actor (notable for BRIGHTON ROCK as well as the sergeant in the very first Carry On comedy, CARRY ON SERGEANT (1958)), but was genuinely overawed by the prospect of a leading part, especially when there were so many lines to remember. After three successful years as Dr. Who, Newman had to let him go: due to arterio-sclerosis, the actor was becoming less and less mobile, as well as suffering from a fading memory. McDonough's production includes a heart-wrenching scene when Hsrtnell returns home and breaks down in tears as he realizes that his greatest role has come to an end, to be comforted by his daughter Heather (Lesley Manville).

Raine's Lambert comes across as a driven person, whose desire to succeed enables her to overcome all objections expressed by the staid old (male) personnel working in the early Sixties BBC. She brushes off the objections of Rex Tucker (Andrew Woodall) and manages to keep oleaginous assistant Mervyn Pinfield (Jeff Rawle) quiet. Together with director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan) she forms an unbeatable partnership which ensures the success of the fledgling series. Yet Lambert is not without her softer side; when she leaves the program, she encounters Hartnell on the studio set and tenderly kisses his cheek.

AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME is full of surprises: Who alumni keep cropping up in small roles (William Russell as a security guard, Carole Ann Ford as a member of the public) and right at the end the eleventh doctor Matt Smith makes a cameo appearance to emphasize the series' continuity over five decades. Writer Mark Gatiss has already suggested that he had to play fast and loose with events in order to meet the demands of the television movie format; quite simply, he has done a quite magnificent job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the story of a magical box and the madman that owned it. And the history he would make in televlsion., August 12, 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time (DVD+Blu-ray Combo) (Blu-ray)
In 1963 The British Broadcasting Company gave a woman named Verity Lambert her first chance at producing a program with the green light from Sidney Newman who became the head of BBC programming. That program would be titled "Doctor Who". Not thrilled with the idea of producing a show that could in all likely hood be cancelled after the first series. She embarks on a journey to find this "Doctor" who can bring him to life.
William Hartnell was an old actor who had seen telvision work as well as film and was not looking forward to what few prospects he had left at his age. That was until a woman named Verity Lambert gave him a call and asked to sit down with him and offer him a part in a new show called "Doctor Who". William Hartnell see this as a chance to get away from playing the part of a gruff old army sargent or some kind of police office. Instead he sees this as the chance for a trip of a life time as the engmatic old man known only as the "Doctor".
Marred with production problems and not being able to film after ten p.m. somehow the show is produced and just as things seem to be finally on track the greatest single tragedy in history happens Preisdent John F. Kennedy is assianated in the United States. Still with determination the show goes on and with creation of the Dcotor's newest foe "Dalek" it becomes a huge hit.
Watch as the years go on for William Hartnell as he says goodbye to those he would call freinds on the show to other things and he reamains as the Doctor. Witness the things Doctor Who fans never knew about what it took to create the TARDIS or the backdoor fighting Verity Lambert had to do to get this show on top as a producer, but as a woman in a postion that was held by men. Get inside one of Britian longest running shows early days and see how one man's performance cemented himself in television history. Plus an ending that is both heart warming to watch.
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