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Doctor Who: Planet of Giants (Story 9)
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The Doctor is trying to return his companions, Ian Chesterson and Barbara Wright to their proper time on 20th century Earth. Something goes wrong with the TARDIS and warning horns blare, but the Doctor is sure they are on Earth just as he planned. He confidently exits the TARDIS with his granddaughter, Susan, Ian and Barbara.

They split into two pairs to explore. One pair runs into a very dead giant earthworm, the other finds a very dead gigantic ant. It takes them a while to figure it out, but the TARDIS and its occupants have shrunk down to an inch in height! Ian is looking about inside a giant matchbox, when a giant hand takes it away with Ian still in it. The remaining three get together to follow the kidnapping giant, especially after they hear an earshattering explosion.

There is murder afoot, and the reason is connected to all the dead insects around them and something called DN6. Any inspection of the circumstances, not to mention their return to the TARDIS, is hampered by a cat who watches the tiny humans with great interest. There's a humorous scene where they try to call the police on a giant phone.

"Planet of Giants" is in black & white and first aired Oct/Nov 1964. It is the first series of William Hartnell's second season as Doctor Who. This is a review of the September 2012 DVD release, which is the first time "Planet of Giants" has been offered on DVD.

Writer Louis Marks has stated before that his inspiration for this story was Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", the 1962 book that brought the concept of environmentalism to the masses, specifically, the danger of unbridled pesticide use. "Silent Spring" can be credited with bringing about the U.S. ban on DDT in 1972. An homage that's easy to miss is that when the TARDIS lands, and the doors open, there is absolutely no sound coming from the outside. But don't let the heavy-duty message get in the way of having a good time watching the show! This isn't the typical watch-the-alien Doctor Who, but it's still fun. The penny-pinching in sets and effects is noticeable, but I'm able to suspend disbelief with Doctor Who, and they aren't that bad.

(Added after my DVD was received and watched:) On a new look, I must say that I think they did an exceptional job on the miniature effects. In particular, the scenes in the sink are top notch! And I love the great shot where the camera is on the miniaturized TARDIS next to a cliff. The camera slowly pulls back, and in one take, you see that the TARDIS is in the crevice of paving-stone walkway leading up to a house. Great scene.

Very early on, this series' title was "The Minuscules", but then they settled on "Planet of Giants". It was filmed to have four parts: "Planet of Giants," "Dangerous Journey", "Crisis" and "The Urge to Live". But after filming, the powers that be decided the story was dragging. So they edited and cut and merged the last two parts into one, and the show was aired in only three parts totaling 73 minutes. A couple of the DVD extras are meant to give us the details on what was left on the cutting floor.

Extras for the September 2012 DVD release:

1. Audio Commentary by Clive Doig (vision mixer), Brian Hodgson (special sounds creator), Sonia Markham (make-up) and David Tilley (floor assistant). Mark Ayres is the moderator.
(added after I received and watched the DVD:) I enjoyed the commentary. One commenter mentions Carole Ann Ford, who plays Susan: "Poor Carole, there, doing the hysterical acting as Susan. Which disappointed her enormously, I think. She wanted to be telepathic, intelligent, and there she was, having hysterics. She left in the very next story."
Commenters also point out: "We're supposed to believe that our miniscules, our heroes, in their reduced form, hear real sounds very much pitched down. Which I suspect is probably the wrong way around. ... I would imagine their tiny eardrums would not register very low sounds." I hadn't thought of that.
2. Episode 3 and 4 Reconstruction. Ian Levine is behind this reconstruction. He used existing film footage and recorded a new soundtrack.
(added after my DVD was received and watched:) On one hand, this is obviously a labor of love, and Levine did an amazing job of putting it together. On the other hand, it is cheesy with multiple uses of the same film footage and closeups, etc., with different dubbing each time, etc. That was the only way it could be done, and it's an "interesting" reconstruction to watch, once. Also, it makes me think that the producers were right in combining episodes 3 & 4 in the first place.
3. "Rediscovering 'The Urge to Live' " (8.5 minutes) This short is about the reconstruction, and includes tapes from the rehearsals and recording of the voice acting. Participants include Carole Ann Ford, William Russell (plays Ian), Ian Levine (behind the reconstruction of episodes 3 and 4, as shown in extra #2), Ed Stradling (BBC DVD features producer), Toby Hadoke (actor/comedian who has moderated other Classic Who serial commentaries, and is the voice of Forester in the reconstruction), Paul Jones (voice of Smithers in the reconstruction) and John Guilor (who imitates William Hartnell's voice in the reconstruction). Guilor says that working with the original cast on the reconstruction was like "...working with The Beatles".
4. Doctor Who Stories - "Suddenly Susan" (15 minutes) This is an interview with Carole Ann Ford. As Doctor Who's granddaughter, she was the very first companion. This interview originally appeared in "The Story of Doctor Who" (recorded in 2003).
(added after my DVD was received and watched:) Carole Ann says, "Susan was presented as being 15, but who knows what she was. She could've been hundreds of years old. An extraordinary, unusual, strange person. And I would love to have played her like that, but it just didn't happen."
5. Verity Lambert Tapes - Part Two. (14 minutes) Part 1" This interview, parts 1 & 2, were originally recorded for "The Story of Doctor Who" (2003). Part 1 of "The Lambert Tapes" is an extra on the January 2013 DVD of the "Shada" series. Lambert was Dr. Who's first producer. She produced the first 19 William Hartnell's episodes, from "An Unearthly Child" (1963, the very 1st Dr. Who) through "Mission to the Unknown" (1965). Lambert passed away in 2007.
6. Photo Gallery
7. PDF materials: Radio Times Listings, Prop Design Plans
8. Optional Arabic track. Arabic prints of all three episodes are held by the BBC - wonder where they were found buried!
9. Production Note Subtitles
10. Coming Soon on DVD Trailer. This is a great spot for one of my favorite Classic Dr. Who Serials of all time, "Vengeance on Varos".
Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos (Special Edition)

Happy Reader
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I was dubious as to wether I should get this as I already have the old VHS of this fair William Hartnell tale.
I didn't have a particular fondness for this story. Now I know why! I never realized that it had been cut short and it had ruined the whole story. I am now a fan of this one. Full marks to the team that rebuilt the missing bits. It is a bit squeeky at times but far better than animated nonsense. Some etirely cgi bits are obvious, but are OK.Restoring the story to its intended plot and length has really done wonders for this average Hartnell tale which now in my opinion has become a classic!
Surely enough reason to continue along these lines? Let the fans do the work as it is evident of their respect and love of the series. Anyone else it is just not on!
I have not watched it as yet with any commentary if there is any.
The extras are very worthwhile too.
A thoroughly good buy!
Keep up the good work guys!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Before the TARDIS materialises on contemporary Earth, the doors open in the Control Room causing both the Doctor and Susan to worry like Ian & Barbara have never seen before. Leaving the TARIDS, they run into giant insects and earthworms...dead. The crew of the TARDIS has been reduced to inch in height and have to contend with 2 criminals intent on distributing a lethal garden herbicide. Before Jon Pertwee's socially aware sci-fi serials, there was "Planet of Giants". Though, nothing to scream about, this 3 part serial can be very enjoyable. And the video-look and clean-up job that the Doctor Who Restoration Team did is wonderful, giving a very sharp visual feel to the adventure, approximating the lost video look all b/w Doctor Who serials originally had. The production, for 1965(and Doctor Who), is actually impressive. The regulars(original cast)are also good. Though, it moves a little slow, shouldn't deter any Who fan from adding it to their collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
Format: DVD
I've waited for sometime for this one to be released. Anxiously I waited and Amazon announced its near arrival. I preordered and was not disappointed. The episodes were as I remembered, as best I could from last I saw it back in tge 80's. This one you don't want to miss even though the characters are a bit to the small side 'hint'. It's quite entertaining of the troubles they get into in trying to resolve the present issue of a murder.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
While perhaps not the finest example of DOCTOR WHO in the 1960s (the serial suffers from a weak plot and a story that was difficult to carry out convincingly on the series' limited budget and production schedule), PLANET OF GIANTS is still great fun.
Also worth noting here (and not mentioned in the Editorial Review) is that the surviving film prints for Episodes One and Two have been restored, and given the appearance of the videotape the serial was originally broadcast from. (Episode Three was broadcast from a film print, and has been left unaltered.) It's difficult to explain the difference, but you'll know it when you see it; it adds a nice sense of the experience of watching the serial when it was first aired.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The TARDIS doors malfunction and open in mid-flight, putting the Doctor (William Hartnell), and his three companions, granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), and schoolteachers Ian (William Russell) & Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) in peril. The Doctor & his crew get the doors to close and they land safely back in 1960's Britain....only to discover that they, along with the TARDIS, have shrunk down to one-inch tall. And if that wasn't bad enough, they soon discover that they must also stop an evil businessman operating in a nearby house from spreading his lethal insecticide into the world. But how will they accomplish this when they are so small, and will the Doctor & crew ever return to normal size?....

"Planet Of Giants" is the last of the surviving William Hartnell stories from "Doctor Who" to get a DVD release, and I say it has been well worth the wait. Though not embraced by every "Doctor Who" fan out there, "Planet Of Giants" has always been a personal favorite Hartnell story of mine. I think this story is a lot of fun, it's well-acted by the cast (and it features one of my favorite performances from William Hartnell, who's simply delightful throughout this one), and, of course, the wonderful, elaborate over-sized sets in this story that truly make me believe that our heroes have shrunk in size. And when you consider the miniscule budget the BBC folks had for this "miniscule" story, that's no small feat.

"Planet Of Giants" itself, oddly enough, was *also* shrunk in size. It was originally intended as a four-part story, but the BBC controller at the time decided that "Giants" was simply too long & talky at four parts, and he ordered the story to be edited down to three parts, with episodes 3 & 4 consolidated into one episode. I say he made a wise decision! At three parts, I think "Planet Of Giants" works perfectly fine, and is just long enough without overstaying its welcome. A really cool bonus feature on the DVD gives us a glimpse of how the last two episodes for "Giants" would've been had they not been edited down, using the deleted dialogue from the original scripts, new vocals from surviving cast members Ford and Russell plus other voice-actors, and some CGI and editing effects. The result is fascinating to watch, but, for me, it pretty much confirms what the BBC controller at the time thought: the four-part version was too long and talky! But the final three-part version of "Giants", at a brisk 75-minute running time, feels juuuust right to me.

"Planet Of Giants" is a highly imaginitive, daring "Doctor Who" story. It may slow down in its pacing here and there, but it always picks itself up again, and it remains fun to watch. One of William Hartnell's most enjoyable stories as the First Doctor. :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"Planet of the Giants" was a talky story with very little action--so little, in fact, that the third and fourth parts were edited down to a single, final episode. The producers of this DVD, lacking enough material or surviving cast and crew to put together the usual making-of documentary (only designer Raymond Cusick and actors William Russell and Carole Ann Ford were still alive), decided to do something different: restore the third and fourth episodes, which were scripted but never fully made, by taping new dialogue and piecing together existing footage with animation for the visuals.

The results are mixed: Forty-plus years older, Russell and Ford reprise their roles as the voices of Ian and Susan, and impersonators perform the rest of the parts, including John Guilor as the First Doctor. Guilor does a fantastic job of not only re-creating the role but re-creating it as the late, great William Hartnell would have played it. But the combination of recycled clips and black-and-white CGI animation looks dreadful, nothing like the crisp, drawn animation that was used in 2007 to restore missing episodes of "The Invasion," featuring the Second Doctor (see my review).

You can draw your own conclusions, of course: this DVD includes the original three-episode version and the restored episodes three and four in the Special Features menu, so you can compare them side by side. The problem is, so much of the action is just so dull: the Doctor and Susan making their way up a giant drain pipe, for example, or cowering in fear in a sink's overflow pipe while one of the villains washes his hands--for like two minutes! One sequence that was understandably cut was the death of a house cat from insecticide poisoning. (That's right, kids: Felix bites it in the original version.)

The aforementioned Raymond Cusick deserves credit, however, for the story's convincing sets and giant props. The longstanding (and long-suffering) designer labored year in and year out to create far better sets and props than the BBC deserved on Doctor Who's shoestring budget.
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Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
The Doctor is trying to return his companions, Ian Chesterson (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) to their proper time on 20th century Earth. Something goes wrong with the TARDIS and warning horns blare, but the Doctor is sure they are on Earth just as he planned. He confidently exits the TARDIS with his granddaughter, Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Ian and Barbara.

They split into two pairs to explore. One pair runs into a very dead giant earthworm, the other finds a very dead gigantic ant. It takes them a while to figure it out, but the TARDIS and its occupants have shrunk down to an inch in height! Ian is looking about inside a giant matchbox, when a giant hand takes it away with Ian still in it. The remaining three get together to follow the kidnapping giant, especially after they hear an earshattering explosion.

There is murder afoot, and the reason is connected to all the dead insects around them and something called DN6. Any inspection of the circumstances, not to mention their return to the TARDIS, is hampered by a cat who watches the tiny humans with great interest. There's a humorous scene where they try to call the police on a giant phone.

"Planet of Giants" is in black & white and first aired Oct/Nov 1964. It is the first episode of the second series (season) for William Hartnell, the first Doctor Who.

Writer Louis Marks has stated before that his inspiration for this story was Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", the 1962 book that brought the concept of environmentalism to the masses, specifically, the danger of unbridled pesticide use. "Silent Spring" can be credited with bringing about the U.S. ban on DDT in 1972. Another homage that's easy to miss is that when the TARDIS lands, and the doors open, there is absolutely no sound coming from the outside. But don't let the heavy-duty message get in the way of having a good time watching the show! This isn't the typical watch-the-alien Doctor Who, but it's still fun.

"Planet of Giants" was filmed to have four parts: "Planet of Giants," "Dangerous Journey", "Crisis" and "The Urge to Live". But after filming, the powers that be decided the story was dragging. So they edited and cut and merged the last two parts into one, and the show was aired in only three parts totaling 73 minutes.

"Planet of Giants" will be issued for the first time on DVD in September 2012.

Happy Reader
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
It's nice to know that while DVD is taking over the home video market, the BBC is not forgetting it's loyal fans around the world who have been loyaly collecting the VHS tapes since the late 90's. With only 10 or so more to go the rest should be out here in the US by the end of 2004.
While the plot of this particular adventure is simplistic, it must be noted that Dr.Who was still intended for children at this time. The 'giant' props are very well done by Dr. Who standards and the plotline surrounding the deadly experimental insecticide is a typical example of the enviromental messages that seem to be a frequent theme of many Dr. Who episodes thought it's history.
The biggest enjoyment I got out of this episode, however, came from the fact that not only has it been over a decade since Dr. ...It was like seeing a long lost friend and ironically the chair I used to watch it in in the attic is now in my own Den at my house.
I gave this one 4 stars because everyone else will give it 3!!!
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on July 6, 2014
Format: DVD
On the way back to earth, a technical problem on the Tardis causes the doors of the ship to open during the process of de-materialization. Though not at all explained, for some reason, the doors opening causes the Tardis and its inhabitants to shrink to approximately 1/64th of their normal size.....
The DOCTOR, Susan, Ian and Barbara find that an unscrupulous businessman is trying to have a deadly pesticide approved for sale, despite the fact that it kills everything and its properties last forever.
The businessman kills the Ministry inspector who is going to recommend that the pesticide not be approved and the same businessman pretends to be the inspector and calls to give "his" approval of the deadly pesticide, but the local exchange operator is suspicious, saying that the businessman's voice is not the minister's
Discovering the businessman's plot and the dead body of the inspector, the DOCTOR and his companions manage to pry up the receiver of (what is to them) a giant phone and call for the police.
Meanwhile, Barbara is infected by some of the pesticide she has touched and is dying....the only way to save her is to get back to the Tardis and get her back to normal size.
Along the way, the travelers are harassed by 'giant' cats, nearly stepped on, and stumble across dead 'giant' ants and worms.
They manage to foil the businessman's plot and save Barbara's life, though not everything is clear. As with most of the early WHOs, writers, editors and producers, believing that children do not pay attention to details and plot development, are not concerned that much of anything is adequately explained.
Still, PLANET OF GIANTS is better than many of the other WHOs of the first six seasons.
Originally written (and filmed) as a four-part story, "Planet Of Giants" was edited down to three parts, resulting in some strange cuts and jumps in scenes. Unlike most early DOCTOR WHO's, which are stretched to fill space, "Planet Of Giants" could really use about 5 to 10 more minutes of explanation and smoother transitions among several scenes.....
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