Top positive review
54 people found this helpful
Finally released in America
on March 24, 2014
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.