80 – Planet of Giants

Rather unusually for the Hartnell era, this story is a three parter – although it was not originally intended to be so! Instead, the producers decided to re-edit episodes 3 and 4 into one, much faster paced episode, feeling that the original cut was too pedestrian. Does it work? Well, I must confess that at some stage I need to watch the reconstructed four part version to compare it properly – but I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by this three part adventure!

Filmed during Season 1 and shown as the first story in Season 2, this was originally planned to be the first ever story of Doctor Who, until it was wisely pointed out that the technical challenges of miniaturising the TARDIS crew would be somewhat ambitious for a new television programme. By this stage it is more than evident that the crew are completely confident and relaxed around each other – each plays their part, and Hartnell has very much settled into the paternal figure TV audiences had grown to love, whilst still remaining an irrascible old rascal!

The plot, as I have already alluded to, sees the TARDIS crew shrunk to a tiny size after the TARDIS doors accidently open during materialisation. But the adventure is not simply to return to normal size – they find themselves in a laboratory where a corrupt scientist is attempting to manufacture and licence a very lethal form of insect killer – one which in turn begins to impact Barbara, whose resistance is made much lower due to her reduced size. The story plays out with the crew having to foil the scientist despite their size, while somehow surviving, getting back to the TARDIS, and returning to their full size.

In three parts, I found the DVD highly watchable and a great addition to my collection. When I have the time, I will have to see if the original episodes 3 and 4 are worthy of as much lament for their loss as other missing episodes – while appreciating the reconstruction the BBC have kindly provided us with!

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