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Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space Special Edition [Blu-ray]

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jon Pertwee, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney
  • Directors: Derek Martinus
  • Writers: Robert Holmes
  • Producers: Derrick Sherwin
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Full Screen, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: Aug. 13 2013
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00C6ACWZ8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,361 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space (Story 51) Blu-ray Edition

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Absolutely awesome to see classic who in HD. Hopefully the technology to upconvert other episodes will soon be more feasible. For now at least we can enjoy this awesome first appearance of the Third Doctor.
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The picture quality is great. The story is good too. I wish all the classic doctor who was filmed this way
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb22fd324) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2309378) out of 5 stars Is it really worth the upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray? June 11 2013
By Dave C. - Published on
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You are probably wondering why "Spearhead From Space" is available on blu-ray and why there aren't more classic Doctor Who episodes being released in high-definition on blu-ray. Well the fact of the matter is that "Spearhead From Space" has the unique distinction of being the ONLY classic Doctor Who story that was shot entirely on location at BBC Wood Norton and a pub in nearby Radford on 16mm film because of a BBC studio strike. It was also the first classic Doctor Who story to be presented in full colour. Because of this, the 16mm film elements could be scanned into high-definition without any upconversion or loss of definition. The 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which was shot for television, remains at 4:3 full-frame so you will still have the "pillarboxing" black bars on the sides of a 16:9 television.

Nearly all of the classic Doctor Who episodes were shot in the studio on videotape because it was cheaper to produce with post-production finishing and special effects being done onto videotape while location scenes had to be shot on film because, back in those days, it was impractical to use bulky studio cameras that required heavy electrical cabling to shoot outside of the studio, thus nearly all Doctor Who episodes (up until the mid to late 80's when portable broadcast videocameras became standard) constantly intercut between a "live" television studio look and a softer "film" realized look.

But is it really worth upgrading from the recently released DVD Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space (Story 51) - Special Edition? As a fan of Doctor Who, I say "yes" but if you already own the DVD, are happy with the upconversion from standard definition, then you probably don't feel the need to. The difference between viewing an upconverted DVD and a blu-ray in HD is relative. The DVD upconversion is going to look a bit softer in pixel resolution and not a sharp or as finely detailed as the blu-ray. The special features on the blu-ray include: "A Dandy and a Clown," "Carry On: The Life of Caroline John," "Title Sequence Material," and a "Restoration Comparison." Unfortunately the DVD special features have not been ported over which include "Down To Earth: Filming Spearhead From Space," "Regenerations: From Black and White to Colour," and the "U.N.I.T. Recruitment Film" so you might want to hold on to your DVD copy for those.

For fans of this story and classic Doctor Who though, making the upgrade to high-definition on blu-ray will be a treat to see "Spearhead From Space" presented exactly as it had been shot on film and will look better than it ever has.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb23095a0) out of 5 stars Nice print, but DVD features were not carried over Aug. 19 2013
By Little Roy Blue - Published on
"Spearhead from Space" was the only classic Doctor Who serial to be shot entirely on film (as opposed to videotape) and therefore it's the only serial that can be easily converted into high definition and presented on Blu Ray. Hence this release -- the only 1970s Who story in the Blu Ray pipeline, for the time being.

Now, long-time fans will no doubt be aware that Spearhead has been released before, on VHS and DVD (twice). Thus, we all face a burning it worth triple- (or quadruple-) dipping and buying this same story yet again, in a new format?

The short answer is, yes. The Blu Ray edition of Spearhead has a much nicer print than even the recent DVD special edition, with vivid colors and details; indeed, it simply blows away the washed-out prints of this story that I remember from back when I was a kid. To cite just two examples of how good this print is, I was able to admire the stitching on Jon Pertwee's shirt, and I noticed for the first time that the main villain has yellowed teeth.

That said, Blu Ray is a bit of a double-edged sword. The clarity of the print allows you to see extra detail, but also (in my opinion) makes film grain much more obvious and distracting than it looks on DVD prints. For this release, the Who Restoration Team cleaned up some of the grain but stopped short of "polishing it out" completely, which I think was a good move. The resulting presentation is not totally pristine but still very nice, and looks comparable to other Blu Ray prints of movies/TV shows from this period.

Now, on to the prickly subject of special features. The main offerings on this Blu Ray are two excellent (if a little sad) documentaries on the late Caroline John and Jon Pertwee. They're both presented in high def, and feature touching tributes to the actors from their colleagues and friends/family. But here's the problem. Older DVD releases of Spearhead featured different special features, including an excellent "making-of" documentary about the serial itself. And those features haven't been carried over to Blu Ray -- much to my chagrin. I find it quite annoying that I now have to keep my old Spearhead DVD, in addition to this Blu Ray, because the features are different.

And I can think of no decent excuse for why the DVD features couldn't be carried over to this Blu Ray. Perhaps the old features were shot in standard definition instead of high def...but so what? When Paramount re-released the Star Trek movies on Blu Ray, they carried over the standard definition features from the DVDs and also presented a few new high-def ones. I much prefer that approach. So if the BBC plans to release more old Who on Blu Ray, I think they need to get their act together and start carrying over the DVD features. Otherwise, we'll all be stuck with two huge and expensive Doctor Who collections, each with their own set of documentaries. Yikes!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2309684) out of 5 stars If you are a die hard fan (which i am) then upgrade to this Blu-Ray July 18 2013
By Phillip Bhullar - Published on
Just received my UK Blu-Ray of this and YES it really IS worth the upgrade., the restoration, colour grading are spectacular,
the additional doccos are exceptional., real in depth detail into the careers and lives of both Caroline John and Jon Pertwee to a scale never before seen

Kudos to BBC Worlwide - The Restoration Team and PUP Productions
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb23097f8) out of 5 stars Upgrade to Blu-ray? Sept. 7 2013
By Amazon Richard - Published on
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I went ahead and purchased the Blu-ray edition.

If you just enjoy the Dr Who shows, then this is not worth it; if I had two televisions side-by-side, I could probably tell the difference between the DVD version and the Blu-ray version, but I don't, and so I didn't really notice that much of a difference.

However, if you are fan of the larger Doctor Who world, then the Blu-ray is very worth getting for the specials about the lives of Jon Pertwee and Caroline John. These were fairly in-depth (45 min for Jon Pertwee; 30 min for Caroline John), and were interesting. I found the fact that both of these actors had some severe doubt as to their competence as actors because of the Doctor Who production team - Jon because they never asked him to do work on any of their other work, and "Carrie" because they fired her after just one season. Apparently, it affected her pretty deeply. She couldn't have done a second season anyway, but she would have preferred to choose to leave rather than be fired.

There is a very short feature about the restoration; one can see the differences here, but standalone, it would probably be hard for anyone but real video expert to tell the difference.

The final feature is (apparently) a run-through of out-takes for different title sequences; there is no commentary, no notes, no nothing - just a long and tedious run-through of various title sequences; this could have been immensely helped with someone commenting on them; the differences; why some were used; what "look" they were trying for, etc. But just silent outtakes? To quote Peri, "Yuck".

I agree with the other review that the main menu screen is WONDERFUL! I give it six stars. I wish all of the releases used that format; it is really great.

Like the others, I am offended that none of the DVD special features made it to the Blu-ray format. I enjoy the production notes, and like to watch the shows with them enabled.

So, three stars for the actual story; five stars for extras; averages out to four stars for this offering.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2309d68) out of 5 stars Awesome! Sept. 16 2013
By Eric B. Borgman - Published on
How much, I wish, that they filmed all of the original Doctor Who in film so that they could all be put on Blu-ray.

This high definition release of Spearhead from Space, is just plain awesome. I've always liked this show anyway. Robert Holmes is the best writer the series ever had. So many of his stories are classics today.

Most of the Jon Pertwee elements of his era are there already in his first program! This openning show is, in my opinion, the strongest beginning show of any of the Doctors. Baker's The Robot was only a so-so affair, Davison's Castrolvala, was downright boring at times. And Colin Baker's Twin Dilema, I haven't bothered watching again since the first time I laid eyes on it.

But, "what is so great about this release?" you may ask. Well, where to begin. The show has literally never looked better. The picture is more than pristine! Every color is gorgeous. It looks like it was just shot today. The computer picture restoration has removed most of the flaws, as well as lowering the graininess of the original 16mm film. Unfortunately, the few shots that have dust particles in the frame were not altered, so the hairs are even more noticeable!

If you've always liked this story, it is totally enhanced by the fantastic image quality, and is worth purchasing just for that.

The Extras have a few goodies as well. I personally love the ones on the restoration processes. This one was a bit short however. I wish they had invested in making a more in-depth study in the restoration process. The real gem is the documentary on the life of Jon Pertwee. It is rather well done and is also in high definition. Using interviews with Pertwee himself, people who knew him and worked with him, and lots of photographs and video clips the film covers his life. It is a well researched affair and should be exceedingly interesting to anyone who is a Pertwee fan.

I already had the DVD version of Spearhead, but this one is SO much better that everyone should get a copy! People update to a high definition system, if you don't have one, just to watch this show.