'The Deadly Assassin' sees the Doctor companionless and alone for the first time, as he responds to a call to return to his home planet of Gallifrey and becomes embroiled in the assassination of a president...
'The Deadly Assassin' has much more location film content than is usual for a story of its era. A fantastic step-up in quality would have been achievable if this film still existed, but sadly it was junked many years ago, leaving only the rather poor 1976 telecine transfer contained within the episode to work with. With grading by Jonathan Wood and an intensive manual picture cleanup by SVS, some improvement has been made however.
The original cliffhanger to part three, consisting of a shot of the Doctor's head being forcibly held under water, was only ever seen on the first transmission. Following a complaint by the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, the ending was trimmed down to reduce what was thought to be an unreasonably traumatic moment for younger viewers. No broadcast quality copy of the original version exists, but off-air video recordings were made on U-matic by BBC Enterprises and on Philips 1500 by Ian Levine, which he later dubbed to U-matic. Copies of both of these U-matic tapes have been used to restore the ending to its former glory, by combing the two to help reduce noise. Approximately six seconds was missing from the end of the episode (of which approximately half was a freeze frame) and none of this exists in the recap at the start of episode four. There is also soundtrack with unique music cues in the missing section, which provided Mark Ayres with a challenging job. By very careful matching of positioning and grading, Peter Crocker was able to simply cut the off-air recording back onto the end of the master and when combined with Mark Ayres' audio restoration, the join is almost imperceptible.
DVD extras for this release include:
• Commentary with actors Tom Baker and Bernard Horsfall, producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
• The Matrix Revisited (dur. 29' 16") - cast, crew and critics look back at the making of the story in this documentary from Paul Vanezis. With actors Tom Baker, Bernard Horsfall, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, director David Maloney, designer Roger Murray-Leach, founding president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society Jan Vincent-Rudzki, and the founder of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, Mary Whitehouse. Narrated by Sara Griffiths.
• The Gallifreyan Candidate (dur. 10' 30") - this featurette from Dene Films looks at Richard Condon's novel 'The Manchurian Candidate', adapted in 1962 into a film thriller starring Frank Sinatra, which is often cited as being a major influence on the plot of 'The Deadly Assassin'. With Newcastle University's Stacy Gillis and Oxford University's Andrew Shail.
• The Frighten Factor (dur. 16' 36") - what exactly is Doctor Who's 'Frighten Factor'? A diverse panel of experts try to answer the question for featurette producer Brendan Sheppard. With producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, education psychologist Lucy Lewis, church minister Peter Cavanna, Doctor Who Magazine's editor Tom Spilsbury and assistant editor Peter Ware, Doctor Who Adventures magazine editor Moray Laing and head writer Annabel Gibson, writer John Dorney, television archivist Jim Sangster and Doctor Who expert Alex Lydiate. Narrated by Simon Ockendon.
• Radio Times Listings in Adobe PDF format for viewing on PC or Mac.
• Plus of course the usual Coming Soon trailer, Programme Subtitles, Subtitle Production Notes and Photo Gallery.
Copyright Steve Roberts, 30 March 2009. No reproduction allowed without written permission.