Monday 15 August 2011

266 The Ambassadors of Death: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Ambassadors of Death: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: 28 March 1970
WRITER: David Whitaker (and Malcolm Hulke - Uncredited)
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who-Ambassadors of Death
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording partially recoloured using 525 off air video

Doctor Taltalian escapes from the room leaving Liz & The Doctor behind. When Recovery 7 undocks from Mars Probe 7 it's tracked to Earth. Unit recovers it and transports it to the space centre but they are ambushed by men led by the suited gentleman from the warehouse and the spaceship is seized. The Doctor recovers it and returns it to the space centre but the men escape. The Astronauts are trying to communicate but the Doctor realises the same things are being repeated and orders the capsule opened....

An episode dominated by the fight scene as the Unit convoy is ambushed. Liz said "How do the guns just knock them over?" I think the clue is the cylinder on the troops back: They're compressed air guns. Apparently the fight scene caused the production to hideously overspend: Terrance Dicks had got Malcolm Hulke to right something simple involving the lorry being directed the wrong way to save money but Michael Fegusson embellished it to include motor cyclists, helicopters and the entire Havok stunt team!

Unlike the first episode of this story, and all twelve previous Pertwee episodes, we're watching this episode mostly in Black & White. The remaining six episodes of this story exist as both black & white film recordings, found at BBC Enterprises, and off air colour video tapes recorded in the USA just like Doctor Who & the Silurians. Attempts have been made to recolour the story previously by applying the colour signal from the video tapes to the higher definition film recording. Episode 5 was successfully recoloured in early 1990s at the same time of the initial recolourings of other stories such as The Daemons, Terror of the Autons & The Silurians. However the remaining episodes were unable to be properly restored due to an odd rainbow patterning effect seen on the videotape. For this video release additional sections of stable colour were reinstated in episodes 2, 3, 6 & 7.

It was hoped that complete recolourisation could be achieved for a DVD release, and indeed Ambassadors of Death was originally scheduled to be part of a 2-pack with The Sun Makers (I do worry about the themes of some of this year's 2 packs. Has someone pinned the remaining titles to the wall and thrown darts at it to pair them up?). However rising costs from the firm that helped recolour Planet of the Daleks 3 plus a bad UK Pound to US Dollar exchange rate has appeared to put a hopefully temporary halt to it. Perhaps the Chroma Dot Colour Recovery Process (as nutty a piece of technical necromancy as you'll ever come across) may come to our aid.

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