The Serial (3.5/5)
Rumors have been going around for months about the return of a huge number of classic Doctor Who episodes. However, without any information to back up these rumors it will appears that the classic Doctor Who DVD range is coming to it's conclusion. Aside from this release of the Moonbase, there are 2 more coming, the recently discovered Patrick Troughton serials Enemy of the World and the Web of Fear.
The Moonbase is one of the serials from the Troughton era that had episodes destroyed in the BBC purges of the early 70's. The 2 existing episodes have been released in the past as part of 2004's Lost in Time collection which cobbled together the orphaned (as in they are not part of a complete serial) Hartnell and Troughton episodes, and put them into one collection. As no additional episodes of the Moonbase have been recovered the serialized story contained on this new 2014 DVD release has been completed with animation much like the recent releases of The Reign of Terror, Ice Warriors, and the Tenth Planet.
The Moonbase could effectively be seen as the Tenth Planet part 2. The Cybermen who made their debut appearance in the Tenth Planet were so popular (and remain so to this day), that another Cybermen invasion was quickly commissioned to make use of their popularity. The Moonbase is the second of three scripts by Kit Pedler for Doctor Who. Much like Dalek creator Terry Nation, all of his scripted episodes contain his creations. The Moonbase, it should be noted actually does feel like The Tenth Planet part 2 as far as writing is concerned.
The Troughton era of Doctor Who was well known for having many "Base Under Siege" stories. These stories would involve Troughton and the TARDIS crew landing in some human outpost just prior to an alien invasion, and having to help stop it. This story type could easily be traced back to the Tenth Planet, and it is the basic framework of this set of episodes as well.
The Second Doctor alongside Ben, Polly, and recent addition to the crew Jamie who would go on to the Second Doctor's longest running and most popular companion land on the Earth's Moon. They find their way over to the aforementioned human outpost, which is host to a machine called the Gravitron. This machine helps to control weather back down on Earth. Of course, the Cybermen quickly arrive, and attempt to take the base, and control of the Gravitron for their own destructive plans.
Doctor Who the Moonbase is presented in it's original 1:33:1 aspect ratio with a solid black and white transfer. The transfer with this release appear to be taken from the 2004 Lost in Time set, and thus are not as perfect a restoration as one could have hoped for with recent technology, however, the results are quite good overall. The animated episodes having been recently created look absolutely fantastic. Planet 55 the company behind the Troughton animations have upped their game yet again, creating the best looking animations of their run thus far.
The audio is presented in a similarly suitable Dolby Digital mono track in English, as with the Ice Warriors release the audio is predictably uneven. The reason for this is that the audio for the animated episodes was taken from off the air recordings, leaving the sound quality in an imperfect state. The actual complete episodes do fare much better in the audio department.
The Moonbase is nowhere near as stacked in the extras department as other Doctor Who releases, that being said we do get a series of audio commentaries moderated by Toby Hadoke, and a featurette called Lunar Landing on the serial that is interesting and informative. The set is rounded off by a coming soon trailer for the Underwater Menace (currently delayed), a photo gallery, and the Radio Times listing for the episode.
I wouldn't call the Moonbase an absolute Doctor Who classic, but it does offer a fun time with the Troughton era crew, and the Cybermen. The restoration and animation are quite good, and the extras are slim but excellent. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.