Back in August 2013, BBC Home Entertainment released a high-def Blu-ray Disc version of Doctor Who - Story #051: Spearhead From Space: Special Edition
. It was explained at the time that this first Jon Pertwee adventure, which was also the first story arc from the program which was ever shot in color, would be the only adventure from the classic show (1963-1989) that could be remastered into TRUE high definition.
Why? Because all four episodes were shot entirely on location, and thus entirely on 16mm film. All other episodes from the classic show's run were recorded on videotape, and when the program returned in 2005 it continued to be videotaped until the first 2009 adventure, Doctor Who - Planet of the Dead
(considered to be the Easter special...one of four that year, leading up to the end of David Tennant's run as The 10th Doctor).
Following Jon Pertwee's run as The 3rd Doctor (1970-1974), Tom Baker took over the role at the end of 1974, as The 4th Doctor. This version of the show's leading Time Lord is considered to be the most favorite amongst fans, and the first season starring Tom Baker (the 12th season of the original program) had 5 story arcs and 20 episodes overall. Each of them are long available on DVD:
- Story #075: Robot (4 episodes)
- Story #076: The Ark In Space (4 episodes)
- Story #077: The Sontaran Experiment (2 episodes)
- Story #078: Genesis of the Daleks (6 episodes)
- Story #079: Revenge of the Cybermen (4 episodes)
The first arc, "Robot," introduced Ian Marter as companion "Harry Sullivan," joining Elisabeth Sladen as "Sarah Jane Smith" and Tom Baker as "The 4th Doctor." Also reappearing in the first story arc are UNIT's "Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart" (Nicholas Courtney) and "Sergeant Benton" (John Levene). "Davros" (played in this production by Michael Wisher) makes his first appearance in "Genesis of the Daleks," too. What an important season!
So here's what's going on, from our point of view. A month ago, on December 15th, we received a news tip from one of our readers, "Ross" (thanks for emailing us!). He told us he had come across a listing at Best Buy's website for a March 20, 2018
release of Doctor Who - Tom Baker: Complete 1st Season
Blu-ray Disc, priced at $59.99 SRP. We looked at the BBC Shop online store to try to confirm, and have continued to look back there many times since, and have never yet seen a listing for such a title...not on DVD, nor on Blu-ray.
As we explained above, the twenty episodes from Tom Baker's first season of the show (and his entire run on the program, for that matter!) would have been recorded to videotape. It would be standard definition ("SD") quality, broadcast at 480p in North America (due to the NTSC video standard for the USA; the UK's video standard has been PAL, which consists of 576 lines of resolution, instead of 480). As a result
, any Blu-rays of Doctor Who
episodes starring Tom Baker would have to be up-converted to a faux high definition, just as what happened
with the Blu-ray release of Doctor Who - 2008 Christmas Special: The Next Doctor
Because of this, we didn't want to prematurely report a Blu-ray release of Tom Baker's first season without checking in with the studio beforehand. We immediately reached out to BBC Home Entertainment, and asked for information about the Best Buy listing. Shortly afterwards, we discovered that a similar listing for the title had also been added to the website for Barnes & Noble bookstores (it even gave us a UPC code for the item: 0883929620111). But both listings were removed within a couple of days, however. What? Was it a mistake? Just premature? We don't know. As of this writing, we still haven't received any information about it from BBC, nor from their North American DVD/Blu-ray distributor, Warner Home Video.
This morning we were informed by a longtime reader, Kevin McCoy (thanks for your email, too!) that the Best Buy listing had returned, still showing it to be a Blu-ray Disc for "Doctor Who - Tom Baker: Complete 1st Season
," and still showing the same date and pricing. And, while the Barnes & Noble listing is still missing, there are additional listings for the title now at other sellers (DVD Planet and FYE, for example). There are no listings, though, that we can find yet at Amazon.com, or Amazon's Canadian site (Amazon.ca) either. And it's still not listed at the BBC Shop online store, nor at Warner's WBshop site, either.
There's no box art images so far. So we don't really know what to make of this yet, but with info popping up at several online sellers now, we're ready to pass along everything we know. If you've read this far, then you have all the information we currently do! We can't guarantee anything of course. This is a title only mentioned by sellers, not studios, as of this writing. And if it does indeed come out, we can't be sure that the date and price currently shown are finalized yet. Stay tuned, of course, and we'll update you with more information, as further developments occur.