This story from 1966 stars William Hartnell as the First Doctor and Peter Purves & Jackie Lane as companions Steven Taylor and Dodo and places the Doctor and his friends at the events of the O K Corral.
Long criticised by fans of the show ‘The Gunfighters’ sought to cash in on the contemporary popularity of the Western on both TV and at the cinema.
On TV the low budget of the series is considered to have undermined the production, freed from the limitations of the visuals this CD release allows the viewer to build their own vision of a Western frontier town and the characters.
On the other hand nothing can detract from some pretty dire attempts at American accents by the cast. Anyone who has ever complained about Dick Van Dyke’s ‘cor blimey guvner’ effort in Mary Poppins or the rather curious accent used by (English born) Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher should be forced to listen to the accents offered here.
Plot points and scene changes are conveyed by the ‘The Ballard of Last Chance Saloon’ sung by Lynda Baron which adds to the unusual feel of a rather curious story.
Nowhere near as bad as legend has it ‘The Gunfighters’ however takes some extreme liberties with historical facts in order to work the Doctor and his friends into the story.
There are also some examples of rather dubious scripting, for example it’s not at all obvious why the Doctor would accept Doc Holliday’s revolver and wander around Tombstone just days before the famous shootout with it strapped to his side.
The result is to make the Doctor seem somewhat dim and almost unrecognisable as the resourceful schemer who only one story earlier outwitted the seemingly all powerful Celestial Toymaker.
Overall the story is lighthearted fun which probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously or examined too deeply. It’s not the best the series has ever produced but there are worse stories out there which have somehow escaped the mostly negative reputation of ‘The Gunfighters’.
The release is narrated by Peter Purves and as usual there’s an interview with the narrator in which Purves is startlingly honest about his long standing dislike for the story and more recent enjoyment of it. The interview is conducted by Mark Ayres who, as always, has worked wonders in presenting the soundtrack in the best possible quality.
Also included is a 10-minute segment comprising the original recordings of The Ballard of Last Chance Saloon which makes for a fun extra and Ayres is to be congratulated for making use of the available space on the discs in such a way as to offer these little ‘value added’ features.
Doctor Who: The Gunfighters will be released on 5th February and can be pre-ordered from from BBCShop.com