US fans with long memories remember the Jon Pertwee run of stories a little like the Wizard of Oz. Mostly colo(u)r with a splash of black and white thrown in for convenience. The trashing of Doctor Who episodes was not confined to the black and white era as many Doctor Who historians know, but extended through the entire Pertwee era as well. Though video of the whole of the era existed, it remained something of a patchwork of original colour masters and grayscale copies returned from overseas sales.
The boomlet that Doctor Who experienced in the 1980’s America was ravenous enough that stations could and would buy Pertwee serials in color only, or in both so that Terror of the Autons in glorious color was followed by grainy grayscale The Mind of Evil the next. Season 7’s stories were no different.
This weeks cap addition is the unloved member of this quartet of stories, not shiny and new like Spearhead From Space or with a memorable monster like The Silurians or a masterpiece like Inferno, The Ambassadors of Death sat in the mushy middle, overlong and black and white. The attempts at space realism, while admirable, were also tedious, but this was largely a spy-fi story where Liz and the Doctor was mostly separate, and the Brig was large and in charge.
The debut of this story on disc is the result of a painstaking attempt to colorize and vidfire the last six episodes of the story (one episode 1 survived purging intact, and it shows) but the effort, though noble, results in rather mushy picture quality and caps. It’s still an important piece of Doctor Who however, showing what early Pertwee was. These were the original Impossible Astronauts.