Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DVD Review: Lovejoy Series 3

Lovejoy Series 3 DVD - 4 Discs (693 min)
Released by Acorn Media on October 28, 2014. SRP $49.99 (DVD)

I remember many years ago when the cable network A&E actually showed program that were from beyond the realm of reality TV. It is a point of interest, because it is for me a reminder that you should never take for granted what you have because it may be gone before you know it. A&E showed a lot of great television. The station was known as Arts & Entertainment, I am not sure what it is known for now.
I may have been a bit of a snob because the programs they showed often also shown on PBS so I didn’t want to see these series with commercial breaks and logos plastered all over it. Back then, logos plastered all over was just one logo in the corner, nothing like what we are forced with now. Anyway, they would show some amazing series such as Yes, Prime Minister, Black Adder, All Creatures Great and Small which were all series I would watch on PBS but there was one that I got introduced to on A&E that has become a long-time favorite. Lovejoy.

My Monday night ritual back in the day would be watching Murphy Brown on Monday nights at 8pm and at 9pm would be Lovejoy. I would sit down with a snack and just sit to enjoy this wonderful series. It made Mondays worthwhile and I was in high school back then so I made sure I got my homework done early. It was really a lot of fun. It created lasting memories for me because it was quintessential British television that took place in the country and was dealing with antiques. It may sound boring but it is anything but boring.
I am reviewing Series 3 of Lovejoy which was originally broadcast in 1992. I never realized this before that I was actually watching this series when it was new. In the literature I got with the DVD set I am reviewing from Acorn, there is a quote from the New York Times that says that Lovejoy is “The James Bond of antique dealers.” This is a description that I would like to respectfully disagree with for now. Lovejoy is a lot of things but the term James Bond seems absolutely out of place. But here is the interesting thing, Lovejoy IS a lot of things. This is what makes this one of the best TV series ever made.

Did I just go as far and say that Lovejoy is one of the best TV series ever made? Absolutely! Lovejoy is a divvy. This is someone who can tell a genuine antique when he sees it. He has a gift and is extraordinarily knowledgeable about all manner of antiques. The series itself, I would term as light drama with some wonderfully funny character moments. It’s not steeped in drama. There is actually quite a bit of action because the series dabbles in criminal murder mysteries yet most of the mysteries surrounds the art & antiques that Lovejoy is involved with each episode. Maybe early on Lovejoy may have been involved in some shading dealings but as the series progresses, he involves himself with legitimate partners. By the time we get to Series 3, Lovejoy has a nice business going with his friends. He may need to dip back into the world of questionable dealers once in a while for one reason or another but he is genuinely a kind hearted person.
I consider this period of the series to be one of the best. I had actually forgotten that until I sat down to enjoy these episodes. The character of Lovejoy is completely formed. Where the New York Times called him the James Bond of antique dealers, I call him more of a loveable rogue. Almost, at times, a Robin Hood. Lovejoy wants to make money but he wants to be fair to the people he is working for especially if there are people down on their luck with that one antiques piece that they have been holding onto for a rainy day.

The supporting cast is pretty well-defined by this point too. These people are the icing on the Lovejoy cake. Lovejoy could carry the series on his own. I really think Ian McShane has that ability with this character but the supporting cast are amazing and have all been with him since the first series. Lovejoy’s closest friend and associate is Tinker Dill. This is back in the day a TV series could have a loveable alcoholic and there didn’t need to be a “special episode” to deal with his problem. The alcoholism is the backdrop as Tinker is from a different era and just continued to drink into the current era of the 1990s. Where Lovejoy is a genuine divvy, Tinker is extremely knowledgeable about antiques as he has been in the business for many, many, many years. He knows stuff that Lovejoy doesn’t know and has a great memory. He is a fantastic character.
My favorite has to be Eric Catchpole played by Chris Jury. Eric started in the series from the first episode as a young guy who didn’t have much ambition to do anything in his life so his dad paid Lovejoy to try to get Eric interested and involved in the antiques business. I guess it worked. No doubt that Eric is the comedy relief of the series and much of the side plots/problems are caused by him in the episodes but he, as a character, has grown. It’s not like he is Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island who week after week messes everything up. He has a great understanding of the trade though he still makes plenty of mistakes. He knows he is not perfect yet strives to act with an air of confidence. I actually had lunch with Chris Jury once. Actually, I had lunch with TV’s Frank from Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Chris was with us. Both men were funny, kind and pleasant. That was a treat.

Finally, there is Lady Jane Felsham. She has to be one of the kindest people I have ever seen on TV. She befriended Lovejoy in the first series and she has been very loyal and supportive of him ever since. She is married but things start to change in the season. Lovejoy from the very beginning has been nothing but a gentleman to her. It is clear that he really loves her but he has always respected her life and the role she played in her community. As a Lady, she is very down to Earth and has always accepted Lovejoy as an equal. Lady Jane and Lovejoy are partners in business and this has helped Lovejoy stay on the right track.
When we get into the first episode of this set, it picks up a bit where we left off in Series 2. I do want to say that this doesn’t mean you have to see these episodes in order to pick it up. I actually think it is pretty easy to pick up where this series is going because there isn’t any real story arcs. That being said, good things happened at the end of the last episode of Series 2, The Black Virgin of Vladimir. At the end of the episode Lovejoy makes quite a bit of money and goes away for a while. It’s been 6 months since anyone has heard from him and everyone has gone their own way. Lady Jane is back to her life of sole community service, Tinker for reasons that are unknown joins a monastery where there is no drinking and Eric has gotten a “real” job in the security business. He is a security guard. But he does have a uniform.

The thing I love about this set of episodes is that there are a lot of mysteries about specific pieces of art or antiques that we get knowledge of from Lovejoy or Tinker. Many of the episodes shows us pieces that have specific history and are presented in a way that makes tons of sense but I haven’t really found any evidence that they are real such an old bowl called Smoke Your Nose which was in an episode, funny enough called, Smoke Your Nose or the idea of loveknots in Indian rugs. In the rugs, a woman who was asked to marry a man in their culture would put her answer into an intricate rug. It’s old tradition and sounds really cool but I am not sure if it I real. I couldn’t find any info on it in my exhaustive search or it. If you can call looking something up on Google as exhaustive.
What I love about this series is that there is always someone trying to scam someone else in the world of antiques or pull the wool over their eyes. This is highlight because just as you think you know what is going on, someone has slipped someone else a fake or aid in counterfeit or made some big mistakes. It’s fun to watch Lovejoy and his friends try to figure out what is going on. Sometimes they are a step ahead or behind and maybe even get scammed themselves. That being said, kind of like what I always say about All Creatures Great & Small, Lovejoy always has a happy ending to the episodes. When the credits roll, I always have a smile on my face.

The series does not take place in London though they sometimes need to go there. It takes place around English country settings. If you read any of my articles, you know I go crazy for this sort of setting. It is my favorite thing. I love how the series looks and is shot. The country is always so pleasant looking. It is always sunny and green. It is shot so well. So much of the series takes place in manor homes or just generally nice places. The picture quality on this release is going to be the same as the other releases and also the original releases by the BBC a few years ago. This series was shot on film but was transferred to tape for post-production editing. The quality is fine. It looks good but we are now in an enlightened age of stuff that was shot on film but edited on tape to get a re-transfer and color grade. That is how series such as Poirot, House of Cards and Miss Marple get new leases of life on Blu-ray. I do not see that ever happening with Lovejoy. This is an expensive process to go back, re-scan and edit the episodes back together. There are 71 episodes of Lovejoy and I don’t get the impression that the copyright holders are interested in putting money into it. Now, let me be clear on a couple of things. This is not a fault of Acorn Media, they are distributing these sets. Also, the episodes do not look bad. They look fine, I can’t help t think what they could have looked like completely remastered. The bottom line is that episodes are highly enjoyable.
Along with how the episodes are shot, another major piece to this production is the music. It is fantastic. From the actual theme music to the incidental music, it is cohesive and a joy to listen to in each episode. If there was a soundtrack for the series available to purchase I would do so in a heartbeat. The music is a sort of classical genre piece using strings and harpsichords. It’s tough watching the episodes because the theme stays with you for days after watching it. In fact, the music seems to kick into high-gear when I am driving somewhere and I can hear the “Lovejoy driving” music in my head. It’s fun. It really makes every aspect of the production cohesive.

Some of my favorite episodes on this set are Smoke Your Nose which features a Roman land that a vicar is trying to protect. I really enjoy stories that include a lot of historical overtones and this episode also benefits from an ending with a twist. Scotch on the Rocks is a great and I love the episode Eric of Arabia which sees Lovejoy become incapacitated due to something Eric did and spends most of the episode in the hospital suffering a broken leg. The episode is directed by Ian McShane. This has a great plot that surrounds the history of an ancient clay pig. It has a great combination of humour and some suspense.
There is a great guest cast in this season.  Burt Kwuok, Michael Kitchen, and Minnie Driver. There is an ongoing storyline in the early episodes with Joana Lumley’s character Victoria. Those are some of the main stars but there are a ton of people we would have seen in other British television series that I enjoyed watching in this series of Loveyjoy such as Peter Halliday, Russell Hunter, Nickolas Grace, Maurice Denham, John McGlynn, Angela Bruce, Paul Brooke, Edward Hardwicke, Nadim Sawalha, Paul Rogers, Simon Ward and the group Hothouse Flowers.

I think Lovejoy Series 3 is among the pinnacle for the series. There are great episodes, characters and stories. Even if you haven’t seen Series 1 & 2, it doesn’t matter. It is very obvious from the start this is a quality series that should not be missed.
Upcoming DVD/Blu Ray Reviews: Miss Marple Series 1 Volume 1. I have already posted some of the remastered pics but a full review of the Blu-ray is coming soon and also a review of the Blu-ray release of the final series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Series 13.

Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Miss Marple Blu-ray Preview

I have often said to people, if you are waiting for something to come out on Blu-ray let me buy the DVD and that will inevitably lead to a fully remastered Blu-ray release. It goes without fail. Just when I am waiting for a Blu-ray release of something, I buy the DVD only for the Blu-ray to be announced.  The latest in this journey is the upcoming release of the BBC series from the 1980s Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

It was only a few short months ago that I finally gave in and decided to buy the 12-disc R2 DVD boxset that I had been debating to buy since it came out a little over 2 years ago. Literally in a week or so that I bought it, news came out that a HD Blu-ray set of the first volume of episodes would be released at the end of October. Don’t get me wrong, this is awesome news!  I’ve read on forums that some people were concerned that this could possibly be taking the SD masters and up-resing  them to 1080p like the Blu-ray releases for Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People. That is not the case. This was done by the same folks who did the awesome restoration on the House of Cards Blu-ray set.
Yesterday I received my review copy of the first volume and while my proper review won’t be out for a couple of weeks, I wanted to share some images from one of the episodes to show what the restoration looks like and what a restoration it is! The new scans are from the original camera negatives and they are beautiful. These were restored from 16mm film. They look great as you can see below.

I am slightly concerned that A Pocketful of Rye is not on this set since it is part of Series 1 but The Murder at the Vicarage is on the set which aired after. Someone in the know may have an answer to this but I am just going off of different episode guides, etc.  Maybe it was spacing issues on the discs or something. As long as we get it, I will be happy.
Below are comparison shots (to see clarity and quality) between the most recent R2 DVD release and the upcoming US Blu-ray set. As you will see, these are approximations. It’s mainly to get the gist of the difference in quality. Click on image to see the size difference. Top image SD and bottom image is (obviously) HD.

Here are some other shots to enjoy.
Please look for my full review of this Blu-ray set coming soon.

Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive Please follow and retweet these article if you like them.

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Year Later: Are There Any More Missing Episodes?

Do you remember where you were one year ago? If you are reading this article, it is pretty safe to assume that you were somewhere watching some cool stuff that was made available on iTunes. Many started hearing rumours earlier in the summer of 2013 that included the possible find of some missing episodes of Doctor Who, if not before. All sorts of rumours were abound but at the end of the day, only one thing was certain. On October 10, 2013, Doctor Who fans were rejoicing over the fact that 9 episodes were returned. This filled in the gaps, mostly, for two stories, The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear.

The idea that I could watch these stories was fantasy. Forget the impossible girl, this was the impossible scenario.  The thing was that back then, I had “inside knowledge” of what was going on. I didn’t want to give too much away but I alluded to it heavily in my article I wrote a few days after the recovery called The Surreal Reality of this Missing Episode Find! It was my most popular article I have ever written. It was viewed by over 10,000 people in the first few days . It was optimistic and positive. It was such a happy time. If you were a follower of the missing episode saga, things would eventually change. If you followed closely, you were to embark on an amazing emotional roller coaster ride. Buckle up!

Before I get to it, I need to reiterate that I can watch The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear whenever I want. That never gets old. To be[T4]  honest, I still tell myself this about The Tomb of the Cybermen. I never get over how cool these recoveries are but instead cherish each find. I can remember where I was with each find that has been announced since getting into the series. That’s cool. As I write this article, I am watching The Web of Fear now.  Why not?
I remember when the rumours were running wild for the return of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear in June, I actually reached out to BBC Worldwide. I have been working with them for a few years getting DVDs to review. I reached out to my contact to ask if The Enemy of the World would be released in October which was the rumour going around.
My coy e-mail to them:
“I am seeing listings for a Doctor Who titled called The Enemy of the World possibly in the UK. I am curious if you know if something like that is coming up this year even if it isn't officially scheduled yet?”
The response:
“And I don’t have any info about Enemy of the World on the North American side just yet.”
I like the phrasing of “Just yet.” How did I overlook that at the time?
The night that the episodes were announced in the UK it was midnight which was 6pm our time. I was at a work function but left early as there were friends coming over  and I could not wait to see the episodes. I believe some of my friends actually watched some of the episodes on their iPhones because…..well, they could. The 21st century, eh?
I am grateful for the fact that these two stories have been returned. I have watched these stories many, many times. I just read someone who said they have only seen it once. That’s really too bad. I love watching these episodes. A personal highpoint for me had been that I moderated a live commentary for a couple of the episodes at CONsole Room in MN with Deborah Watling. That was pretty cool.
At the risk of sounding egotistical, I love going back to my article I wrote on October 13, 2013. It is so optimistic. I pulled out some of the “facts” I wrote with rose-tinted glasses from that article which I find very interesting now:
The second point is I believe there are more episodes coming back. A lot more. It is in our best interest to support like we have never supported before.
Our money speaks for us and I truly believe without a shadow of doubt, if you want to see more episodes returned and made available, support this range.
I do call it a range. This is how strongly I believe that we are at the start of something wonderful. The BBC have set it up nicely. As more missing episodes become available, they will be put up on iTunes with a DVD set for later.
The Underwater Menace Episode 2 is yet to be released. There is supposed to be a DVD release for it next year.
Philip Morris is a hero to Doctor Who and British television enthusiasts. I am very careful about how I use that word as it has a lot of weight to it. In the realm of Doctor Who and British television, he is a hero.
These are all incredibly enthusiastic and exciting passages. Here we are a year later, how much of the above has progressed over this past year?
I’ve said before that I think fandom is the worst thing to happen to Doctor Who. Perhaps that is harsh but unfortunately over the past year I think it is not a statement without merit when it comes to news on the missing episodes. I really believed that what we got with The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear was just an Hors d'oeuvre to a bigger feast just a few months away. Don’t forget, there was one other story that always lumped along with The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear and that was Marco Polo. Marco Polo was the next release. This was a fact. At least a fact among Doctor Who fans that believed in something called the omni-rumour. The omni-rumour was simply every episode of Doctor Who had been found and accounted for and mostly found by Philip Morris. Because Philip Morris was searching, this led to him having contact with other collectors and they were able to track down episodes for things that we never thought we would see. Such items included The Dalek’s Masterplan episode 7 The Feast of Steven but also gems that we never knew existed like the original recording of The Daleks episode 1 The Dead Planet. As Doctor Who fans, we had it made. There was a famous list of episodes that were found going around that conveniently told us what was found and the state these episodes were in:
Season One –
Marco Polo - found, three copies seems to have been recovered, with the best possible compilation being made for restoration. Restored and on iTunes ready for release. Slated for release in the next announcement. Has been seen by a few people.
Reign of Terror - parts 4 and 5 found. No word on whether it's being restored or not.
Season Two -
The Crusade - found in full. Better prints of episode 1, at least.
The Time Meddler - duplicates are found, and better prints.
I would not be surprised if they did a Season One and Season Two boxset this year.
Season Three -
Galaxy 4 - found in full. Better prints for the existing episode.
MTTU - reported to be found. I find this a bit hard to believe, but more likely than not.
Myth Makers - all reported to be found. Probably being worked on.
DMP - okay. 4, 7, 11, and 12 reported to be found. 1, 3, 6, 8, and 9 are uncertain. 9 is reported to be a sole remaining missing episode, according to Eddie on OS. I'll believe when I see it, although 4, 7, 11, and 12 are likely. 11 and 12 are in the process of being unwound.
Massacre - all found. Should be restored already or in the process.
Celestial Toymaker - all found. Same as Massacre. One or two prints to have been in less than satisfactory condition.
The Savages - all found. Unknown about being restored or not, but more likely than not.
Season Four -
The Smugglers - all found.
The Tenth Planet Part Four - found, twice. Not a TIEA find. Uncertain on when it'll be released.
Power of the Daleks - all six episodes found. Reported to be restored by three very good sources. Has been seen by a few people.
Highlanders - all found. Some of the prints will need work, and may be low quality prints.
The Underwater Menace - all found. UWM 1 may have two prints. Has been seen by at least one person, according to Mike Nuttall on PMF.
The Moonbase - all found. Uncertain on the status of restoration or release.
Macra Terror - all found. Being worked on or already restored.
Faceless Ones - all found. No other information.
Evil of the Daleks - all found. In excellent condition. Very, very good sources to confirm the recovery of this story. No word on restoration or release.
Season Five -
Tomb of the Cybermen - duplicates may have been found.
Abominable Snowmen - all found. Episodes 4 and 5 need work. Recoverable, though. Uncertain on status of restoration or release. Rumored to be part of a Yeti boxset.
Ice Warriors - all found. Episodes 2 and 3 were thought to be missing until very late into the omnirumor. No other information.
Web of Fear - all found. Episode 3 exists. No other information that can be shared at this time.
Fury from the Deep - all found. Very good sources for this story. Uncertain on status of restoration or release.
Wheel in Space - all found. No other information.
Season Six -
The Invasion - all found. Episodes 1 and 4 were thought to be missing until very late into the omnirumor.
The Space Pirates - all found. No other information.
Miscellaneous -
Easter announcement is likely. Plans are in motion.
TIEA is not the only entity that found missing episodes. There are other episode hunters.
Private collectors have been utilized.
BBCWW, BBC, BFI, and TIEA are all involved.
Hundreds of duplicates exist.

We were told by trusted sources that great things were happening. We were told that material was being restored by the Restoration Team, but then told not the restoration team but other state of the art restoration facilities and then finally we were told a team in Nigeria. Hope that works out well[.
In fact, this list became famous at this year’s Gallifrey convention in LA. I had the cool opportunity to be on the missing episode panel with Damian Shanahan, Jon Preddle and Steve Roberts. Steve Roberts read out the above list, declared it a fake and ripped it up. To the omni-believers (did I just make up this phrase?) it was like ripping up the bible. The outcry was tremendous. Within minutes, Steve Roberts was known on the forums and twitter as Asshat. For those who care, it’s #asshat. It is perhaps a little disrespectful for Steve to do that after all the work the Nigerians put into restoring so many episodes. What about the third story of the original rumor? What about Marco Polo?
It was the 50th anniversary weekend and so many of our trusted contacts swore up and down that Marco Polo was queued on iTunes ready for release. I believed it. Hook. Line and Sinker. Maybe it is still up there . Keep in mind, the reason why this and other episodes were not getting released is because of contracts that needed to be ironed between Philip and the BBC. On any given day, the contracts either were completed, close or stalled. Your mileage may vary.
Perhaps there is a bit of sarcasm in my voice. The man who wrote that article on my site in October of 2013 believed the rumours. I totally believed all of that. Then I started to speak with people who worked directly with Philip Morris and I heard a different story. While the online “experts” were telling us good days were coming with the release of many episodes, other people were telling me that nothing more had been returned to the BBC and while logically it would make sense that Philip would have more Doctor Who episodes, no one knew for sure. Not even the BBC even though the claim of 90 episodes we always heard about started with Phil himself. It was only because some people had seen physical proof of the existence of Enemy and Web  that he actually returned them to the BBC. I still believe he has a lot more but he is in no hurry to return them. Whether you think of Phil as a hero or hoarder one thing is certain, he does everything on his own terms. Everything. I have heard from many different people close to the source about what kind of person Phil is and I can be sure that it doesn’t match what the general consensus thinks who support him. If Phil is still holding on (or hoarding?) episodes, what about these people with the “inside” knowledge?
I am a part of a Doctor Who podcast called The Others. The main thing we do is watch some episodes, drink some wine and give some feedback on what we watch. Not too complex. With the excitement of the whole missing episode thing, we started to do Missing Episode Minicasts. These are basically little short bursts of what we were hearing about in regards to missing episodes. I know that when we started it, all of us on The Others really believed what the guys with the “inside” knowledge had to say . We would report it. As time went on, we started to talk with people we could link back to Philip, multiple people, and find out as said above that nothing more had been returned. At the time, some people were getting down on Philip about the possibility of nothing being returned. In February, I wrote a positive article for Doctor Who Worldwide about the logistics of shipping and going through the sheer volume of films, videotapes, etc that Philip was reported to have brought back. That article is here.
Remember, expect the unexpected.
Meanwhile, there were two or three people online who were adamant that episode returns were just a few months away. Of course, there would be dates thrown out for an announcement of some episode returns but those dates would pass with nothing happening. The big date was Easter 2014. There should be a huge Easter roll-out of episodes. Our wait would be over. Hallelujah! I imagined a parade with Philip Morris and the Easter Bunny sharing a float. For me, the wait was over. I knew that everyone who had “insider knowledge” had no knowledge at all. Easter came and went without any kind of announcement. They were either being duped or winding us up . At the time I didn’t think they were trying to wind us up.
One thing I was noticing along with my fellow podcasters on The Others was that it was usually just one guy online that would rile everyone up with “great news” and tell us “good days are coming”. Usually he would do this after there was a lull of information. My stance had become over time that maybe people with information about the omni-rumour should maybe not be so keen to share information since they have normally been wrong. By this point, we had gone through months of dates that we were told episodes would be announced. It seemed to me that after a track record like that, maybe keep the information on the down low. Instead when there was a lull in the news and everyone was calming down who was following this story, this guy would come back out of the woodwork and rile everyone back up again. I had enough. I felt his information was counter-productive and actually hurtful to some.
Through The Others, we did a podcast focusing on “news” this person was spreading and how it gives people false hope. In my mind, where the issue lies is that his news was very specific and not very rumour-like but more fact. When I would directly confront him on this issue, he would brush off the whole thing telling me it’s not important and this is not a big deal. If it is not a big deal, why constantly share mis-information that is presented as fact. People trust this person for some reason and that can be dangerous. Now, someone might say that he had the right information for the release of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. The thing is, it wasn’t a very well-kept secret. It didn’t take much for people to know what was going on.
The podcast went over just as I thought, very controversially….I’m sure just like this article will go over. People called me out for tearing this guy apart and getting too personal. I disagree. The only thing I took issue with was constantly spreading mis-information about missing episodes; I thought (and think) the behavior is irresponsible considering so many people listen to every word he has to say on the subject. I made no comment on the type of person he is or any sort of personal comment. I kept it all within the realm of missing episodes.  The most interesting thing about that is that I believe the people who were supporting him on this probably were not doing so because I was attacking him but were doing so because I was attacking their beliefs that these missing episodes may not exist.  These people have followed his word for so long and have invested so much emotionally into his “news” that our podcast threatened that belief. I find that very interesting.
I do not regret that we did that podcast nor do I regret the things I said. I stand by this and know that once again, he has been making claims about things being returned and a timeframe that we will see more episodes returned. As far as real news is concerned regarding missing episodes, there was one man I got very solid news from going as far back as 2012. That is Ian Levine.
I have been blasted before for writing articles about Ian that puts him in a good light. For example, there is this super classy Tweet I got when Ian publicly praised an article I wrote:
“Of course you are. The whole article exists to stroke your ego. God knows why fans like to blow you.”
Back in August of 2013, I was on the phone with Ian when I was talking to him about Marco/Enemy/Web . I really believed the online sources who had the “inside” information. Ian told me there was no Marco Polo. I didn’t believe him after all this other source I trusted let us know that multiple prints were found! Who would lie about that?? I was not going to be deterred and told Ian about how awesome it would be to be a complete Web of Fear. He told me there was no….. Episode 3. This was two months before the announcement and Ian knew exactly what was going on with these found episodes. The people I spoke to about this were rock-solid that it was complete. Ian must have been wrong. As time passed, I realised he was correct. After the announcement of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear (which is still amazing), I mentioned to Ian that I am sure more is to come by the end of the year. Ian told me nothing else had been returned. It was a very cold splash of water in the face. In January, someone I knew who worked for BBC Worldwide in the UK confirmed there was nothing else. Not one more thing had been returned. Meanwhile the usual 3 who had “inside information” on the forums were telling us that the BBC would make an announcement soon (within weeks) and then a week later we would learn that the BBC is waiting to make an agreement with Phil Morris and then the next week we would be told that some public event didn’t go well in regards to the missing episodes and the whole announcement has been pushed back to some other date.
Here are some key posts made by Ian on his Facebook page about the missing episodes, reproduced with kind permission of Ian himself:

You know something... If Philip Morris had trickled just FEW more episodes back, he'd still be a hero. But he wilfully hasn't done so. We all know he's got loads more, but he just simply WILL NOT play the game. As Antony Wainer said, he's gone from a hero to a zero. If he had only found the nine episodes and returned them, then yes we'd all love him. But he's hoarding. And he's horribly fixated on this OCD compulsion to not give back any more until he's completed his search, a search that could take him ten more years. If he only gave back Marco Polo in the meantime it might at least show a gesture of human compassion. But he won't. He behaves like he owns Doctor Who and has monopolised it. I never behaved like this. NEVER !!!! I searched hard, saved episodes from destruction, and gave them back. For free. My friends in the RT now hate me for speaking my mind, But MY GOD, someone has to, in the face of such pompous injustice. The way he is behaving is a disgrace, in my opinion, and he has forever tainted and stained the joy we should all be feeling at these beloved treasures being found. But what earthly use is it to any of us if he hoovers up multiple copies of our beloved classics, but starves us all of ever receiving even a mere crumb. Sorry folks, but after his horrible behaviour, I hate him with a passion. And it eats away at me till I just can't hold it in any longer. IT IS JUST ALL WRONG - ALL PLAIN WRONG
Now I personally don’t hate Philip Morris. I do think he has more episodes, just as Ian thinks too:
The BBC are as frustrated as I am. They want them back as much as we do. As much as I do. The Restoration team have no work and nothing to work on. One single person controls everything, holds all the cards, and has behaved despicably in my humble opinion.
And Ian tells us how he found about out missing episodes discovery :
I first heard about this in early 2011 when we knew he had found a huge haul and I saw shipping proof. Then a BBC radio DJ secretly circulated a memo about what he had found and how he was keeping secret. This DJ claimed he had found many hundreds of prints of Doctor Who, out of which ninety were missing. In 2012 I was reliably informed the first three to be given back were Marco Polo, Enemy Of The World and Web of Fear. In Easter 2013 they were supposed to be announced. He finally returned them in May  2013 and the October announcement was delayed at least six times before finally being announced. In December 2011, we spoke at the BFI, and he knew full well that I knew he had stuff. it was one of those very guarded awkward conversations that I could see made his blood boil. The fake smile on his face, forced and false, said it all.
And how many episodes are back Ian?
I'd love to answer you Michael (Who Ian was responding to on Facebook)  and tell you that I think he has at least ninety, but I have stated that I'm not saying any more on this matter for now, so despite my anguished emotions, I need to keep schtum.
When are people going to realize this is all bullshit! The facts are simple, the BBC wants to make money. If they had missing episodes ready to go… wait, let’s make it simpler. Even if they only had Marco Polo ready to go on iTunes or not even iTunes but ready for release, do you really think they would hold back? All we need to do is see how well The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World did on the charts…all charts to know  that this is  about  as close to free money for them as possible depending on what sort of deal that they did with Philip. Regardless, they did well off it. Follow the money. Yet, people still maintain that episodes are ready to go but then say they are not ready to go because Phil and the BBC have not come to an agreement and then a week later say that Phil and the BBC have now come to an agreement. People reading this may say getting this kind of information means that some stuff may not always be accurate and there will be some confusion in the new related to this. If that is the case, then don’t report it. After the 50th time you have been wrong just Give. It. A . Rest.
When I first heard about the possibility of a stash of missing episodes found back in May of 2012, there was one thing I was told right away. They are being held by someone who doesn’t want to give them back. He is difficult and may not return them at all. I found this odd because I didn’t know anything about Philip Morris. I thought they were found by the BBC at multiple stations, I couldn’t understand how one man could hold all of the cards.  It was only later did I understand.
To many, Philip Morris is a hero. He has returned Doctor Who episodes and he is on the quest for more. It is a long and arduous journey we need to be patient and when he is done we will or will not benefit from this journey. Just for the sake of conversation, what if his search was over, what if it was over for some time? What if he had already collected all of the output that he will get and he is just sitting on it? When exactly were the prints of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear found? I am can pretty much guarantee it was not right before handing it over to the BBC. Can we be sure the episode was found in Jos? No. We can’t. Especially if other episodes were found at the same location but we only know of 9. What we do know is that Phil was fairly certain that The Web of Fear Episode 3 was with the other 5 episodes found. What happened to it? Is it still with the larger haul of films? At one point we heard that there were tens of thousands of film cans. Maybe it’s in there somewhere?
Attn Philip Morris: This is what can happens to films if they are left sitting too long without being cared for properly.
I wanted to really like Phil as he was finding missing episodes or trying to find missing episodes. Then, he would correct people about what TIEA was all about. It was collecting a country’s archive heritage and digitizing it for the 21st century. What if the previous sentence ends after the word heritage? What if these countries don’t ever get this material back? Even the name TIEA is suspect in the sense that it is the name of a television distribution company  of the 1960s and 1970s that distributed BBC material to many countries. Then it was just called TIE. Philip just took the old name TIE and changed it to TIEA for his purposes. It makes it real easy to go back into these countries to collect BBC material that may be easier to get under the TIE banner than even the BBC’s own name. It’s very smart. Why call yourself that if you are downplaying to fans that importance of tracking down vintage lost British television?
All of this is one thing but I am going to stick up for a friend. I will get even more flack for it but I personally believe Ian was set up by Phil when Ian found some prints in Taiwan. Either Ian was set up or someone stepped in to stop Ian from getting these prints back and the people he was working with stop talking leaving Ian looking like he made the whole thing up. It makes it look as though Ian was hoaxing or being hoaxed. Phil made sure that everyone knew that Ian got fooled. Philip really started going after Ian putting into question whether Ian made the whole thing up and tried to cast doubt on the other finds he had made in his career:
“I wish to give credit to Ian Levine I apologise and would personally like to thank him for Doctor in distress musak to my ears.”
Don’t get me wrong, Ian said his fair share about his frustration surrounding the belief that Philip has all of these episodes. A lot of what Ian said was nasty, I am not going to try and defend that. The difference, in my own opinion-not proven, is that the Taiwan episode debacle and the tirade against Ian’s history of finding episodes was one concentrated attack, thought out against Ian to discredit and humiliate him. Then some other guy started to tweet against Ian and his name was Paul Nash. Paul was a gay DJ from Blackpool. He was very supportive of Philip but very destructive towards Ian. This was happening right at the same time that these other attacks as mentioned above were happening to Ian. It was like a barrage. The interesting thing was that people almost immediately started to think that Paul Nash was Philip Morris. People on forums were taking tweets by Paul Nash and Philip Morris and started to dissect to see they were very similar. Many people, such as myself, believe Paul Nash and Philip Morris are the same person. Do I have definitive proof? No, it is a feeling I and other people have about this guy.
There has been some truly bizarre behavior from Philip Morris. There was a period of time where he was adamant about the state of women writers on the series and making some very odd tweets about it to get its point across. It is easy to find. There was also this interesting exchange he had with Gareth Roberts after getting into an argument:
“Your job is to create stories with correct grammar and mine is to find lost tv shows which I have. More than you know.”
Please show us!
I know people will accuse me of attacking. I don't think I would care so much if Philip wouldn't give coy responses to fans just so he can court some publicity for himself. In July, Philip did an online Q&A to a Facebook group. Even then, Philip wouldn’t answer a simple yes or no answer if more episodes of Doctor Who have been found but the feeling is that nothing else had been returned to the BBC. Philip Morris even says that there are no announcements for the rest of 2014. Unfortunately every answer Philip gave was vague. It’s too bad, why even bother doing it? I could understand that there are things you can't talk about but if Philip actually cared about giving a question and answer session to his fan (and knowing damn well what they would want to ask) that he would either answer it or not do the Q&A. Instead he keeps stringing people along with vague answers.  Which brings me to the next question:
Why do the usual suspects keep spouting off about episode announcements before the end of the year when we know nothing else is coming? They say that it could be material found by someone other than Phil. I find that highly improbable, there has been rumblings from multiple people I have spoken to that Phil will only return episodes if he is the only source for all the missing episodes. Any episodes returned by someone else results in no episodes from Phil. Hogwash? Who knows?
If I never see the return of any other missing episodes again, it will be sad but not the end of the world by any means. If Phil is hoarding episodes, so be it. Nothing I can do about it. I never expected to see them anyway. What really pisses me off are the people who keep coming up with “information” to give people false hope without realizing what affect they have on other people. I have read on forums and people who I have spoken to who have read these “insiders” information and took it as fact. Even though the people who are spreading this mis-information say that these are just rumours and people like me get “caught up in the details”, they are presented as fact. Look at the list of “rumoured” returned material above. It is not presented as a rumour but as specific fact even down to the quality of the prints. Other lists that were circulating at the time even gave how many prints of each episode were found. If Philip has handed nothing else over, how do these people know? They don’t.
I will always treasure the ability to watch The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. Thank you Philip Morris. I will always remember October 10th 2013 with great fondness and a level of immense excitement. Not only for that day but for the next few months that followed. I know I am going to get flak  for this article as I did with The Others podcast. The thing is, I am a fan who wants to see the missing episodes of Doctor Who returned to the BBC like every other fan. It’s not that I don’t want to see the episodes returned, I just want to be logical about it. I would invite Philip Morris to comment on my article here and create an open discussion that results in non-vague answers or allow us to interview him on The Others. I would love to retract or update any of the information above after having a discussion with Philip Morris. I doubt it will happen but I am told to expect the unexpected which means anything could happen.
Maybe by this time next year, I could write another article that shows what a great 2015 we had with multiple episode recoveries. Time will tell.
Have a great week!
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