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17 February 2008

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Terrance Dicks

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 3rd March 2008

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 17th February 2008

The Five Doctors: 25th Anniversary Edition, is one of those must-have items that every Doctor Who fan should own. If there is one story that encapsulates the essence of the show whilst allowing newcomers to jump on board, this is it. The biggest question that potential buyers of the DVD will be asking is how does it differ to previous versions and is it worth getting?

The differences are clearly vast, made evident from the staringly obvious picture quality improvements that the Restoration Team have once again provided. The colour is so much richer which is only emphasised more by Tegan's costume. The original DVD release of The Five Doctors (which also happened to be the first ever Doctor Who DVD release) was extremely feature-light. Spread over two discs, this new release includes both the original transmission version and the special edition version, and is laden with more features than you could possibly hope for with an RRP of just £19.99.

Disc One features the Original Transmission version of The Five Doctors, as well as the 'Celebration: Doctor Who in 1983' documentary. This is presented by Colin Baker and features interviews with Doctor Who Actors; Peter Davison, Nicholas Courtney, Mark Stricskon, Richard Franklin, Elisabeth Sladen, Carole Ann Ford, Caroline John & Janet Fielding, Writers; Terrance Dicks, Gareth Roberts & Paul Cornell, Experts; Andrew Beech, James Goss & Ian Levine, Director; Peter Moffatt, DVD Producer; Richard Molesworth and Visual Effects Designer; Mike Kelt. At almost an hour long, this proves to be an unmissable in-depth look at how the story came into production, as well as a look at the 1983 Doctor Who Celebration at Longleat. It also sets up some of the special features on Disc Two perfectly.

There is also an option to hear a 'Companions Commentary', featuring; Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Mark Strickson (Turlough) & Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier). The commentary is lively and warm, but lacks the benefit of Clayton Hickman directing, as the voices tend to talk over each other at times.

Also on the disc are the usual 'Trails & Continuity', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Radio Times lisings' extras.

Look away now if you don't want to be spoiled, as this DVD also houses a truly awesome hidden DVD Easter Egg in the form on a Commentary featuring New Series Producer; Phil Collinson, The 10th Doctor; David Tennant and New Series Writer; Helen Raynor. Phil and David in particular are a joy to listen to as they inject their perspectives as fans back when the episode originally aired. It's fresh, funny and different to any of the Classic Doctor Who DVD commentaries to date. 

Disc Two contains the Special Edition version and includes an Audio Commentary featuring Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks. The pair work well together providing an entertaining and informative commentary. Terrance Dicks is on especially fine form, telling us how Tom Baker's scenes would have fit into the story, had he been available. Be sure not to miss his priceless Time Lord urinal observation!

'The Ties That Bind Us' documentary takes a look at what links The Five Doctors to the rest of the Doctor Who universe continuity-wise. Narrated by Paul McGann, and featuring more of Rob Semenoff's fantastic 3D Animation work, this extra is a tightly woven gem, skillfully edited together by Michael Conners and Leanne Sheppard. Look out for the great montage towards the end of the feature.

'Five Doctors, One Studio' features unseen studio footage from the scene where the four Doctors meet in Rassilon's Tomb. Although it runs at a lengthy 19 minutes, it proves addictive viewing, as we see some lovely moments between Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in-between takes. One such moment, is where Troughton offers Pertwee a Jelly Baby, to which Pertwee jokingly accuses him of trying to sabotage his scene.

The 'Out-takes' feature gives us some great out-takes from the serial, including Davison's hilarious infamous final line from the story.

'[Not So] Special Effects' takes a look at some of the Special Effects shots from the story.

'Saturday Superstore' contains a complete Doctor Who segment which includes interviews with Peter Davison, Mark Strickson and Janet Fielding, who take questions from the show's child callers.

'Blue Peter' includes a look at some of the Doctors previous enemies, and has appearances from Richard Hurndall and Peter Davison.

'Nationwide' offers a complete Doctor Who segment where Sue Lawley interviews Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison on their roles playing the Doctor. There's a great moment when Troughton produces a bag of Jelly Babies and offers them round.

'Breakfast Time ' features a brief interview with Peter Davison and a mischievous Patrick Troughton, promoting The Five Doctors.

The Invasion of Time is the focus of the latest 'Coming Soon Trailer', and as with previous trailers, proves to be energetic, suspenseful and definitely piques the viewers interest enough to convince them to purchase the story.

Overall, we have another well-thought-out release, that has been produced with care and respect to both fans of the show, and members of the cast and crew. If you're after a complete tribute to The Five Doctors, with all the trimmings - look no further.

1 February 2008

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Dennis Spooner

RRP: £12.99

Release Date: 4th February 2008

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 1st February 2008

The Doctor Who DVD range has been a bit Hartnell-light over the past year, but now with the release of The Time Meddler, we're back on form with a great story backed with some fantastic features. 

The Commentary is rich with guests from the serial; Verity Lambert (Producer), Barry Newbury (Designer), Donald Tosh (Script Editor) & Peter Purves (Stevan). It was lovely to hear Verity, almost speaking from beyond the Grave on her final Doctor Who episode as Producer. Kudos to Clayton Hickman, who directs the course of the Commentary with seamless skill, and his bountiful knowledge of Classic Who. 

The main batch of features kicks off with an extremely fitting Verity Lambert Obituary that pays homage to Doctor Who's first Producer. This is cushioned with the next feature in the form of a Verity Lambert Photo Gallery, which offers some unseen images of Verity throughout her Doctor Who tenure. 

'Stripped for Action: The First Doctor' takes a look at the Doctor Who Comic strips featuring William Hartnell's Doctor. With interviews from John Ainsworth, Jeremy Bentham, Alan Barnes, Gary Russell and Bill Mevin, it looks at some of the characters, monsters, and design processes that went into the strips. 

'The Lost Twelve Seconds' features 12 seconds of footage depicting the killing of two Viking Warriors by the Saxons, accompanied with audio and script extracts, it helps make the serial feel that bit more complete. 

Although the story hasn't benefited from the VidFIRE technology, the episodes have been noticeably cleaned up and given a bit of a polish for this DVD release. The 'Restoration' feature shows us some good examples of this from the original VHS transfer to that of the DVD release, thus detailing a clear differentiation between the two. 

The Photo Gallery offers some great shots of the set as well as behind the scenes and promotional images. It is accompanied by a good choice of music from The Time Meddler score. 

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' features a new take on the trailer format, voiced over by Paul McGann and accompanied with some cgi titles. I can't help thinking that the special features should also be promoted to help sell the disc, especially with the quality and hard work that goes into so many of them. 

As always with the BBC Doctor Who DVD's you get the original Radio Times listings included as a DVD ROM extra. 

Also worth a mention is the stunningly fitting DVD cover design which is once again produced by the fabulous Clayton Hickman. 

Overall, a great package with a lot more bang for your buck at just £12.99.

 

7 January 2008

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Malcolm Hulke, Johnny Byrne

RRP: £39.99

Release Date: 14th January 2008

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 7th January 2008

What better way to kick off 2008 than with a Classic Series Doctor Who DVD box-set, and the box-set in question is the aptly titled 'Beneath the Surface'.

The set houses 3 stories in total; The Silurians, The Sea Devils and Warriors of the Deep, all of which, together with special features, are spanned over 4 jam-packed discs.

Disc One - The Silurians

Disc One contains Episodes 1-4 of The Silurians, and unfortunately heralds the second broken up story in the Doctor Who DVD collection. Owing to this, the viewer then has to put in Disc 2 to view the remaining 3 episodes of the serial.

One sympathises, owing to the sheer volume of features versus actual disc space, but from a fans perspective, we would have personally preferred the features on disc one to have been bundled onto disc two, and have an uninterrupted Doctor Who adventure. That being said, Disc one's feature; 'What Lies Beneath' offers a refreshing analysis into the making of The Silurians, as well as some amuzing comparisons to the new series, interesting political and moral perspectives, whilst also exploring the scientific plausabilities within the story. Coupled with some great linking interviews from Producer; Barry Letts, Writers; Terrance Dicks & Paul Cornell, Actors; Caroline John, Peter Miles & Nicholas Courtney and even an appearance from Labour MP; Roy Hattersley, this feature proves to be one of the richest produced to date.

Disc Two - The Silurians

Disc Two contains the remainder of the serial (Episodes 5-7), together with a greater selection of bonus features.

'Going Underground' offers insights into filming locations as well a look into how the cave scenes in The Silurians were made and produced. There are some great interviews with Designer; Barry Newbury, Barry Letts, Director; Timothy Combe, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney and Peter Miles.

Within this documentary we're treated to a great little moment where both Nicholas Courtney and Peter Miles state their admiration for each other as actors. Peter later gives us an amuzing understanding of the impetus behind his character's death scene.

Richard Bignell's 'Now and Then' feature has some great location comparisons from the original time of filming, to modern day. 

'Musical Scales' looks at the experimental music behind Doctor Who. The documentary includes interviews with Christopher Barry, Malcolm Clarke, Barry Letts, Michael E. Briant and Timothy Combe, but it is Mark Ayres who provides the most rewarding interview. Mark's infinite knowledge and intelligence shines through with great clarity.

'Colour Silurian Overlay' looks at the restoration of the serial, whilst giving us a rare window on the work the restoration team puts into the Doctor Who DVD releases.

Disc Three - The Sea Devils

Disc Three contains all six episodes of The Sea Devils, but unlike The Silurians, this disc feels a bit feature-light.

'Hello Sailor!' takes a look at how the production team managed to get the Royal Navy involved in the recording of The Sea Devils. Again, there are some great interviews in the documentary, perhaps the best coming from Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts, whose off-screen chemistry works its magic in front of the cameras.

'8mm' offers some rare behind-the-scenes footage that was recorded on an 8mm cine-camera at the time of recording The Sea Devils. Michael E Briant states how he wishes he could have used some of the shots in the serial.

Also included on the disc is an electronic PDF version of the Doctor Who Piccolo book; 'The Making of Doctor Who', an interesting read that compliments the DVD release.

Disc Four - Warriors of the Deep

Disc Four contains the final story in the box-set; Warriors of the Deep. Although commonly it may be the least popular of the three serials, the special features on this disc alone, help to make the £39.99 cover price worthwhile.

The documentaries are presented in a CGI suite replica of Seabase 4, which makes the viewer double-take in disbelief because of the attention to detail and quality.

'The Depths' kicks off with a truly mind-blowing CGI sequence that includes a modern-day Peter Davison walking through a door in the CGI suite, instantly raising the bar on the previous three discs.

The only criticism in this particular documentary was the inclusion of a clearly perspiring Ian Levine, which seemed unnessesary due to the fact that it didnt really appear to add anything to the feature.

'They Came From Beneath The Sea' continues with the CGI suite, and takes a look at the monsters in Warriors of the Deep. There is a great deconstruction of the Myrka including interviews with the actors who played the front and back end of the monster!

'Science in Action' is a piece filmed at Mat Irvine's workshop, and provides an interesting look at the different ways of constructing monsters, props and ships in Doctor Who.

All three stories include the usual Photo Galleries, Radio Times Listings, Trails & Continuity links as well as a great little Easter Egg.

Also in the set is a 'Coming Soon Trailer', which features The Time Meddler. As with the previous trailers, the cut and edit have created something that makes the viewer really look forward to the release. The modern music overlay doesnt quite work, however.

Overall a terrific package, which houses the ultimate tribute to the Silurians and the Sea Devils. Although let down by a few technical points, this box-set will literally have you wanting to find out what lies beneath the surface of the striking cover design.

 

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