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10 April 2010

Written By: Steven Moffat

Directed By: Adam Smith

Original Airdate: 3/4/2010

Reviewed by: Dale Who

Review Posted: 10th April 2010

It's Saturday, and it's just about to begin. There's a steaming mug of tea and numerous snacks next to me, the telephones are all switched off, the blinds are drawn and the Freeview box is recording. We've reached the much-anticipated, long-awaited and dear-God-I'm-worried-about-it first episode of the 2010 series of Doctor Who. New Doctor, new assistant, new TARDIS inside and out, new show runner and mostly new crew.

I'm not worried for the show itself; it's proven it can change and adapt and survive in today's climate plenty of times since 2005. I'm worried about my view of it. I'm like this every time there's a new Doctor, but that's not a bad or negative thing. I care about the character, I've emotionally invested a lot in my hero since I was knee high to a Zarbi, so it's important to me they get him right. However, mixed with that I'm also very aware it's not "my" show any more, it's for the kids that are growing up today; the family audience. Not aging fanboys with robot dogs in their living rooms... although they're always the most vocal, I find. Some Doctor Who fans do nothing but whine as well, and that annoys me. Usually the ones who still think the show should be exactly how *they* want it, and something Russell T Davies took great delight in proving to be a false claim.

The pre-title sequence begins, and such thoughts are banished from my head. It's straight into the action, more or less from where we last left off; with the TARDIS hurtling towards London out of control and on fire. The main difference is The Doctor is hanging on for dear life to the TARDIS base, having fallen out of the flapping doors. Talk about a different beginning: the TARDIS is wrecked, and the Doctor's not going to get to collapse and sleep this one through . Poor bloke's going to be knackered!

The new titles kick in, and I simply stop breathing and stare. They're *so* different. The vortex is reminiscent of the second Dalek film from the 1960s; rather smokey, and there appears to be a lightning storm happening in there too. The theme tune is very different too, a marked departure from the Tennant era. Again, different is not bad. It just means I need to adjust and let it all sink in. The titles are very slick and clever, and then we're back into the action. And I remember I'm turning blue and start breathing again.

Amelia Pond is perfect. Just wonderful. The best child actor I've seen in many a year; she's instantly likable and you're just on her side from the get-go. The whole idea of parying to Santa at Easter, and apologising if you've woken him up, is genius from Mr Moffat. The TARDIS crash-lands, and The Doctor's first line as he pops up from the new swimming pool/library combo he's got going on in the ruined Police Box is perfect. "Can I have an apple?"

After some perfect silliness with food - mmm, fish fingers and custard - and establishing that little Amelia is more than capable of holding her own already in life, there's the first pang of darkness. The crack in the wall. With draughts and voices on the other side... I think a few younger kids with cracks in their walls will suddenly be awake tonight, a little concerned about what may be behind it...

One thing becomes obvious very quickly indeed. This is not what I was expecting. The direction, the locations and the mood and feel of Doctor Who have all changed. This is a very different show to David Tennant's Who - or more correctly to RTD's Who. Again, this is not a bad thing. I loved RTD's era, and I loved Eccleston and Tennant, but this changes the whole ball game. It's still recognisably the same format it's always been, but somehow this seems bigger, better and more epic than I remember it being at any point before. I'm blown away by this. It's gotten better... again! And it was already stunning! 

The new Doctor is insanely likable. He's mad, clever, funny when appropriate, and has me bonding with him in about fourteen seconds. Not once did I think about how David or Chris or Tom would have played a scene. The Doctor - Matt Smith's Doctor - is in charge, and effortlessly so as well. However, grown up Amy's more than a match for him though; a clever new foil for his outbursts and ingenius insanity. She's going to be an amazing companion, that girl, and Karen Gillan is effortlessly natural in the part. Spot on, nailed performance.

The supporting cast are also brilliant (fanboy squee: OMG! There's Sir Patrick Moore! Brilliant!!) and the scene with Jeff and The Doctor comandeering his laptop has me bellowing with laughter. 

Prisoner Zero is another clever idea from Steven Moffat, a shapeshifter that uses comatose patients as a template; although it's a bit rubbish at getting the voices right. The silent dog and the barking man is hilarious; but the girls and the Mother having the same voice in the hopsital stand-off sequence makes my blood run cold. That's a definite chill. Taking the everyday and making it uncanny, unexpected and creepy. Gas masks. Ticking clocks. Stone Angels. We're definitely in Moffat territory. The alien itself is no more pleasant. It reminds me of a deep sea angler fish, and it's ugly. The Atraxi show up and they remind me of Axos and the Mandragora Helix set from Classic Doctor Who, and the Crystalline Enitity from Star Trek Next Gen. Not as in "nicked", just an influence creeping in.

There's a now almost reverent nod to the previous Doctors, and The Doctor's current incarnation is now dressed properly and ready to save the world from being fried with some decent advice to the Atraxi, which he does with style, before legging it back to his now finished and revamped TARDIS.

We finally get a look inside, and aside from a raised eyebrow at some of the controls (again, not negative, just unexpected!) I'm over the moon at what they've done to the best ship ever. The outside has those echoes of the 1960s series to it, and the inside just takes your breath away with the scale and love gone into it. 

It's all over in what seems like twenty minutes. It was actually an hour and five. The continuity announcers do that very, very annoying thing of talking over the credits and shrinking them to half the screen again, and it occurs to me that's the only negative thing I can find. It also occurs to me that I'm now liking the theme tune, and that I adjusted to that one really rather quickly.

I'm relieved and ecstatic that the character I still care about is in a very, very safe set of hands. More than that, I think I've fallen in love with The Doctor and his TARDIS all over again. Released from my hypnotic trance-like state that television's held me in, I glance around. The snacks are untouched, and the tea's now stone cold but undisturbed in the mug. And I remember that it was ever thus. When The Doctor's in town, everything here stops. 

Reviewed by: Chris Kilby

Review Posted: 15th April 2010

The boy done good. Definitely not sick as a parrot. Yup, it looks like football's loss was Doctor Who's gain. But does that mean there's a parallel universe where David Beckham's The Doctor? Or Wayne Rooney? The mind boggles!

The Eleventh Hour was an episode of two halves. Two halves? Four halves more like!

There was the obligatory "I'm mad, me," post-regenerative trauma malarky which was deftly handled with wit and humour - "fish fingers and custard" sounded like a Dr Seuss book and must have had every eight year old in the country going "Yuck!" And I loved the Fermat gag. And "You're Scottish, fry something." Funny's good. Yeah? Tell that to the average fanboy...

Then there was the new companion and her already-tangled history with the Doctor - "Why did you say 'five minutes'?" It shouldn't have been surprising that the first episode of the Steven Moffat era would be so timey-wimey. Starting as he means to continue? And does this mean the next time the Doctor meets River Song she won't have met him yet...? 

This was followed by the supposedly "main" plot which was a bit perfunctory but served its purpose - alarmingly sub-par CGI notwithstanding (the result of cutbacks or the increased cost of switching to HD?). Ironic after Neil Harris' recent DWM column about not-so-special effects. Did he know in advance?

And finally there was setting up the big "Crack in Time" story arc - silence will fall. Phew! No wonder it over-ran. Is it just me or did that crack look like... a smile? And the Doctor's up to something. Why else would he hastily turn that scanner off before Amy clocked it? "Why me?" indeed. It's the seventh Doctor all over again. But in a good way.

So what of the junior Doctor? Well he's a bit gawky, a bit awkward, and, yes, he is a bit young. But this Matt Smith. He's rather good, isn't he? Loved how he savoured saying "Amelia Pond." And that tweedy look's a real grower: a bit mad professor; a bit young fogey. And, it has to be said, remarkably similar to "John Smith's" getup in Human Nature. "Bow ties are cool"? Well they are now.

"Who da man?" was funny cos it made the youngest Doctor ever look like someone's dad trying to sound cool - classic Moffat! Kids think anyone over twenty's old anyway, so what do I know? As for the new Doctor emerging from the face(s) of the old with a jovial "Hello. I'm the Doctor"? Back of the net! David who...?

But sometimes the Doctor needs someone to stop him. Talking to himself, that is. Which brings us to the new companion.

Amy's a bit brittle. A bit highly-strung. A bit cynical. And who can blame her? The Doctor ruined her life - that's what she gets for talking to strangers! No wonder she clouted him with a cricket bat. This is the most interesting Doctor/companion dynamic yet. I hope the new TARDIS has circuit breakers installed, cos there's gonna be sparks. But where was Amy's auntie during all this? And no mum or dad? REJOICE! REJOICE! REJOICE!

The stunning Karen Gillan's good if a little pouty - she kept reminding me of her spot-on Angelina Jolie on The Kevin Bishop Show. And I still can't look at her without thinking "Gritty BAFTA." (Wee Caitlin was great too. It's a pity we won't be seeing her again. Or will we...?)

But it's hard to believe she's even less fleet of foot than Catherine Tate (the other "Runaway Bride") was. Maybe it was that very short skirt that got the Daily Mail in such a tizzy. A kissogram? "It was this or a French maid." What was the keyword for this episode? sexy? Saucy? Kinky?

It was probably "magical." The Moff wasn't kidding when he likened his Doctor Who to a fairy tale. Allusions abounded: apples (which the Doctor tellingly tempted Amy with); Time Bandits; "The Raggedy Doctor"; music straight out of Edward Scissorhands; and, my, what big teeth Prisoner Zero had!

But fairy tales aren't all sweetness and light. What would a good fairy tale be without the stuff of nightmares? (Who said a Disney film?) And few images are as nightmarish as a giant frickin' eye staring at you. But speaking of eyes, that flashy Doctorvision POV sequence was a bit Matrix-y; a bit Sherlock Holmes (the recent one). And it'll get old real fast if it's overused. Like bullet time did.

The vast new TARDIS is a bit busy. A bit lava lamp-y. A bit, well, orange. I think I preferred the silvery / black version on Confidential. You know, the dark one (natch)? But, like the new feme choon, I'm sure we'll get used to it. And if we don't like it we can always lump it.

I suppose the TARDIS should be a bit overwhelming the first time you see it. And a potentially Ecsher-like TARDIS interior could be interesting. But didn't the Moff (who has said the Doctor shouldn't be "young and dashing" - whoops!) say something once about us kids wanting "Narnia not the wardrobe"? Unless we're treated to Die Hard in a TARDIS! Yippee-kay-yay... er, muddy funsters?

There was no messing about here. BANG! And we were off - hurtling across the London skyline. No reprise of the regeneration. No mention of Rose. Or the Time War. Or recent events even. Good. Time to move on. Doctor Who was getting a bit self-indulgent and fan-fictionish of late (even Russell thought so). But this really did feel like series.

The first episode's never the best but this was great - easily the best series opener yet. And if that blinding trailer was anything to go by, the rest of the season's gonna be even better. Blimey!

They think it's all over. It is now!

<mce:script

14 February 2010

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Louis Marks

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 8th February 2010

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 14th February 2010

The Masque of Mandragora takes us to 15th Century Italy, where part of the Mandragora Helix (unbeknownst to The Doctor) has hitched a lift aboard the TARDIS and poses a threat to human civilisation. It's a great story that takes the deadly cult plot device to a new level, whilst incorporating history and a simple, yet, terrifying alien menace.

The features included on the disc, are quite varied, and even though not all are specific to the story, they fit right in and offer excellent value to the release.

The 'Commentary' features Tom Baker (The 4th Doctor), Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Unit Manager), Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer) and Gareth Armstrong (Giuliano). Unusually, Tom seems to take a bit of a back seat, allowing for Philip to take the role of moderator for the commentary. There's a great juxtaposition between Philip and John's informative take on the story, with Tom's hilarious observations and side stories.

'The Secret of the Labyrinth' is an informative and vibrant behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Masque of Mandragora. Set in the Welsh village of Portmeirion, which doubled for the filming of the story, it starts off with Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer) explaining his reasons for the filming at the location.

All aspects of the production are covered, from casting and costumes to set design, giving a well-rounded understanding for the serial. It's backed up with interviews from Gareth Armstrong (Giuliano), Rodney Bennett (Director), Antony Carrick (Captain Rossini), Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Unit Manager), Jon Laurimore (Count Federico), Barry Newbery (Production Designer), Tim Piggott-Smith (Marco), Steve O'Brien (Writer, SFX Magazine) and Jim Sangster (Film and TV Historian). Kudos to Rob Semenoff for the fantastic CGI introduction to the feature.

'Bigger on the inside' is totally unconnected to The Masque of Mandragora, but provides a thoroughly detailed, yet concise history of the TARDIS. Featuring interviews with Tom Baker (The 4th Doctor), Robert Shearman (New Series Writer), Francesca Gavin (Art Writer & Editor), Matthew Savage (New Series Designer), Barry Newbury (Classic Series Designer) and Christopher H Bidmead (Writer & Script Editor 1980-81).

'Now and Then' looks at the locations of The Masque of Mandragora, showing original shots to the modern day comparisons. It feels a little different to previous Now and Then documentaries, as this time, we follow the locations through a map of Portmeirion. As a result of the style and nature of the location, there are very few actual changes that can be noticed, but it's interesting to see where all the action happened in context.

'Beneath the Masque' offers Clayton Hickman (Ex Doctor Who Magazine Editor) and Gareth Roberts' (New Series Writer), rather amusing take of the events surrounding and including the production of The Masque of Mandragora. The pair are clearly a double-act to be reckoned with. Even Hickman's Cathy come home impersonation which also resembled a 1980's Dot Branning, can't fail to resound a palpable hit amongst the hugely entertaining feature. It's pretty much utter nonsense, but who cares? It's produced with such sheer brilliance, and will have you chuckling away at the subtle and not-so-subtle digs at the show. Oh, and Gareth Roberts as a Blue Peter presenter was...priceless. Here's to future offerings from the pair!

The 'Coming Soon' trailer is for The Space Museum / The Chase DVD release, and is a clever twist on the usual trailers by incorporating a viewscreen from one of the episodes to promote the box-set. Definitely one of the most original trailers to date.

As with previous DVD releases, there are the usual 'Trails and Continuity', 'PDF Material', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Subtitles' included.

Overall, it's another tidy and well-thought-out package from 2|Entertain, and although there could have been room for one or two more extras, you can't help but feel totally satisfied with the finished package.

 

9 February 2010

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Brian Hayles

RRP: £29.99

Release Date: 18 th January 2010

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 9th February 2010

The Curse of Peladon

The Curse of Peladon, for many, is a textbook Doctor Who adventure. With a healthy mix of mystery, deception, villainy and suspense, the story is as entertaining as any new series offering, and has held up well to the test of time. With secret passages, allies who are villains and villains who are allies, there are more twists and turns than the underground tunnels of Peladon itself.

The selection of features for this release is adequate, and compared to previous DVD releases like 'Black Orchid', you can't help feeling there is more distance for extra content.

The 'Commentary' is moderated seamlessly by Toby Hadoke, who also provides some informative facts connected with the story. Joining Toby is Barry Letts (Producer), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant) and Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Assistant). It proves to be a rather amusing commentary, with all parties contributing equally, together with a great selection of amusing and revealing stories.

'The Peladon Saga - Part One', is by far the highlight of the extras on this disc, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Curse of Peladon. Although it's not as in-depth as previous 'making of' documentaries, it looks at the production of the adventure as well as putting it in political context with the time.

'Warriors of Mars', gives us a history of The Ice Warriors. There's a chronological look at their appearances in Doctor Who, as well as the different classes of Ice Warrior. Narrated by Donald Gee, the feature provides interviews with Sonny Caldinez (Ice Warrior), Bernard Bresslaw (Ice Warrior), Sylvia James (Make-Up Supervisor) Michael Ferguson (Director), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor) Alan Bennion (Ice Lord), Barry Letts (Producer) and Brian Hodgson (BBC Radiophonic Workshop).

'Jon and Katy', looks at the pairing of Jon Pertwee (The Doctor) and Katy Manning (Jo Grant), with interviews from Katy Manning, Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts. In the feature, Katy looks back with genuine love for both her character, and John as an actor and friend.

The 'Storyboard Comparison' compares design sketches with the final shot, together with soundtrack excerpts that lead up to the clips.

As with previous DVD releases, there are the usual 'PDF Material', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Subtitles' included.

The Monster of Peladon

The Monster of Peladon heralds the second (and final) chapter in the Peladon Saga - albeit a slightly long-winded story, weighing in at six episodes. There's a wonderful sense of continuity mixed with enough fresh elements to rejuvenate the settings and situations, and with a rather feisty Sarah Jane Smith, helps add another level to the Doctor / Companion dynamic.

As with The Curse of Peladon, this release is a little feature light - even though there is one disc for the story and another for the features, that being said, the quality of the extras is in no way compromised, and adds value to an already worthwhile box-set.

The 'Commentary' is again moderated by Toby Hadoke, and features Terrance Dicks (Script Editor), Barry Letts (Producer), Nina Thomas (Queen Thalira), Donald Gee (Eckersley), Ralph Watson (Ettis) and Stuart Fell (Alpha Centauri). Once more, Toby does a great job with the direction coupled with his Doctor Who knowledge, and both Terrance and Barry add some entertaining memories, but it can't help feeling a little overshadowed by the Curse commentary, owing to vacancy of Katy Manning and her boundless energy.

There's also a 'Fan Commentary' for episode Four of the story, featuring Rob Shearman, Mark Aldridge, Kate Du-Rose and Philip Newman. The commentary is well placed as it breaks up the pace and dynamic of the commentary thus far, and it's nice to hear a take on the story from a fans perspective - or in this case four!

'The Peladon Saga - Part Two', follows on from the previous part with additional interviews from Donald Gee (Eckersley), Nick Hobbs (Aggedor), Stuart Fell (Alpha Centauri), Sonny Caldinez (Ice Warrior) and Ralph Watson (Ettis the Miner). The second installment goes more into the production of the story, and we also learn from cast and crew what it was like working with Jon Pertwee. The crowning moment, though, has to be Terrance Dicks' hilarious breakdown of Alpha Centauri's physical appearance.

There's a 'Deleted Scene' in the form of photos and off-air recordings featuring Eckersley trying to convince Gebek to get the miners to continue mining for the trisilicate.

'Where are They Now?' features an interview with Ysanne Churchman, conducted by David Jacobs. Ysanne is asked about providing her voicework for the Hermaphrodite exopod; Alpha Centauri, before treating us to a rather alarming Birmingham accent!

'On Target: Terrance Dicks', offers an in-depth look at the writer's work off the screen, with the Doctor Who Book range. Featuring interviews with Alan Barnes (Ex Doctor Who Magazine Editor), Paul Cornell (Writer), as well as input from Terrance himself. This is the most significant feature on The Monster of Peladon disc, as everything about it from the titles, down to the concise information and text readings from Katy Manning, smacks of sheer quality.

As with previous DVD releases, there are the usual 'PDF Material', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Subtitles' included.

Peladon Tales is a great box-set, well worth the £29.99 RRP, but with 2|Entertain's previous history of quality extras, the bar has been raised so high, that the viewer is spoiled, and can’t help feeling a little deflated with anything less than two screens of features per story.

That being said, the quality of the features for both stories are as high as ever, and act as a great companion to the Peladon saga.

 

14 July 2009

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Terrance Dicks & Malcolm Hulke

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 6th July 2009

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 14th July 2009

The War Games is firmly regarded as a favourite amongst many Doctor Who fans, and the announcement earlier this year of the proposed DVD release was fuelled with much excitement, hype and expectation.

 

But with so much riding on what could arguably be one of the most important DVD releases from the Classic Series so far, could the BBC / 2|entertain deliver?

 

The answer, quite simply, is a big resounding YES!

 

The War Games presents Doctor Who's first and only 10-part adventure. Although a lengthy story, totaling over 4 hours, the storyline, cast, pace and suspense keep you entertained all the way through, and watching in straight succession is by no means a chore.

 

It contains some of the best villainy in Doctor Who history, with some truly engaging performances from Philip Madoc (The War Lord), Edward Brayshaw (The War Chief), David Garfield (Captain von Weich) and James Bree (Security Chief).

 

It is also clear from this story that the chemistry-fuelled partnership between Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury was coming to a close, as the adventure marks the end of The Second Doctor's tenure on the show. But what better way to bow out than on the high that this story provides.

 

The War Games succeeds on so many levels. From the underlying message of War and its consequences, the gripping cliffhangers (which count for some of the best seen in Doctor Who), to the amazing way in which the cast and crew worked together to pull off a thoroughly entertaining piece of Science Fiction Television history. 

 

The DVD package is rounded off with a cavernous collection of Special Features that each compliment and support the story.

 

The 'Commentary' features Frazer Hines (Actor 'Jamie'), Wendy Padbury (Actor 'Zoe), Philip Madoc (Actor 'The War Lord'), Jane Sherwin (Actor 'Lady Jennifer'), Graham Weston (Actor 'Russell'), Terrance Dicks (Writer) and Derrick Sherwin (Producer). Although, as commentaries go, there are a lot of guests, they are spread out over the 10 episodes, giving balance whilst coming and going fluidly. Terrance and Frazer, in particular, offer some extremely entertaining anecdotes.

 

'War Zone' looks at the genesis of the story, together with some of the cast and crew's stories from filming. With interviews from Terrance Dicks, James Moran (Writer), Paul Cornell (Writer), Tom Spilsbury (DWM Editor), Graham Weston, Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Jane Sherwin, Bernard Horsfall (Actor 'Time Lord), Derrick Sherwin, David Maloney (Director), Roger Cheveley (Production Designer) and Joseph Lidster (Writer).

 

Paul Cornell's input in the documentary, is particularly worthy of note, due to his accurate and thought provoking dissection of some of the plot points in the story.

 

'Shades of Grey' focuses on the limitations and considerations of black and white television. The documentary casts a light on Producing, Designing, Graphic Designing, Performing and Sound Design for monochrome television production and features interviews with Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Jane Sherwin, Terrance Dicks, Derrick Sherwin, Timothy Combe (Director), Roger Cheveley, Bernard Lodge (Graphic Designer) and Brian Hodgson (Sound Designer).

 

'Now and Then' offers a look at the locations used in The War Games, and compares the locations as they were used 40 years ago, with footage recorded recently. This is quite possibly one of the best Now and Then features produced to date, owing to the accuracy of location positioning coupled with the informative narration and supporting music.

 

'The Doctor's Composer' gives us a long-overdue and well-presented look at Dudley Simpson's musical contribution to Doctor Who. The documentary provides a chronological look at stories and scenes from the Classic Series that Dudley provided music for, connected with interview footage of Dudley himself.

 

'Sylvia James - In Conversation', offers a chronological look at the Make-up Designer's work during the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who, with clips from episodes as well as stills of her work, as she describes the processes involved.

 

'Talking about Regeneration' does exactly what it says on the tin! It's a clear, concise, and informative guide to The Doctor's regenerations to date. Featuring interviews with Kate O'Mara (Actor 'The Rani'), Peter Davison (Actor 'The 5th Doctor'), Gareth Roberts (Writer), Rob Shearman (Writer), Joseph Lidster and Clayton Hickman (former DWM Editor).

 

'Time Zones', kicks off with a neat little CGI sequence, and focuses on the historical truth behind The War Games, with detailed information on some of the major points surrounding the First World War, Roman Warfare and The American Civil War. The feature adds a good grounding behind the story, and includes interviews from Martin Farr (Political Historian), Crispin Swayne (Military Historian), Lindsay Allison-Jones (of Newcastle University) and Susan-Mary Grant (Author).

 

'Stripped for Action - The Second Doctor', looks at the Second Doctor comics, and how some of the companions and villains changed from the TV episodes to the comic strips, not to mention some of the bizarre storylines. The feature includes contributions from Gary Russell (former DWM Editor), Alan Barnes (former DWM Editor), John Ainsworth (Comics Historian) and Jeremy Bentham (Comics Historian).

 

'On Target - Malcolm Hulke'; shows us how the cherished Doctor Who Writer got into writing for the show, as well as his impact on some of the other members of the production team associated with the show, such as Terrance Dicks and Gary Russell. The documentary includes interviews with Terrance Dicks, Gary Russell, Alan Barnes, David J Howe (Author) and Chris Achilleos (Illustrator). Terrance Dicks' memories in particular, make up some of the best moments in this feature.

 

'Devious' is a Fan film that attempts to bridge the 'alleged' gap between The War Games and Spearhead from Space with 'The 2nd and a half Doctor', played by Tony Garner . The film includes scenes recorded with Jon Pertwee (playing The 3rd Doctor) as well as Peter Tuddenham and Hugh Lloyd (playing Time Lords). There's also a commentary option featuring the cast and crew that offers some behind the scenes tidbits, including an explanation of how Jon Pertwee was persuaded to take part.

 

This feature was a real surprise, and makes a genuinely pleasant and bold (on the BBC's part) addition to the DVD.

 

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' features a trailer promoting the forthcoming Black Guardian Trilogy DVD box-set. Although it's not one of the best trailers to date, it certainly packs a lot of energy and seems to sell the main plot points. One can't help feeling though, after a release such as The War Games, that the DVD features should also be highlighted in the trailers.

 

As with previous DVD releases, there are the usual 'Easter Eggs', 'PDF Material', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Subtitles' included.

It's easy to get swept away with positive comments when reviewing a DVD like this, especially when it contains a story as successful as The War Games, but the variety and quality of the supporting features are what help to make this package shine with utter brilliance. Well... that and Clayton Hickman's vividly eye-catching cover!

 

Overall, this is quite clearly, and most definitely the finest Doctor Who DVD release thus far, and will surely take some beating.

 

 

18 March 2009

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Paula Moore

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 16th March 2009

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 18th March 2009

Attack of the Cybermen offers a bold and ambitious start to Colin Baker's first full season as The 6th Doctor. With some great locations, acting and nods to the shows past, the serial is a generally enjoyable 88 minutes.

There are, however, a few let-downs, which prevented the story from reaching its full potential.

The role of the Cyber Controller didn't really work, as David Banks' Cyber Leader had already been established within the story, and is more than a powerful enough adversary for The Doctor to face off with.

The musical score for the story, has to be one of the worst in the shows entire history, and ends up sounding both messy and terribly dated. That being said, the brief theme for The Cryons had great potential and was sadly underused.

The script also had its fair share of pitfalls, with most of the meatier dialogue given to Maurice Colbourne, who, to be fair, was instrumental in most of the areas that this story succeeds in.

The DVD release is packed with some top quality features that not only compliment, but help to mend the way for those who may feel a little short-changed by the serial itself.

'The Cold War' looks at the making of Attack of the Cybermen, and features interviews with Actors; Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Terry Molloy (Russell) and Sarah Berger (Rost), Writer; Eric Saward, Director; Matthew Robinson, Continuity Advisor; Ian Levine, and Film Cameraman; Godfrey Johnson.

It proves to be an insightful breakdown of the genesis of the story, and may even surprise some fans when the authorship of the story comes into discussion.

'The Cyber Story' blasts off with an awesome CGI introductory title sequence, and offers an in-depth look at the genesis of the Cybermen, and how there is a basis of plausibility behind their concept. Featuring interviews with Director; Morris Barry, Writer; Eric Saward, Designers; Sandra Reid and Dinah Collins, Cybermen Actor; Mark Hardy, Cybermen Voice Artist; Roy Skelton and Professor Kevin Warwick.

'Human Cyborg' features an extended version of the interview with Kevin Warwick (Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University), from the previous feature, who, as well as being a self-proclaimed Doctor Who fan, is heralded as the worlds first Human Cyborg.

The feature looks at the possibility of whether Cybermen could exist, as Kevin unveils some of his experiments, beliefs and ideas. This is a DVD extra that is bound to capture the minds of all fans of The Cybermen, as well as educating with surprising clarity.

'The Cyber-Generations' is a pictorial guide to the different types of Cybermen throughout the year s, displayed in chronological order. With photos from lost stories that some fans will never have seen before, it is great to have such a concise guide to one of The Doctors greatest villains. (The title sequence isn't quite as mind-blowing as 'The Cyber Story', however).

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' is for the forthcoming Image of the Fendahl DVD release. As with the other trailers, it fails to disappoint, with tight scene cutting and an energetic music track that work well together.

The 'Audio Commentary' features Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Terry Molloy (Russell) for Part One, with Sarah Berger (Rost) replacing Terry Molloy for Part Two. Colin in particular, provides a thoroughly entertaining narrative, thanks to his knowledge of the show, coupled with some choice one-liners - he also directs the conversation perfectly. Colin and Nicola's on-screen chemistry, carries itself off-screen for this commentary, as the pair share both affection and memories which are a genuine joy to hear.

As with previous DVD releases, the usual Photo Gallery, Info Text, Trails & Continuity and Radio Times Listings are included. There's also a Dalek related Easter Egg hidden somewhere within the menu system.

Although this release may not house the best example of Classic Who, the features are representative of some of the best examples of the impressive quality and effort that goes into the Doctor Who DVD range.

 

2 February 2009

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Andrew Smith, Terrance Dicks & Stephen Gallagher

RRP: £34.99

Release Date: 26th January 2009

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 2nd February 2009

Full Circle

Full Circle kicks off The E-Space Trilogy to a flying start. The story, which is the brainchild of 17-year-old Doctor Who fan, Andrew Smith, is well paced, well placed, and features some great location shots together with some generally good acting.

Compared to the other stories in this box-set, Full Circle is definitely the tidiest DVD, with just the right amount of features to compliment the story.

'All aboard the Starliner', offers an in-depth look at the making of Full Circle. Featuring interviews with Andrew Smith (Writer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Max Samett (Cameraman) with Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), Bernard Padden (Tylos), George Baker (Login) and John Leeson (K9), as well as excepts from an archived interview with Director; Peter Grimwade. The documentary length was just right and made for a thoroughly informative companion to the serial. 

'K9 in E-Space' takes a look at K9's role in The E-Space Trilogy, as well as serving some rather amusing Marmite-esque 'love him or hate him' opinions of the character from the cast and crew. It is clear, however, that this feature was recorded as part of  'All aboard the Starliner', and doesn't entirely feel big enough as a standalone feature.

'Swap Shop' features Matthew Waterhouse as interviewed on the show by Noel Edmonds back in 1980. Matthew takes calls from viewers as well as giving away some prizes for a competition on the programme.

'E-Space - Fact or Fiction?' is an intelligent look at the science and plausibility behind the idea of E-Space. Narrated by Sophie Aldred, the feature includes interviews with Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer), Patrick Moore (Presenter and Astronomer), Andrew Ball (Planetary Scientist) as well as Authors; Paul Parsons and Stephen Baxter. Particularly of interest, was Parsons breakdown of the Four different types of Multiverse, which he explains clearly.

The 'Commentary' is provided by Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Andrew Smith (Writer) and Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), and presents honest, open and entertaining perspectives of their involvement in the story. Waterhouse and Bidmead are particularly good at keeping the energy levels up in moments where conversation appears to dip. The Doctor Who DVD Commentaries seem to work best when guided by someone unconnected to the serial, as it helps bring the viewer/listener in further by not feeling so alienated.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' gives us a look at the February 2009 release of The Rescue & The Romans box-set, and has been cut together extremely well with a good choice of music overlay that nips along at an energetic pace.

Also included on the disc are the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

State of Decay

State of Decay, is, quite simply, gothic Doctor Who at its best. It has it all; vampires, creepy woodland, and an underground lair that harbors a gruesome foe. Of the three stories includes in the box-set, it is clearly this one that shines. This second disc is a little feature-heavy, and feels a bit saturated with a couple of items that focus more on themes, rather than the story in hand.

'The Vampire Lovers' looks at the making of State of Decay. Featuring interviews with Terrance Dicks (Writer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Peter Moffatt (Director), Christine Ruscoe (Designer) and Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (Voice of K9) and Clinton Greyn (Ivo).

It touches on the turbulent relationship between Dicks and Bidmead, with frank accounts from both parties, as well as looking at some of the themes within the story such as Blood and Vampirism. There is some fascinating insight into the Design of the set and how Christine Ruscoe took inspiration from Mont St Michel in France.

The 'Film Trims' feature includes 6 minutes of mute model and effects shots including the Great Vampires' hand and subsequent staking, as well as some alternative takes of the tower.

'Leaves of Blood' is a fantastic feature, presented by Nicholas Briggs, and gives us a history of Vampires in written fiction. Featuring interviews with Dr. Tina Rath (Vampire Fiction specialist), Authors; Simon Clark, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Alison L. R. Davies, Chris Fowler and Pete Crowther, as well as excerpts read deliciously by Nick Scovell.

The breakdown and evolution of the Vampire character is laid bare here thanks to the opinions and ideas discussed by the interviewees which have to be the cream of the crop in this subject matter.

'The Blood Show' takes a look at the make-up of blood, as well as its meaning in society. Featuring interviews with Simon Clare (Nurse Specialist in Haematology), Sir Christopher Frayling (Cultural Historian), Stefan Gates (Broadcaster and Food Writer), Emily Richards (Goth Club Promoter), Dr. Lola Martinez (from the Department of Anthropology, SOAS), Fergus Henderson (Chef and Proprietor, St John Restaurant) and Frank Baker (of Frank's Butchers). Although the feature is of interest, it feels too much like padding to a DVD that already has sufficient content.

'The Frayling Reading' offers Christopher Frayling's understanding of the Vampire legend as well as its connection to State of Decay. The feature brings us back to the Doctor Who DVD content, proper, and makes for a welcome addition.

The 'Commentary' is provided by Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Peter Moffatt (Director) and Terrance Dicks (Writer). Right from the off we are given some detailed information on the genesis of the story from Dicks, which sets the pace for what turns out to be a fact-filled commentary. Waterhouse, however, takes a while to warm into the commentary, and rather annoyingly repeats chunks of text spoken by Tom Baker in parrot fashion.

Also included on the disc are the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

Warriors' Gate

Warriors' Gate, as a story is quite complex - perhaps a little too ambitious. What is clear, however, is how much effort has gone into the production. Although it was one of the cheapest Doctor Who stories to be made, the attention to detail in many areas, has to be commended. You do get the feeling that so much more could have been made out of the adventure, however, and end up feeling a little short-changed by the end due to Romana's rushed exit.

Warriors' Gate, holds the most rewarding special features in The E-Space Trilogy box set, with some highly entertaining documentaries and interviews that all connect directly to the story.

'The Dreaming' looks at the making of Warriors' Gate, and features interviews with Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Paul Joyce (Director), Stephen Gallagher (Writer), Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer), and Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (Voice ok K9), Clifford Rose (Rorvik) and David Weston (Biroc).

The documentary, reveals the pitfalls that the production went through before its completion, as well touching on some of the conflicts amongst the cast and crew.

'The Boy with the Golden Star' features an interview with Matthew Waterhouse, as he looks back through his time on the show. A really enjoyable feature that casts Waterhouse in a new light, whilst tackling some of the myths that followed him as a young actor.

'Lalla's Wardrobe' brings us a chronological look at the various costumes Romana wore throughout her tenure on the show. With interviews from June Hudson (Costume Designer), Louise Page (New Series Costume Designer) and Writers; Nev Fountain and Jonathan Morris.

The 'Extended and Deleted Scenes' are barely noticeable, but will no doubt appease completists. Its such a shame a longer farewell scene wasn't recorded between The Doctor and Romana.

The 'Commentary' features Paul Joyce (Director), John Leeson (Voice of K9), Mat Irvine (Effects Designer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor) and Lalla Ward (Romana).

It becomes obvious quite early on, that five people in a commentary is just too much, and surprisingly, the energy levels are relatively low throughout with some guests tending to fade into the background.

Also included on the disc is an Easter Egg, as well as the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

Overall, The E-Space Trilogy DVD box set is quite satisfying, with the exception of a couple of red undant features. The commentaries, in general, were good, but needed more direction, which an external presence could have easily provided.

These serials are by no means representative of The Doctor's finest adventures, but they do show how, even with a tight budget, imagination and resourcefulness can pull through to make a trilogy of entertaining science fiction. Together with its feature-laden content, E-Space is a universe you will enjoy coming back to.

 

14 March 2008

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Terence Dudley

RRP: £12.99

Release Date: 14th April 2008

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 14th March 2008

With the 2008 arrival of a brand new episode of Doctor Who set in the 1930's, what better than to see how they tackled the slightly earlier date of 1925 during Davison's time on the show.

Black Orchid as a story, presents itself extremely well, with the period captured authentically and with great success. At just 50 minutes in length it is a relatively short story, that lends itself well in comparison to the new series. The structure of the adventure is incredibly well thought-out, thanks to strong characters, great settings and a tight script, as well as some shocks and surprises along the way.

It does of course have its downsides, namely the character of Latoni. If a character has to talk, don't give them a distracting tribal Indian mouthpiece! There is added distraction in the form of the excessive heavy breathing effects attributed to George Cranleigh.

Niggles aside though, Black Orchid definitely stands the test of time, and typifies how well a period story can be produced in Doctor Who.

The 'Commentary' with Peter Davison & Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding is extremely entertaining. It's great to hear all four actors reminiscing about their time recording the story, and as always with Davison and Fielding, you're guaranteed a light-hearted deconstruction of moments from the story.

The first special feature on the disc; 'Now & Then', is by far the best of the series produced to date. With tremendous detail in the shooting locations, information on alternative choices for the Cranleigh residence, as well as modern-day shots of the locations used.

The 'Deleted Scenes' feature would have fared better if it wasn't for the sepia overlay that randomly appears and disappears throughout the scenes.

'Film Restoration', offers another rare insight into the hard work the Restoration Team put into all the Doctor Who DVD releases. This time we are educated about A-rolls, B-rolls and the differences between graded and ungraded scenes.

The 'Blue Peter' feature looks at Berman's and Nathan's, who provided the costumes for Black Orchid. Although the Doctor Who related portion of the feature is a small one, it proves to be an informative and entertaining piece, especially the line about one of the presenters nick nacks!

With the success of 'Stripped for Action: The 1st Doctor' on The Time Meddler DVD, comes the equally successful 'Stripped for Action: The 5th Doctor'. The feature includes interviews with former DWM Editors; Gary Russell & Alan Barnes, Comic Artist; Dave Gibbons & Comic Editor; Alan McKenzie. The fantastic computer generated comic strip sequences help round-off an already great feature.

'Points of View' looks at some viewer complaints sparked from switching the airdate / time for Doctor Who.

The 'Photo Gallery' provides some great publicity shots of The Doctor in and around the cricket pitch featured in Black Orchid. Amongst other location / set pictures, there are also some amusing images of the The Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in fancy dress.

The 'Coming Soon' trailer features The Trial of a Time Lord and as always, shows off the tremendous editing skills of the team who put it together.

There is also an 'Easter Egg' on the disc featuring continuity announcements for the original airing of the story.

There really isn't much more that could be added to this release that isn't already on the DVD. With the RRP at just £12.99, and with special features lasting just as long as the main feature, this little package is Top Ho!

 

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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