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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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