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29 February 2012

Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products

Written By: Guy Leopold

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 26th March 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 29th February 2012

It's not often in Doctor Who's long history that a story is great, then great again, and then great for a third time, but this is very much the case with The Daemons. The original story was a triumph, but due to the infamous BBC junkings and burnings, only a black and white print of this tale existed... until a terrible quality NTSC (that's American Television) copy turned up courtesy of a fan. In 1993 BBC Video made a valiant attempt to restore the episodes, as featured in an extra on this release - more of that later. Now it's all been re-restored again, and beautiful it looks too.

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo (Katy Manning) must battle to save the Earth from the alien Daemons, aided, abetted and very badly controlled by The Master (Roger Delgado), in the quaint little village of Devil's End. With BBC Three on location and UNIT stuck behind a heat barrier, time is running out for the Time Lord...

This double disc release from BBC Worldwide has superb restoration of the picture and sound quality - in fact the five-part story takes up all of Disc One (bar the Info Text and Commentary options) with all the Special Features on Disc Two. There are of course both Subtitles and Audio Navigation available on both discs, and the previously mentioned Info Text joins the Radio Times PDF Listings, and the Photo Gallery as standard included extras. 

Special Features - Disc One:

Commentary - Sitting around the table to discuss The Daemons this time are Christopher Barry, Katy Manning, Damaris Hayman, and Richard Franklin. The conversation is fun, loose and friendly, with plenty of laughs and lots of interesting and amusing reminiscences about the making of the story. Tales of theme tunes, Margaret Rutherford's cape, and warm fuzzy feelings abound. Great to listen to and thoroughly entertaining.

Special Features - Disc Two:

The Devil Rides Out - A look back at the making of The Daemons, with Christopher Barry and Katy Manning joining Terrance Dicks, some previously recorded footage of Barry Letts, and many more faces to look back at Aldbourne's finest hour. Discussed are the story's origins, Damaris Hayman's white witch being very switched on, and one or two displays of impatience from leading man; Jon Pertwee. It's an honest look at the show, but not a negative one, and it's clear that both cast and crew thought (and still think) the story is special and deserving of the 'Classic' status that The Daemons holds. They are, of course, absolutely right.

Remembering Barry Letts - Barry's sons, Dominic and Crispin Letts, discuss their late father's long career in film and television as an actor, director and producer. A fascinating glimpse at the life, outside of Doctor Who, of a man who is held in very high regard by family, friends and colleagues. Not cloying, or over-sentimental, this is a lovely piece giving a much more complete picture of Barry, who may be best known for producing the Pertwee era of Doctor Who; but who also had a lot more strings to his bow than Time Lords and Daleks. Featuring everything from green issues, to Zen Buddhism and The Navy, to BBC directing courses, right through to his final years. Truly a wonderful look back at an amazing man, who is much missed by friends, family and fans alike. A great, great piece.

Location Film - A reasonably short piece, but suitably nostalgic for this release. This is simply dome, mute, 8mm camera footage of Aldbourne, filmed during the location shooting of The Daemons. Not a great deal to say about it, because there's not a lot of it, but it holds the attention and isn't long enough to get boring. Very nice indeed.

Colourisation Test - The first attempt to recolour episode one in it's entirety. The slipping Doctor Who theme is enough to make you wince, but the recolourising is rather great if not of the quality that we now get as standard on these Classic Who releases. Interesting and holds the attention easily, and the colour looks great - even if it's a little brighter than it possibly should be.  

Tomorrow's World - A Doctor Who themed segment from 1993 looking at the first restoration of The Daemons, and how it was produced. Tomorrow's World was always very good at presenting these sort of explanations in an accessible and friendly way. Judith Hann introduces, and Howard Stableford walks us through how the first restoration was brought together via some spiffy TV technology. It's nice to see the TARDIS and the console turn up from an era when Doctor Who had already been off the air for four years, and it's a great look at how the restoration came to life.

Coming Soon Trailer - Silver cagouls!  Of course we should interfere; always do what you're best at!  Good boy K-9! Vraxoin! Name and date of birth! It's inexplicable! My arms, my legs, my everything! A veritable symphony of silliness, The Nightmare of Eden is the next release. it's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights...

It's hard to beat a Classic story, but a Classic story restored twice over and then given a great set of extras as an accompaniment wins hands down. The restoration is top notch and with the retrospective of The Daemons ticking all the right boxes, a look at how the first restoration was achieved, and a perfectly pitched look back at Barry Letts' life and career - this release is an absolute must for fans!

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