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2 February 2012

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis, Bob Baker, Dave Martin & Chris Boucher

RRP: £35.75

Release Date: 13th February 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 2nd February 2012

The Tomb of the Cybermen: Special Edition

Disc One:

Looking pin-sharp and sounding rich and vibrant on this two-disc BBC / 2|entertain release, as part of the Revisitations Box 3 set, Patrick Troughton's incarnation of The Doctor lands the TARDIS on Telos. He and his companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and new arrival Victoria (Deborah Watling) run into an archaeological expedition and a lot of deep frozen, large silver chaps with handles on their heads with an arsenal of Cyberguns and robotic pets. However, even when the dreaded Cybermen start to awaken there's more danger to come, when the Cyber Controller arrives on the scene. Can the Doctor and his friends overcome the Telosian menaces and the hostile intentions of Kaftan and Klieg? Or will the Cyber Controller have his way and be able to put a converted Time Lord into his deep freeze Tomb?

Special Features:

Commentary 1 Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines give a gentle, calm and yet engrossing and enthralling voice-over to the story. It's all very calm and understated, and the two stars are entertaining, informative and give a unique perspective on the story. Simply lovely, and from the original release of this story.

Commentary 2 - The new commentary for this disc features Toby Hadoke in the captain's chair, with Victor Pemberton (Script Editor) and Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon) for episode one only, and then replaces them with Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan), Deborah Watling (Victoria) and Frazer Hines (Jamie) to discuss the story, behind the scenes, Cybermat chases and short skirts. A great new addition to the story, and filled with fun, laughter and insights into the production of The Tomb of the Cybermen.  

Morris Barry IntroductionMorris Barry (Director) talks about the trials of casting Cyber Controllers with no lines and explicit foam effects that upset the bosses. A short piece to camera that does exactly what it says on the tin, set in the middle of a Cyber head display.

Title Sequence Tests - Another 'does exactly what it says on the tin' piece. This time, test logos, howl-around sequences and photos of Patrick Troughton being messed around with to produce the second glorious opening to the world's longest running science fiction series. Simple (relatively!), but oh-so-effective, and set to the full original theme tune. Who needs CGI, hmm?

Late Night Line Up - The BBC2 magazine show takes a brief look a look at the visual effects department's output. With a very young Joan Bakewell looking at "children's science fiction" show Doctor Who - as opposed to "adult" science fiction and horror. Featuring Cyber Controllers and Cybermats, and a very familiar looking fly that was later repainted for The Green Death! Head of department Jack Kine shows us around in a short but fun piece.

The Final End - The Daleks manage to get a look-in here too, as the model and FX shots of the epic battle at the climax of The Evil of the Daleks get another airing. Featuring a lot of Louis Marx "Tricky Action" toy Daleks milling around, and some full size Dalek props - and the Emperor Dalek - meeting a large amount of explosives, and losing convincingly. Set to the original soundtrack taken from the story. Another short, fun piece taken from the original DVD release.

Info Text - Production notes, facts, figures and trivia along with actor biographies and behind the scenes snippets stream on-screen whilst the drama plays, and adds more fun to the story.  

Coming Soon Trailer - Not Hyde Park. Leela. Horda. Lots of men wearing very little indeed, and a mad computer called Xoanon. The next release is The Face of Evil, starring Tom Baker's Doctor and introducing Louise Jameson as the 'savage' Leela. Jelly babies and janis thorns not included.

Easter Egg - A little hidden gem hiding behind an emerald green Doctor Who logo on one of the menus that's guaranteed to raise a smile. Short but very, very sweet. 

As always. there's the usual Radio Times PDFs, and an extensive Photo Gallery of publicity and behind the scenes shots on the disc as well; with Subtitles and Audio Navigation for those who may want or need it.

But wait!! That's JUST disc one - and while that alone would be a top notch release with the amount crammed onto the DVD, there's a whole second disc to contend with!

Disc Two:

The Lost Giants - The making of Tomb is explored in this retrospective, with clips, and talking heads galore including Shirley Cooklin and Victor Pemberton. A fascinating look at where the story's origins lie, the direction and energy from Morris Barry, his methods of conducting people and much more. Covered in this half hour featurette are the production crew, the casting on the story, the evolution and the look of the 'Tomb' Cybermen and why the imagery has endured so well.

The backdrops used in the interviews - animated CGI from Rob Semenoff - are terribly clever and well done, with the Cyber energising room and the main control chamber being recreated very faithfully and cleverly... and then they start moving and doing little unexpected things that make you stop and stare.

This look back at how the Tomb was created and put together is both enterrtaining and informative, and a great new extra for this story.

The Curse of the Cybermen's Tomb - A look at the story's parallels with Egyptology and King Tut's tomb being discovered. It's very telling at just how close The Tomb of the Cybermen and the Tomb of King Tut are, design wise. Cybermats are scarab beetles, and of course the mummies (who would star in their own right much later on with the Pyramids of Mars) are the Cybermen. And then there's George Pastell who stars in the Hammer Horror Mummy films.

An interesting look at the origins of the story, curses of Pharoahs that may or may not exist, and where the Cybermen fit in, presented by two Egyptology experts who are engaging and affable.

Cybermen Extended Edition - With an opening shot that looks like it was taken straight out of the BBC's Sherlock, that then morphs into The Invasion's Cyber invasion in London. Matthew Sweet writes, narrates and presents this look at how the Cybermen evolved from humans to Cyber form in both Classic and New Who.  

Some very nice CGI work and what looks like the predecssor to Mister Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures, help demonstrate the process graphically, which really [and possibly inadvertently] look like they could be taken from the old 1970s BBC version of The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy.

Utilising clips from The Tenth Planet right through to the Pandorica's Cybermen and all inbetween, this should be a fun and interesting look at the Cybermen.. but there's a weak link here, and sadly, it's presenter Sweet himself and his supposedly clever and witty script. It's not great it has to be said. His narration is somewhat condescending and too self indulgent, and takes away from the true greatness and horror of these metallic giants. It pokes fun at, instead of being suitably reverential to Doctor Who's second most-memorable baddies. Perhaps if someone Cyber converted the presenter it would be rather more entertaining. Can't fault the clips, the graphics or the history, but the sardonic tone really lets this piece down.

As always. there's the usual Radio Times PDFs, and an extensive Photo Gallery of publicity and behind the scenes shots on the disc as well; with Subtitles and Audio Navigation for those who may want or need it.

The Tomb of the Cybermen: Special Edition is great, with excellent restoration and some amazing extras to back up the release. The story is strong and all but one of the extras are perfectly pitched and set out; it's just a real shame that the one piece that should have been the jewel in it's crown is let down by ridiculing rather than lauding these iconic men of steel, and as it's the last item on the disc, it may leave a slightly bitter taste to what is otherwise a perfect release.

The Three Doctors: Special Edition

Disc One:

Something large and sinister is hunting The Doctor whilst threatening Gallifrey and the rest of the Universe in this two-disc release as part of the Revisitatons Box 3 set from the BBC / 2|entertain stable. With Gallifrey unable to assist the Time Lord, they organise a time stream merger so the Time Lord can help himself...several times over. Can three Doctors overcome the greatest threat they've ever faced?

Special Features:

Commentary - Oh, this one will tug at the heart strings as well and amusing and entertaining. Two dearly departed voices and one very much alive and kicking voice; Barry Letts, Nicholas Courtney and the ever fun Katy Manning discuss locations, trivia and filming of the story. It's light, fun, and not afraid to point out the somewhat less successful aspects of the production...like the Gel Guards movement. Thoroughly entertaining and informative, and a great remembrance for both Barry and Nick. Makes you very grateful Katy's still around, with that infectious laugh of hers!

Pebble Mill At OneBernard Wilkie is the guest on this BBC lunchtime magazine show to talk about props, monsters and costumes, and brings with him a Death to the Daleks-style Dalek, a Cyberman, Spiridons, Gel Guards, a Draconian and various other rubber uglies from that era. An oft screened piece that shows the level of work that goes into the monsters, and showcases them rather well.

Blue PeterPeter Purves (one Steven Taylor from the Hartnell era) introduces Jon Pertwee and his Whomobile in this 1973 edition of the children's show. Once Pertwee's been and gone in that insane car, there's a retrospective look back at ten years of Doctor Who with the previous Doctors, companions, monsters, and gadgets. Now infamous in Who fandom, as this was supposedly when The Tenth Planet episode four was lost, having been loaned to the Blue Peter office for use in clips.

BSB Highlights - 31 Who - The long since defunct Galaxy Channel of BSB (shortly after this it was taken over by the Murdoch empire) did a weekend-long marathon of Doctor Who, and here's the section relating to The Three Doctors. There's nothing new here, really, old facts recycled, and a taped interview with Jon Pertwee. Bob Baker and Dave Martin are there with their most famous creation, K-9, although it's not the original prop - it's the same one that's now in the Doctor Who Experience. They briefly discuss writing The Three Doctors, and the late John Nathan-Turner fills us in on the details. 31 Who's linking material has really not dated well...

The Five Faces Of Doctor Who Trailer - Fraud!  It's four faces and a team-up story!! The BBC2 season of repeats is plugged, almost to death, with this insanely overlong and boring trail. Running at around five minutes, the trail seems to pick the oddest moments to use as showcases for the stories themselves, and by the time it's gotten back to The Krotons you're losing the will to live.

BBC1 trailer - Unusual trailer in that it uses the Delaware version of the Doctor Who theme as the background music. A brief trailer for Episode One of The Three Doctors (at 5:45pm, after The Basil Brush Show at 5:15pm!).

40th Anniversary Promo Trail - Oh joy, another trailer. And in this case an entirely pointless one. Over-long, competely self-indulgent tosh made to advertise the DW40 video releases in 2003. Set to a rather badly edited version of Orbital's Doctor Who tribute (which, when not cut up and mucked around with, is a great piece). Frankly dreadful.

Into Text - More trivia and factoids, biographies and interesting tidbits served up onscreen during the story.

As always. there's the usual Radio Times PDFs, with Subtitles and Audio Navigation for those who may want or need it.

Disc Two:

Happy Birthday to Who - A 25 minute, new retrospctive of the anniversary adventure that reunited Doctors One, Two and Three. Terrance Dicks and the late, great Barry Letts discuss the problems faced with getting William Hartnell's performance, and what happen when the Doctor that was a stickler for lines and cues met the Doctor that liked things a little more free and flexible. Entertaining and despite the obvious negative elements that need to be addressed in the show, it never dwells or lets itself get too maudlin. 

Was Doctor Who Rubbish? - [sarcasm] Yes, of course it was. That's why we're buying the DVDs and still watching it almost fifty years later [/sarcasm]. Possibly the single most pointless extra ever to materialise on a Doctor Who DVD. In one of the worst cases witnessed of preaching to the converted, some fans of the show defend it against the criticism it has faced over the years relating to bad monsters, bad acting and wobbly sets; whilst shooting itself in the foot by running the footage of The Myrka from Warriors of the Deep being spectacularly awful. Doctor Who is not awful, but this lamentable fifteen minute list of 'things that don't suck about Doctor Who' (if you'll pardon the modern vernacular) most definitely is rubbish. Really, really rubbish.

Girls, Girls, Girls - the 1970s - And from the worst extra ever to one of the absolute best. The 1970s episode of this occasional series (started elsewhere on another DVD with the 1980s edition) has the scientist, the spy and the savage sitting together to discuss feminism, outfits, casting and Doctors. Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Katy Manning (Jo Grant) and Louise Jameson (Leela) provide a quality discussion that's always fun and light-hearted but clever, insightful and raises some valid points about not just Doctor Who, but acting in general. As with the 1980s edition, the simple format is magical in it's results, and shows that those lovely ladies who tagged along with The Doctor are far, far more than just a pretty woman to keep the Dads watching after Grandstand. Easily the best extra of the release. Nothing short of outstanding.

Photo Gallery - It's big, it's pretty, and it's been shunted to disc two this time. The promos, publicity and private shots of the tenth anniversary story. Plenty of shots of the Time Lords, those wonderfully daft Gel Guards, and the Doctors. Set to lots of lovely sound effects that will set your teeth on edge.

As always. there's the usual Radio Times PDFs, with Subtitles and Audio Navigation for those who may want or need it.

The Three Doctors works well as a story, however there's not as much that's new to watch on this release. Whilst it has one of the very best extras available, it also has one of the very worst, and you'll need to be a real trailer afficionado to work your way through some parts of this re-release. Honestly, however, it would be worth getting even if it was simply the story, the commentary and the 'Girls, Girls, Girls' segment. Less impressive than the other two stories in this set, but still a good release, rather than a great one.

The Robots Of Death: Special Edition

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson) arrive on a Sandminer - a trundling behemoth of a vehicle designed to extract minerals from the surface of any given planet. However, something sinister is going on inside the miner, and the human crew are being killed one at a time, whilst their robot cohabitants carry on calmly with their duties of extracting minerals and being reprogrammed by an on-board traitor. This single disc release from the BBC / 2|Entertain, forms part of the Revisitations Box 3 set, with a raft of new and fun extras guaranteed to delight anyone (providing they're not a Voc).

Special Features:

Commentary 1Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer) and Chris Boucher (Writer) provide quite a serious voice-over track for this tale, taken from the original release of this DVD. Not much larking around in this commentary, it's all very calm and professional; however...

Commentary 2Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Pamela Salem (Toos) and Michael Briant (Director) have a lot more fun in the second commentary; newly recorded for this special edition re-release. There's laughs and love a-plenty, and the warmth for the story shows through easily. Entertaining and slightly less informative than the first commentary, but it doesn't matter due to the wonderful atmosphere created, you can help but get lost in the mood. It's also evident that the cast hold Michael Briant in high esteem, from their recollections here and elsewhre on the disc.

The Sandmine Murders - A new retrospective of The Robots of Death, using many clips - very nicely framed on the TARDIS scanner of the time, with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Philip Hinchcliffe and a whole slew of other faces queue up to discuss the ups and downs of filming. The story's roots in Agatha Christie are also explored, as well as how the Sandminer came about.

There's an evident amount of affection for this story from all involved, both at the time and retrospectively. Costumes and set design, robot manufacturing and how to mollycoddle difficult leading men all come up in the course of this half hour featurette, but it's all kept very light and happy and holds the attention very well indeed.

RobophobiaToby Hadoke presents a ridiculously funny look at the robot, as he puts it, "more specifically the Doctor Who variety". Unlike the attempts at humour on The Tomb of the Cybermen DVD, which came across as snide, this is a fun and affectionate look at the robot menaces in Doctor Who - mentioning, of course, the goodies too (who's a good dog?) as a balance. It's only a short piece at ten minutes or so, but it proves that some extras can be insanely funny when done properly, and Toby Hadoke pitches this one perfectly.

Hadoke's reverential yet very precisely silly humour is bang on target, and you get to see why it is that Hadoke's Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf is such an ongoing favourite wth fans, cast and crew alike; for Toby has a great line in comedy and an obvious love for the subject matter.  

Studio Sound - A short, interesting comparison of the sound as recorded in studio, with the original voice of SV7 as recorded on set from the actor inside the mask. The level in sound quality between the segment and the finished product is remarkable, as is the reduction in the background noise and things like doors shutting noisily before the sound effects are added. A very short piece at around two minutes, but it gives a rare insight into just how much work goes into making the most mundane everyday noises sound clear and crisp for television.

Model Shots - Unused model footage from The Robots of Death, including mute footage of the Sandminer in various views and zooms. The footage, being vintage itself, isn't of the best quality any more, but it's interesting to see various planetary views and shots of the mining vessel we didn't get to see on-screen. It's also very apparent that someone liked to be very liberal and generous with the dry ice machine...although as it creeps and rolls forward in one scene it's eerily reminiscent of the 1980 movie version of James Herbert's The Fog! There's around five or six minutes of this silent timecoded footage to sit through, but it's not too painful to endure.

Studio Floor Plan - A weird one, this. The studio floor plan that tells you what was where (for example the TARDIS control room set) and then lets you zoom into it for a closer look. Certainly something never done on these DVDs before, but really not that enthralling unless you're heavily into your sets and placing of consoles. An interesting curio however, and yet more information to the wealth already on the DVD.

Continuity - The 1970s BBC1 globe with voice over announces the start of a new four part adventure (this one!) and a caption slide as used for Season Fourteen of the show. Entertaining in showing the technology the spinning globe employed at the time in vivid blue and yellow. Short and wonderfully dated.

Photo Library - The usual range of publicity and behind the scenes stills from the story, shedding some light and some new angles on what was a very clever and novel design for the interiors of the Sandminer and the crew living quarters, and the robots themselves.  Nicely presented as always.

With the usual Radio Times PDFs and Audio Navigation and Subtitles for those who may need them, this repackaged and re-released DVD works really well on its own but as part of the Revisitations Box 3 set, slots very nicely into a growing range of exceptionally well-covered Doctor Who stories.

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