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Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

Archived news and reviews can be accessed by clicking on the relevant area on the News / Reviews Key panels to the right.

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26 January 2012

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Peter R. Newman

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 23rd January 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 26th January 2012

The original TARDIS crew land aboard a spaceship in this latest single disc release from the BBC / 2|Entertain stable.  The Doctor (William Hartnell), his granddaughter (Carole Ann Ford) and that remarkably cool pair of school teachers Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian (William Russell) walk into a mystery of reanimatng corpses and strange atmospheres. Prevented from leaving by the theft of the entire TARDIS lock mechanism, the travellers must join forces with an Earth crew to do very quiet battle with a species that really don't like it when you shout...

As always, the print is fresh and sharp, and the audio quality excellent, and this often overlooked and undervalued story is a tight, claustrophobic and clever tale that's highly enjoyable - and is now backed up by a series of great extras.

Special Features:

Commentary - Toby Hadoke is once more in the Captain's Chair for this commentary with William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) and designer and Dalek co-creator Ray Cusick as they gather together to discuss the story, the sets and the atmosphere. There's many giggles and laughs from Carole and William, with a little more serious talk from Mr Cusick. Always interesting, and informative - a really well brought together team enrich the release with ease. Very nicely done.

Looking For Peter - The always engaging Toby Hadoke (yes, him again!) embarks upon a hunt for the Doctor Who writer Peter R Newman. Not going to be easy, considering there's not a lot written online - or aywhere else about the man. Calling in everyone from Rob Shearman (Dalek) to the mighty Doctor Who Magazine, Toby turns detective to look at this enigma in the Doctor Who world... Their results... well, you'll have to watch it and find out!  Little visual treats include a few Daleks and the occasional TARDIS in Toby's place, a split second glimpse of the Doctor Who scarf (sans moths) from his one-man show, and visual proof that he needs to clean his DVD remote control...

Vision On: Clive Doig - he of Jigsaw, and the aforenamed Vision On, talks about his time as a vision mixer on Doctor Who in the 1960s. With mentions on fluffed lines and things that didn't work (we're looking at you, TARDIS doors!) and producers' quirks to discussing Who's successes with the late, great Verity Lambert. A fun little piece on early Doctor Who, with possibly the best title music available. If you ever sent in a piece of artwork to The Gallery from Vision On or Take Hart; or if you remember Morph or the wonderful, much-missed Tony Hart, you'll recognise the music instantly!

Secret Voices of the Sense Sphere - A very short piece on a mystery voice talking behind Susan in The Sensorites, and what caused the technical blunder that let us hear her... quite interesting for a two minute featurette, really. Also lets you know just what the equipment was like in the studio during the early years of Who. Hardly vitally important information we all need to know, but like all the best little snippets of Doctor Who infomation, it sheds light on something fromt he show's past in a fun, entertaining way.

Coming Soon Trailer - Not one story, but three!  Revisitions Box 3: The Robots of Death, The Three Doctors, and The Tomb of the Cybermen all get a refreshed release with new extras and new techniques of restoration applied to them; and from the clips shown, all three look amazing!

Info Text - The usual on-screen text during the story gives facts, figures, biographies and trivia whilst the drama plays out; including in Episode One, a breakdown of a visually stunning and unique piece of camera trickery and scene cutting in classic Doctor Who, that lends a huge amount of credence to the idea of the TARDIS' dimensional properties.

Photo Gallery - The usual selection of publicity shots and behind the scenes shots of the cast, crew and sets from The Sensorites, all looking sharp and wonderful, and sets to a variety of strange and wonderful noises from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop that sound like a mix of the TARDIS going haywire mixed with a Hoover heading for a breakdown. The pictures also show how wonderfully daft the Sensorites' costumes are...especially their feet!

The usual Subtitles and Audio Navigation for those who may want or need it, and the PDF Radio Times clippings and programme segments finish off this release nicely.

The Sensorites DVD does a lot to redress the various injustices thrown at the story over the years, giving it a smart new makeover so it looks and sounds great, and some solid backup featurettes. It may never be the huge fan favourite it deserves to be, but there's a lot of love about this story, and indeed this release. A great addition to the First Doctor stories, and a worthwhile purchase for any fan of Doctor Who and it's early years.

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8 January 2012

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Malcolm Hulke & Terry Nation

RRP: £30.63

Release Date: 9th January 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 8th January 2012

Invasion Of The Dinosaurs

Disc One:

The TARDIS arrives back in present day London, bringing The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) to a deserted capital city. However the TARDIS isn't the only time machine operating in the area; and it's up to the Time Lord and his companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) to work out who's responsible for the rather large stegasaurus in the middle of Pall Mall in this two disc release from the BBC 2|Entertain stable; forming one of the two stories making up the U.N.I.T Files Box-set.

Special Features:

Disc One is almost entirely devoted to the six part story, but there are a few little buttons to press that do things...

Episode One in Colour - Episode one is now presented in both formats - both the black and white version that existed in the archives, and now, a re-coloured version.  It's a very nice feeling being able to see the story entirely in colour, and even though the restoration can be a little patchy in parts, it serves well as an option for viewing. Having said that, the black and white version does lend a touch more credibility to the programme's dinosaur shaped co-stars.

Commentary - One of the highlights of recent Doctor Who DVDs is listening to the very smooth tones of Toby Hadoke introducing the commentary; and this time we hear more of him, as well as Paddy Russell; the director of this six part story. The pair work very well together, and Paddy is never less than entertainingly honest and forthright. A welcome addition to the story as it diverts the attention from some of the less successful elements featured, and a great extra.

Coming Soon Trailer - The original TARDIS crew have to keep their cool, their wits, and their voices down when the Sensorites steal the lock of the time machine. Can the Doctor save the Humans, broker peace, and get the TARDIS restored? The Sensorites DVD is the next release.

Production Notes - Behind the scenes information, actors careers and of course those all-conquering dinosaurs are discussed in the on-screen trivia text featured on the disc. As usual with these notes, they're informative, entertaining and always good for raising a smile or two.

Easter Egg - The Doctor vs the Floor Manager in an entirely boring ten second extra... find the hidden light up green Doctor Who logo!

Disc Two:

Special Featres:

Power, People and Puppetry - A half hour look back at the people and production of the story, featuring both cast and crew. Particularly entertaining are Barry Letts and Paddy Russell - especially when it comes to the introduction of the Whomobile. Also with previously taped interview excerpts of interviews with the late, great Jon Pertwee, including a riotously funny account of the Police vs Doctor Who in his super space car.

The featurette, for all it's great interviews, isn't presented that well, and you're really never sure whether the host of the piece is for or against the story - if he's for, then his choice of launguage used to describe the story is lacking. One of the major plusses however is that it doesn't dwell on the dinosaurs too long - we all know they weren't the greatest models ever used in Doctor Who, and it's good that the documentary doesn't linger unnecessarily over this fact. It's touched upon honestly and with humour, but it never overshadows the rest of the featurette.

Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen: Part One - Culled from "The Story Of Doctor Who", this featurette does two things: it makes you remember just how great Sarah Jane Smith was, and it breaks your heart when you think that Lis Sladen is no longer with us to reprise that great character. Featured in part one are her experiences with the Third Doctor, from her meeting with Barry Letts and Jon Pertwee, through her memories of Daleks, Exxilons and Whomobiles. It's hardly new material, or in most cases new stories and anecdotes, but it's just great to see such a wonderful Doctor Who legend on screen looking so full of life, even if knowing there'll be no more new stories adds a piquancy to the featurette.

Now And Then - A guide to the various London shooting locations used in the story as they appeared in 1973, and as they are now. Some very nice footage comparison via picture in picture and some great clips used from the show, but with a voice over that sounds like the narrator would rather be elsewhere... and he can't say the word "nuclear", opting instead for "new-kew-lar".

John Levene Commentary - A ten minute featurette of Sergeant Benton's alter ego - John Levene - giving his thoughts on this story. Not terribly long, but if you're a fan of Levene you'll probably enjoy this short piece.

Billy Smart's Circus - There are very few programmes in television history where the star's minute long cameo could send thousands of children into paroxysms of delight. Doctor Who is definitely one of those programmes, as this brief clip of Jon Pertwee [turning up in the Whomobile at this televised circus extravaganza] shows. Jon is clearly amused by his child hosts and their inability to remember their lines or stage directions; but there are few things quite as memorable to a child as hearing the Doctor Who theme start up and the Doctor himself arriving a few feet away from you. Great little piece of telly trivia and nostalgia. Nice of the BBC to caption Jon as "Dr. Who" onscreen, too...

On Disc Two the usual Photo Gallery of cast and production stills and the PDF Radio Times listings are included, and on Disc One there are Subtitles and Audio Description Facilities for those who may want or need them for the main story.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs, whilst not being the most obvious choice for a UNIT story is nonetheless very entertaining, and the recolourisation of episode one is especially welcome. The extras are for the most part well thought out and devised. It's a great DVD release overall, and works well when twinned with the other story in this set, The Android Invasion starring Tom Baker's Doctor.

The Android invasion

In the second part of this two story set, the errant Time Lord (this time Tom Baker in the title role) lands the TARDIS in Devesham, not far away from the Space Defence Station. However as the Doctor and Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) explore their surroundings, it becomes increasingly obvious that all is not what it seems; with fake trees, people and a set of grumpy space rhinos out to conquer the Earth.

Long before the Judoon, there were the Kraals. The original grumpy space rhino in a manic string vest/1960s dress combo - no wonder they were so annoyed! In a story that borrows rather a lot from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers there's a lot of tension and drama that plays out well. It's a great story, well-plotted, paced and acted, and the extras on this release really support that theme well.

Special Features:

Life After Who: Philip Hinchcliffe - Presented and perfectly pitched by BBC News presenter and daughter of the interviewee Celina Hinchcliffe; this featurette shows just what a versatile producer Philip Hinchcliffe was, and showcases some of the work that kept us glued to our screens away from the TARDIS. A very well paced segment that's interesting and convivial, Life After Who showcases the career of a talented witty man who, although mostly remembered for working on Doctor Who, had a hand in many other memorable programmes. Great piece!

CommentaryToby Hadoke is in the command chair once more, this time with Philip Hinchcliffe (producer), Milton Johns (Guy Crayford in the story) and Marion McDougall, the Production Assistant on this story. Quite a gentle commentary but always interesting and amusing to listen to. Hadoke is, as always, a very engaging host and the commentary on this story is never forced and strung out. Very nicely done.

Weetabix Advert - John Scott Martin inside what looks like a repainted Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks, and sounding like the voice is his too! Made to promote the range of cut out and keep figures, this entertaining short piece of televisual fluff from the 1970's diverts the attention for a minute or so, and leaves you wondering where a Dalek found a red plunger...

The Village That Came To Life Nick Briggs; the voice of everything these days - presents this behind the scenes look at the origins, filming and story behind The Android Invasion. Some locals in a pub are interviewed (one of whom has a worryingly prophetic name...) and Hinchcliffe et al provide their thoughts and opinions on what worked, what didn't, and... Tom Baker.  There's a very nice bit in this retrospective from Hinchcliffe about a lacklustre episode ending he spiced up into one of the Classic Series' most frightening and remembered cliffhangers. Very well put together and a lot of interesting talking heads.

Photo Gallery - Set to a bizarre mix of incidental music and weird Kraal noises, the sets, actors and locations for The Android Invasion captured in photographs. Black and white and colour photos, publicity shots, and a particularly charming picture of the late Lis Sladen, signing autographs for kids on location, with Tom Baker behind her doing the same. Lis looks very happy and content, and it's a lovely picture to remember her with.

Info Text - The usual on-screen subtitle trivia section. Facts, figures, audience shares and suchlike are paraded across your screen in a friendly and accessible format. As always, the trivia text even comes up with what the Radio Times was saying about each episode. Frivolous fun that holds the attention well.

Easter Egg - Yes, there's another one on this disc, and it's marginally more interesting than the one on the Invasion of the Dinosaurs disc...Marginally.

With the usual Subtitles for those who may want or need them, and the PDF Radio Times excerpts included on this disc, The Android Invasion is a fantasitc story and the disc can still easily engross the viewer, many years later from the original showing.

The U.N.I.T Files Box-set as a whole works well, even if the stories chosen (especially The Android Invasion) aren't what you'd usually expect for a set about the Doctor's friends and allies in the Armed Forces. However, on a different level, the stories do work very well as tributes for two of the Whoniverse's most-loved and much-missed actors, who passed away in 2011. Nick Courtney and the glorious Elisabeth Sladen are both showcased by this set, and that alone would be reason enough for buying it - even if the rest wasn't up to scratch. Happily, the extras on U.N.I.T Files do both stories proud, and make a great addition to the explanding Doctor Who library available on DVD.

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17 October 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Malcolm Hulke

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 3rd October 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 17th October 2011

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) manages to get the TARDIS working... almost, and he and his companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) arrive on the planet Uxarieus in the middle of a feud between a band of Colonists and a division of the Interplanetary Mining Corporation. En route to sort out the dispute is an Adjudicator from Earth, who may not be all he seems either. Can The Doctor overcome killer robots, giant lizards, primitive tribesmen, prune headed priests and Gail from Coronation Street, save the day and get Miss Grant safely back to Earth, or will an old adversary win the day?  You can find out on this new single disc DVD release from BBC DVD / 2|Entertain, out now.  With all six episodes looking sharp and sounding great and some entertaining and fun extras to compliment the story, it's time to step inside the TARDIS for her first flight of the Pertwee era...

Commentary - It's a very busy commentary this time round as Toby Hadoke guides his six guests through the story. Katy Manning (Jo), Bernard Kay (Caldwell), and Morris Perry (Captain Dent and no relation to Arthur Dent) join up with script editor Terrance Dicks, director Michael Briant and assistant floor manager Graeme Harper to relive their memories of the adventure.  Vey enertaining, and Katy is always very entertaining to listen to.

From The Cutting Room Floor - Annotated edits and trims from the filming of the story; location filming and model filming trims are used.  You do get the idea of just how appalling some of the conditions on locations actually were.  Mud, anyone?  There's almost thirteen mintes of trims and edits and shots, and it does tend to drag on somewhat, unless you're a real fan of these things.

IMC Needs You! - As an extra, this deserves prizes for keeping you entertained and giggling at the behind the scenes view. From seas of clay in freezing temperatures, via very unusual TARDIS landings and a spectacular and funny animation inviting you to grow a moustache. Most of the same crew as in the commentary are here on-screen giving life to the trials and tribulations of IMC robots and the problems of getting them through an average doorway...

By far the funniest revelation from director Michael Briant is why the TARDIS behaves so oddly when she materialises; an effect that has sparked many a fan debate over the decades. Was the landing due to the Time Lords controlling the TARDIS, or because of the shaky rebuilt dematerialisation circuit the Doctor's put together? Nope. To find out what it is... you'll have to watch.

A very light, fun, and well handled twenty five minute look back at Colony In Space, and it tackles the problems of the shoot without crossing over into regret or bitterness. Great stuff. And kust when you think it can't get any better, Briant re-appears on screen to talk about realising the diminutive alien hidden inside the wall, and the poor actor trying to give a performance with his neck almost breaking...

Photo Gallery - A selection of stills in colour and black and white, featuring the story's production, design and some well known publicity shots set to some background music/atmospheres, and the noise of that battered old blue box arriving.  Some very interesting pictures in there, no mater how much you know about the serial!

Coming Soon Trailer - Dinosaurs! Styggron! More dinosaurs! Dopplegangers and replica pubs! Two Doctors, one amazing assistant (tip of the hat to the glorious, and much much missed Lis Sladen), an irreplaceable and also greatly missed Brigadier (another hat tip to the wonderful Nicholas Courtney) and UNIT soldiers. Lots of UNIT soldiers. But then this is... The UNIT Box Set. Out in January! Oh, and there's dinosaurs. Did I mention there's dinosaurs? And UNIT soldiers.

With the usual production notes filling you in on trivia and factoids via their onscreen subtitles, subtitles for anyone who many want or need them, and the Radio Times listings for the story presented in PDF format for those on computers to peruse, Colony is a slightly long, but very rewarding story with a wealth of great performances, and the ever watchable Roger Delgado as the first incarnation of The Master. The characters are well rounded, and The Doctor, Jo, and a TARDIS exterior that had definitely seen better days have a blast. Well worth buying.

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31 August 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Louis Marks

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 12th September 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 31st August 2011

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is called on by UNIT to investigate a particularly murderous ghost; and from there he and his assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning) are drawn into a web of time paradoxes, guerilla warfare and history changing events, all sponsored by those persistent perambulating pests...The Daleks! Can our intrepid hero, aided by UNIT, save Earth from World War Three and invasion by the cantankerous Kaleds?

Every now and again, something very special comes along on a Doctor Who DVD that stops you in your tracks and leaves you slack-jawed as to it's brilliance. This is one of those instances. This story has one of the most ambitious, well-done and ridiculously brilliant extras you could ever wish for...more of that in a moment.

The two disc set, from the BBC2|Entertain stable has the usual hallmarks of Classic Who as it is now presented; the original programme has been cleaned up and looks pin sharp and sounds clear and crisp, and there's a raft load of extras that really should not be missed. Incidentally, for those of you who like inane trivia, the original version of the story is the only one in Who history that keeps the sting (that's the electronic howl from the cliffhanger into the Who theme) on the recaps of episodes two and three.

Disc One:

Commentary - Anna Barry and Jimmy Winston (Anat and Shura respectively) talk us through the story with the late, great Barry Letts, and script editor Terrance Dicks. Also on hand to talk technicalities is vision mixer Mike Catherwood. The whole commentary is nicely paced, fun, and very entertaining to listen to.

Blasting the Past - Cast and crew old and new look back at the original story, it's strengths and weaknesses and what made it so successful. On hand are Katy Manning, Anna Barry and Jimmy Winston who were there at the time, being menaced by Rick Newby, who was inside one of the Daleks. Also contributing to this look back are Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, John Friedlander (maker of monsters), and with further commentary from Dave Owen from DWM, new series writer Paul Cornell, Classic Series writer Ben Aaronovitch, and voice of pretty much everything these days Nicholas Briggs. Again, this half hour documentary has been handled with a lightness of touch that makes it flow very easily, and is very enjoyable to watch. It happily wallows in nostalgia without getting bogged down in it.

A View From The Gallery - Mike Catherwood and Barry Letts talk about the changing way Doctor Who was filmed and vision mixed over the years, as well as the technology then compared with now. This twenty minute piece shows just how well the two men know their craft, and can talk about it without getting monotonous. An illuminating little feature, that gives a clue into just how much technical expertise went into producing television in the 1970s.

Nationwide - A short piece from the BBC's flagship magazine programme of the time about a junior school that made the silly, silly mistake of winning the Radio Times writing competition...first prize: one working, crabby, angry Dalek. This report shows the somewhat smaller than expected pepperpot arriving at the school and the kids' reactions to it. Amusing nostalgia...you'll see the Dalek and nearly die laughing.

Blue Peter - Peter Purves is joined in the BP studio by the original TARDIS prop (looking in an absolutely terrible state!) and three Daleks to look back on his time during Doctor Who. Again, it's all amusing nostalgia, and a rare glimpse of how BBC Children's TV communicated to their audience over thirty years ago. Do wear sunglasses whilst watching this, as some of the fashions on display could easily burn out your eyes.

Coming Soon Trailer - Courtesy of the Time Lords remotely steering the TARDIS, The Doctor and Jo pitch up on the planet Uxarieus to face off with Reverend Magister, a walking prune, a rather violent IMC robot and some terribly unhappy miners. Colony In Space is next month's Classic Doctor Who release!

With the usual Info Text (which this month tells you where to spot edits and bloopers and gives an exhaustive rundown of Dudley Simpson's score for the show), a Photo Gallery and Subtitles for those who may want or need them, it's a great DVD...but wait...that's JUST Disc One!

Disc Two:

Day of the Daleks: Special Edition - New FX! New scenes! New Music! More Daleks! More Ogrons! More UNIT troops! New Dalek Voices! It's Doctor Who, Jim, but not as we know it!

Now although it's obviously the same story, it really doesn't feel like it. The team have done a stunning job in fixing things that could have been done better with more time and money (e.g: the Daleks' floating monitor has been stabilised, so it no longer looks like the start of "Victoria Wood As Seen On TV"), and they've tackled the big issues people have had with the show over the years - they've also addressed in the extras on the second disc.

The Making of Day of the Daleks: Special Edition - The producer of this Special Edition shows us what prompted the upgrade, what's been done, and how. Very entertaining and clever, this documentary showcases the level of love and interest that's gone into the package - even to the extent of making a brand new Day-era Dalek for help with filming some scenes! With contributions from all those involved, this is a must see, and gives a great insight into the level of dedication given to this revamp of a Classic story.

Now And Then - The latest in the series of "How much has it changed since we filmed Doctor Who there?" gives us an overview of what became Auderly House, and the tunnel, to see what, if anything, has changed. Toby Hadoke narrates the short piece.

The UNIT Family: Part Two - In the second part of this series, we get to see the strong "family" that was UNIT. Featuring contributions from the three UNIT regulars (including the much missed Nicholas Courtney), as well as Barry Letts, Katy Manning, and Derek Ware amongst others, this goes a long way to explaining the logic and thought into giving the Third Doctor a decent backup team. It also has some rather entertaining admissions and anecdotes from the cast and crew, which endears it no end to the viewer - Richard Franklin in particular being remarkably entertaining and witty.

The UNIT Dating Conundrum - Apparently, there are some people in fandom who want to know the dates/time frame of UNIT's involvement in Doctor Who. Why they would want to know such a thing is a matter for discussion somewhere else, but in case you are one of those people, Toby Hadoke tries to piece it all together using the very few dates there are to go on. Terrance Dicks, Ben Aaronovitch, and Dave Owen don't help at all, and by the end of it poor Toby is being carted off in one of those special dinner jackets with the wrap around arms.

The Cheating Memory - Steve Broster goes on a journey to try and find out why Day of the Daleks was so different in reality from the memory of his six year old self. A fascinating extra, with input from a psychologist as well as the usual talking heads featured on this DVD; namely Nicholas Briggs and Ben Aaronovitch. It is something that most Doctor Who fans can relate to, having memories of something being insanely epic, scary, and frightening when you were little, only to watch it again and feel yourself deflate as the second viewing doesn't live up to your memories of the first. A wonderfully worthwhile piece, and very enlightening.

Day of the Daleks: Special Edition is a masterpiece. With both the original and the frankly amazing redux of the story on the release, it's bound to keep all parties happy. The new version is simply stunning, and well worth the time, money and effort spent on the release. This is a must buy, a simply-cannot-miss DVD, and bears repeated watching to find just what's been changed and updated. It's not all CGI Dalek rays, there's some very subtle tiny touches as well that make the release even more enjoyable when you discover them.

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16 July 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Holmes

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 1st August 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th July 2011

The Doctor (Tom Baker) lands the ever unreliable TARDIS on Pluto, a dwarf planet on the outermost reaches of our solar system, where he finds it isn't the cold, barren, lifeless rock he was expecting. Someone's been very busy; Pluto now has a breathable atmosphere, it's warm and very humid, and has six suns. It also has an overly efficient taxation system, oppressed work units who live underground, and public executions. Can the Time Lord, Leela (Louise Jameson), and a small robot dog free the people and bring down the sinister Collector and his Internal Retinue? This single disc release from the BBC and 2|Entertain will let you find out... all praise the Company!

The Sun Makers is an enjoyably daft romp; a satire on taxation and bureaucracy. Two characters steal the show from start to finish; Leela, as played by fan favourite Louise Jameson, and Henry Woolf's delightfully odious and fiscally-obsessed Collector. Leela has all the best heroic lines - including a beautifully withering put-down of the less than brave rebels - and The Collector has all the best villainous lines, backed up with a characterisation that's hard not to warm to. It's all small fry by Whoniverse standards, and isn't an especially memorable story for plot reasons, but it's diverting and fun. The K-9 prop is so noisy it's untrue, the TARDIS door doesn't want to lock, and The Doctor no longer knows what a jelly baby looks like.

Annoyingly, the DVD is let down by a lack of decent extras, with only a few things holding the interest for any length of time; mostly because the rest of the extras are very, very short.

Commentary - This time, the commentary boasts both main cast members sitting in as both Tom Baker and Louise Jameson join Michael Keating and The Sun Makers director Pennant Roberts to talk about the story, the production and life during and after Doctor Who. Tom is always great fun to listen to, and teamed up with Louise again, the commentary provided is both entertaining and informative.

Running From The Tax Man - Louise Jameson is one of those people you instantly adore. She's very gentle and calm, witty and warm. She's also honest - but in a nice way that doesn't tread on people's toes. She's easily the best reason to watch this retrospective of The Sun Makers, and she reveals why this story above any other is her particular favourite. Also in the mini-documentary discussing the story are Michael Keating, (best known as "Vila" from "Blake's 7"), director Pennant Roberts, and an astronomer and a historian have been drafted in as well, partially to explain about Pluto and it's new status as a dwarf planet rather than a planet. It's an odd extra as it seems to repeat the same information several times, especially when it comes to the astronomy parts; but it's entertaining enough for that.

Outtakes - Citizen Cordo's gun fails to go off twice...No, really, that's it. Hardly an interesting or justifiable extra in itself, but would have been better used hidden away as an Easter Egg on the DVD, perhaps.

Trailer - The original BBC1 trailer for The Sun Makers.  Again, nothing else, just the one trailer.

The Doctor's Composer: Part Two - The second and final part of the series on one of Doctor Who's most prolific composers, the fantastic Dudley Simpson. This segment concentrates on his Doctor Who work from the seventies with the man himself talking us through much of his work and utilising many examples of his famous compositions through a wealth of clips. It's a delight to watch, as you try and figure out which music came from what story. A nice piece, with a genuine affection for one of Doctor Who's often unsung but most deserving behind the scenes heroes. This brilliant featurette gives a warm nostalgic glow and it's hard not to be drawn down memory lane for an enjoyably exciting jaunt.

Coming Soon Trailer - This one will blow your socks off. The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning) team up with UNIT to help save a peace conference being hosted by Sir Reginald Styles. However, those tinpot terrors The Daleks have other ideas... With new Dalek voices, and a wealth of new special effects and CGI, the Day of the Daleks Special Edition is out in September.

With the usual Photo Gallery of production and publicity stills, the Radio Times Listings in PDF format, and Subtitles available for those who might need them, and the usual information text on hand with trivia and viewing figures, The Sun Makers is a worthy enough story, rather badly supported by the extras available on the disc, and it all feels a bit empty as a result.

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23 June 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Stephen Wyatt

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 18th July 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd June 2011

Mel, as played by Bonnie Langford, wants to go for a 453 appendix 1 subsection 6 swim. If this were everyday drama, she would, and that would be that. However this is Doctor Who and things rarely go according to any sort of plan the main characters have, in this 1987 story, remastered and released on this single disc DVD from the BBC / 2|Entertain team of Caretakers.

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) pilots the TARDIS to Paradise Towers - a "remarkable architectural achievment" promising a clean, lovely, comfortable living experience, and with a swimming pool on the roof.  Accordingly, Mel can paddle whilst the Time Lord can have a (512 appendix 2 subsection 9) look around and investigate things. However upon exiting the now materialised time machine they discover a much different world of uncared for spaces, unexplained disappearances, and unfriendly inhabitants in all shapes and sizes… and something truly horrific in the basement.

Paradise Towers is one of those stories that you may remember as being not terribly good; but happily it's not the case at all. Despite a few cases of acting so wooden it puts the section 9/41, subsection 12c props to shame, it's a clever tale of high-rise horror and society meltdown in a confined area. It manages to feel tight and claustrophobic, and the script and wordplay used are first rate. Cleaned up and remastered in a way the Towers never were, this first season McCoy story manages to succeed on many levels - probably due to the Kangs pressing the buttons for all the floors on the alleviator again..

The special features on this release are well thought out and worthy of a 178 appendix 13 subsection 7 round of applause:

Horror on the High Rise - Mark Ayres takes a look at the making of the story, with contributions from writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel, incidental music composers Keff McCulloch and David Snell, and actors Richard Briers, Catherine Cusack, and Howard Cooke. Clever, insightful and revealing, it shows the story's roots, along with the strengths and weaknesses of the tale.  Entertaining and informative, with some accurate and amusing views on the way some of the actors chose to protray their characters.

Girls! Girls! Girls!: The Eighties - Presented by Doctor Who stalwart Peter Purves, this riotously funny and entertaining featurette has Sophie Aldred, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding discussing the highs and lows, the trials and tribulations, and the ins and outs of being a Doctor Who assistant. Fielding especially is brilliantly funny, her acidic humour never crossing the line into nastiness, but still demonstrating some of the slightly less eviable things the 80s female companions were expected to put up with, from high fabshion disasters to stereotyping after leaving the show. Defintely a winner, and a team that should be assembled again to discuss all things Who.

Deleted and Extended Scenes - From the first edit of the story, some trims and edited sequences that never made the transmitted version of the show; and there are some very good scenes in there too.

Audio Options - Not only does this DVD have the usual available 304 subsection 12 commentary, hosted by Mark Ayres again, with Judy Cornwell, Stephen Wyatt and Dick Mills, it also has something of a rarity - an entire second incidental music score.

The original score by David Snell was vetoed by showrunner John Nathan-Turner back in the day, and Keff McCulloch was commissioned to do a very quick replacement.  Both of these versions are available on the DVD, with Snell's score in particular giving a dark, more menacing feel to the story.  

Continuity - The linking announcements for the BBC1 transmission, together with plugs for some of the Doctor Who VHS tapes avaialbe at the time.  Notable for an announcer getting the name of one story wrong, and for one link cutting off a mere second before being exposed to the "hilarity" that was "Hi-De-Hi".

Casting Sylvester - A very short piece from Clive Doig explaining his working relationshop with Sylvester McCoy and how he helped with Sylvester being chosen to play the seventh incarnation of The Doctor.

Coming Soon Trailer - The Coming Soon section itself has had a 915 appendinx 8 subsection 2 makeover. Gone is the vworping TARDIS, and in it's place is a slick little end sequence after a great trailer for the next release.

The TARDIS arrives on Pluto, to find Citizen Cordo about to take a header off the roof as he can't pay the taxes levied by Gatherer Hade and a small venomous leech called "The Collector".  Can the Fourth Doctor, Leela and K-9 lead a work unit revolution, or has the Time Lord's life expectancy overdrawn? The Sunmakers DVD is out in August.

With the usual Photo Gallery, Radio Times listings, Subtitles for those who may need them and the Production Notes and Info Text giving you facts and trivia along the way, Paradise Towers is an enjoyable Doctor Who story well worth watching again, on pain of a 327 appendix 3 subsection 9 death.

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16 June 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Donald Cotton & Eric Pringle

RRP: £30.63

Release Date: 20th June 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th June 2011

The Gunfighters

Disc One of the EarthStory double release from the BBC and 2|Entertain is this 1966 adventure, in which the TARDIS materialises in Tombstone, Arizona; so The Doctor can find a dentist.  Unfortunately, the dentist is one Doc Holliday and not far behind him are the Clanton brothers, Wyatt Earp, and Johnny Ringo.  It's time for the gunfight at the OK Corrall...

The Gunfighters is a very difficult story to judge. The series regulars all put in smashing performances - Hartnell in particular having some great moments and lines; his constant renaming of Wyatt Earp to "Mr Werp" is guaranteed to raise a smile, and his reaction to his introduction to the Clanton brothers is simply priceless. The rest of the story is actually fairly enjoyable if a little pedestrian; and boasts some nifty camerawork and ideas, and, for a 1960s television serial, a great set with a great cast inhabiting it. Marred only by the incessant caterwauling of "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloo n" at every given opportunity. It's a very different view of how historical events played out, with large portions of the show seemingly lifted from a number of Western films, but it's no less enjoyable for that.

As usual, the DVD version has been cleaned up considerably, and the qual ity of the presented material is top rate.  The DVD also has some great extras, although it is sadly lacking a mute function to save you from the constant high pitched wailing of Lynda Baron singing that wretched ballad.

The End of the Line - An honest, truthful and sometimes uncomfortable documentary about the end of William Hartnell's time as the First Doctor.  Fascinating to watch, it's a tale of constantly changing writers and editors, forced cast changes and Bill Hartnell's deteriorating health as ateriosclerosis took a toll.  With contributions from Donald Tosh, Maureen O'Brien, Peter Purves and Anneke Wills, "End of the Line" shows just how much of a complete slog it was getting Doctor Who out every week on an almost impossibly long production run.  

If you're a strong fan of William Hartnell it can be a tad unsettling to listen to the less than glowing remarks made of his irascibilty due to illness, but happily Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves share the other side of the original Time Lord, a deeply passionate and caring man who was very protective of the show itself.  It also sheds a somewhat harsh, if truthful, light on Vicki and Dodo's departures from Doctor Who and just how much of an impact The Daleks had on the production of the show.

Tomorrow's Times - Mary Tamm adds a great deal of effortless glamour to the First Doctor edition of "Tomorrow's Times", which shows the the brief flirtation the British Press (notably the Daily Mail) had with Daleks and the earlier days of Doctor Who.  Very reminiscent of an episode of Points of View in styling, this fun little extra begins the story - already continued on other DVDs for other eras of the show - of the love-hate relationship between journalists and The Doctor and his trusty TARDIS.

Commentary - Toby Hadoke sits in the captain's chair once more; as Peter Purves, Shane Rimmer, David Graham, Richard Beale, and production assistant at the time Tristan de Vere Cole talk us through The Gunfighters.  Always fascinating to listen to anecdotes and gems from a production made forty five years ago, this entertaining and useful extra on the DVD serves double duty; as switching on the commentary drowns out a great deal of the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon.

Photo Gallery - An amazing selection of vintage photographs of the set, cast, and production of The Gunfighters.  The photo's have been cleaned up amazingly and there's some glorious views of the whole, from the TARDIS sans lamp to the camera tower erected in the middle of the studio to give some innovative camera angles to the production.  Set to the full length version of The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon.  Brilliant if you know where the mute button is.

Coming Soon Trailer - The death of Caretaker 345/12 Subsection B informs us that the TARDIS will soon be arriving at Paradise Towers, home of the Kangs, the Rezzies, and Pex (who puts the world of Paradise Towers to rights...).  There's something nasty and very hungry in the basement... and on most other floors of the high rise building as well. Can The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) find their way to the swimming pool without being put to a 327 appendix 3 subsection 9 death?

The Gunfighters DVD also has the listings from the Radio Times in PDF format, subtitles available, and the usual production notes are also included.  

A great package and well worth watching for some excellent performances and moments of genuinely funny comedy in a competent and well made Who story; if you can get past the singing.

The Awakening

In the second of the 2|Entertain / BBC two disc DVD release EarthStory, the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arrive in Little Hodcombe to visit Andrew Verney the local historian - also Tegan's grandfather. However something's affecting the locals and their re-enactment of the local War Games is getting rather too realistic...

The Awakening is a short, punchy story that's a deserved fan favourite in the history of Classic Who. The cast are superb, the locations and sets stunning, and The Malus is one of the most memorable Doctor Who monsters for several reasons; notably because it works so well and it really does look creepy. Everything from the incidental music to the costumes seem to fit together seamlessly, and make a thoroughly enjoyable two part adventure.

Stealing the show are Polly James as Jane, and Keith Jayne as Will Chandler, both of whom work so well in the story. Jane is the single voice of reason before The Doctor arrives, and Will is simply one of the most endearing and innocent supporting characters in Who's long history. And of course, The Awakening does have one of the most iconic monsters on hand in the shape of the Malus - even more remarkable when you consider it was only onscreen for a couple of minutes in total.

The DVD release also has a number of very well thought out and produced extras that seem to exude a warm, happy glow about the story; and as always, sound and vision throughout the DVD are crisp and bright.

Return to Little Hodcombe - A twenty minute look at the area, as Little Hodcombe was a gestalt of three villages, with the director Michael Owen Morris, script editor Eric Saward, and Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Keith Jayne (Will). From the outset of this piece, Morris brings senses of warmth and fondness to proceedings that are hard to ignore. He obviously enjoys his work - both on Doctor Who and his other projects - and it clearly shows.  

There's some fun snippets of locals talking about when Doctor Who came to their village, an event that still seems to be a subject of local pride, and Janet Fielding remembers the cast being quite protective of the new director on his first TV work. Keith Jayne discusses Will Chandler, and Eric Saward chimes in on how the story was re-written and whether Will would have made a good addition to the TARDIS crew. A nice sweet old lady tells us about lame horses on set, and her husband tells us how to spot Doctor Who fans on location...

Making the Malus - A fun look at the giant face in the wall, with designer Tony Harding and model-maker Richard Gregory.  A short piece on how the Malus was conceived and built, with a rare look behind the face to see how the different parts of the monster were controlled.  To finish, there's a short interview with Paul Burrows who bought the Malus at auction and what happens when utilites workmen find giant stone monsters mounted on your living room wall...  Another fun and entertaining short, and again, with some warmth and affection for the subject matter leaving you with a very positive feeling.

Commentary - Toby Hadoke once again chairs the commentary team, this time with director Michael Owen Morris and Eric Saward as their share knowledge and opinions of the serial as an audio option on the DVD. Again, Morris' obvious fondness for his work shows through easily and keeps the mood light.

Now & Then - The three villages used as locations in The Awakening are revisited to find that not a lot has changed. There's still thatched cottages and farm buildings, and there's still a ford across the road, even if it is now somewhat waterless...  clips and photographs are used effectively, and the linking narration fills in any blanks nicely.  

From the Cutting Room Floor - Some extended and deleted scenes from the story, including an appearance by Kamelion. There's also some of the film rushes from the location shoots, and some timecoded VHS sequences that were trimmed.

The Golden Egg Awards - Taken from another BBC1 staple of the time, this excerpt from The Late Late Breakfast Show hosted by Noel Edmonds shows the now infamous outtake featuring a horse, a cart, and a prop lychgate being unexpectedly demolished.  Peter Davison is on hand to collect the trophy from Noel Edmonds.

Isolated Music - The Awakening has some excellent incidental music, and this option of the DVD gives you a chance to view the story with the isolated music score. Well worth a listen if you're a fan of the somewhat under-appreciated composers on Classic Doctor Who.

As usual, the DVD also features a photo gallery of production and publicity shots, the Radio Times listings from the story in PDF format, subtitles for those that may need them, and the Production Notes Info Text available to have onscreen as the story plays out.

The Awakening is a great addition to Classic Doctor Who on DVD, and if you're a fan then the EarthStory DVD set is a must-have for your collection.

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18 April 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Christopher H. Bidmead

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 30th May 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for D octor Who Online

Review Posted: 18th April 2011

Let's get something straight and out in the open right from the outset...  There is a type of creature that is made scarier by making it larger.  In Doctor Who's long history, they would be giant maggots and giant spiders.  They work with an already present fear or revulsion of the creatures to produce a memorably scary Doctor Who monster.  In the not scary bracket are giant ants and butterflies (the Zarbi and Menoptera from 1965's "The Web Planet")... and woodlice.  Woodlice are not scary.  Not even remotely.

Frontios is a polarised story.  Some parts of it work brilliantly, and some parts of it really don't; and this new BBC / 2|Entertain DVD showcases both these aspects and examines them in the special features on the single disc release.

Starting with the story itself, Frontios is a fairly low budget studio bound Doctor Who, coming towards the end of Peter Davison's tenure as The Doctor.  The regular cast continue to shine, with Davison and Janet Fielding especially stealing every scene they're in; and there are some brilliant guest stars in Jeff Rawle as Plantagenet and Lesley Dunlop in the role of Norna.  There are some great lines and jokes along the way, and the Doctor is in one of those "grouchy professor" moods that suited his young persona so very well.  

Sadly for Frontios, that's about where the good ends.  The sets - although you can see an awful lot of effort and thought went into them - don't work in convincing that the studio is the surface of an alien planet, some of the performances really aren't great, and then there's the Tractators.  Giant flapping woodlice that fail in just about every way possible to be even remotely thrilling.

This story will be remembered for two main reasons; firstly this is the one where the previously indestructible TARDIS was destroyed (albeit briefly!), and secondly for the unpleasant infestation of some particularly large  and rubbish woodlice that hung around for two (and a bit) episodes.  Its failures certainly aren't for the lack of trying: the direction, the handling and the production all work well with what they've got.  However it looks cheap and rushed and all a little too hurried to carry off what still wouldn't have been a great story with a budget ten times larger.

It is also worth noting that several of the concepts shown in this story (the colonists being pulled down through the ground, and witnesses referring to this as the Earth being hungry) were re-used and utilised to much better effect in the 2010 series of Doctor Who, in the Silurian episode "The Hungry Earth"... now where did they get that title from?

Special Features:

Driven To Distractation - There are many reasons to love this half hour featurette; it has a lot of frank honesty, a lot of humour, and gives a robust defence of the story itself.  It almost succeeds in making you like the story more.  Almost.  What it definitely succeeds at is showing the rush-job that the Doctor Who cast and crew faced to get the story in the can, in the face of several tragedies and setbacks; and it shows the thought processes behind the writing of the serial.  It's nicely put together, uses relevant footage from the time and is decidedly non-judgemental and supportive in what comes across in quite a sweet way.  The writers and stars do admit where there were mistakes made, and it's very brave of them to do so, even if Christopher H. Bidmead neatly places the blame on everyone but himself.

Extra / Deleted Scenes - Minor trims and one or two scenes that play rather well but didn't make it into the final cut of the programme.  There's a brilliant bit about the Doctor's spectacles, and Tegan being an android that really should have been aired; they're funny, clever, and give Tegan and the Doctor some great lines.

Commentary - Peter Davison, Jeff Rawle, Dick Mills and Eric Saward sit around a red table and give opinions, anecdotes, memories and an overall view of how the show holds up for them twenty seven years on.  It's all quite pleasant and jovial and Rawle and Mills especially give some new angles on how the guest stars, and the "special sound" on Doctor Who were used.

Info Text - The usual trivia packed information is available on this disc as well, although most of it seems obsessed in pointing out where anything over two seconds of cuts were made to trim episodes down from over running.  It also points out a couple of continuity errors and the careers and times of the guests stars that appeared in Frontios.

Coming Soon Trailer - The next absurdly themed boxed set: Earthstory, in which William Hartnell's Doctor lands in Tombstone in search of a dentist and gets rather caught up with "The Gunfighters", and Peter Davison's Doctor lands in Little Hodcombe and discovers a centuries old evil lurking in the local church in "The Awakening".

With the usual fripperies as well, such as the Radio Times PDF files, and the Photo Gallery from Frontios, these features help buoy a story that's not as strong as it might have been; however it's certainly not for the lack of trying.

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16 April 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Holmes

RRP: £30.63

Release Date: 9th May 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th April 2011

The Classic Series Auton stories get a paired release in this two disc set from the BBC / 2|Entertain.

Spearhead from Space: Special Edition

Starting off the Third Doctor's era is Spearhead From Space; and with the show now in colour and set on Earth in contemporary Britain, the whole feel of the programme changes radically.

As with previous older releases, it looks like the recording has been cleaned up considerably, and the print is fresh, sharp, and looking and sounding first class.  Spearhead from Space also benefits from being on location and film, as opposed to the studio based scenes and with the usual videotape recordings.  The story looks more expensive and runs more smoothly as a result.

A swarm of meteorites land on Earth drawing attention from UNIT and a new and deadly alien menace emerges; and at the same time an old blue Police Box lands in the middle of Oxley Woods, and a strange man with an odd metabolism emerges and passes out...

Featuring an amazing debut from the unstoppably charismatic Jon Pertwee, a perfectly pitched and suitably sceptical Liz Shaw arriving on the scene with Hugh Burden being amazingly creepy as the not-quite-what-he-seems Channing.  Also missing shoes, overly sticky blood platelets, and a Hoover 913 Commercial...

The Spearhead from Space Special Features focus, understandably, on the changes that Doctor Who as a programme was going through.

Special Features:

Down To Earth - A clever look at the problems facing the show at the end of the Troughton era, how it narrowly avoided being cancelled, and how a new team in front of and behind the camera and the advent of colour television turned the show's fortunes around.  It's easy to see the level on love and passion for Doctor Who here, especially from Terrance Dicks and the late - and much missed - Barry Letts.  A smart set up to keep the narrative flowing, Down To Earth works very well indeed.

Regenerations - A closer look at the introduction of colour and how it affected Doctor Who.  From colour test transmissions to getting round the tricky problem that colour cameras didn't replicate the show's "howlaround" title sequence effects, this enlightening little documentary demonstrates all the changes behind the scenes that the entertained Who viewer never knew anything about.  

UNIT Recruitment Film - Serving as a timely, if unintended tribute to the recently deceased Nicholas Courtney, this spoof film about the life of a soldier in UNIT now mixes the humour with a twinge of sadness.  Narrated by Adam Woodyatt (EastEnders' Ian Beale) and the aforementioned Brigadier himself, it's a short, warm tribute to the Earth-bound Pertwee years with the UNIT family.

Trailers - The BBC Two trails for the mid 1990s repeats for Spearhead From Space, and one for BBC Two's Doctor Who Night; the latter featuring a traumatised child on the sofa and evil possessed goldfish.  Fun fluff, if nothing else, good for raising a smile.

Commentaries - With this release there are two commentaries available, one with Caroline John (Liz Shaw, who debuts in this story) and Nicholas Courtney, and one with story producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks

Trailer - The TARDIS, with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough on board, is heading for a rather bumpy arrival on the planet Frontios.

Terror of the Autons:

It's the return of the Plastic People!  In a story with another few firsts, smart and sassy Liz Shaw has been replaced by small and screaming Jo Grant (Katy Manning), as Terror of the Autons heralds the debut of one of Doctor Who's major player villains; the only person who's managed to cause the Doctor to regenerate not once but twice... fellow Time Lord and all round bad egg; The Master.  Here played by the absolutely glorious Roger Delgado, this incarnation was impeccably mannered, unstoppably suave... and as black hearted as they come.  UNIT has also expanded with Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) on the crew, and there's some memorably monstrous moments from the Nestenes causing pandemonium once more.

Doctor Who stalwart (and later to be Davros), Michael Wisher puts in a great performance alongside the major cast members, but the scenes are stolen by the ingenious ways in which the writers came up with to kill people... notably scarily faceless Policemen and murderous clammy black plastic sofas…

In a step beyond its coloured VHS release, the BBC / 2|Entertain release has been fully restored so the colour looks a lot more natural this time around.  Again the restoration looks pin sharp, with top quality sound and visuals.  The story justifies the amount of love and attention given to the release, and it's all top quality entertainment paired with its earlier Auton outing.

Special Features:

Life On Earth - Another, wider look at Doctor Who being set on Earth and its implications.  This time around there's talk around the newer, post-2005 Doctor Who as well as the influences and origins of the Russell T. Davies era Autons.  It's a very interesting and entertaining documentary, with a really clever visual style, some really honest interviews, and again, it all goes to show the level of commitment shown to Doctor Who past and present.

The Doctor's Moriarty - A look at The Master, who turns up to meddle in the Doctor's affairs for the very first time in this story.  Quite naturally this little retrospective focusses mostly on Roger Delgado's era of The Master, but mention is made of the Master's later incarnations as well, right up to John Simm's recent outings as the character.  A decent featurette looking at the origins of the character, uses and overuses, and what made Roger Delgado so good as the Doctor's Nemesis.

Plastic Fantastic - A short look at the Autons, their creation, uses and the society they were unleashed upon, with writers and historians shedding some light on the Nestenes' favourite substance to inhabit. 

With a highly entertaining Commentary from Barry Letts, Nicholas Courtney and Katy Manning, the usual info text option to divulge trivia, audience figures and bloopers and the same Coming Soon Trailer for Frontios, this rounds off an appallingly titled, but absolutely stunning Auton double feature that should feature in anyone's collection.  Brilliant.

just remember DVDs are made of plastic... 

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20 March 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Sloman and Barry Letts

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 18th April 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 20th March 2011

The epic, six part conclusion to Jon Pertwee's era of Doctor Who arrives with this double disc DVD from BBC DVD / 2|Entertain.  Disc one is the episodic version of Planet of the Spiders, complete with an optional commentary from Elisabeth Sladen, Richard Franklin and the now sadly passed away and much loved and missed Nicholas Courtney. All the info usual text is available and it's a great romp; one hundred and fifty minutes of classic science fantasy television.  The giant spiders of Metebelis Three are after the blue crystal The Doctor removed from the planet back in The Green Death, and will stop at nothing to get it back in their webby little legs...

Pertwee's swansong adventure is a long, but very entertaining affair.  It features every form of transport you can think of, and even some dashing about in the TARDIS - something or a rarity for this incarnation of the Time Lord.  The UNIT family are all together one last time, and it's a celebration of the Third Doctor, and all handled in precisely the way that had made the first colour season of Doctor Who work so well.  It's fun, exciting and worth every second.  You'll never look at those big spiders in your bathroom the same way again...

On disc two there's the extras, and something quite surprising.  There's a really nicely put together look back over Pertwee's time as the Doctor, and an equally warm feature with Barry Letts looking back on his time with Doctor Who; both of which show just how much work and love went into the show from start to finish.  Both featurettes have contributions from a variety of sources, including Jon Pertwee, Terrance Dicks, and of course Barry Letts himself.  There are also some great anecdotes from people like Mat Irvine on the spider props and the lesson of telling people what you need in good time; and from John Kane, the immensely likeable and gentle Tommy in the story, on his memories of Who and what he's done since.

Then there's the longest television trailer ever for a repeat run of Planet of the Spiders shown as one long story on a Saturday afternoon in December on BBC1 - the trailer just rambles on and on and on, with clips upon clips; it looked like the BBC had a lot of time to fill that Christmas!

And then, the surprising thing is... they included the abridged story itself!  The unrestored and very long edited together version is here too for your enjoyment, which slightly mystifies me, as there's no extra material as there was with the Battlefield release for example, but if you're a completist it's all good for the collection.

The story gets 10/10 for being suitably epic and wrapping up the UNIT years with panache and style, and the extras get 10/10 for leaving you with a warm glow that Doctor Who was genuinely loved and cared for during Pertwee's tenure as the Time Lord.

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20 January 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 14th February 2011

Reviewed By: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 20th January 2011

Right from the off, The Ark is a story that grips the viewer, owing to the magnificent jungle set that gives us a sense of scale - not to mention the striking sight of the eventual villain, all within the first 60 seconds.

But all is not what it seems in this serial, that packs some shocking twists and suspenseful builds, to what turns out to be an incredibly intelligently constructed adventure.

The twist that comes at the end of Episode Two in particular is a direct example of the intelligence in the script. Throughout the first two episodes, the viewer simply accepts the fact that the Monoids are essentially slaves to the humans of the Ark. And only when the situation is flipped in Episode Three, do you suddenly realise the poignancy of this acceptance and how actions have consequences.

There are several morals within the story, but perhaps the most painstakingly obvious one is never time travel if you have a cold!

The DVD is rounded off with some connecting features that compliment the story.

The 'Commentary' is moderated by Toby Hadoke and features Peter Purves (Steven) & Michael Imison (Director). Toby does an excellent job of guiding the guests, of which both contribute evenly with some great stories and memories. One such story tells us how unaccommodating the BBC was to the Elephant (seen in Episode One) at the time, and how the director had to keep it in a van outside of his house, overnight.

'All's Wells That Ends Wells' looks at Doctor Who's connection to H.G. Wells, and the inspiration taken from his work. In particular looking at the similarities between The Ark, and H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Sleeper Awakes and The War of the Worlds. It includes interviews with Matthew Sweet (Historian & Writer), Kim Newman (Novelist & Critic), Dominic Sandbrook (Historian & Writer), Tony Keen (Research Associate, Open University) & Graham Sleight (Editor, "Foundation").

Even fans of Wells' work will be surprised at just how much influence he appears to have given to this story.

'One Hit Wonder' casts a light on why some Doctor Who monsters only appeared once, with a spotlight on The Monoids, in particular. The feature includes interviews with Jacqueline Rayner (Author), Dominic Sandbrook (Historian & Writer), Kim Newman (Novelist & Critic) & Matthew Sweet (Writer & Historian).

This feature could have been a little longer, perhaps focusing on some of the other 'one hit wonders' such as The Zygons, The Sensorites or The Axons.

'Riverside Story' is a 20-minute feature that looks at London's Riverside Studios; Doctor Who's temporary home from 1964-1968.

Presented by Matthew Sweet as he brings Peter Purves back to the location, we learn about some of the challenges that The Ark faced, not to mention, how to build a Jungle within a spaceship!

The documentary also features sit-down interviews with Peter Purves and Michael Imison (Director).

Apart from the main story itself, this documentary is the set piece in The Ark DVD, adding newfound respect for a building that was instrumental in one of Doctor Who's most important periods.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' is for the Mara Tales box-set. It's a terrific trailer, cut perfectly together with a slick soundtrack and CGI titles that will have you counting down the days until its release. The final spoken line in the trailer sums up the imminent release perfectly... "The Mara's waited a long time for this return, I think it plans to be spectacular".

As with previous releases, there are the usual 'Radio Times Billings', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Information Subtitles'.

Overall another solid release from 2|Entertain, with some excellent value added material. If the DVD could benefit from one thing, it would be a feature on the costume and make-up behind the visually stunning Monoids.

A more than worthwhile purchase for any fan of Doctor Who, H.G Wells or big wigs and one-eyed monsters!

19 January 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 10th January 2011

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 19th January 2011

Meglos, despite some of its negative points, is, in essence, a Doctor Who story that was before its time. It is a story that, at its heart, deals with the struggle between religion and science.

As a viewer, you can't help feeling a struggle off-screen as well. You almost feel the tug of war between the writers, the script editor and the director, as they fight it out to gain their own narrative. And what we're left with, through sheer luck, is a melding of the three, that essentially benefits the story in a way that no single party could have done on their own.

Once you get past the dodgy wigs, and the tiresome time loop scenes, there are many elements that make this a rather enjoyable story.

Tom Baker, nearing the end of his tenure as The Doctor, puts in a sterling performance as Meglos, not to mention the welcome return of Jacqueline Hill as Lexa who bookends her Doctor Who career here. 

Then there is the truly fantastic make-up which makes the characterisation of Meglos even more villainous and believable. There are also some great FX shots in the story, combined with highly detailed models, that work together using the new Scene Sync technology - yet another example of the story being ahead of its time.

The DVD is rounded off with some excellent features that compliment the story.

The 'Commentary' features Lalla Ward (Romana II), John Flanagan (Writer), Christopher Owen (Earthling / Meglos) and Paddy Kingsland (Composer). John and Lalla seem to take turns guiding, but understandably, Christopher Owen tends to get lost in the background, and doesn't really seem to contribute much until the final episode. Peter Howell (Composer) joins the commentary for Episode Three and offers an insight into some of his cues, as well as providing a refreshing critique to his own work. All in all, a fairly run of the mill commentary, that could have really benefited from Tom Baker's presence.

'Meglos Men'  is an 18-minute documentary that follows Writers; Andy McCulloch and John Flanagan as they retrace their steps into the past, into the genesis of Meglos. Checking out their old haunts, through to a modern-day meeting with Script Editor; Christopher H. Bidmead.

It's a fantastic little feature that is written, produced and directed by the fabulous Chris Chapman, who has risen the calibre of Doctor Who DVD documentaries to a whole new level.

'The Scene Sync Story' looks at how the pitfalls and limitations of Chroma Key gave way to research into the newly discovered Scene Sync technology - a process that ties two cameras together to pan in unison. 

The eye-opening documentary shows us how Meglos was a test run for the process, which has evolved and can now be seen in many modern day film and television productions. The feature includes Interviews with Peter Leverick and Roger Bunce (Cameramen) and Stephen Drewett (Visual Effects Designer).

'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' looks at the life of Doctor Who Actress, Jacqueline Hill (Barbara, Lexa). It's a wonderful tribute to the woman whom we all know from Doctor Who, but paints the wider, and to most of us, unknown picture of her life through to her untimely death. It was surprising to learn that Jacqueline was responsible for Sean Connery getting his first leading role, thanks to a suggestion to her Director husband, Alvin Rakoff. The feature includes interviews with William Russell (Actor), Verity Lambert (Producer), Alvin Rakoff (Director / Husband) and Ann Davies (Friend / Actress).

'Entropy Explained' is presented by Dr. Phillip Trowoga from the University of Westminster, and takes a scientific look at the running theme through Season 18 of Doctor Who - Entropy; the measure of disorder of a system. Picking through the laws of thermodynamics, it breaks down the technical speech into easy to understand explanations and situations.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' features The Mutants, and isn't as well put together as previous trailers, too many fast cuts and no real energy behind the trailer music leads to it failing to really sell the story.

As with previous releases, there are the usual 'Radio Times Billings', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Information Subtitles', as well as an 'Easter Egg' that gives us a clean version of the final Fourth Doctor title sequence.

The extra content that we have here, is certainly of a high quality, but going on past form, it does feel a little feature-light. It was surprising to find no feature on the stunning make-up that gave this story such a visual impact, and Tom Baker's involvement, apart from the story itself is non-existent - despite being a Baker-heavy serial.

It is most definitely worth its retail price, with both 'Meglos Men' and 'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' taking the main stage.


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.



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