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Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday (Story 118)

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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(Jan 06, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Doctor Who: Ep.118 - Four to Doomsday (DVD)

In "Four to Doomsday," Peter Davison's recently regenerated Fifth Doctor is burdened by the most irritating trio of companions in the history of the show (Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan) when the Tardis materializes inside a vast starship with a multiracial crew from Earth's distant past. Downloaded into computer chips are the memories of the 3 billion survivors of the Urbankan race, and the Earth is to be their new home. Meanwhile, Monarch, a giant green frog-thing, wants to travel back to the Big Bang to meet God, who he is convinced is himself.


Special Features

Commentary by actors Peter Davison (The Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Janet Fielding (Tegan), and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) with director John Black
Studio Recording: Peter Davison's first day as the Doctor
Saturday Night at the Mill: Bob Langley interviews Peter Davison
Theme music video
Photo gallery
Production note option
DVD-ROM features: Radio Times listings

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
  • Directors: John Black
  • Writers: Terence Dudley
  • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2009
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GJ4U50
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,507 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Not good enough to get five stars, but still pretty damn good. I think Peter Davison's Doctor was even better in this one than in a lot of his other stories. Don't get me wrong. I liked Davison's Doctor, but in this one in particular, he's just great. Better than in his premiere story. I think the reason why I like him better in this one is because he reminds me of a younger and more energetic Tom Baker. Much as he did in "Kinda", "The Visitation", "Earthshock", and "The Caves of Androzani". The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver more in this one, which is a nice thing to see considering that not long from now we won't see it again until the 1996 TV movie. And when they started using it in the new series, they used it way too much.

I haven't seen this one in a while, but that's just because I watched it so much when I first got it on VHS. It is a good one. The story is great. So are all the cliffhangers in it. The special effects are reasonably good, the spaceship was nice looking - both inside and out, lots of excitement, the music was great, and so was the acting. I recommend this one to anyone who has an interest in "Doctor Who". Oh, and by the way, Nyssa collapses at the end leaving you hanging. Let me tell you why she collapsed so you won't have to see the next story, which is not yet on DVD. She was just suffering from extreme exhaustion. She'll be fine.
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Like most classic Doctor Who stories I have seen them all about a dozen times. "Four to Doomsday" is never one that I bring up in conversations about Doctor Who. Regardless of that, each time another DVD comes out from the classic era I scarf it up.

The one thing I liked about this story was that the special effects were a bit above par for the classic series and the sets were awesome. On the one hand the story is typical Who fodder as it it focuses on a self-centered, patronizing, egotistical frogman called "Monarch" who thinks he's God and wants to take over the earth and turn everyone into obedient androids while harvesting earth's minerals for his own evil existence. It is ingenious in that Monarch has been taking round trips around the universe for eons, snatching up representatives of the human race every few thousand years in the hopes of transplanting them back on earth under his watchful eye. The Doctor, of course, sees through all of this and saves the day.

The story is important in that not only is it Peter Davison's first taped show (it was broadcast second) but it plants the seeds for the Davison era with his interaction with his companions and elements of action.

Where the DVD falls down is with the extras. Since I have seen all these stories many times I look forward to the extras. The extras include about a half-hour of raw video from Davison's first day of shooting, which got a bit redundant, a contempory TV interview with Davison in which he spends more time talking about his role on "All Creatures Great and Small" than as the Doctor, and a collection of promotional photographs. But since 2-Entertain is getting these things out more quickly than Warner Brothers did, they may be spending less time producing the extras.

As a longtime fan of the classic series this is still another fine addition to my collection.
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FOUR TO DOOMSDAY was Peter Davison's first studio recording as the Doctor, the general idea was to release shootings out of chronological order in order to give a new lead role as chance to present themselves to the public as already comfortable in their role. This does explain why Lalla Ward's debut performance as Romana in THE CREATURE FROM THE PIT (Story 106) was so horrifyingly awful compared to the previous two serials of the new season (Story 104 & 105). However, in an ironic twist, Davison's unsure but energetic debut performance in FOUR TO DOOMSDAY far outweighs his cringing and winging in his first released performance in CASTROVALA (Story 117).

Janet Fielding's role as Tegan, the brusque, "punchy", and often near hysterical "accidental tourist", continues to drag down the team of three companions; although to be fair, Mathew Waterhouse's role as the continually naïve and commonly unhelpful Aldric does little to help. Out of this mess, Sarah Sutton's perfect counterpart, yet sadly always scripted to be understated, Nyssa brings some relief.

The story itself is quite good and maintains itself as a cohesive whole in complete opposition of the next serial, KINDA (Story 119). Unsurprising since it is written by long time Dr. Who veteran, Terrance Dudley. Perhaps a bit too much time was spent focused on the "Recreation" performances than on the story as well as ridiculously long reprises at the beginning of each episode, but all that is purely producer John Nathan Turner's doing, a man who really brought a strange mixed-bag of great ideas and absurdly terrible ones to Dr. Who.
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Though many criticize this story as being weak, it isn't that bad compared to what comes, and it is as good or better than many stories before. While it isn't an exceptional story, it's good, solid serial adventure. Much of the charm comes from good acting, an unusual story for Who, and excellent direction. The corny component of repetitive dancing, over acting, and hysterics doesn't hurt it as much as the lack of such elements hurts dull Who stories before or since. An emotional component is necessary when stories become a "tale of two rooms".

I loved seeing this again after 20 years.

The real treat for me was hearing the cast/crew commentary track. Davison, Waterhouse, Fielding, and Sutton were a very good set of personalities to work together, and you can hear their ease and familiarity in the commentary. They don't take the show seriously and it provides a warm commentary, similar to an afternoon in Davison's living room with old friends. I love how these four seem to know so much about the show through all eras, including the recent series. Though technical commentary is much more satisfying, such amiable commentary is a good second best. John Black, the director, was on the track, but he was too often set back by the banter of the cast. Blame throwing never showed up, unlike many commentaries during the Nathan-Turner era.

It's a pity the DVD production didn't include the familiar "making of" documentary included with many of the more recent DVDs.
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