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DVD Extras for Dr. Who With a Historical Twist - Special Edition
, February 24, 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Visitation (Special Edition) (DVD)
The Doctor plans to take Tegan home, to 1981 Heathrow, where she was on her way to interview for an airline attendant position before she made a detour onto the TARDIS. With impeccable skill, the Doctor lands at Heathrow's exact position. With typical misadventure, though, he lands them in 1666, not 1981. The Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric stroll through the woods outside the TARDIS, only to be attacked by masked men. Our heroes are temporarily rescued by a well-spoken rogue, who introduces himself, "A gentleman of the road, Madam. Richard Mace at your service."
Mace tells them that their attackers are normally law-abiding villagers. But the plague has hit, and strangers possibly carrying the pestilence are run off. The plague came on the heels of a blazing comet a few weeks before. "A portent of doom if ever I saw one," Mace tells them. "It's aurora barely faded from the sky before the first local case was reported."
The Doctor is puzzled, "They're not due for a comet for years."
We know more than the Doctor, though. In a prologue, we saw the comet split into two in the night sky. One part broke into bright fireworks. The other crashed to Earth, and shortly after, a nearby manor was attacked by a creature that couldn't be harmed by musket fire.
The foursome comes upon the same manor we saw in the prologue, and meet the Terileptil, an intelligent lizard-like biped with a robot servant and bracelets that allow him to control hapless humans.
The Doctor offers to take the Terileptil home, but he isn't interested. He offers to give the alien pointers on living with humans, but the lizard isn't interested in that either. To put it bluntly, the Terileptil and his two fellow crash survivors have no intention of cohabiting with humans. How is the Doctor going to stop them from practicing genocide on his favorite planet?
"The Visitation" first aired in February 1982 in 4 episodes. The story-line is not bad, and if you like Dr. Who's with a historical twist, you'll appreciate this one. What if the Doctor starts a fire in Pudding Lane? And what about those rats? I consider this an average serial. My opinion is influenced by my annoyance with the character of Tegan. Not even my affection for the pompous thespian-turned-highwayman, Richard Mace, can overcome that.
This is a review of the 2013 Special Edition, to be released on a two-disc DVD set in May 2013. "The Visitation" was originally released on DVD in 2004 (2005 for Region 1), on one disc. For the Special Edition, both picture and sound have been digitally remastered.
Extras on the Special Edition:
1. Commentary Track (from the 2004 DVD) Commentators are Peter Davison (5th Doctor), Peter Moffatt (director, not to be confused with the current writer/showrunner, Steven Moffat), Janet Fielding (plays Tegan), Sarah Sutton (plays Nyssa) and Matthew Waterhouse (plays Adric). Though not as rousing as some Who commentaries, this was fun to listen to. There is a lot of humor. As they discuss what was filmed 24 years before, the memories are described as "not flooding back" but "oozing back".
Waterhouse remembers Michael Robbins, who plays Richard Mace, constantly complaining about being reduced to playing on Dr. Who, in his opinion, "the worst job he ever had - a load of rubbish". That surprised me, because I thought Richard Mace must have been a fun character to play.
Bloopers: They talk about how impossible it would be to behead a kneeling man with a scythe, as shown in the village. But they don't mention what I think must be an earlier blooper. When the foursome first approach the manor house, doesn't the Doctor ring the 1666 doorbell before using the knocker?
2. "Grim Tales" (new, 45 minutes) In this documentary, Mark Strickson, who plays 5th Doctor companion Vislor Turlough (beginning with "Mawdryn Undead"), hosts Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton as they return to original filming locations. Also, other cast and crew members tell their memories of the story.
3. "The Television Centre of the Universe: Part One" (new, 32 minutes) Yvette Fielding, a presenter on the children's show, "Blue Peter", hosts a trip through the BBC Television Centre. Commentators include Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Janet Fielding, Neville Withers (film traffic supervisor), Sue Hedden (assistant floor manager), Carolyn Perry and Joan Stribling (makeup artists), and Richard Marson (BBC producer and writer).
4. "Doctor Forever! The Apocalypse Element" (new, 27 minutes) This is part 3 of the 5-part "Doctor Forever!" documentary. This part, introduced by Ayesha Antoine, looks at the world of Doctor Who on audio, especially those who kept the Who universe alive after the show's cancellation in 1989. Commentators include Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor), William Russell (actor), Lisa Bowerman (actor), Russell T Davies (Dr. Who executive producer/head writer 2005-2011), Jason Haigh-Ellery, Gary Russell and Nicholas Briggs (executive producers for "Big Finish"), David Richardson (producer for "Big Finish"), Steve Cole (BBC range editor), Mark Gatiss (plays Richard Lazarus in the 2008 episode, "The Lazarus Experiment", and who's also written for seven different televised Doctors), Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell, Joseph Lidster and Justin Richards (writers) and Michael Stevens (AudioGO commissioning editor).
[In a comment to this review I've added where you can find the other parts of Doctor Forever.]
5. "Film Trims" (2004, 6 minutes) This consists of unused takes or cut footage. The heroes' first meeting with Richard Mace took quite a few takes, as Robbins wasn't always spot on.
6. "Directing Who: Peter Moffatt" (2004, 26 minutes) This interview with Moffatt includes lots of clips from the six Dr. Who series he directed. His first turn as Who director was on Tom Baker's "State of Decay" (premiered 1980, a favorite episode of mine). He went on to direct "The Visitation" (1982), "Mawdryn Undead" (1983), "The Five Doctors" (1983), "The Twin Dilemma" (1984) and "The Two Doctors" (1985). Moffatt mentions the trivia that Peter Davison's real name is Peter Moffett, a one-letter difference.
7. "Writing A Final Visitation" (2004, 10 minutes) Eric Saward takes about the differences between his vision and script and what ended up on the screen. He and producer John Nathan-Turner agreed to get rid of the sonic screwdriver. And, Aha!, Saward gives us the reason for the sparkley glittered-up robot, whose decoration had puzzled me.
8. "Scoring The Visitation" (2004, 15 minutes) Composer Paddy Kingsland is interviewed by Mark Ayres. Kingsland composed the incidental music for eight Dr. Who series. "The Visitation" was his 6th, and his first after starting his own company. Ayres also composed for Dr. Who, and works with the restoration team at BBC.
9. Isolated Score (2004)
10. Subtitle Production Notes. BBC Dr. Who states that this extra is NEW, but the 2004 DVD does have an extra for watching the show with Information Text subtitles. It could be that they've redone the Info text.
I thought the original Info Text was good. It notes that the Doctor didn't get another sonic screwdriver until the 1996 TV movie with Paul McGann. In 1996, John Nathan-Turner said, "My feelings about this device were much the same as I had for K9.... It's all too convenient for the writers. The screwdriver can open any lock, except ones that the script editor, the producer or, indeed, some of the writers themselves, think should be excluded.... It had to go. I have no regrets."
10. PDF (new) Radio Times listings and BBC Sales Sheet
11. Photo Gallery (2004)
12. Coming Soon Trailer (new)
13. Easter Egg. From the main menu, press the left arrow button to highlight the Doctor Who logo in the top left corner. Select it and see continuity announcements.
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