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Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol (Story 153)

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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(May 08, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Doctor Who: Happiness Patrol, The

On the planet Terra Alpha, bright fluorescent lights and garish candy-striped colors abound. The population constantly displays happy smiles. There's no sadness on Terra Alpha. Anyone feeling remotely glum disappears. Quickly. Having heard disturbing rumors, the Doctor and Ace arrive to topple the entire regime overnight. But they haven't reckoned upon the varied punitive measures enforced by colony leader Helen A. There are many delicious ways in which to vanish on Terra Alpha: you can be hunted down by the omnipresent Happiness Patrol or mauled by Helen A's ravenous pet Fifi. But those especially unlucky few will find themselves entertained in the sweetie factory manned by Helen A's psychotic henchman… the Kandy Man. This time, Happiness will prevail.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Georgina Hale, David John Pope
  • Directors: Chris Clough
  • Writers: Graeme Curry
  • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007AAF1FW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,228 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

"The Happiness Patrol" comes from an unpopular and often-neglected era of Doctor Who -- the end of the original series, when ratings were poor and internal BBC support for the show was practically nonexistent. But in spite of all that, this is a pretty cool serial that deserves a charitable reassessment.

The basic premise is that the Doctor and his companion Ace arrive on a planet where sadness has been banned, and is punishable by death. The planet is ruled by the insane dictator Helen A, who is an obvious parody of Margaret Thatcher. (Amusingly, British journalists didn't notice the Thatcher parallel until 2010, when "The Happiness Patrol" was exhumed and re-examined by the media, and became briefly controversial.) Helen A's chief henchman is a robot, made of candy, who kills dissidents by drowning them in syrup.

Does all this sound a bit grotesque, perhaps even ridiculous? Well, it is ridiculous, of course. But for those who agree with the left-wing politics of this serial, and can enjoy its peculiar brand of dark humor, there is much to appreciate here. Indeed, I quite like the gutsy social commentary in the script, and I think it's still very relevant. Meanwhile, some of the serial's perceived weaknesses -- false-looking sets, over-the-top acting, and a general campy atmosphere -- become more acceptable, and perhaps even appropriate, when you view them through the lens of political satire.

As for the DVD itself, it's one of the best single-disc Doctor Who editions to come along in a while. It includes a making-of special that intelligently examines the serial's politics and production strengths/weaknesses, as well as an extensive collection of extended and deleted scenes (the highlight of which is a much better introduction scene for the character Susan Q).
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In the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who epsidoe entitled "The Happiness Patrol" The Doctor and Ace have come to the colony of Terra Alpha a colony set in the early days of the Earth great expnasion into the stars. What the Doctor doesn't know is the leader a woman known as Helen A has institued a no saddness policy within the colony. Anyone not smiling or even being happy is sentenced to death. With her all female sqauds known as the "Happiness Patrols" they enforce her rules on the colony. However force of arms is not the only thing at her disposal she also has her candy kitchen and within is the being called "The Candy Man" a being who loves to make sweets. Sweets that kill that is and of course when all else fails Helen A has her faithful pet Fifi a creature that only Helen A could love.
Meanwhile on the planet itself the Doctor encounters Trevor Sigma a Terrian census taker is on the colony to see the numbers of those on the planet are kept up and also to ensure that proceduers are kept up to regulation. A visting medical student who enjoys the harmonica and is trapped on Terra Alpha until he can find a way to escape and get back to Earth. Ace also meets a young happiness patrol memebr who wants nothing more then to be sad, but fears what would happen if the rest of her sqaud ever finds out the truth. Also strange beings seem to be watching from the shadows and seem to be waiting for something to happen.
Can the Doctor stop Helen A, her spies, the happiness patrols, The Candy Man and even Fifi and try to sort out the colony so no one has to keep smiling forever? Or will those that are on Terra Alpha live in the grip of fear if they show anything but happiness? So check out "The Happiness Patrol" to find out.
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This specific Doctor Who story was produced at a very difficult time for the show. The years in between the 1985 hiatus in the sixth doctor era to the cancellation of the show at the end of 1989.

After a mediocre 1st season for the seventh doctor, and the enirety of the sixth doctor era (although he is very underrated), the show started to find its path again in season 25. Remembrance of the Daleks, the premiere episode, was probably better than anything we had seen in 2 seasons. Silver Nemesis, the third story of the season, wasn't very good though. But it was better than anything in season 24. The final story, the Greatest Show in the Galaxy, was a pretty excellent story. And then there was The Happiness Patrol. And let me just say... it is the (second) most underrated serial in the history of the show!

The story has a dark, eerie feel to it. The plot itself is dark. If you aren't happy, you get killed quickly by the happiness patrol. Or get mauled by the leader of the happiness patrol, Helen A's, pet Fifi. Or, of course, there is the Kandy Kitchen where Helen A's psychotic henchman deals with you - The Kandy Man.

Many people hate the Kandy Man. And not just "oh, i don't like that villian" or "man, that villian is kind of stupid", I mean "$@!/, that was the worst thing to ever happen to Doctor Who!" And i just don't get it. I LOVE the Kandyman. So why all the hate for him? And why all the hate for this brilliant story?

Anyway, here's the list of the special features:

1. Audio Commentary by actors Sophie Aldred (Ace), writer Greame Curry, composer Dominic Glynn and director Chris Clough, moderated by Toby Hadoke.
2. Happiness Will Prevail (23 minutes) - Making of with Cast and Crew.
3. Deleted and Extended Scenes (23 minutes)
4.
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