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Doctor Who: The Visitation (Story 120)

4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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(Mar 01, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An attempt to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport fails, and the Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions arrive in 1666 England in the darkest days of the Great Plague.


The Visitation is a routine adventure from Doctor Who's 19th season, beginning with Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor trying to return air hostess Tegan (Janet Fielding) to Heathrow Airport but materializing the TARDIS just as the Plague is ravaging 17th-century England. Three stranded Terileptils (humanoid-reptilian-fish hybrids in laughable costumes) are planning to wipe out humanity, while the local population have accepted the invader's puzzlingly camp robot for the Grim Reaper incarnate. There's much running around, being imprisoned, and escaping again, but little substance in the story other than a return to the original series concept of tying the plot to elements of real history. Trying to find something for all the companions to do stretches the material thin, with the best entertainment coming from Michael Robbins's memorable turn as Richard Mace, an out-of-work actor turned charmingly genial highwayman. The "surprise" ending is predictable, Matthew Waterhouse's Adric as earnestly tiresome as ever and Tegan still tediously grumpy. Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is left too long building a sonic weapon that can vibrate a robot to pieces but doesn't harm the TARDIS or herself, yet Davison goes a long way to redeeming the tale with a charismatic intensity the yarn just doesn't deserve. --Gary S. Dalkin

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interviews
  • Music Only Track
  • Photo gallery
  • Production Notes

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Peter Davison, Mathew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Michael Robbins
    • Directors: Peter Moffatt
    • Writers: Eric Saward
    • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
    • Language: English (Stereo)
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
    • Run Time: 95 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0006J28OG
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Tinfoot TOP 50 REVIEWER on August 28, 2014
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    A rather fun adventure that follows a more traditional formula, which after the various plot boggling, brain baffling, metaphysical huzzawhats? of this first season with Peter Davison, it's quite refreshing and fun, harkening back to the 4th Doctor's adventures. I remember this serial from my youth although what stuck out was... of course... the "glam rock" robot! LOL

    The supporting cast is generally quite good. The opening, long wind-up segment is especially poignant and works as a honest-to-goodness hook for the rest of the story. And for those who can appreciate such subtly, Michael Melia, in the full rubber attire of the baddie Terileptil, gives a very credible performance, conveying emotive impressions in spite of being, well, in a full body rubber suit! Unfortunately, Michael Robbins, a veteran actor who plays itinerant thespian and occasional highwayman Richard Mace, is obviously not fully engaged in the role, missing cues and half-heartedly giving his lines, still an entertaining character, but never gets it's full potential displayed. Nor are the villagers as particularly ominous as they should be. As for the big plot hole... hah! Well, we just have to brush that off like so many others, I suppose, imagining the Doctor takes the quick jaunt to take care of it. At least it's not like the FACE OF EVIL (Story 89) where the plot hole is already fait accompli. :P

    Still, a worthy addition that shines quite brightly when considering future adventures, like the season finale TIME FLIGHT (Story 123) and the following second Davison season. Ugh.
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    Format: DVD
    The Doctor arrives at Heathrow Airport, only it's a few centuries too early, have the TARDIS and crew materializing just as the Plague is ravaging England. As the mystery unfolds, we learn that stranded reptilian-aliens, who are also escaped convicts, are accelerating the Plague in a typical half-baked fashion. As the newly regenerated 5th Doctor, played here by young Peter Davison, joins forces with Richard Mace, an actor turned highwayman. Keeping in the classic mold of the series, there is lots of running, capture, escape and escaping again, but very little story to tie up the historical elements.

    Significant story points: THE DEATH of the SONIC SCREWDRIVER

    (don't worry kids, it'll be back, check out the new season one DVDs in July)

    With so many companions in the TARDIS a common flaw with the first Davison season is trying to find something for everyone to do, this is partly why Nyssa ends up in the TARDIS on a superfluous tech detail. Inspite of this I am still disappointed when Michael Robbins's Richard Mace remains behind, rather than add another mouth the feed (in the dialogue sense). The costumes are awkward, but performances bridge the gap. Locations are ok here and Peter Davison is so charming on screen that this below average concept becomes a very watchable piece of Dr. Who history. Unfortunately, Davison is less charismatic on the DVD commentary, filled with pauses and no real revelations, making for a is a less than interesting extra.
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    A refreshing script filled with engaging, well written and well acted characters, with a simple and straightforward plot that's refreshingly novel in its use of aliens attempting to conquer Earth and commit genocide in the process. And the production is top-rate, rushing nothing and being properly paced. There are even some nice period pieces that, in their own arcane way, are educational. What more could one ask for?

    What's not to like? Even the story's most glaring oversight is EASILY forgiven, given the weight and credibility this story otherwise carries. Eric Saward's first script is stellar (and his subsequent "Earthshock" is also very effective). (that oversight? Nyssa suggests historians will be baffled if they discover any strewn power packs (which are smaller than the size of a pill bottle). Yet the Tereleptils' escape pod never got dealt with and is rather easier to find, thanks to its size. But, again, the story makes it easy to overlook that.)

    Best of all are the one-liners and jibes each character makes at apropos moments during the story; it's the quality and quantity of dialogue that sets this story (nevermind the series "Doctor Who") from any given sci-fi drivel produced today, let alone back then.

    As usual, the restoration work never ceases to impress and, indeed, for a single layer disc the transfer looks very good indeed. (UK customers are treated with dual-layer discs and, as such, get much better looking copies, but the US releases have generally been quite passable too.)

    And the sound is, as usual, superlative.

    And there's a slew of extras: An isolated soundtrack of the music score, which only made me happy.
    Read more ›
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    Format: VHS Tape
    A marvelous psuedo-historical! One of Eric Saward's best scripts. Michael Robbins as Richard Mace shines with Davison, making a delightful pairing. Even the rest of the TARDIS crew have their part to play. The setting, the location, and even studio bound sets all help this one rise above. It's just a shame that Saward didn't give names to the Terileptils. Even the android(with cricket gloves that didn't bother me) comes across pretty good. A typical lyrical Davison story puncuated by a straightforward script and great timing by all involved.
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