DVD Tales: Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks to Survival

Following from Doctor Who #141: The Two Doctors...
My usual note: Doctor Who DVDs usually include an audio commentary by surviving cast and crew, dense production note subtitles, brand new making of documentaries and photo galleries.

Doctor Who #143: Revelation of the Daleks (Graeme Harper, 1985)
Starring the 6th Doctor and Peri. One of the things that's quite grating in 80s Who is how the Doctor and companions are always bickering. The worst offenders by far are Colin Baker's Doctor and Peri. So the fact that Revelation is basically a mercenary story about other people (pretty witty Bob Holmesian people) means we get less bickering with the regulars. That's a good thing. As is the 6th Doctor getting crotched by Peri totally by mistake. Watch for it. The DVD also has behind the scenes footage, optional enhanced effects and deleted scenes.

Doctor Who #152: Remembrance of the Daleks (Andrew Morgan, 1988)
Starring the 7th Doctor and Ace. The first season of the 7th Doctor was, by all accounts, pretty terrible, and I remember disliking the video outdoors look and panto clowning at the time. Cut to my first 7th Doctor DVD, a year later in Who production. Remembrance is a whole other animal. Remembrance is the "final" Dalek story (one of at least 4 who have held the title) and includes some complex twists and turns, a return to the site of An Unearthly Child, and the full birth of the Doctor as master manipulator and Time Lord godling. A most promising direction. The DVD gives you deleted scenes, outtakes, and a multi-angle feature, but being an early release, no real documentary.

Doctor Who #157: Ghost Light (Alan Wareing, 1989)
Starring the 7th Doctor and Ace. Marc Platt wrote this odd story, and you can tell it's very rich with subtext and poetry, but it's also a bit of a muddle and hard to grasp. That's totally Mark Platt who I've also experienced in novel and audio form (his audios are his best work, in my opinion). The last season of Who is about Ace, a character I do like a lot, and making her grow from troubled teenager to mature woman. Ghost Light fits in there by having her revisit her past in an unusual tale of evolution gone wrong, with living Light as the antagonist. This weird stuff is supplemented by deleted scenes, outtakes, and a convention Q&A with Platt.

Doctor Who #158: The Curse of Fenric (Nicholas Mallett, 1989)
Starring the 7th Doctor and Ace. Probably my favorite 7th Doc story, there are two version of Fenric included: One as aired, and the other as an uncut movie with fixed titles and new scenes. The story again explores Ace's character and shows the Doctor as a dark manipulator playing chess with her life and with the title villain's, in a story basically about underwater Viking vampires. I find it to be immensely satisfying. The DVD also includes convention footage, clean versions of title sequences, behind the scenes stuff at a children's program and more.

Doctor Who #159: Survival (Alan Wareing, 1989)
Starring the 7th Doctor and Ace. Yes, yes, the title's all very ironic, whatever. The story by playwright Rona Munro is another oddity from this season, and it's kind of too bad the 80s had killed this show just when it was getting interesting again. In it, Ace returns to Perivale where she's from and must confront her dark side. Throw in some cheetah people and the Anthony Ainsley Master's last hurrah, and a beautifully written epilogue for good measure. The DVD includes a segment on what the next season's stories would have been about (the "Cartmel Plan"), a documentary on Ace, the transition segments for the Doctor Who computer game starring the Master (Destiny of the Doctors, 1997), deleted scenes, outtakes and a science program starring the 7th Doctor, Ace and K9. It's a hoot of a package!

But what did YOU think? Next: Doctor Who and the Daleks to El Mariachi.


LiamKav said...

I've been going through Old Who DVDs in a fairly random order. A lot of them are good, but you have to put on a "remember that this is the 60s/70s/80s" mindset to excuse some things. For good stories there are less things to ignore, but they are often there.

When I watched "Remembrance of the Daleks" though, I was struck by how modern it was. The Dalek going up the stairs thing was post-modern way before "Dalek" had a similar moment. The racist subtext it strong enough to be obvious but also not so in your face that kids would be confused. Ace has more depth to her personality that almost all prior companions, going from tomboy to woman to hurt little girl over the course of the episodes. The Doctor is powerful (vengeful god style) in a way that often didn't come across in the old show but that the new show uses all the time. It's full of cute continuity references and lovely touches (like the Doctor not going into the church at the end). For me, this is my favourite episode of Classic Who.

LiamKav said...

I should point out that I haven't seen "Talons" or "Caves" yet, so that opinion might change.

Siskoid said...

Certainly a strong contender either way.

Rose was very much built on Ace's base. (Yes, that's a terrible pun.)


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