Doctor Who: Revisitations 1

Friday, 15 October 2010 12:27

This new series of “Revisitations” releases – there are anticipated to be two more to make a trio of boxes – seems to have become a very divisive exercise amongst fans. The titles selected for volume one aren’t united by any over-arching theme, other than having the ability to generate a host of new extras as they have been previously released on DVD, and two of the three stories are widely known to be some of the best of the original version of Doctor Who.

Some fans are complaining about the ‘double dip’ into their wallets that these enhanced releases represent, while others have stated categorically that they aren’t interested in the added extras and won’t be buying. Rest assured that DVD label 2Entertain know what they are doing – these releases will be snapped up by the truly devoted fans of classic Who, simply because these new extras make these new boxed sets worth the purchase price alone.

Doctor Who Revisitations 1 - A Box Set for new fans and old timers alikeFeaturing Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor in his exit story “The Caves of Androzani” and Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor in his only screen adventure, the 1996 TV movie, this brand new collection features what has gone before alongside specially commissioned content over an overloaded seven discs.

In the first of the adventures, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, The Doctor and companion Leela are confronted by sinister and seemingly inexplicable occurrences in the shadowy depths of nineteenth century London. With the help of Jago and Litefoot (now with their own audio adventures series), the Doctor investigates the gruesome murder of a cabbie and the mysterious disappearances of young girls. Whilst being chased by giant rats and forced to pit his wits against an evil doll and a merciless illusionist, he comes face-to-face with his most deadly enemy to date: Magnus Greel - a fifty-first century war criminal posing as Weng Chiang, an ancient Chinese god.

“The Caves of Androzani” takes place on the barren world of Androzani, where the Doctor and Peri find themselves embroiled in a long running underground war. Military troops mount an armed blockade whilst gunrunners bring in weapons for the sinister, masked renegade, Sharaz Jek. Meanwhile, lethal androids guard the caves, where a deadly creature lurks in the shadows, killing all in its path. At the heart of the conflict is a substance called Spectrox - the most valuable item in the universe...and the deadliest! Will the Doctor make the ultimate sacrifice to save his young friends life? The resulting episodes have many a time been voted the best Doctor Who story ever.

Finally in this set, Paul McGann stars in his only visual adventure as the eight Doctor in the 1996 American production known as “Doctor Who: The Television Movie”. Returning home to Gallifrey with the remains of his arch enemy, the Master, the TARDIS is forced off course, landing Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor into the middle of a street gang's gun battle in downtown San Francisco. Critically wounded in the shoot out, the Doctor has to regenerate to save his own life. And he's not the only one - the Master too has a new body with which to wreak havoc. As the clock counts down to the start of a new millennium, the Doctor has to stop the Master destroying all life on Earth. But at what cost...?

The TV movie is a subject of much debate, and most of the things hated by strict orthodox fans are meticulously explained as being network TV interference with producer (and fan) Philip Segal’s original vision for the project.  Segal had it engineered as a back-door pilot rather than just a TV movie of the week, and took seven years to get his production on screen. Most people would have given up with the amount of nonsense he had to put up with, but Segal has a passion for the format which is admirable.  Fox moving the screening date in the USA and scuppering its own advance publicity efforts was the final obstacle that could not be overcome.

If truth be told, the style of this TV movie is much more connected to that which followed from 2005 onwards through the efforts of Russell T Davies. Eric Roberts as The Master is not half as bad as most people would have you believe, and Paul McGann simply commands the role. No wonder so many audio adventures have been produced with his characterisation of the last of the Time Lords.

Listed below is the full rundown of DVD extras, so that you can see if this is worth your attention, whether you are a new fan, a Classic fan who has not yet been tempted to acquire these titles, or someone who owns one or more of the original releases and is not sure they can justify the outlay.

Rest assured it’s a seismic collectors’ item, and each story has been remastered, with the new extras amounting to a staggering 300 minutes of new content.  That’s on top of what has previously been available. As it’s nearing Christmas, I really have to note that for any new Doctor Who fans who have never investigated anything pre-1985, then these stories together allow the sampling of the best of three previous Doctors. Tom Baker and Peter Davison are in a pair of classics, while the Television Movie shows how the bridgehead was built between the 1989 and 2005 versions of Doctor Who.

It may also help gain support for the idea of Paul McGann appearing in a future 21st Century Doctor Who – after all, his performance is considered canon, and he certainly deserves a second bite at an in-vision adventure. In terms of the extras, the documenting of how the series was kept alive for its 16 years out of British production will be of interested to both casual and devoted fans alike.

“Doctor Who: Revisitations 1” is out now from 2Entertain, has a running time of 640 minutes approx, with a ‘PG’ certificate and a RRP of £39.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

The DVD Extras are as follows:

“The Talons of Weng-Chiang”

  • 6 x 25 min colour episodes with mono audio.
  • Commentary - with actors Louise Jameson, John Bennett and Christopher Benjamin, producer Philip Hinchcliffe and director David Maloney.
  • Coming Soon - a trail for “The Seeds of Doom”.
  • Programme Subtitles
  • Subtitle Production Notes
  • “The Last Hurrah” - Tom Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe meet at Tom’s home to discuss the making of what would be their final story together. Also featuring actors Louise Jameson, Trevor Baxter, Christopher Benjamin, director David Maloney, designer Roger Murray-Leach and costume designer John Bloomfield.
  • “Moving On” – “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” was to be Philip Hinchcliffe’s last story as the producer of Doctor Who. In this featurette he looks back at the ideas he had for the next season.
  • “The Foe from the Future” - a look at the original concept idea for the un-made story ‘The Foe from the Future’, which eventually became ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’, with writer Robert Banks Stewart and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
  • “Now & Then” - the latest instalment of this series visits the locations used in the story and compares how they looked on screen in 1977 to how they look now.
  • Look East - in January 1977, the BBC’s local news programme paid a visit to the filming of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” in Northampton Repertory Theatre, where reporter David Cass interviewed Tom Baker.
  • “Victoriana and Chinoiserie” - a discussion of the literary references that can be found within the story. With producer Philip Hinchcliffe and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr Anne Witchard,
  • “Music Hall” – The story is set within a music hall, a theatrical tradition which is upheld to this day by groups of dedicated performers. This documentary looks at the history of the music hall and features performances by those who continue to uphold its traditions. Hosted by Michael McManus, with Gerald Glover, Pamela Cundell, Johnny Dennis and Victor Spinetti, featuring songs performed by Katy Baker.
  • “Limehouse - A Victorian Chinatown” - Limehouse, in the old docklands area of London’s East End is not only the setting for ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ but for many other stories in English literature. Dr Matthew Sweet investigates the area and its history. With Roehampton University’s Dr John Seed, Dr Tom Wareham, the curator of the Museum of London Docklands and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr Anne Witchard.
  • “Whose Doctor Who” - a 1977 documentary from BBC2's 'The Lively Arts' strand, looking back at the history of the programme and its psychological impact on the viewers, particularly children. Introduced by Melvyn Bragg.
  • “Blue Peter Theatre” - starts with a 1974 introduction, featuring a strike-bound Blue Peter team having to leave their usual studio and present the programme from the set of the first Tom Baker story, then continues with a series of articles from 1977 in which the team make a Doctor Who theatre, complete with sets and monsters and, with the help of Dick Mills, show how to make your own sound effects to accompany the performance.
  • “Behind the Scenes” - very poor quality 24 minutes from an ex-Who production office timecoded Shibaden tape, but exceptionally rare footage from the studio recording of the story.
  • Philip Hinchcliffe Interview – the series producer interviewed on Pebble Mill at One about the show and the possible effects of on-screen violence. This is an ex-Philips 1500 video recorder off-air recording.
  • Trails and Continuity- announcements mostly derived from off-air domestic recordings for “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” and “Whose Doctor Who” (Easter Egg off this extra is a textless version of this season’s opening titles).
  • Photo Gallery - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
  • TARDIS-Cam Number 6 - originally produced for the BBC Doctor Who website, this animation shows the TARDIS encountering a pod of space whales.

 

“The Caves of Androzani”

  • 4 x 25 min colour episodes with mono audio.
  • Audio 1: Studio sound
  • Audio 2: Commentary with Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper
  • Isolated Music - option to view the episodes with isolated music scores.
  • Behind the Scenes - The Regeneration - a look inside the studio during the shooting of the climactic regeneration scene. Features an optional commentary track.
  • Behind the Scenes - Creating Sharaz Jek - inside the character of Sharaz Jek, courtesy of an audio recording of the late Christopher Gable talking about his role in the story, photographs from Gable’s own collection and footage from the studio recording.
  • Extended Scenes - three extended scenes taken from the original film sequences and timecoded production tapes. The first has an optional commentary track.
  • Audio 1: Studio sound
  • Audio 2: Commentary with Peter Davison and Graeme Harper
  • Trailer - BBC1 trailer for the first episode.
  • News - a compilation of news reports and interviews about Peter Davison leaving the series.
  • Coming Soon - a trail for “The Seeds of Doom” (again!).
  • PDF material – “Radio Times” listings in PDF format.
  • Programme Subtitles
  • Subtitle Production Notes
  • Chain Reaction – a 36 minute cast and crew look back at the making of the story. With Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Maurice Roëves, Robert Glenister and Martin Cochrane, director Graeme Harper, script editor Eric Saward, production designer John Hurst and composer Roger Limb. Written and presented by Matthew Sweet.
  • Directing Who: Then & Now - Graeme Harper is the only director to have worked on both the classic and new series of Doctor Who. In this featurette he talks about the different production techniques used on both.
  • Russell Harty - Peter Davison and Colin Baker appear on The Russell Harty Show in the week between Davison’s last episode and Baker’s first.
  • Photo Gallery - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.

 

“Doctor Who – The Movie”

  • 86 minute movie with stereo audio.
  • Commentary 1 (2001) – original DVD release solo commentary by director Geoffrey Sax.
  • Commentary 2 (2009) – new commentary with actors Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy, moderated by Nicholas Briggs.
  • Isolated Music - option to view the movie with isolated music score.
  • The Seven Year Hitch – This 54 minute documentary looks at executive producer Philip Segal’s seven-year quest to return Doctor Who to the screen, from his initial contact with the BBC shortly before its cancellation in 1989, through to the production and transmission of the movie in 1996. Featuring Philip Segal, BBC executive producer Jo Wright, BBC Head of Series Peter Cregeen, BBC1 controller Alan Yentob, writer Matthew Jacobs and Graeme Harper, the director of BBC Enterprises' abandoned Doctor Who movie. Narrated by Amanda Drew.
  • The Doctor’s Strange Love – 17 minutes with writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier as they discuss how they stopped worrying and learned to love the TV Movie, with comedian Josie Long.
  • Photo Gallery - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
  • Music Tracks – four music tracks from the production presented in full: ‘In a Dream’, ‘All Dressed Up’, ‘Ride into the Moonlight’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
  • Coming Soon - a trail for “The Seeds of Doom” (for a THIRD time!).
  • PDF material – “Radio Times” listings in PDF format.
  • Programme Subtitles
  • Subtitle Production Notes

Pre-Production:

  • Paul McGann Audition – Paul McGann’s audition for the role.
  • VFX Tests June 1994 – early video effects tests by Amblin Imaging in 1994, featuring the ‘Spider Dalek’ design.
  • VFX March 1996 – video effects build-ups presented as mute timecoded ‘work in progress’ shots from the CGI effects department.

Production:

  • EPK – the Electronic Press Kit put out by Fox in 1996 included a short documentary and interview segments to allow other broadcasters to put together their own packages about the movie.
  • Behind the Scenes – on set and on location during the filming of the movie.
  • Philip Segal’s Tour of the TARDIS Set – executive producer Philip Segal shows us around the TARDIS control room set.
  • Alternate Takes – two alternate versions of scenes from the movie.
  • BBC Trails – BBC television trails for the movie.

Documentaties:

  • "Who Peter 1989-2009" - since the birth of Doctor Who in the sixties, it has shared an almost symbiotic relationship with the long-running BBC children’s magazine show ‘Blue Peter’. In the second part of this special documentary series, some of those involved look back over the history of that relationship in the ‘new series years’. With new series executive producer Russell T. Davies, Blue Peter editor Richard Marson, brand executive Edward Russell, writers Robert Shearman and Clayton Hickman and competition winners William Grantham and John Bell. Presented by Gethin Jones. Note: Easter egg found off from this extra (Segal interviews uncut, running time 9 minutes).
  • "The Wilderness Years" – in the seven years between the end of the classic series and the broadcast of the TVM, Doctor Who survived in print, video and audio, kept alive by fans within those industries who were determined not to let it die. With BBC head of serials Peter Cregeen, former Doctor Who Magazine editor John Freeman and current editor Tom Spilsbury., Virgin Books editor Peter Darvill-Evans, BBC Books consultant Justin Richards, script editor Andrew Cartmel, video producers Keith Barnfather and Bill Baggs, director Kevin Davies and Big Finish producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. Narrated by Glen Allen.
  • "Stripped for Action – The Eighth Doctor" – the final part of the series looking at the Doctor’s adventures in comic-strip form. With writers Scott Gray, former Doctor Who Magazine editors Gary Russell, Alan Barnes and Clayton Hickman, artists Lee Sullivan, Martin Geraghty and Roger Langridge, author Paul Scoones, historian Jeremy Bentham.
  • "Tomorrow’s Times – The Eighth Doctor" - another in the series looking at Doctor Who’s contemporary coverage in daily newspapers and other publications, done in "Points of View" style. Presented by Nicholas Courtney.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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