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Doctor Who: Revisitations 2

Monday, 23 May 2011 11:10

They’ve been out on DVD before – “The Seeds of Death”, “Carnival of Monsters” and “Resurrection of the Daleks”, starring Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, and Peter Davison respectively, last hitting shop shelves between 2002 and 2003. That’s a long time ago in technology terms, and there is no denying the continuing appetite for all things Doctor Who.  With little being able to be enhanced by doing Blu-ray releases of such archive stories, it’s new content that is the key to repackaging.

Spruce up as much as can be done by newly remastering the episodes, utilising advances in technology and technique. Find new and interesting angles for the supporting features that will lure in the fans for a ‘double dip’. Price the packages keenly so that you make the purchase worthwhile even if the fans are only buying for the new DVD extras.  Niche marketing to a niche audience.

The Doctor Who Revisitations 2 DVD Box SetRest assured the casual viewer is probably not going to find much of interest in any of these DVD extras, either new ones or those lifted from previous domestic releases. I’d love to know whether any research has been done to see how many of the classic DVDs that are issued are taken up by the ‘new’ fans of the show, wanting to delve more into the show’s rich history.

If the exodus of ‘Tennant’ fans from the show’s audience when Matt Smith secured the leading role is anything to go by, the answer is probably not very many! Doctor Who has always demonstrated that the format was bigger than any of the actors taking centre stage, but we’re in a different century now, where the cult of celebrity has taken on an ominous traction that over-rides considerations as the quality of the story telling.

Granted, the single season of Eccleston was depth-charged by Mr Tennant’s arrival, and brought with it a teenage-esque female audience more interested in watching the leading man than the action unfolding on-screen. However, the shaky response to Matt Smith, despite the fact that all would agree he is performing very well in the role, and the at times, over-ambitious storylines, leaves the series being part of the furniture rather than its previous ‘event television’ status. Mind you, the Tennant groupies will probably buy the set as Mr Tennant does a fine turn appearing on-screen and narrating the tribute documentary to Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor.

Which leaves 2Entertain, guardians of the Doctor Who brand in the domestic DVD market, to devise a release slate that’s for its established fanbase.  Enter the “Revisitations” series.

In the first of the trio of stories, “The Seeds of Death”, the so-far overlooked by the new series Ice Warriors share screen time with exploding seed pods and a lethal fungus.

It’s a 21st Century Earth seen from the perspective of the late 1960s, and our world is totally dependent on ‘T-Mat’, a revolutionary form of instant travel which Star Trek had hooked into mercilessly. When the system breaks down Troughton’s Doctor and companions make a hazardous journey to the relay station on the Moon. They find that it has fallen into the hands of the Ice Warriors who plan to invade Earth. Can the Doctor outwit the Ice Warriors and destroy the fungus in time to save a dying world?

In “Carnival of Monsters”, Pertwee’s Doctor and assistant Jo Grant take the TARDIS on a test flight and arrive on a cargo ship, the SS Bernice, that appears to be crossing the Indian Ocean in 1926, but is in fact trapped inside a miniscope — a banned peepshow of miniaturised life-forms — on the planet Inter Minor.

Finally, in “Resurrection of the Daleks”, Davison’s Doctor and his companions are captured in a Time Corridor, and are forced to land on 20th Century Earth, diverted there by the Doctor's most famous of enemies - the Daleks.

It is here that the true purpose of the Time Corridor becomes apparent - after 90 years of imprisonment, Davros, ruthless creator of the Daleks, is to be liberated to assist in the resurrection of his army. But not even the Daleks foresee the poisonous threat presented by their creator. Who would suspect Davros of wanting to destroy his own Daleks, and why? Only the Doctor knows the truth. But will he be capable of descending to Davros' level of evil in order to stop him?

Some fans have suggested that the choice of these stories chosen seemed a little arbitrary, but the decision was obviously taken on the basis of choosing episodes where there was more to be said than what had been rolled out for previous releases. Rest assured, those who take their fandom seriously will enjoy the added extras immensely, taking it all beyond simple set-bound anecdotes into the realms of historical, cultural, and media studies.

This takes Doctor Who beyond being a simple fancy that is again a staple of popular Saturday night entertainment. Let’s face it, the show is a phenomenon, something that galls its detractors, and for academics to be able to vocalise why the show and its history should be given the credit it deserves is long overdue.

Unfortunately, for the knuckle-draggers, it will remain that silly little show that they have to drum their fingers through while waiting for the BBC’s latest slice of “reality”-based bread and circuses to begin.  We really just have to smile and say it really is their loss, not ours.

Here’s the details of the contents of this six disc DVD set:

“The Seeds of Death”

A two-disc package, with episodes on disc one and extras on disc two.

  • 6 x 25 min monochrome episodes with mono audio.
  • Commentary – with actors Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, director Michael Ferguson and script editor Terrance Dicks.
  • “Lords of the Red Planet” (28’ 31”) – a look back at the creation of the Ice Warriors and their re-appearance in the ‘The Seeds of Death’. With actors Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines, director Michael Ferguson, script editor Terrance Dicks, costume designer Bobi Bartlett and TV historian Richard Bignell. Narrated by Katherine Mount.
  • “Sssowing the Ssseedsss” – (24’ 05”) – Ice Warrior Sonny Caldinez, Ice Lord Alan Bennion and make-up designer Sylvia James recall their experiences of bringing the Martian warriors to life.
  • “Monster Masterclass” (3’ 44”) – director Michael Ferguson talks about his experiences directing some of Doctor Who’s most famous monster stories.
  • “Monsters Who Came Back For More!” (16’ 26”) – Nick ‘Voice of the Daleks’ Briggs and Doctor Who Magazine’s assistant editor Peter Ware take a look at the reasons why monsters often return for further adventures.
  • Photo Gallery (4’ 30”) - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
  • TARDIS Cam no.6 (0’ 57”) – a model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who website.
  • PDF material – ‘Radio Times’ listings in PDF format.
  • Audio Trailer (0’ 45”) – an off-air amateur recording of the original BBC1 trailer for the story.
  • Programme Subtitles
  • Subtitle Production Notes

“Carnival of Monsters”

  • 4 x 25 min episodes with mono audio.
  • Commentary 1 – with actress Katy Manning and director Barry Letts.
  • Commentary 2 – with actors Peter Halliday, Cheryl Hall and Jenny McCracken, script editor Terrance Dicks, sound effects designer Brian Hodgson. Moderated by Toby Hadoke.
  • Episode Two – Early Edit (29’ 44”) – a longer early edit of the second episode, featuring the subsequently rejected ‘Delaware’ version of the theme music. Presented completely un-restored.
  • “Destroy All Monsters!” (23’ 11”) – cast and crew look back at the making of the story. With actors Katy Manning, Cheryl Hall and Peter Halliday, director Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, assistant floor manager Karilyn Collier and visual effects assistant Colin Mapson. Narrated by Marc Silk.
  • “On Target with Ian Marter” (16’ 08”) – actor Ian Marter played Andrews in this story before more famously playing companion Harry Sullivan in Tom Baker’s first stories. He was also a writer and novelised many previous Doctor Who adventures for the Target book range. With actors Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and Nigel Plaskitt, script editors Terrance Dicks and Gary Russell.
  • “The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos” (11’ 22”) – a tongue-in-cheek look at gadgets and gizmos in Doctor Who over the years. Narrated by Paul Jones.
  • “Mary Celeste” (18’ 01”) – just as the SS Bernice disappeared from the Indian Ocean in the story, many real-life ships have mysteriously disappeared too. A trio of maritime experts discuss some of these events, including perhaps the most famous maritime mystery of all time, the strange case of the Mary Celeste. With the University of London’s Prof. Roger Luckhurst, Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Ian Murphy and the National Maritime Museum’s John McAleer.
  • Behind the Scenes (1’ 48”) – on the studio floor and inside the gallery during production of the story, courtesy of a film crew from the BBC’s ‘Looking In’ documentary.
  • Visual Effects Models (8’ 41”) – an expanded version of this feature, including unused model shots, trims and tests.
  • “‘Five Faces of Doctor Who” Trailer (4’ 10”) – a trail for the 1981’s repeat season, which saw many of Doctor Who’s classic stories – including “Carnival of Monsters” - repeated for the first time in many years.
  • Director’s Amended Ending (1’ 18”) – for the ‘Five Faces’ repeat of the story, director Barry Lett’s took the opportunity to re-edit the ending to remove a shot of a very obvious ‘bald cap’ which he had always felt spoiled the show.
  • CSO Demo (3’ 07”) – director Barry Letts was very keen on the possibilities offered by the use of Colour Separation Overlay to place actors into fantastical model sets. In this BBC training film, he demonstrates the technique for fellow directors.
  • TARDIS Cam no.2 (0’ 45”) – a CGI model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who website.
  • Photo Gallery (2’ 55”) - a selection of design and production photographs from the story, plus photos from the commentary session and Frank Bellamy’s ‘Radio Times’ artwork.
  • PDF material – 'Radio Times' listings in PDF format.
  • Programme Subtitles

“Resurrection of the Daleks”

Two-disc version containing the previously unreleased two-part transmission version and extras on the first disc, and the four-part production version and extras on the second.

  • 2 x 45 min colour episodes with original mono audio and optional Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
  • Commentary with actor Terry Molloy, writer Eric Saward and visual effects designer Peter Wragg, moderated by Nick Pegg.
  • 4 x 25 min colour episodes with original mono audio and optional Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
  • Commentary with actors Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, director Matthew Robinson.
  • Isolated Music - option to view the episodes with isolated music scores.
  • “Casting Far and Wide” (32’ 16”) – Actor and comedian Toby Hadoke interviews five of the jobbing actors who worked on the story about their careers and their experiences on the show. With Roger Davenport, Del Henney, Leslie Grantham, Jim Findlay and William Sleigh.
  • “Come In Number Five” (56’ 27”) – a retrospective of Peter Davison’s tenure as the fifth Doctor. With actors Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, producer John Nathan-Turner, executive producer Barry Letts, director Fiona Cumming, script editors Christopher H Bidmead, Eric Saward and Antony Root, BBC Head of Series and Serials David Reid and new series head writer Steven Moffat. Presented by David Tennant.
  • “Tomorrow’s Times – The Fifth Doctor” (12’ 17”) – the ongoing series looking at the press reaction to Doctor Who through the years reaches the fifth Doctor’s era. Presented by Frazer Hines
  • On Location (18’ 32”) – producer John Nathan-Turner, director Matthew Robinson and writer Eric Saward return to London’s Shad Thames to reminisce about the story in its major filming location.
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes (7’ 03”) – extra material from early edits of the episodes.
  • “The Last Dalek” (8’ 33”) – a behind-the-scenes look at the Ealing studios filming for 1967’s epic Dalek story, ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, courtesy of an 8mm film shot by BBC designer Tony Cornell. With narration by BBC visual effects designers Michealjohn Harris and Peter Day.
  • Breakfast Time (7’ 56”) – Janet Fielding and John Nathan-Turner interviewed on the BBC’s breakfast show, including an item about the show’s music and sound effects featuring Malcolm Clarke and Brian Hodgson.
  • Trailer (0’ 31”) – a BBC1 trailer for the original transmission.
  •  “Walrus” (1’ 21”) – an oddity from the BBC’s archives. A Welsh woman comes face to face with a Dalek, who is determined to make her speak in a monotone.
  • TARDIS Cam no.4 (0’ 41”) – a model vignette created for the BBC’s Doctor Who website.
  • Photo Gallery (5’ 16”) - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
  • PDF material – ‘Radio Times’ listings in PDF format.
  • Programme Subtitles
  • Subtitle Production Notes


“Doctor Who: Revisitations 2” is out now with a running time of 340 minutes approx over six DVDs, a ‘PG’ certificate, and a RRP of £40.84, or get it for less at

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37