01/05/2013 - This review is based upon Official BBC CONSUMER PRODUCTS Press Preview discs (identical to the Retail versions to be released on 27 May 2013).
With time matching unstoppably onwards, CAN YOU HEAR THE EARTH SCREAM? is an invaluable dossier detailing & recounting the production of Don Houghton's meandering (and the reason for this is explained in the featurette) seven-parter at a time when the series was (1) under threat by the BBC Executives and (2) was in a state of flux as a new production team attempted to steer an ambitious course.
With contributions from the "dearly departed" (how much do fans miss the Conventional company of the likes of Barry Letts, Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney cannot yet be measured, and how many of the NEW SERIES fans realise that without their early 1970s contribution & foresight then, potentially, DOCTOR WHO may have withered and consigned to a historical crate labelled, "Programmes of their time"), this featurette is as perfect as you could possibly achieve.
Balanced, insightful and eloquent in its message, the making of DOCTOR WHO - INFERNO demonstrates that both the crew and cast were symbiotically linked with a single aim; to deliver believably action-packed pseudo-science adventure series within their means.
FACT: Kate O'Mara was originally cast as scientist, Petra, but was unavailable by the time of the recording and was replaced by Sheila Dunn.
It was 1969 and the incoming production team of Barry Letts (Producer) and Terrance Dicks (Script Editor) were confronted with story options "...but not satisfactory" (THE MISTS OF MADNESS by Brian Wright, and THE SHADOW PEOPLE by Dennis & Charlotte Plimmer) and turned to the `old boy network' for a writer to save their collective bacon. Following research with the USA Embassy that gleaned the Americans had ceased drilling deep into the Earth (but did not reveal why...), Don Houghton delivered a story outline (MO-HOLE PROJECT) that, with additional three-episode filler added, became INFERNO. Assigned to the project, Douglas Camfield (1965-1984) seemed to the ideal director to transfer the script to screen
Terrance Dicks on Camfield: "...very good action/adventure director...but he really wanted to be Jean-Luc Godard."
John Levene on Camfield: "...very authoritarian."
Nicholas Courtney on Camfield: "...He worked himself very hard...quite a human being...very warm."
Testament to INFERNO's success - and, yes, even though it was sprawling seven-parter hastily written, it is a consummate story with numerous redeeming elements - is the skilful integration or balance therein, of its location filming and studio recording, and even more so as a result of Camfield leaving the production due to illness and handing over it to Barry Letts (uncredited as Director).
FACT: The `Big Brother' styled posters within the parallel universe features the BBC Visual Effects manager, Jack Kine.
As with additional INFERNO DVD EXTRAS, the contribution of the independent `stunt-actors' agency, HAVOC, is comprehensively & affectionately assessed and quite rightly too for as an impressionable young lad back in the 1970s their work beguiled, excited and appreciated as they wheeled somersaults across the screen whether kitted-out as UNIT personnel or fishing-net draped subterranean reptiles.
Terrance Dicks on HAVOC: "...mad stuntmen..."
Barry Letts on HAVOC: "...very good stunt people..."
HAVOC member, Alan Chuntz: "...18 stitches due to a mishap..." (as he mistimed a stunt as the Doctor's Bessie ploughed into RSF personnel.
Polished (its direction, pacing-editing and `video clip context' are both relevant and effective), informative (fans may be surprised to hear that episodes were recorded a mere seven days before its actual broadcast) and highly entertaining, CAN YOU HEAR THE EARTH SCREAM? is essential viewing for fans, and you will discover which cast member was concerned that in using a location-based toilet was "...ready to have my bum bitten by a rat!"
Now, what can I say about HADOKE VERSUS HAVOC without being a `Spoiler-man' but I do issue a warning. It is a warning that it is (intentionally) tongue-in-cheekily funny and, as such, you may feel an incontrollable a drop of wee manifesting itself. Hilarious, and our genial host & Seeker of the Truth, Toby Hadoke, accepts the events that he has conspired to draw together (in effect, `the master of his own destiny') himself with the honour and distinction that a Martian would approve.
HADOKE VERSUS HAVOC sees Hadoke "...determined to get some of the old boys together..." for a HAVOC reunion and to discuss the team's creation and its eventual disbanding at the Venusian Aikido swipe of stuntman, Terry Walsh. Reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS, Hadoke assembles the aging stunt men to perform one last stunt in appreciation of the fall-fest INFERNO with Hadoke `the fall guy'.
Toby Hadoke on the stunt: "...even going up the ladder was scary..."
In meeting Derek Ware, Derek Martin and Roy Scammell, Hadoke seems genuinely interested in the work, skill and adaptability of these aged `stunt-actors' (for me, after watching this featurette, the phrase `stuntman' or `stuntmen' is now wholly inadequate and marginally patronising; they were actors who could undertake stunts), leading to a vertigo-defying (did you know that Pertwee was afflicted with that condition?) stunt for him to perform.
Garrulously charming, HADOKE VERSUS HAVOC is the first featurette that matches the first class `watch ability' of the Mark Gatiss' (as news reporter, Terry Scanlon) DVD EXTRA THE GREEN DEATH contribution, `Global Conspiracy!; it is excellent and worthy of a repeat viewing (and the cost of the Special Edition DVD itself).
Before you delve into DOCTOR FOREVER - LOST IN THE DARK DIMENSION (chapter four of five), find the `hidden Easter Egg' (on disc two's main menu - see image, far right), FINDING DAVID BURTON. To be honest, when Burton's name was being bandied across DOCTOR WHO `fandom' I was a disenchanted, disinterested fan (we all go through this is `life-crisis', don't we?) and, subsequently, the actor was unknown to me as was the events that whirled around him.
This featurette analyses the period when the series ignominiously exited with a whimper and heralded re-emergence as nefarious fingers were thrust wildly into and then dribbled out of the DOCTOR WHO pie in their failed (obviously) failed attempts to resurrect it. Here stalwart fan, Gary Russell scorns fans that had "..zero grip on reality..." as they attacked the bunkered-down BBC Executives, whilst series director, Graeme Harper, discussed the "...straight-to-video special with the Fourth Doctor..." that would celebrate the series' 30 th anniversary, whilst `the man in charge of the DOCTOR WHO brand' at the time, Stephen Cole charmingly admitted "...if I went to the Gents nothing would happen in the world of DOCTOR WHO..."
However, following a "...period of silence..." (circa. 1996-2005), when it was thought that all was lost rumours were abound that the series was resurrected by Russell T Davies, and on 17 September 2003 that announcement was delivered surely with the same historical importance as Neville Chamberlin. No, don't agree? You can't be a DOCTOR WHO fan then.
Presented with an undercurrent of Don Harper's paramilitary jaunty theme music cue, THE UNIT FAMILY - PART ONE (1968 - 1971) assesses the important of the series' self-imposed Earth-exile (basically, to save money; Producer, Derrick Sherwin expressed that "...DOCTOR WHO as a treadmill... 42 30-minutes per year...") and the creation of "...a family for the Doctor..." to interact with. Such happenstance created a relationship not only for the Time Lord but for the viewer too; characters that had depth of motive, solidity and reliability.
For this featurette, the UNIT `family' has been defined as the osmotic relationship of Doctor, Liz Shaw, the Brigadier and Sgt Benton. Both John Levene (Sgt Benton) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw) seem genuinely affectionate and humble toward the series and their lead actor.
Whilst Levene recognised Pertwee as a `comfort blanket' and inspiration for his own burgeoning, yet anxious laden, acting career ("My Dad thought I was a bit of a pansy" [read: effeminate]) , Caroline John acknowledged that Pertwee was an `actor's actor' and proved not to be very popular with BBC Executives as he would stop the filming in an attempt to get best recording that he could ("he say, `Let's go again for the actors').
Certainly, THE UNIT FAMILY - PART ONE was comprehensive but, admittedly, at times it did feel tedious as the `talking head' interviews were intercut with `video clips'. It was not wholly necessary, and, perhaps, a tighter format could be used for PART TWO. Say, using the CGI background of the interviewee as a platform for a `video clip' (i.e. inserted as a photograph lay across an open UNIT buff-coloured file that the Brigadier might inspect).
With behind-the-scenes glimpses of deflated Silurian masks from DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS, the explosion from INFERNO's parallel universe, and docking space vessels from THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH, VISUAL EFFECTS PROMO FILM is a like finding that an errant Cornetto ice-cream at the back if the freezer on the day of its annual defrosting; delightful, and such a rare find.
The exorcized scene (DELETED SCENE), found in an exported copy of INFERNO, with Jon Pertwee impersonating a News Reporter is, like that Cornetto, another guilty pleasure, as is his straight-to-camera introduction originally filmed for the VHS release, THE PERTWEE YEARS. Read more ›