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Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD]
Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Davison
Price: 13.00

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honest? The Gunfighters is the better of the two, 29 Mar 2011
Not that either one is bad, but The Awakening suffers from the same fault as many 'filler' episodes of the 21st century series, in that forty-five minutes isn't enough in which to develop the story. We're given a picturesque location and a mystery involving clashing time zones that Sapphire and Steel would stare at each other for six whole episodes in. But in typical Davison fashion we get urgent running around instead, and like the Doctor, we don't get time to admire the scenery, nor piece the puzzle together in our heads. It's all rather lightweight really, and in the end the Malus could just be any old generic monster. Even the subplot concerning Tegan's family ties - especially after Aunt Vanessa - ends up feeling less substantial and important than it should be.

As for The Gunfighters, it's a story with a reputation that's definitely improved with age. It could hardly have got any worse - Doctor Who Magazine, in the dark days of a series tainted by more extant episodes and folk memories that were, at the time, unchallengable, latched onto The Gunfighters' low Appreciation Index figures and mercilessly beat the story to death with it. Yes, the style and nature of the beast seem utterly bizarre and corny now; but first and foremost, it's a comedy, and not a bad one. Embittered fans just don't seem to want to recognize this. As the first Western serial the BBC ever produced, it's also an experiment that could have gone much more awry than it did. But mainly, right up to the final climactic shootout, The Gunfighters has a genuine sense of fun about it. The principles are clearly having a much more enjoyable time than in the Celestial Toymaker before it, which rubs off onto the less closed-minded viewer; and Gerry Anderson fans will have even more fun spotting the familiar voices that turn up in the supporting cast.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2011 11:56 AM BST


Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD]
Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 6.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dead Loss? Not Really..., 5 Feb 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Meglos is a curious beast, a story that never quite makes up its mind about what it really wants to be. It was specially commissioned for the more serious and science-minded Season 18, but feels much more like a throwback to the more whimsical Graham Williams period that producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead wanted to make a clean break from. It's scripted as a comedy, but not directed as one and mostly played straight by the majority of the cast. And while Bidmead was keen to bring back some proper science to the show, the writers managed to sneak past nigh-mystical elements like the Dodecahedron and the chronic hysteresis that are never explained rationally, and might as well be magic.

Similarly, there's a lot of good things and a lot of bad things present that almost entirely cancel each other out. The plot doesn't have an original bone in its body, but at times almost seems to be sending up its own lack of originality; Tom Baker latches onto this very quickly in his performance as the Doctor and is clearly having more fun here than he's had in a while, but also contrasts it totally with a very sinister and smouldering portrayal of his doppelganger. The design is very patchy and looks very much like an assortment of bits and pieces cobbled together from different sources, but this too works as both the Gaztaks and the Tigellans come across as cultures that have fashioned themselves around items they've scavenged, or had fall into their laps. Even the much-vaunted Scene Sync, which works beautifully, is rather let down by the rest of the CSO work in which the yellow and blue outlines are the most obvious in years, and the textures and focusing of the model work makes the actors look tiny, rather than the scenery being gigantic.

In the end, Meglos is whimsical good-natured fun, and the one story that's guaranteed to appeal to fans who were otherwise turned off the rest of by Season 18's sombre tone, and even if you thought it an improvement over the previous production regime, you have to give Meglos credit for this alone.


Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma [DVD] [1984]
Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma [DVD] [1984]
Dvd ~ Colin Baker
Price: 6.50

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technicolour Yawn, 29 July 2009
Yes, it's bad. But is it really THAT bad?

Well if you're American, imagine if they'd broadcast an episode of Knight Rider where KITT gets blown up for good. But rather than it being the big season-closer shock, the very next episode sees Micheal Knight driving around in a Volvo instead, and THEN the season ends.

That's exactly what The Twin Dilemma was like at the time.

This is the REAL reason for The Twin Dilemma's near-universal all-time-worst fan revulsion. It's not just the incessant parade of vibrant 80s kitsch or the colour scheme that resembles a half-digested bag of Skittles and glitter vomited across a studio set; it's that it directly followed on from the positively sublime The Caves Of Androzani, and etched itself into viewer's minds as the last and defining image they had of the season instead of that one. A new Doctor and new 'style' introduced at the end of the season when budgets were already spent, instead of being held back to open the next year with. To this day, no Who fan of any standing can seriously believe it actually happened.

No doubt the extra features will give this inexplicable release a lift, as they always do. But it's a pity you can't get Colin Baker and Eric Saward into the same room together these days, because the commentary would have made it worth the asking price alone to witness Colin's blustering-but-feeble defence of the story in the face of Saward's withering, face-palm disparagement. Still, potential bonus points are there to be had if there's an Easter Egg of Robert Holmes' reaction to it from the visitors' gallery.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2009 2:33 AM BST


Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 6.50

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spitting Image of Nigel Kneale, 7 April 2009
Every long-standing Who fan knows the 'gory' details of how Graham Williams' tenure was all but strangled by budget-cruching inflation, by the rising ego and tantrums of the star, and by 'humour not horror' edicts laid down by BBC top brass. There was more to it than that of course, but it's still surprising how quickly the old Phillip Hinchcliffe ethos was swept aside; only the third story in, and Image Of The Fendahl represents the gothic-horror subgenre of Doctor Who clinging on for dear life before the inevitable end. (This was the last story to be script-edited by Robert Holmes, which is explanatory in itself; compare Fendahl here to the Holmes-written The Sunmakers, the very next story shown.)

It's also farewell to writer Chris Boucher before he takes up more permanent residence as script editor of Blake's 7. Sadly, of his three Who scripts this is unquestionably the weakest of the trio. Almost a point-for-point steal from Quatermass & The Pit; Boucher was reportedly unsatisfied with how the monsters were realised, but the problems run deeper than either of these issues. This is a script that positively relishes the concept of predestination but it repeatedly rams the point home in a rather undramatic and dull way; partly through lengthy exposition scenes that a lot of viewers will fidget through, but mainly because the Doctor never seems to try to stop the encroaching danger from coming to a head. Of particular note is the blind-alley subplot of the fifth planet, which does absolutely nothing except keep the Doctor out of the way until it's far too late to prevent the manifestation from happening (even Leela comments on it). The guest cast go several miles beyond mere overacting too, particularly the annoying Edward Arthur who does everything short of and and wink straight at the camera during Adam Colby's many 'are you trying to tell me' scenes.

Image Of The Fendahl isn't by any means a bad story (much worse was to come in the very same season), but really the most positive comment I can make is that it scared the pants off me when I was eight, which I suppose was all it was intended to actually do back in 1977.


Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen [DVD] [1985]
Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen [DVD] [1985]
Dvd ~ Colin Baker
Price: 6.73

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tomb Raider, Too, 28 Mar 2009
If you're a fan of the Eric Saward style of plotting where multiple threads are introduced, run concurrently and eventually dovetail (see both Resurrection and Revelation Of The Daleks), you'll find a fair amount to appreciate in Colin Baker's first 'proper' story (The Twin Dilemma, on any level, doesn't count). The Sixth Doctor is also more proactive here than in either of the two Dalek stories, though his scripted predilection towards violence is something of which you'll have to make your own mind up about.

One of Attack's oft-quoted failings is in its status as a follow-up to Resurrection Of The Daleks (there's no way the Doctor and Lytton should know so much about the other, when the Doctor has regenerated and they were barely on screen together long enough to exchange glances before), and especially a sequel to Tomb Of The Cybermen; which aside from being unecessary is handled very, very badly, and bears almost no resemblence in design or continuity to the Troughton tale. This despite going to so much effort as to bring back a portly Micheal Kilgariff to the Cyber-Controller role he played back in 1967. But these are very fannish concerns and it's hard to credit the average 1985 viewer with being aware of any of this.

No, where it actually falls down is in how the support human characters end up overshadowing the main cast and the Cybermen themselves. Something has gone a bit wonky when a thug like Griffiths becomes the 'everyman' audience identification figure, and the story needles you to investing so much into these figures that it's an infuriating let-down when their subplots are curtailed so abruptly for no credible gain. The cliffhanger and its resolution are also lame, and there's no getting away from the ending being a risible 'will this do' contrivance.

To be honest, most of Season 22 was renowned for being silly and badly paced with the forty-five minutes episodes, but the bookending stories are about as reigned-in as this garish season ever got. Thank heavens at least that we were spared A Fix With Cybermen instead.


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