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Doctor Who - Time and the Rani [DVD] [1987]
Doctor Who - Time and the Rani [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £7.00

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "That was okay with some moments, let's hope season 24 gets better"..., 9 Dec. 2009
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That's what I thought in 1987.

It took only one week to discover how much worse season 24 would get.

"Time and the Rani" is arguably the best story of this season.


1. The direction - it overcomes the limitations and oversights in this story. Which is amazing, given the last-minute nature behind this story's existence.

2. The actors - TERRIFIC guest cast ensemble, who take surprisingly two-dimensional characters and add real life into them.

3. The incidental music - Keff McCulloch's score is unique for this season as there is a lot of mood-fitting music. (The BBC executives wanted the show to be more camp and less horrific and the music reflects that. I know Keff gets a bad rap. It's not deserved and, in "Time and the Rani", there are numerous pieces that excel his talents.)

4. The special effects - the MTV generation and beyond seem to want effects to take the forefront. This story does go out of its way to put emphasis on the visuals. But the BBC suits wanted effects over strong storytelling too... (seasons 25 and 26 do show much stronger storytelling, each story of which could easily be 5 or 6 episodes and not have room for padding. Their novelizations prove it.)

5. The new Doctor's moralizing at the end of the story is rather good.

6. As is playing the spoons, call me in the minority but I love it!

7. Ditto for his mixed-up maxims. Very Doctorish.

Having said that, what is wrong with this story?

1. The Rani. She's "Mrs. Master" and no longer a convincingly cold, amoral character as presented in "The Mark of the Rani" (1984). She isn't as panto as the Master, but the character lost of a lot of depth.

2. How can the Rani patch in Urak's vision into the Doctor's TARDIS so nimbly?

3. The Rani's TARDIS interior changed, for the worse as now it's a bad blue-screen effect. The original design was the innovative sort of visual people DO appreciate.

4. The Rani is supposed to be clever, but why use a rocket launcher with a fixed position/trajectory? (of course, while unexplained in the story, the reason could be that the asteroid MUST be in a fixed location in space, to such an extent that it would not be logical to build a mobile trajectory. So it does work, but the story could have told it a bit better.)

5. LOYHARGIL is the red stuff that is the lightweight substitute for the 'strange matter' in the asteroid. How come this is the same red goo the Tetraps eat for breakfast and the Rani is so unaware of it?

6. The Doctor should not have fallen for the Rani's projection of Mel when delivering the lab equipment back.

7. Why does Ikona spill the contents of the flask? It contains a cure for killer bees. Alien killer bees. Is he sentencing them all to death??! (nice morals behind his reasoning, I suppose, but he wasn't thinking.)

8. The Doctor is seen on the floor of the console room, regenerating. We see the exercise bike in the background and think he fell off of it when the TARDIS was hijacked.

And this story was never meant for Colin Baker (despite the rumors). Colin was fired too early on. (Which is why Sylvester is wearing a big blond wig.)

I have not yet read on DVD extras, so I cannot comment on those at this time. If the trend is consistent, there will be a lot of cool documentaries, and an isolated music track for those who appreciate it.

In short, it's a fun romp with problems, but like the bulk of season 24, one has to wonder how the show got renewed for a 25th season. Thankfully, it was...

Doctor Who - The Dalek Collection [DVD]
Doctor Who - The Dalek Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Eccleston
Price: £6.99

8 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice! Even those who dislike the new series have to admit the Daleks were done right., 11 Oct. 2009
As this set hasn't exactly come out, I will review solely the TV episodes within -- they're the most important part of any DVD set, anyway... oh, there are some spoilers in my commentary, but I suspect most people have seen all these stories already...

"Dalek" (Series 1, Eccleston). Rating: ***** : This story brings back the Daleks, albeit with only one Dalek, and this one Dalek is used to GREAT effect. It's nice to see them back, in a serious tome, without any camp hindering them (something late-80s WHO bestowed on the Daleks...). The Daleks are updated with a large array of innovative features (bullet-melting shielding, their mid-section with the gun-mount and sucker-manipulation arm swivel 360 degrees) as well as making better use of existing innovations (such as levitation, as first seen in "Revelation of the Daleks" (part two, 1985). Some of the story is a bit woolly (how can a Dalek take a person's DNA to "recharge" itself? I can fathom how it might take the DNA donor's emotional responses (which means Daleks don't want to go around touching people if their main task is to exterminate them!)... the Dalek can also retrieve scores of information by breaking a LCD computer monitor. Monitors are output-only devices. The problem here is, as with most NuWHO, making everything Earth-based. Those who understand Earth-technologies aren't going to be bought by this lame chicanery, I'm sorry. By and large, this is a GREAT episode.

"Bad Wolf" (Series 1, Eccleston). Rating: ****. Pompous as the whole thing is (about 199,001 years in the future, Earth is running a games station with reality shows and people are forced to be contestants. Those who lose die. Think "Vengeance on Varos" without the credibility), it's still HIGHLY entertaining. I'm not sure why because there's a ton of problems to be readily criticized:
* Jack's camped-up nudity (series 1 didn't often know when it should take itself seriously or when it should be a self-parodying farce)
* Jack's stereotype attitudes for chatting up people is NOT appreciated.
* The revelation the Daleks are back is wrongly timed (have the blue Controller person be exterminated first and save the "Rose is okay" shtick for later. That would have been far more effective.)
* Lynda knows where the light switches are on a space-station she's never once explored
* The "reality show" parallel and unsubtle topical commentary. This is NOT as creative as the show can get. Indeed, it's rather patronizing.

And to be fair, there's a lot to love:
* The cliffhanger
* The Doctor himself is far more proactive than usual. This was a real treat.
* Jack, when not camping it up in the scenes I mentioned above.
* The Doctor's berating humanity, addicted to their reality shows: "Brainless sheep". There's an extra irony to this line, which people did NOT figure out in 2005 and which most people still don't get now... :)

All in all, this story, despite its flaws and there are many, it manages to hold and maintain a viewer's interest. Probably due to casting (Anne Robinson, host of "The Weakest Link", playing her future droid self ("Anne Droid", ugh), and Roderick, played by the inestimable Paterson Joseph.

"The Parting of the Ways" (Series 1, Eccleston, Tennant) Rating: **** : Eccleston's swansong. Not surprising as the BBC merrily leaked out the information over two months prior to the airing of this. Okay, this concluding episode sheds any need to have remembered the "reality show" garbage of its preceding episode. The story just gets on with things and its done well. Nobody expects Lynda to die and it's genuinely sad when she's killed. What drags down the story is the ending: Rose decides to use her newfound superpowers (ingesting the TARDIS' vortex energy after using a tow truck to lift up the console, okey dokey) to save Jack. Just Jack. Nobody else. And keep in mind, Rose has ingested this energy for quite some time. Now comes the Doctor, mewling about how stupid she is, french-kisses her and this is how the energy moves from her into him. Once he's collected it all (5 seconds), he blows it back into the TARDIS. Let's pretend the energy knows where to go and that the console promptly seals itself back up. Now, knowing this, it's Rose who is TOTALLY UNSCATHED and it's the Doctor who has to regenerate. IF the producer and writer knew Eccleston was leaving, this is the most sloppy, hamfisted excuse of a regeneration, EVER. If Eccleston's desire to leave happened while filming, one can see why they had to do such a quick rewrite. I can forgive that... the story ends on a word, "Barcelona". (the planet - you know, one of many that we'll never see because it's not given the name "Earth"!)

Now, this set is not complete, because Daleks appear in the series 2 finale, "Doomsday" (Tennant, 2006, rating * ). Given how unashamedly campy and farcical it is, I'm thankful it's not included.

"Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" (note the correct spelling compared to what's in the "DVD Description" above), *Tennant, 2007, overall rating ****): This two-parter has the Daleks in 1930s-New York, conducting experiments and trying to fathom why they keep losing to humans. (though they keep losing to the Doctor, they otherwise seem to beat the humans at every encounter the Doctor stumbles into!) The story is by no means an all-time classic, but it is NOT deserving of the reputation people give it. What it screws up in plot motivations and resolution ("EOTD" doesn't know if it's lightning or plasma that will save the day and frequently exchanges one as being the other) is made up for with a great cast and a great time period to exploit. This story really does engage. If anything, why Dalek Sec would want to become a hybrid (complete with B-movie incidental music to accompany) makes no sense. Going from an impenetrable shell to an organic body with an octopus head where one stray bullet is enough to do him in... then again, the rationale behind the Cult of Skaro, especially given the events they've endured, it is fair to rationalize their own intellectual devolution. As a result, this story DOES work.

"Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" (Tennant, 2008, rating: **): We have retconned Sarah, who now blubbers with tears when she hears a Dalek voice. The army dude saying "Ladies and gentlemen we are at war" is ripped directly from "The Parting of the Ways"! For no reason, Rose and her family escape the inescapable void closure-with-happy-ending that took 10 minutes to set up in "Doomsday" (maybe that's why that scribble of a story isn't included in the set?) just so they can have another 10 minute happy ending. Jackie is absolutely rotten in this story too. She had the equipment to get everyone out and all she does is shed a tear and do a mea culpa and lets a bunch of people die. She may as well have killed them herself with a Dalek gun. What happens to this Shadow Proclamation, which is given emphasis but then ignored?!! The TARDIS can pull Earth back to its place in space (without harming anyone) yet that 1-second temporal shift remains UNRESOLVED. (in 2008, most writers should be able to write something coherent and to put in proper closure AND to put in PROPER open-doors if they want to bring back past characters for whatever reasons!!!)

I will say this in the story's favor: Davros was great. We needed more of him and less of Rose and her needless family. Caan's breakdown was good. The concept of pushing planets to create a weapon I genuinely liked, and it adds credibility to "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (1964). A shame the story is such a rabid mixed bag. But there's enough to applaud the story for, despite being tired in so many ways - there's still just enough ingenuity to give it some kudos. And, lastly, trite or not, the story takes itself seriously. Remember, "Doomsday" was as camped up as possible and suffered dearly for it.

This is a good set to purchase, especially if you never cared for most of NuWHO. The Dalek stories are easily the better ones to collect.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2009 4:17 PM GMT

7 Inch Talking Original Cyberman
7 Inch Talking Original Cyberman

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific detail - except the legs?, 1 Jan. 2009
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I've got four of these - two of the standard silver model and two of the limited edition black Cybertrooper model.

The detail on these is nothing short of fabulous.

Never mind the thought put into activating the speech gimmick.

The speech gimmick is a bit limp; no worse than the talking Dalek model though.

Right down to the Cyber gun, these are well detailed.

These are very posable, except for the legs. The legs are molded into one position. A good position, but if you want these dudes to kneel in front of your Meglos toy, it's just not going to work.

And until Meglos is released properly, craft/hobby/horticulture stores sell lots of Meglos knock-offs, complete with pot and soil... :)

Now, why do these come with 1960s style Cybermats? I took mine and used it as a doorstop; there's not much one can do with them. They too are well detailed and scaled right, but their presence is anachronistic - it's like putting a 1982 DeLorean next to 1965 VW Beetle named "Herbie".

Now, why 1 star for "educational value"? Because there's nothing to be learned from what the Cyberman says, much less anything else.

Definitely a solid collector's item, and they simply look cool in their own right too.

Doctor Who Dalek USB Webcam & Microphone
Doctor Who Dalek USB Webcam & Microphone

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Odd place for the camera lens!, 15 Mar. 2008
= Durability:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Is it just me, or would it have made sense to have made this gadget larger, and put the camera in the Dalek's eye?

Plus, for the price, no wonder there are user complaints regarding actual usability...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2008 3:00 PM BST

Doctor Who - Time-Flight [1982] / Arc of Infinity [1983] [DVD]
Doctor Who - Time-Flight [1982] / Arc of Infinity [1983] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Davison
Price: £11.10

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While I look forward to better releases, it's nice to see a mix of 'mundane' stories., 26 July 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
While I believe the Janet Fielding extras would have been much better served in any theoretical "Kinda"/"Snakedance" 2-story set, it won't come amiss with this 2-story set, that bridges seasons and whose stories do deal with Tegan's character in some way.

There's not much else I can really say; no doubt video and audio quality will be the best possible and, as always, the extras sublime - even moreso that they got Janet Fielding to make an on-screen appearance this time! W00T! Not the best stories by any margin, though "Time-Flight" at least retains the cool feel dominant in season 19...

A must for fans, newbies or casual viewers may want to rent this or wait for the next release ("The Time Warrior", if I recall...?)

Doctor Who - Survival [DVD] [1989] [1963]
Doctor Who - Survival [DVD] [1989] [1963]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £6.90

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace!, 22 April 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Survival" just arrived in Saturday's mail and got a chance to watch quite a lot of it.

Knowing the novelization from Rona Munro is the definitive edition, and how the TV version had to be produced without the gory elements, the fact this story was palatable back then and still manages to retain much of what works for it is stellar enough. Then add another great 5.1 audio remix...

Now add in the extras and documentaries, and this becomes an absolute must-buy. The best documentary of the bunch, "Endgame", has a lot of input from various production, cast, and senior BBC officials as to why the show was canceled and what the future would have been. And if you thought "Eastenders" was a soap opera, you ain't seen nothin' yet. This stuff is great.

As is the piece on Ace's development throughout the 7th Doctor's tenure.

While future releases ('Robot' and 'Timelash'?!) seem a little bit bizarre, 'Survival' was a terrific choice for release, extras and all.

Doctor Who - Timelash [DVD]
Doctor Who - Timelash [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Baker
Price: £5.99

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Homage to the 1960s? Or 90 minutes worth of badly acted scribble?, 8 April 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doctor Who - Timelash [DVD] (DVD)
The Borad, ruler of Karfel, has no time for anybody he deems a traitor to his cause. Such people are summarily executed by throwing them into the timelash; a form of time tunnel.

The TARDIS is ensnared in the timelash and the Doctor manages to pilot it to Karfel, a planet he'd been to in a prior incarnation (as a 'untelevised adventure, since no previous story ever made refers to Karfel.) He's baffled at the changes, most particularly an arrogant figurehead known as Tekker, who takes great joy in tarnishing the Doctor and his legend.

Of course, upon seeing Peri, the Borad takes an interest in her. The problem is, the Borad was once a scientist, driven mad by an experiment that had gone wrong yet had side-effects he deems worthwhile. He wishes to do the same unto Peri...

And while doing Tekker's bidding, the Doctor also picks up a stowaway...

Now I recently watched this story again and was amazed at how much fun it was. Very superficial as, in ways, it is a throwback to the 1950s (a simple plot that glosses over a lot of interesting ideas and set pieces, the plot stressing beauty over intelligence - shallow!!, a damsel in distress... the whole thing reeks "homage to old sci-fi stereotypes". ), one also has to wonder if it was written in this manner because the stowaway just happens to be H.G. Wells, and as a result of his adventure with the Doctor, decides to start writing... (there have been far worse ideas for storytelling...)

And, yes, it is cheap. WHO was always cheap. I think the use of tinsel was clever, considering how this story had to be underbudgeted. Though why the TARDIS screen showed a bad computer effect of rotating multicolor squares as means to show the Kontron tunnel, I have no idea...

As I said, having rewatched my old VHS tape recently, it is by no means a classic and it's obvious the story underran so badly that a followup "second ending" was hastily written in. But it's frivolous fun.

Now, it has been said by many that actor Paul Darrow had hammed up his lines so much, numerous retakes had to be made. This could explain why the rest of the cast looks so uninvolved while Darrow is looking like an speed addict on Adderall; the takes used for the final televised program were the ones of him purportedly being his least OTT. And I normally like OTT, but even I cringe at times. Maybe it's his hair that does it... still, if Mr. Darrow had underplayed it from the start, maybe the other actors surrounding him wouldn't have suffered from burnout and we'd end up with something better. Still, hammy or not, Paul Darrow as Tekker engages in a number of chilling scenes: Callously shoving a rebel, thrusting a poisonous plant into the Doctor's face, and so on, his shock during the cliche scene where the henchman turns on his master -- that I doubt anybody else would have done convincingly or with as much gusto. It's a mixed bag, but it's not all bad.

I can't wait for the release because, as has been said, Paul Darrow is one of the folks doing a story commentary - and these commentaries are always informative and entertaining.

I think this is definitely worth a rent, and hard core fans will buy it regardless. Of which I happen to be one. :D

Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva) [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva) [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: £12.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the price, this set is a masterpiece! No pun intended!, 3 Feb. 2007
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DOCTOR WHO releases have always been fitted with lots of juicy extras, but in this set of 3 linked stories, the extras alone make the purchase. It is something special, and deservedly so.

In-depth interviews and commentaries from cast and crew are probably the best of any DVD release to date. From Sheila Ruskin to Christopher H Bidmead, to Janet Fielding to Peter Davison, and from Johnny Byrne to Tom Baker, and not to forget Fiona Cumming, Antony Ainley, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, and everyone else (oh, this set is FULL of narrative from a lot of cast and crew and is so much better for all their input!), there's a TON of great information being told. All this alone make the purchase more than simply worthwhile (it's an event), but we all know we buy these sets for the stories themselves, right? :)

And then there are the commentaries. They are a great mix of the informational combined with the banter. There is a genuine chemistry in all 3 stories.

And, of course, we get the usual restoration treatment. Exceptional as always, and particularly of note is for "Castrovalva"'s filmed sequences; they bloom with colour and fidelity that really make "Castrovalva" totally fresh, as if we hadn't seen it before. Not with that range of color, we hadn't, WOW!!

Each story also comes with an isolated soundtrack, unfettered by dialogue - if you are fond of the music of this period (as I am), it's a real treat.

And deleted scenes! There's not much, but "Castrovalva" has a couple interesting ones...

And, of course, the true 5.1 remix of the Peter Howell theme. While the "The Beginning" set by far has the best 5.1 remix of a previous theme (in that set's case it's Delia Derbyshire's original), the 5.1 of Peter Howell's isn't by any means mundane... definitely worth the listen (or twice) if you've got the gear to play it!

One little note: When I bought New beginnings, it was pre-order for 19 pounds. The price went up to 22 pounds in mid-January. I noticed today it's down to 17 pounds. Normally I'll nitpick the price because I like to complain, but if they dropped the sale price and went back to the RRP of 29, GET IT ANYWAY! This set blew me away.

But I do have one question: If the actors and crew who despise the "?" motif were to comment on stories they weren't personally in, I wonder what they'd have to say...

Alexei Sayle's Stuff - Series 1 [DVD] [1988]
Alexei Sayle's Stuff - Series 1 [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Alexei Sayle

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes dated, but insanely funny!, 2 Sept. 2006
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In the states, this series was ran on my PBS affiliate - only once. I've been waiting forever to get it on DVD. So I just did. I always enjoyed the bizarre wackiness of the show's format, combined with political bashing and double-entendre laden humor. The dry wit never comes amiss either. Mind you, some of it is a tad on the silly side (Alexei's moments of pretending to be uber-drunk and prancing about like a hyper 5 year old, but that's part of the series' identity and I certainly can't fault it, even if I like to find things to find fault about. Try saying that when sober...)

Having re-watched the episodes, it's amazing at what is still just as goofy and funny as ever, and what is dated (1988) yet still as goofy and funny as ever because people tell me I like to live in the 70s... But the brilliance and edginess of this show is there.

And while topical, the political razing never ceases to induce uncontrollable fits of laughter. One can never have enough Thatcher jokes.

Well, some of it is a bit puerile, but who am I to notice? I'm a yank, we're all stark raving bonkers over here... :)

But I digressed. It's definitely great to see all 3 series of Alexei Sayle's Stuff finally out. It may never get to region 1 properly, but at least it's actually out for people to enjoy. And on the plus side, if you're not a yank, you won't have to worry about price translation and extra postage fees! :D But, again, I'm a yank. Money means nothing to us! :D

DVD quality is good, especially the video quality and compression level.

Definitely recommended, even if you had to suffer through paragraphs of inanity just to get to this recommendation.

And of all the shows the US has 'borrowed' in an attempt to mold and market them to the Americans, I'm surprised "Alexei Sayle's Stuff" hasn't been one of them. Pity I'm not a TV producer... or an actor... at least officially, some people call me a drama queen... (oh dear, I've digressed again. Where are we? Oh yes, that's right. Buy this DVD now!)

Doctor Who: Series 2 - Volume 1 [DVD] [2005]
Doctor Who: Series 2 - Volume 1 [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £5.81

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the full release if you can., 30 April 2006
2 stories on one volume, sans the Children in Need special which sadly has some relevance as it takes place before "The Christmas Invasion" (TCI) and involves the new Doctor fainting after the TARDIS crashes...

Seems a bit pricey for just two stories, at what amounts to £5 for each (plus shipping costs, VAT, et al)...

Hopefully the full set in November will have the CiN special to round things off.

This release only has TCI and New Earth.

The Volume 2 set coming out in June looks more promising as it has Tooth and Claw, School Reunion, and The Girl in the Fireplace. (so the Cybermen stories will presumably be coming out much later then - July, I'd hope...)

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