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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...the art lies in the fact that it is here."
There are very few people who don't love CITY OF DEATH. I could point out that the sets for primeval Earth in episode 4 look pretty awful, that Professor Kerensky appears to be giving an impromptu impression of some kind of a tree when he's being killed, and that it's rather embarrassing that not one of the customers bats an eyelid when gun-toting gangsters...
Published on 9 Nov 2005

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soup, Chicken and Spaghetti
A `Doctor Who' comedy thriller written by Douglas Adams, with my (equal) favourite Doctor, excellent A-list guest actors, eye-catching location filming in Paris and counted in the fans' top 10. So why don't I like it more than 3* ?

Yes, the clever script has ideas like a café artist subconsciously noting both the time fractures and the Time Lady nature...
Published 5 months ago by Number13

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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...the art lies in the fact that it is here.", 9 Nov 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
There are very few people who don't love CITY OF DEATH. I could point out that the sets for primeval Earth in episode 4 look pretty awful, that Professor Kerensky appears to be giving an impromptu impression of some kind of a tree when he's being killed, and that it's rather embarrassing that not one of the customers bats an eyelid when gun-toting gangsters threaten the Doctor in a Parisian cafe...yes,I COULD point this out, but it would be extremely churlish, as everything else in the story is(ahem)"exquisite".
Everyone is at the peak of their game here. Trust me, when I say that it's possible to wax lyrical about the cast, direction, incidental music and script for several million more words than I'm allowed for the length of this review. I'll confine myself to mentioning that Tom Baker gives one of his most charming, inventive and energised performances; that Julian Glover gives a masterclass in how to play a James Bond-style super-villain; that Dudley Simpson's Gershwin-inspired score thrums through your head for days after you've heard it; that the cinematic location shooting in Paris is terrific and that HITCH HIKERS' GUIDE TO THE GALAXY creator Douglas Adams' dialogue is some of the best ever in 42 years of televised DOCTOR WHO. Oh, and John Cleese turns up in a cameo in episode 4...what more could you want?
The extras are pretty wonderful as well. The good natured commentary by director Michael Hayes, Julian Glover and Tom Chadbon is nice to have, as are the informative production subtitles. There's a sporadically amusing spoof documentary "Eye on Blatchford" detailing another surviving Jagaroth's attempts to integrate himself into human society. A couple of interesting Behind the Scenes features showing the model work and a frustrating-looking sequence detailing Ian Scoones special effects work with both real and mechanical chickens!
There are at least 4 Easter eggs on the 2nd disc, but the real highlights are unquestionably the revealing documentary on the making of the serial: PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME, and the poor quality, but nonetheless fascinating studio footage which gives a unique portrait of Tom Baker's shifting moods and a sense of what it was like to be there during the recording sessions.
Some people will lament the absence of Baker and Lalla Ward from the extras, but personally, I don't feel short-changed. One gets the feeling that the discs are really more about celebrating the work of Douglas Adams, and there's plenty of footage of him being interviewed from '85 and '92. It's pleasing for DR WHO fans to learn that he retained his affection for the show, even after the fame and acclaim that HITCH HIKERS'... gave him.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite...absolutely exquisite, 7 May 2006
Mr. Simon Johnson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Excellent viewing and one of the real classics from the Tom Baker years, this is an inspired choice for release on DVD.

City of Death is the second story from the Seventeenth season of Dr Who, made at a time when the show was really flagging in terms of quality of stories and production. However this story is undoubtedly the stand out from the season by far, managing to combine all the necessary Dr Who elements with great success.

The obvious starting point is the story's main setting - Paris. This was the first ever time that the production team had used an overseas location and it works very effectively, giving the story an exotic and sophisticated ambience as well as tying in with one of the main storyline elements, involving the world famous painting, the Mona Lisa...Ok, some of the locations used are the obvious tourist attractions e.g. Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Metro, but they still work and are usually intrinsic to the story.

Writer Douglas Adams and producer Graham Williams (under the joint pseudonym David Agnew) have come up with an intriguing and original plotline. In Paris, 1979, the seemingly human Count Scarloni is in reality Scaroth, the last surviving member of the Jagaroth, an ancient race whose spacecraft became stranded on planet Earth thousands of years previously. Attempting take-off, the space ship exploded, killing all of the crew apart from Scaroth, whose being was splintered across different time zones throughout Earth's history. These twelve aspects have been guiding the development of mankind to a point where time travel is possible. In Paris, 1979, Scarloni/Scaroth is on the verge of perfecting a machine that will enable him to travel back in time and prevent himself from destroying the ship. However to do this, he still needs to finance his work and this involves stealing the expensive Mona Lisa...To find out more you will of course have to watch!

What of the other successful elements? There are excellent performances from the regular and guest cast. Tom Baker gives a more controlled and reigned in Doctor than some of his other recent performances (it could be down to the script) but not without his customary lunatic behaviour and humour. The scenes in which he baits the Count and Countess are particularly amusing.

Lalla Ward as the second incarnation of Romana makes an excellent companion and intellectual equal to the Doctor, as opposed to some of the more dim-witted screaming girl assistants of past adventures. She also sports a rather nice schoolgirl outfit which I'm sure will appeal to all male heterosexual fans of the show. Well alright, female and gay fans can appreciate these things too but from a more aesthetic point of view, shall we say. There's a strong and likeable rapport between both the Dr and Romana in this story (maybe reflected by the fact that Tom Baker and Lalla Ward were soon to become partners in real life).

The Dr and Romana team up with a Bulldog Drummond type detective, Duggan, who is on the trail of Count Scarloni. Portrayed with dry humour and appropriate thuggish tendencies by Tom Chadbon, Duggan makes an excellent foil to the Dr and Romana. I think he would have made a very interesting addition to the TARDIS crew, certainly more likeable and charismatic than the precocious and bratty Adric who was to regrettably materialise next season.

Julian Clover is aristocratic, charming and menacing in equal parts as the villainous Count Scarloni/Scaroth. The feline-featured Catherine Schell is his sophisticated, diva-ish wife (dig the cigarette holder!) who is blind to her husband's true ambitions and plans. Both form a suitably villainous pair.

We also get a lovely cameo from John "Basil Fawlty" Cleese and Eleanor Bron as a pair of art lovers, in one of my favourite ever Dr Who scenes. The Dr's time craft, the TARDIS, as always in the form of a police box, is parked in the corner of a gallery. Thinking it's just another exhibit, the art lovers spout lots of typically pretentious comments, before the Dr, Romana and Duggan dash inside the TARDIS and dematerialise, leaving the aforementioned pair completely un-phased and branding the experience "absolutely exquisite". Hilarious stuff.

City of Death boasts some excellent dialogue of the witty and sparkling, variety another definite highlight. For instance:

Countess (speaking of the Dr): My dear, I don't think he's as stupid as he seems.

Count: My dear, nobody could be as stupid as HE seems...

The special effects are also pretty impressive, given that this was an era when the BBC had approximately 20p per production to work with (compare to the much more high budget new series). Of note are the sequences featuring the spider-like Jagoroth spacecraft. Scaroth in his true guise does look rather like he's been constructed out of spaghetti, but that's part of the appeal. What I still can't work out is how Scaroth the alien has a much larger head than when in his human guise as the Count; how does he squeeze his real head into the mask? One of the great unsolved mysteries of the cosmos.

That just leaves me to mention the DVD extras - a slightly mixed affair. There's a good in-depth feature on the making of the story "Paris in the Springtime". "Paris W12" includes some interesting behind the scenes bits. "Chicken Wrangler" is a bit of a waste of time and I didn't find "Eye on...Blatchford" such an amusing skit as "Oh Mummy" (based on another Baker tale "Pyramids of Mars"). The story commentary is lively but I can't help feeling that Tom Baker would have made a more interesting contribution - these days he seems hard to track down!

However all in all this makes for a wonderful story and DVD - to be recommended even to the uninitiated Dr Who viewer and a great introduction to the Tom Baker years. Definitely one of the best Dr Who releases so far.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paris in the Springtime!, 10 Mar 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I love `City of Death'! It's my favourite Tom Baker story from `Doctor Who'. It's truly a masterpiece as much is the Mona Lisa! A vintage `Doctor Who'. Not the best vintage admittedly. More of a table wine you might say. I'm glad I managed to watch `City of Death' as it's a true classic. It's become an inspiration for many of own `Doctor Who' stories including my first one, one I set in Bath (the city, not the actual bath) and one I'm currently doing at the moment on a 1930s cruise ship.

I watched this story first time when I was invited to stay overnight with some friends who are a married couple and `Doctor Who' fans like me. We were working on a `Doctor Who' quiz for a drama camp in the summer of 2008, and the following morning over a breakfast of egg sandwiches we watched `City of Death'. Knowing my love for `Doctor Who', they'd thought I would enjoy this. And I certainly did! I love every minute of it. I bought the DVD not long after watching this.

This is a 2-disc set with the story on the first disc and special features on the second.

This story comes from the sixth season of Tom Baker's era and was written by David Agnew, who actually doesn't exist. David Agnew was actually three people who contributed to the story's writing. `City of Death' was actually written by Douglas Adams from the ideas and original storyline of another `David' - David Fisher and script edited by producer Graham Williams. It's a funny, witty and cleverly well-written story with a good plot and lovely dialogue that even Paris will make it even more delicious and excite your taste buds.

I enjoy the stories written by Douglas Adams and it's a real treat to watch or listen to something that has Adams-esque humour from time to time. Douglas is well-known for 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', but this is not that story. Here he brings a terrific `Who' story that's a comedy drama in itself and is lovely to watch. I don't get some of the science stuff running through, but I always look forward to humour. This has got to be one of the highlights of his season and is well remembered by Who fans.

Douglas rewrote the scripts of this story under a heavy dose of whisky and black coffee given to him by Graham Williams who locked him in his study. Do have some sympathy for Douglas please! But from those long nights of writing and rewriting, Douglas brings a cracking good and fantastic Doctor Who story that's managed to win in the top 10 of stories in the `Doctor Who' poll. I love the humour that runs through this story and it's certainly a feel good story about questions of art and how we perceive art in a new light rather than just thinking they're pretty which I found interesting.

`City of Death' is a story about the Doctor and Romana taking a holiday in Paris, 1979. I really love the Paris locations in this story. They seem so lush, eloquent and lovely to watch that even now makes me want to go Paris, even if it's for a daytrip or a two-day holiday and have a lovely French cup of coffee with a chessy ham crossiant or crêpe to go with it. Watching the Doctor and Romana walking and running about the streets of Paris and seeing all the landmarks such as Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées and of course the Eiffel Tower was a joy to spring. Even Dudley Simpson's gorgeous incidental music supporting the background of the Doctor and Romana exploring Paris made my heart skip a beat. I even feel like singing the music now.

But the Doctor and Romana's holiday is cut short as something strange is going wrong with time. The two of them experience time loops for two seconds in a café. With them being Time Lords, they know that's something's amiss. The Doctor soon takes Romana to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre - one of the greatest art galleries in the whole galaxy. With a happy fists detective named Duggan on their tail, the Doctor and Romana soon end up in the chateau of one Count Scarlioni with his wife the Countess, who are involved in an organised crime to steal the Mona Lisa - one of the greatest treasures in the universe, according to the Doctor.

The cast are superb in this story! As well as Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, they are supported by a good group of supporting actors.

One of my favourite actors in this story is Julian Glover playing Count Scarlioni. I've met Julian Glover twice at conventions, most recently in Cardiff at the beginning of March this year. I like Julian Glover as an actor. When I first met him I spoke on behalf of a friend who admired him in the James Bond film he did afterwards that he was a very good actor. `I know,' he said in reply. I laughed. Of course. What else is he going to say? I've seen Julian in plenty of other things apart from `Doctor Who' such as `The Avengers', `The Saint' and also in the James Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only' and of course in `Star Wars' and `Indiana Jones' too. Recently I told him how much I enjoyed seeing him in many of these films and TV shows he's done. The only thing is he's always playing villains. `It happens to the best in people' is what he said when I told him, and it's true especially when you cast nice people to play villainous parts. I enjoyed meeting Julian Glover as well watching him.

The character Julian plays in this is actually an alien who was the last of a race who were wiped out during the prehistoric age of Earth. He is Scaroth, the last of the Jagoroth. The Jagoroth are a `vicious, callous, war-like race' according to the Doctor. Aliens who have faces like spaghetti and have `only one eye and green skin'. Scaroth got splintered into twelve versions of himself across time and space in Earth's history when his ship exploded during the prehistoric age. Scaroth is trying to restore himself and get back to where his spaceship 'is/was' and stop himself pressing `the button'. To do this he intends to use Leonardo Da Vinci and rustle up many copies for the Mona Lisa to fund his time travel experiments. Are you with me so far? It is confusing I grant you. But trust me, Scaroth a great villain and wonderfully played by Julian Glover who definitely knows how to play villains with charm, finesse and menace. If only he had the Paris telephone directory under his person.

Also in this story is Catherine Schell playing the Countess, wife to Scarlioni, and possibly her first name's Heidi I hope. I enjoyed watching Catherine Schell playing this exotic aristocratic lady married to the Count. Catherine comes from Hungary and her amazing accent adds to the character pretty well. She's a beautiful woman `probably' and so well cast for this character she's playing. I like it when she's there at the Louvre and is seemingly mysterious. She obviously thinks the Count's a genius. Bit strange though that the Countess didn't know her husband was an alien. He obviously kept it well hidden from her. But she's a truly mesmerizing and interesting character to watch. I love the scenes she has with the Doctor regarding Shakespeare and she thinks he's mad and he tells the Countess about being willfully blind to the Count's alien origins. When the Countess learns the truth about the Count, she's terribly shocked and terrified. She points a gun at him, and has a terrible end when Scaroth deals with her. I found it chilling when Scaroth spoke to her in that charming alien voice as she lay there on the floor of their nice chateau living room.

There's also Tom Chadbon playing the detective Duggan. Duggan's a pretty rough sort of a character...and a bit thick. He likes to hit things or people rather than holding back. `If it moves, hit it!' as the Doctor describes his philosophy. He likes to smash glass, especially when it comes to breaking a bottle of wine. If you want to open a bottle and you can't uncork it, Duggan's your man as he'll smash the bottle open for you to serve your wine. The Doctor finds it annoying when Duggan tends to hit things first before he gets to ask a question. But Duggan's got a good heart and is definitely on the side of good. He even gets to help out Romana as her `glamorous assistant'. I found it funny when Duggan doesn't get the time travel nonsense and goes blank when Romana's explaining it to him. I found Duggan really funny and a pleasure to watch and is a true ally to the Doctor and Romana.

The rest of the cast include David Graham playing Professor Kerensky (who's a bit like Manuel from `Fawlty Towers' to me when playing the part); Peter Halliday (who played `Packer' from `The Invasion' playing the Soldier in Da Vinci's study in Florence, 1505 who's a little dim and `simply paid to fight'; Kevin Flood playing Hermann, Scarlioni's `violent' but loyal butler and Pamela Stirling playing the timid but sweet Louvre Guide who the Doctor bumps into on the odd occasion.

One moment I really enjoyed in this story is seeing the cameo appearance of John Cleese and Eleanor Bron playing art lovers in a museum who comment on the TARDIS standing there. To see John Cleese was a treat and a surprise when I first saw it with my friends. I knew John Cleese already for 'Fawlty Towers' and I think he was still working on series 2 of that series at the same time he did this cameo. Also seeing Eleanor Bron was a delight and this would be before she did `Revelation of the Daleks' and when I saw her in `A Little Princess' as a little boy. They comment on the TARDIS police box's artistic design, and I love it when the Doctor, Romana and Duggan go inside and take off to stop Scarlioni walking past Cleese and Bron. Cleese and Bron watch them go in and the TARDIS dematerialising and they are impressed. It's a very funny moment and I enjoyed watching it even if it was a minute or so. Seeing John Cleese with Eleanor Bron was pure magic and is a classic moment in the story. And `since it has no call to be there, the art lies in the fact that it is here!'

Of course the star worth mentioning in this story is Tom Baker. He's on top form and is into his game as the Doctor in this story. He clearly loves the script and dialogue, and he's at his best playing the Doctor in this story. Tom loves the humour and wit of Douglas Adams and it suits his Doctor pretty well. I love the scenes where he's taking the mick out of the villains first and then becoming deadly serious towards the end when he confronts Scarlioni. I found it funny when he's pushed about by Hermann the butler and looks up with that wild grin and says `I say! What a wonderful butler! He's so violent!' I love it when he's introducing himself, Romana and Duggan to the Countess before ending up in a Louis Quinze chair to sit in and helping himself to a drink. He's so funny when he goes `Hello there!' and I love it when the Doctor has witty and funny dialogue to say when he's either with his friends or against his enemies. I love his scenes with Kerensky and I enjoyed when he barks `Duggan! What are you doing for heaven's sake! That's a Louis Quinze' when Duggan's about to throw the chair. I liked it when the Doctor's trying to persuade Scarlioni not to tinker with time and that he's going to stop him with his warnings. Tom's great as the Doctor in this and it's one of his best performances.

Lalla Ward's good in this too and clearly enjoys doing another Douglas Adams styled script. Her Romana gets to dress up in a school girls uniform which is a bit unusual, but Lalla was rather keen on the idea. I liked it when Romana thinks computers can draw pictures better and the Doctor admonishes her by taking her to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Also when Romana's unlocking the puzzle box much to the Countess' annoyance was a funny moment. Lalla's Romana is quite childlike much like Tom's Doctor is and the two bounce each other by this story in their working relationship. Romana's truly shows off Time Lady quality in this story and is pretty good when leading Duggan or facing Scarlioni back at his chateau and down in his lab.

The story is full of humour and lovely comedic moments to enjoy. But it's also a story that questions about art and how we as people perceive it. Some perceive art for its wealth, fidelity, precision and even as a badge of status. We take art for granted sometimes and forget or become ignorant of what it represents. When seven copies of the Mona Lisa are made, the Doctor writes on the paintwork `THIS IS A FAKE!' in an attempt to foil Scarlioni's plans somewhat. It doesn't work out the way the Doctor had in mind, but in defeating Scaroth one of the Mona Lisas survives being burnt from destruction in the lab. And this one happens to have the words `THIS IS A FAKE' underneath. Duggan is aghast that the Doctor's casual about it to be put on show in the Louvre. `But it's a fake! You can't put a fake Mona Lisa up in the Louvre!' Much debate ensues since Da Vinci painted it anywhere and about whether or not it matters what it looks like. In the end, the Doctor has the final say in that the point of painting is not for wealth or fame but for the human achievement it contains. So just because the Mona Lisa has `fake' written underneath, it doesn't affect what it looks like. It's a beautiful painting and should be cherished for years to come. So when you visit Paris and see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, do appreciate its beauty and what it represents. Although do be careful not to get sucked into the painting and replaced by Mona Lisa herself as what happened in `The Sarah Jane Adventures' story 'Mona's Lisa Revenge'.

The special features on this DVD include the following.

On Disc 1, there's a commentary with director Michael Hayes as well as actors Julian Glover and Tom Chadbon (why weren't Tom Baker or Lalla Ward on this since they liked the story so much?). And there's an info-text option commentary to watch during the story. Sadly no incidental music track to watch with Dudley Simpson's music in the background I'm afraid.

On Disc 2, there's a very informative 45-minute documentary called `Paris in the Springtime' written by Jonathan Morris. It focuses on the making of `City of Death' itself and the huge contribution made by Douglas Adams to the series. It features interviews with cast and crew as well as from two New Series writers including Steven Moffatt (who's now head writer on the series today) and Robert Shearman (who wrote 'Dalek' back in 2005).

There's `Paris, W12' featuring studio recording sessions of `City of Death' made in London; `Prehistoric Landscapes' focusing on the effects of the sequences set in the primeval time of Earth with Scaroth's spaceship; and there's `Chicken Wrangler' focusing on the making on the special effects for the `chicken' sequences in the story. There's a photo gallery for this story. There's a pretty funny spoof called `Eye On...Blatchford' that tells the story of the `second-to-last' of the Jagoroth and his life on Earth. There's also a PDF file for the `Doctor Who Annual 1980' on this disc. There's also lots of Easter Eggs to look out for on this disc, including Douglas Adam's trip to Paris with `Destiny of the Daleks' director Ken Grieve and also a funny comedy sketch between Tom Baker and John Cleese which I enjoyed.

If you're looking for comedy-drama in 'Doctor Who', then this is the one for you! It gives me great pleasure to watch this story over and over again whenever I can. Douglas Adams makes it work and the humour shines out pretty well. With Julian Glover playing the villain, Tom Baker as the Doctor, a fantastic cameo from John Cleese and Eleanor Bron and lovely witty dialogue from Douglas Adams himself, it provides the perfect ingredients for a good Spanish omelette. A classy stylish `Doctor Who' story that's one of my favourite and one that I cherish for years to come.

`Bye, bye Duggan!'

At the end of 'City of Death', there's a announcement for the next story 'The Creature from the Pit' which can be seen next Saturday...which you don't have to wait for since it's already out on DVD.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent classic Doctor Who, 21 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
"City of Death" was an excellent choice for a classic Doctor Who DVD release. The banter between the Doctor and Romana, not to mention their journey around Paris (why there run everywhere is never really explained!) reminded me of the Doctor and Rose in the first episode of the New Series, and showed that in many ways the formula for good Doctor Who has never really changed.
The story keeps moving along, the dialogue is sharp and often witty, and Tom Baker is at his best as the 4th Doctor. OK so the special effects could be better, but then this was made in 1979. The extras on this DVD are well worth watching too, with a good 45 minute documentary and about 20 minutes of behind the scenes (if infront of the cameras!) studio tapes.
If you knew the classic series as a child then this DVD will not disappoint. And if you have been introduced to Doctor Who via the New Series, then this disc is a good introduction to classic Doctor Who.
So BBC, can we have Full Circle (another classic Tom Baker story) on DVD now please?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS A FAKE, 4 Nov 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD) scribbled on various versions of the Mona Lisa in contemporary Paris. The Doctor writes those messages on the paintings he finds half finished in Renaissance France. Something alien is meddling with time and the Doctor and Romana realise that a certain Count is not what he seems.
Tom Baker is on ebullient form, and there is a genuine closeness with the wonderful Lalla Ward, who played the second incarnation of Time Lady Romana; the supporting cast is also magnificent, including a magical cameo by John Cleese, and the cast and crew clearly enjoyed making this story on location in Paris. The script by Douglas Adams (yes, the great ‘Hitch Hikers’ man was script editor and writer for a period), is witty, clever, and tumbles along at a great pace, with memorable dialogue and set scenes. DVD extras include archival interviews with Douglas Adams, studio footage, and a satirical mock news item on the troubles of an alien trying to live a quiet life in rural England. This package is magnificent fun, a model time travel tale, and 70's Doctor Who at its finest; it also contains one of those classic cliff-hanger moments that kids will love, and older viewers may remember.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paris in the Spring, 28 Jan 2007
M. Wilberforce "mwilberforce" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
"City of Death", written by Douglas Adams and producer Graham Williams under the pseudonym David Agnew, is widely regarded by fans as a classic of the Tom Baker era of "Doctor Who" and the best script produced by the Williams / Adams production team that presided over the fifteenth to seventeenth seasons of the series. It is also memorable as "the one where the Doctor goes to Paris". Paris is presumably the city referred to in the title, although the title bears absolutely no relation to the actual events of the story.

Personally I feel that "City of Death" is somewhat overrated and probably seems better than it actually is due to the overseas location and the fact that the serial was produced during one of Doctor Who's weakest periods on the air. None the less, there is no doubting the fact that "City of Death" is a genuinely classy effort from a very cash-strapped production team, enhanced greatly by its Parisian setting, the strong guest cast and the excellent set design.

Headlining the guest cast is Julian Glover, who puts in a menacingly suave performance as the enigmatic Count Scarlioni. Catherine Schell is more than Glover's match as the sophisticated but deluded Countess. Meanwhile, Tom Chadbon joins the cast as the ineptly violent detective Duggan (whose tendency to hit first and ask questions later is a running gag that becomes much more important at the end of the story). All three revel in Adams' one-liners and display great comic timing, as do regulars Lalla Ward and Tom Baker, who is at his most irreverent in this production.

Although seemingly padded by numerous film shots of the cast running around major Parisian landmarks, "City of Death" proceeds at a swift pace and we really do believe that the events of the story, including the studio scenes, are taking place in Paris. There are enough absurdly inventive twists in the rather bizarre overall plot to keep the viewer interested from start to finish.

On the DVD, there is a 45-minute documentary about the making of the story, extensive behind the scenes material, an exclusive comedy sketch and a few bits and bobs from the archives. There is a full commentary with director Michael Hayes and actors Julian Glover and Tom Chadbon that is let down only by the absence of both Tom Baker and Lalla Ward. A thorough and entertaining package even if it didn't really need to be a two-disc release.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Points out why I failed in life, 22 Aug 2007
Mark Grindell "Mark Grindell" (Driffield, East Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Why couldn't I be like the bad guys here? I would have had a great life! Reason - never had the time to get that degree of STYLE. And besides, I'm just too old to even try now.

I'm thinking about the quotes particularly, but if I .... only... had the chops to turn out some of these, say, when I was 19 or so, my life would have been very different.

My wife regards this very highly, but ONLY for the immortal line

"... what have I been LIVING WITH for all these years???!!!!"

Can't imagine why. But in any case, this entire production comes very close to an "entire life management" kind of video. John Cleese was at this time filming his various and highly sucessful shorts on how to manage (or NOT to manage a company). I remember these if only because when we watched the one we had hired, half the guys in the room had to leave because, well, they could barely control themselves... And you can tell that Cleese is in top form here - completely straight and yet somehow, in a way that ONLY he can achieve, completely barking mad.


And Tom is equally possessed here. If he had occupied the stage like this in every story for the seasons following, the resulting cult movements established in drop dead hommage would have been astonishing. You really have to get hold of this to see what I mean, but Julian Glover, Tom Baker, and whatshimname Cleese make for a very potent mixture - you may well have to have a change of underwear close to hand.

If this is an attempt to pander to the many (male and adolescent) Doctor Who fans who want to empathise with (and in fact, become) a kind of shy, but fierce and fearless action man, Duggan is the perfect foil; a brilliant acted complicated and very moral bloke who should really have been a companion to the good Doctor, but for some reason didn't quite make it. THAT was a waste. What was it? Nerves? Self preservation? We'll never know now.

I simply cannot list the number of lines here that have shaped (or even DEFINED) the way I think about art galleries, monsters, memory regression therapy, the origins of man, theology and hairstyling. As far as prime ham goes, only "Image of the Fendahl" comes close - and this is definitely Ginger Beer and John Buchan territory (aka CS Lewis), and therefore eminnently watchable, nay, irresitable.

It's better than that - a real treasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mona Lisa does time travel, 9 Jun 2014
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
A narrative that entails main production moves from the UK to the city of Paris France. It was the first Doctor Who serial to be filmed on location outside of the United Kingdom; the production team worked in Paris during April and May 1979. There are plenty reviews here that mulled over the plot lines, so this review will forgo this. For me there were some real highlights. A show where the Doctor and Romana 'acquire' several Mona Lisas and uncover alien conspiracy. One of the highlights - John Cleese and Eleanor Bron were persuaded to make a cameo appearance in a short scene, on the proviso that there was no pre-publicity regarding their appearance. For this viewer it was real treat and whole scene was really very funny. Another thing that really worked in the production was the shots of the Jagaroth spacecraft taking off from the prehistoric Earth - as this aspect of the shoot were overseen by Ian Scoones, a veteran of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds - it really looked the business. The Scarlioni's costume and the mask, at the time really lend themselves to the piece and that mask was truly scary too. I liked the threading together of all the 'Scarlionis' fragmented through time and the way a different aspect to time travel is brought to the fore.

For me City of Death was one the best of the seventeenth season with Tom Baker. Adams' refined comedy script made it easily the wittiest and most quotable of the series - definitely one of my top ten Dr Who productions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Doctor Who Experience, 3 Jun 2014
Timelord007 (The Tardis) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Dvd Info.
Region 2.
2dvd set.
4 episodes.
Running time 99 minutes approx.

Disc 1) Commentary by Director Michael Hayes & actor's Julian Glover & Tom Chadbon.
Disc 2) A 45-minute documentary titled `Paris in the Springtime' written by Doctor Who writer Jonathan Morris which is the dvds making of `City of Death'.
'Paris, W12' the studio recordings of `City of Death' made in London.
Prehistoric Landscapes featurette.
Chicken Wrangler featurette, The making on the special effects for the `chicken' sequences in the story.
Photo gallery.
Eye On...Blatchford' A comical spoof that tells the story of the `second' last of the Jagoroth.
PDF file `Doctor Who Annual 1980'.
Easter Eggs.

1)Julian Glover featured in the First Doctor story The Crusades & Glovers film credits include, The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade & James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
2)Lookout for cameos from John Cleese & Eleanor Bron as a pair of Art critics.
3)This story received the series highest viewing figures to date with a staggering 16.1 million due too a on going ITV strike at the time of transmission.
4)David Agnew is a Pseudonym for David Fisher, Douglas Adams & Graham Williams.
5)The late Douglas Adams rewrote David Fishers Gamble Of Time storyline over a weekend whom jokingly quoted producer Graham Williams kept him awake hosing Adams down with black coffee & whiskey.
6)Originally transmitted on 29th September-20th October 1979.

Plot Synopsis.
While taking in the sights of Paris in 1979, the Fourth Doctor and Romana sense that someone is tampering with time, Investigating the trail leads the time travellers to the home of the mysterious Count Scarlioni?

Scarlioni intends to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre gallery to sell on the black market but what's is behind his real agenda?

Why does Scarlioni seem to have counterparts of himself scattered through time?, Who are the Jagoroth And why steal the Mona Lisa when Scarlioni already has several authentic copies locked in his basement.

Can the Doctor, Romana & private investigator Duggan foil Scarlioni's plans which could cause the whole of mankind to never have exsisted?

Timelord Thoughts.
29th September 1979 my four year old self flicked through the 3 tv channels of my nans black & white tv & heard the BBC announcer announce the next show titled Doctor Who which title instantly intrigued me.

As I sat there watching hearing that iconic music blare out from my nans telly I became captivated by this time traveller known as the Doctor who's long scarf & toothy grin had me in awe.

Then the episode 1 cliffhanger appeared featuring a man by the name of Scarlioni who looks into a mirror & rips his face off to reveal a green slimey alien face with a huge one eye, I jumped in sheer terror diving behind my nans high backed chair terrified for what seemed an eternity.

My nan informed my parents on what happened & advised I never be allowed to watch this show again which if had been inforced this review may never have been written because I pleaded with my mum to let me watch Doctor Who as I needed to know what happened next & my love for the series began.

This story has a certain nostalgic value for me & for the most part delivers a great adventure featuring a superb performance by Tom Baker who's firing on all cylinders in this adventure whom shares great chemistry with Lalla Wards excellent portrayal of Romana.

The supporting cast are excellent especially Julian Glover as Count Scarlioni/Scarroth who allows the character to be charming enigmatic & terrifying all at the same time while Tom Charbon plays a interesting character known as private investigator Duggan who's written a little OTT during this adventure as he charges threw glass windows without any cuts or injures.

What lets this adventure down somewhat is the lacklustre ending to such a wonderful build up as a simple punch by Duggan to Scarroth saves the day when this is when the story needed a tighter edgier tension filled conclusion which no doubt would've served the storyline far better.

Overall this is a entertaining adventure & the best story from the troublesome season 17 despite the storys minor flaws.

Timelord Rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soup, Chicken and Spaghetti, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - City of Death [1979] [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
A `Doctor Who' comedy thriller written by Douglas Adams, with my (equal) favourite Doctor, excellent A-list guest actors, eye-catching location filming in Paris and counted in the fans' top 10. So why don't I like it more than 3* ?

Yes, the clever script has ideas like a café artist subconsciously noting both the time fractures and the Time Lady nature of Romana, the multiple Mona Lisas leading us to question what genuine means. The egg-chicken-egg loop being mirrored by the primordial soup / exploding Jagaroth ship is very clever. So is Scaroth being fragmented through time and working to get back to his ship, even if we have had too many `Doctor Who' aliens all claiming to have vitally influenced the development of humanity - my money's still on the Dæmons, you don't argue with Azal.

The best part of `City of Death' is Julian Glover as Scaroth, giving the character all the suave, sophisticated, sinister intent you'd expect from a Bond Villain and the sets and effects are mostly good. The Paris location filming is attractive but didn't seem to add much -if a key plot device is the theft of `the' Mona Lisa you've basically got to be in Paris. There were a lot of famous landmarks seen but they weren't really integral to the story, which seemed a missed opportunity.

But for me the comedy, despite many enjoyable one-liners, undid the story by often feeling too obvious and too at odds with the science fiction plot under the light-hearted topping. The enjoyably stylish, sardonic wit of the Count and Countess and their devious art heist also seemed undermined by the too-evident and rather knowing comedy surrounding them, which was well acted as comedy but felt jarring in this situation. By the time the full destructive nature of Scaroth's stratagem was revealed, I couldn't take that seriously either.

One plot device was especially annoying - how could an intelligent woman like the Countess live with (and presumably, as she shares his title, be married to) a monocular green alien apparently made of spaghetti and she doesn't notice?! Of course, a rubber mask! In fact there must have been a whole set of masks, one for each of Scaroth's time-scattered fragments. This seemed almost like the programme laughing at its own reputation for rubber monsters; making the Jagaroth another shape-shifting species like the Zygons or Rutans was surely the obvious sci-fi solution.

`City of Death' was the best (completed) story in a generally disappointing season of `Doctor Who' and most people love it, but for me, it's not a classic. Fans of Douglas Adams (which includes me) should enjoy the fantastical brilliance of `The Pirate Planet' or the interesting, part-filmed `Shada'.
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