4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2014
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do." - The Doctor to Ace; `Survival', Part Three.
This is a 2-disc DVD set, with the story on Disc 1 and more special features on Disc 2.
It's hard to believe or imagine that `Doctor Who' would be taken off the air for a long period of sixteen years before it came back on TV. But it happened and it seemed like the show had died quietly as the turn of the 1990s came.
`Doctor Who' got cancelled in 1989, the year I was born. Not my fault my being born that it got cancelled I promise, ha, ha. The reason why I became unaware of `Doctor Who' during the 90s was that it was never shown on TV and in the end my favourite TV shows became `Thomas the Tank Engine' that ashamedly went into `Power Rangers' and `Beast Wars Transformers' as I was growing up.
The final adventure of the classic TV run of `Doctor Who' is a three-part story called `Survival'. This was story I thoroughly enjoyed and I got to discover and find things out about why `Doctor Who' was cancelled at the end of the 1980s. I've had the DVD cover of this story signed by Sophie Aldred (who plays Ace alongside Sylvester McCoy's Doctor) at a convention in Cardiff earlier this year in March. I asked Sophie whether she thought it was the right decision to cancel the show in 1989. She said it was a decision made by the BBC bosses and believed that they made the wrong move in cancelling the show at the time, which I wholeheartedly concur. The show showed little or no interest in the BBC management at time and despite `Doctor Who' finding its feet again, they pulled the plug regardless which is a shame as it curtailed Sylvester McCoy's era too quickly.
Saying that however, I find that `Survival' is a great story to close off the classic series of `Doctor Who'. It's certainly a great story for Ace's character and is certainly one that proves Sylvester McCoy's best as the Doctor as well as Sophie Aldred playing the companion. The story also set the stage for what Russell T. Davies would put into his version of the series when it triumphantly returned in 2005, with the character of Rose and the atmosphere of a council estate and working class society. The story deals with some pretty strong themes on `survival', hence the title, and puts our main characters to their limits when facing with dangerous situations.
`Survival' sets the story in Perivale, London in 1989 where Ace was born. Ace returns to the home where she grew up and tried to run away from. It was great to watch a story with Ace and seeing where she came from and her background as I'd only seen her with the Doctor in 'Remembrance Of The Daleks'.
In the story, the Doctor takes Ace back home to Perivale where she hopes to meet up with her `old gang' and catch up. But something is wrong, as it turns out people are disappearing off the street corners. It seems that a couple of stray black cats are involved in this and look pretty scary with yellow glowing eyes and open their mouths with razor sharp teeth when they snarl or hiss. Pretty soon, Ace gets chased by a Cheetah woman on horseback named Karra, who jumps through a portal from another world. Ace finds herself on the Cheetah people's home world, and eventually the Doctor joins her to find that his old enemy the Master is waiting for him. It's all a matter of survival, but can they resist the animal insists inside them that could potentially lead to their deaths?
This three-part story was written by newcomer female writer to the series, Rona Munro. This is Rona's first and only contribution to the world of `Doctor Who'. Rona wrote this story that was originally called `Cat Flap'. Thank goodness they changed it to `Survival'! Aside from the title, Rona writes a really captivating story that is really embedded with the themes of hunting of survival; the cat and the temptation of following to your animal instincts. Some of its pretty gruesome in places, especially when the Cheetah-People and Kittlings kill and eat people. I really like how Rona makes use of the council estate setting and the people who live in those areas and how they would speak and sound, as it makes the atmosphere of the story authentic.
Sophie Aldred is terrific as Ace in this. I really like Sophie as she's a really friendly person and I've had pleasure meeting her at conventions, the recent one in Cardiff. Sophie puts so much into the character of Ace and is a really very good actress in `Doctor Who'. During the stories Ace is in on TV, she develops as character growing up from adolescence into womanhood. I like how Sophie comments on there being a trilogy of stories for Ace in Season 26, where 'Ghost Light' focuses on her past fears; 'The Curse of Fenric' focuses on her present fears and `Survival' focuses on her future fears. It's very interesting to see how Ace develops and Sophie pinpoints on what the stage the character's going in her journey through travelling in the TARDIS with the Doctor.
Ace isn't happy on returning to Perivale. Although she wants to meet up with her friends, she doesn't like returning to her own time since `nothing happens' there. I like the subtle connections made with Ace to Rose in the new series, as there's a similar story for Ace when she comes back home after being away for so long and is like a sister to Rose being a council estate girl herself. Ace finds herself transported to the Cheetah world and somehow makes an unusual friendship and bond to Karra, a Cheetah-woman who calls her `sister'. Ace starts to like the place she's in on the Cheetah world as she feels she can run forever and is hungry inside. She gets infected with the yellow eyes, almost becoming like the Cheetah people herself. I was worried about Ace when she changed like that with the yellow eyes in `Part Two' and wondered if she'll be forever cat-like. But her transformation with the power of the Cheetahs may be the only chance for her, the Doctor and friends to getting back home to Perivale at last.
I enjoyed watching Sylvester McCoy's Doctor in this. I like how mysterious he is in this and already knows something wrong when he sees the strange black cat staring at him with sharp teeth and doesn't seem to be listening to Ace when she's talking to him. I like those scenes when he's buying cat food from the grocers shops with those two comic characters like the Chuckle Brothers, Len and Harvey (played by comedy duo Gareth Hale and Norman Pace). I also found it funny when the Doctor's trying to lure the black cat with cat food and it's either the wrong cat or a dog going for and it and he shouts, "Go! Go away, dog! Dog! Shoo! Shoo!". Those moments of comedy are blended with moments of seriousness when the Doctor discovers the connection of Earth to Cheetah World and how the Master's involved. I like it when Sylvester' Doctor confronts the Master of when he's trying to help Ace overcome her fears and brave through the cat instinct inside of her. The Doctor gets to ride a motorbike instead of Ace and drives at Midge towards him getting caught in an explosion and Ace is shouting "NO!!!!" which was very effective.
This story is also the last televised appearance of the Master played by Anthony Ainley in `Doctor Who'. I love Anthony Ainley's Master! I love that reveal in `Part One' when the Doctor uncovers the tent with Master inside and he's got glowing yellow eyes saying, "Well Doctor. What a unexpected pleasure." The Master's wearing a different costume for his last story, but he's still elegantly evil throughout. Although he has somehow managed to acquire an animal-like instinct in him within him since he's got glowing yellow eyes and sharp teeth. He has command over the Kittlings (black cats that are vultures popping back-in-out from the Cheetah world into ours) and also over the Cheetah-people. He's trapped on the Cheetah-world and requires the help of the Doctor to get himself off the planet and off to Earth. He manages to acquire Midge who's infected, and the two of them transport from the Cheetah world to Earth where he plans to stir trouble and chaos in his maniacal plans. That fight scene between him and the Doctor on the dying Cheetah-world is very effective as the Doctor cries out in a loud voice, "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!"
The Cheetah people are like the monsters of this `Doctor Who' story. Some say these Cheetah people aren't so very good claiming that the make-up is terrible and that they don't look at all frightening. But me personally, I found the look of these Cheetah people very frightening indeed. I know they're people in make-up and costume, but it's when one of them rides on horse-back chasing Ace or when some on their planet reach out to grab some meat from Doctor and party or chase and attack them that makes them frightening. I find the black cat Kittlings frightening too as they're vultures for the Cheetah-people to feed on people and it's pretty gruesome when seeing cats eating off the flesh of the dead creating these horrific images into the story.
One of these Cheetah people is a female called Karra. Underneath that make-up is a lovely lady called Lisa Bowerman who plays Karra. This is Lisa's first `Doctor Who' appearance as she would later go on to play future companion Bernice Summerfield in the Big Finish audios of `Doctor Who' as well as in her own spin-off series of adventures. In `Survival', Lisa plays a Cheetah-woman who rides on a horse chasing after her prey. I like the story that Lisa told when her horse wouldn't have a man ride on her and in the end she did most of the horse-riding. Karra chases Ace through the playground on Earth before sending her off to the Cheetah world. She eventually befriends Ace, calling her `sister'. like the way Lisa plays Karra drinking water from Ace's cupped hands as laps at it like a cat does. Karra has the tendency of saying `Good hunting, sister!' to Ace a lot. Karra dies after being stabbed by the Master, and we do get to see Lisa in the flesh when she reverts back to her human form. It makes you wonder whether these Cheetah people were human once or looked human before becoming furry all over.
One of Ace's friends who gets infected by the cat influence is Midge, played by Will Barton. Will gives a pretty rough and edgy performance to Midge when he's with Ace's other friends trying to survive on the Cheetah world. He gets overcome by the Cheetah world's effect on him as he stabs one of the Cheetahs to death with a sharp long sabre-tooth and gets glowing yellow eyes and sharp fangs in the process. Midge gets captured by the Master and is overcome becoming animal-like when he's able to jump through dimensions back home to Earth taking the Master with him. It's pretty scary when Midge becomes overconfident in his animal-like persona on Earth and is vulnerable in doing the Master's bidding, as Will Barton delivers a terrifically terrifying performance.
The rest of the supporting cast surviving in this story include Julian Holloway playing Sergeant Paterson, who gives SAS survival courses to youngsters although when he joins the Doctor and Ace on Cheetah world he's way out of his depth and is annoying for the Doctor. There's Derek John playing Derek, who is a young man trying to survive and is grateful to the Doctor and Ace for rescuing and getting him back home. And there's Sakuntala Ramanee playing Shreela, one of Ace's friends, who is also trying to survive and is the voice of reason when fights break out between Midge and Derek or when Ace is trying to sort them out and getting them back home.
The last scene of the story is very touching. Ace believes the Doctor is dead as she holds his umbrella and wears the panama hat on her head, kneeling to the ground distraught in tears. But then the Doctor appears behind her and takes the hat and umbrella from her. I really like it when Ace smiles and doesn't turn round as she knows and feels the Doctor's presence behind her. After coming to realise it's finished, Ace gets up as the Doctor asks her where to now. "Home," Ace says. "Home?" the Doctor asks. "TARDIS," Ace replies. The Doctor smiles, "Yes. The TARDIS." And the Doctor and Ace head off back to the TARDIS in the sunlight as they continue to have more adventures in time and space going off in the distance. I really like that final speech the Doctor makes about the `tea getting cold' as it closes off not just `Survival' but also the classic series of `Doctor Who' on a high and reassuring note. It's a rather sad moment, but effective all the same.
The special features on this DVD for `Survival' are as follows.
On Disc 1, there's a making-of documentary on `Survival' that is divided into two parts called `Cat Flap'. In `Part 1', it focuses on the story conception and pre-production stage of the story. Then in `Part 2', it focuses on the actual filming and recording of the story before its post-production phase. It contains interviews with the cast and crew such as Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Lisa Bowerman (Karra); Will Barton (Midge); Andrew Cartmel (script edtior); Alan Waering (director); Mike Tucker (visual effects supervisor); etc.
There are some deleted and extended scenes that were cut out from the story during the post-production stage. There also some outtakes from the story, showing the comedy moments and bloopers made by actors such as Sylvester and Sophie during the making of `Survival'. There also some `trailers and continuity announcements' from the original story's transmission on BBC1 in 1989. There's a photo gallery; a Radio Times Billings PDF document to access on computer and info-text commentary option to watch during the story.
There's also an audio commentary on `Survival' by Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred and Andrew Cartmel (script editor) as well as fan commentary on `Part Three' only by fans who won a `Doctor Who Magazine competition. There's also an isolated music score track option by Dominic Glynn to watch during the story that be switched on and off from the audio options menu.
On Disc 2, there are more special features. There's an interesting and informative documentary called `Endgame' that looks into the reasons why `Doctor Who' was cancelled in 1989 and what would happen if the series had continued and did Season 27. This documentary includes interviews with cast and crew such as Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, script editor Andrew Cartmel, writer Ben Aaronovitch, composer Mark Ayres and visual effects designer Mike Tucker. There's also Colin Brake, who was script editor on `Eastenders' and would have become a potential script editor for `Doctor Who' had the series carried on. And there's Peter Cregeen, Head of Drama Series, who was the person that cancelled `Doctor Who' and gives his reasons why he cancelled it in 1989. The lost Season 27 is interesting as Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovitch discuss the stories that could have been on television. This lost season of stories have now become Big Finish audios including 'Thin Ice' and 'Earth Aid'.
There's also `Search Out Science' that is a children's school programme that featured the Doctor with his companions Ace and K-9 as well as unlikely companion Stephen Johnson. There's also `Little Girl Lost' that is a documentary looking at the character development of Ace with interview contributions from Sophie Aldred, writer Ian Briggs (who created `Ace' in her first story 'Dragonfire') and script editor Andrew Cartmel. There's also `Destiny of the Doctors' which is a selection of footage from the 1997 computer game featuring Anthony Ainley in his last ever appearance as the Master.
I enjoyed watching `Survival' when I bought the DVD in 2007 and I'm glad to have had the DVD cover signed by Sophie Aldred. `Survival' became the last story of the classic series of `Doctor Who'. But the show has come back on a triumphant note in 2005. So in a sense `Survival' is not really an ending. It's more of a new beginning setting the standards of where `Doctor Who' was going to go next and it contains an great enjoyable story featuring the Doctor and Ace. It's a shame Sylvester and Sophie didn't get to carry on and enjoy a longer run of stories in the TV series. But certainly the Doctor and Ace's adventures don't end with 'Survival' as they've had more adventures in Big Finish audios and other mediums. Sylvester and Sophie get to enjoy extending their characters especially in stories like 'The Fearmonger';'The Genocide Machine' and 'Colditz'. There could have been a potential Season 28 and 29 with some of those stories, just as Paul McGann can have his own TV adventures with stories from Big Finish in Seasons 31 and 32 perhaps.
This comes highly recommended as a `Doctor Who' story to have as I'm certain you'll enjoy it and take pleasure seeing Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as the Doctor and Ace!
The next story with the Doctor and Ace is 'Shockwave'.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The release of "Survival" on DVD is a chance for old fans to remind themselves, and new fans to learn, of both the best and the worst of the Seventh Doctor.
'The best' about this serial and this period is the story-telling. "The Cartmel masterplan" (as it's referred to in a bonus documentary), which involved making the Doctor's history and character more mysterious and adding a strong companion with an important story arc, really does have more in common with Russell T Davies' quite adult approach of 2005 than it does with the disparate and mostly nonsense stories of the Colin Baker era. When he's not clowning around McCoy's brooding paternal Doctor is one of the best. This serious approach is a chance for the Master to return to his menacing, scheming best.
'The worst' is the production values. Some of the cats look awful, and some of the supporting cast can't really act. As the bonus documentary "Endgame" explains in detail, the production was under serious threat and it appears as though some members of the production team have already given up. Watching the out-takes, none of them are especially funny- McCoy and Aldred are having a laugh and putting a brave face on what seems like a case of going-through-the-motions, as if they are waiting for cancellation.
Unfortunately "Survival" overall is not quite as good as the two preceding stories "Ghost Light" and "Curse Of Fenric", so if you're new to the McCoy era you should check those other two out first.
This is a two-disc set but with a bit more judicious editing of the bonus features, it could have fit onto one disc. Personally I find that the bonus features being added to most of these Who DVDs are a bit too slow, and involve various members of the production crew repeating the same statements too often. For example the bonus documentary "Endgame" is 45 minutes long, but it could easily be trimmed to less than half an hour without losing anything important.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This three part story signalled the end of the classic era of `Doctor Who', apparently a straightforward parable against violence and the principle of `the survival of the fittest' - but perhaps it was a more appropriate ending than anyone could have realised at the time.
There seems to be a subtle double-sided message in this story, because of course the evolutionary phrase `the survival of the fittest' does not mean `strongest' but `best fitted to the environment, most adaptable' - and taken in that sense the story demonstrates that the theory is true - it is *how* the characters adapt to change that counts.
The Doctor brings Ace back home to the leafy, sunlit streets of Perivale to catch up with her old friends, and it all seems very quiet - perhaps too quiet; where are her friends? Not in the parkland, not at the youth club where a bullying `instructor' is teaching self-defence, so where? The Doctor has his suspicions; a small black cat is prowling the streets, but if this black cat crosses your path, it's very bad luck, because this is a kitling, a servant of the bejewelled, horse riding Cheetah People who teleport from world to world seeking prey for food and `sport' as all cats do. Or perhaps this kitling is acting as cat's eyes for someone else ...
Inevitably, the Doctor, Ace, `Sergeant' Paterson the instructor and several of his youth group are taken to the ancient, crumbling world of the Cheetah People and - look what the cat brought in! - find the Master, himself transported through space from some distant world by the cats. The strange planet is somehow linked with its inhabitants; it enhances wildness, the animal nature within and slowly transforms beings into hunting cats - if they give in to their darker side. And the presence of anger and violence speeds up the collapse of the planet, dragging the Cheetah People, their prey and their world down together.
The Master is very vulnerable in such an environment; he is changing, with sharpened teeth and cat-like eyes as the evil within him takes over. All the old grand schemes for power are gone; he soon becomes little more than a violent hunting animal himself. But the Doctor learns the way off the doomed planet - cats will always take their prey home - Ace's home is Earth and she is beginning to transform ...
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred look so established in their roles and Anthony Ainley slips so easily back into role of the Master that it's hard to believe this was the end, and not just another mid-season story before the next epic. The location video filming is bright and attractive, there's plenty of action and stunt work; it all looks relatively inexpensive but well done. The Cheetah People costumes have been criticised but I think they look good, certainly better than some `monsters' seen before.
Even the Doctor is affected by the call of the wild, and is drawn into a final struggle with the Master as the planet disintegrates around them, but manages to hold on to the truth: "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!" Then, quite suddenly, it's all over, and the Doctor is back in the sunlit parkland of Perivale on a quiet afternoon. The Doctor teleported `home' to the TARDIS; the Master is left to his fate.
By learning to control the power of the Cheetah planet but not allowing the violence of that world to control them, the Doctor and Ace proved they were the most adaptable and best fitted to survive - able to gain the power to teleport home but not lose themselves to the wildness. The Master and some others tried to adapt with violence and so ceased to exist as themselves, transformed into wild animals.
So the classic era of `Doctor Who' ends with quite an interesting story; then just before the credits roll for the last time, the Doctor has one final surprise for us; a few lines of dialogue to end this story, and the era, that might almost have come from an epic poem. They show all the sense of wonder and exploration that took the Doctor to Skaro and Metebelis III and the desire for justice that underpinned the show and the character through seven incarnations. If the writer knew the end was coming, it was a great signoff; if not, what good luck to finish so perfectly ...
... but of course, it wasn't `The End', because `Doctor Who' is the cat with nine lives, the show with so many loyal fans that it continued as video, books, comic strips and audio and just wouldn't stay cancelled for ever - proving that with a concept this strong and this popular for so many years, a programme can't simply be killed off as times change, but can always evolve and adapt to live in a new environment ...
... we might call it the Survival of the fittest!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2007
Survival, for those who don't know, was the last transmitted new episode of Doctor Who for seven years, ending a Twenty-Six year run. Well... at least 'Who had ended on a good note.
McCoy's opening season was, truely, the worst season in the history of 'Who. The seconf McCoy season (though a HUGE improvement on the first) was still not perfect. By the time of the third season, Doctor Who was finally back on track with good quality stories, and a Doctor and companion that had finally understood their potential.
Survival represents why the last season was so good. It was a mix of a good Doctor, original companion and just good, solid stories. The concept of 'survival of the fittest' is very strong int this story and that just plays to the viewers good points.
After the 75 min story, we then have 190-odd minutes of extras. This is a two-disk release after all. The Cat-Flap feature is a good insite into the production and last days of 'Who. Then the documentaries of Endgame (which is BRILLIANT) and the Ace Documentary make this release all the beter.
This serial may only be three-parts, but it's still a bargain at the sheer amount of special features.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2014
'Survival' is yet another one of those stories from the last few years of classic Doctor Who that makes you wonder what possessed the powers that be to take the show off the air when they did; it is a superb end to the show's 26 year run.
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred work brilliantly together, they help to make the McCoy Doctor and Ace one of the best partnerships the show has ever had.
The story sees the return of the Master after a three year absence and it's the best use that has ever been made of his character, he is used to symbolise the brutality and selfishness that the story says is so wrong. Anthony Ainley gives his best ever performance as the Master here, portraying the sadistic, evil, insane character to perfection.
There are some good young actors playing Ace's old mates from Perivale and Julian Holloway gives a fine performance as the deluded and self important Paterson.
The story benefits enormously from being shot entirely on location. The ordinary suburbia setting is very well used and it forms a nice contrast with the barren wasteland of the Cheetah people's planet. The story is superbly shot and directed throughout with a good variety of camera angles. The incidental music is distinctive and very effective.
The message of the story is that violence and savagery are bad, and it likens these things to an infectious disease. The story also ridicules the 'survival of the fittest' mantra considering it barbaric. The script is able to get its message subtly across and doesn't beat the audience over the head with it.
On the downside the motorcycle crash in part three is rather baffling (how exactly does the Doctor end up lying in that pile of rubbish?) and there is some rather vulgar 1980's sportswear on display. The Kitlings look rather creepy, but they are fairly unconvincing in some shots. The Cheetah people's costumes could have been better, but everyone involved (especially the actors inside the costumes) deserves credit for helping to disguise the weaknesses.
Despite its minor flaws, 'Survival' is a mature story with a very serious, relevant message. If classic series Doctor Who had to end at least it did so with a story that captures the potential and the magic of Doctor Who.
The 'making of' documentary 'Cat Flap' comes in two parts. The first part deals with the writing and casting process and the second part looks at the filming, music and special effects. Both parts are very thorough and entertaining. Their combined run time is over an hour!
'Endgame' is a 44 minute long documentary which tells the story of the BBC's second, this time successful, assassination attempt on Doctor Who. The documentary also talks about the changes Andrew Cartmel made to the show in its final years and what would have happened in the 27th series.
'Little Girl Lost' is about the development of the character of Ace in Doctor Who. The likes of Andrew Cartmel and Sophie Aldred talk about Ace's key stories.
'Search Out Science' is presented by Sylvester McCoy in character as the Doctor and also features Sophie Aldred as Ace and John Leeson as the voice of K9. It was intended as an educational show which asks questions about space and the solar system.
'Destiny of the Doctors' features the scenes Anthony Ainley recorded in character as the Master for the video game of the same name. These are peculiar, but many of them are entertaining. They were written by Terrance Dicks.
There are also a handful of deleted scenes as well as a lengthy selection of outtakes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2013
I like the joke about the two guys in the tent hearing the lion; I tell it at work sometimes to frighten school parties. It's disturbing. 'He doesn't need to outrun the lion'.
I like the Cheetah People too, for all that Rona Munro thought that they look like Puss in Boots, though this could just be a fetish for hot women in leopard skin, and it was, appropriately, quite hot. One Cheetah Girl apparently said 'Bollocks to this, I'm going home'.
And remember Julian Holloway from Carry On Up the Khyber? Well, here he is as the predictably not-as-brave-as-he-thinks-he-is Sergeant Paterson (this being the 80s), teaching the council estate kids to kick ass.
I don't fully know what's at stake here; kids (and milkmen) are getting zapped to the planet of the Cheetah People, where they might get hunted, caught and eaten, depending on whether or not the Cheetah People are (let me see if I've got this straight) ruthless killers or happy playful pusscats that only kill in order to feed, or (obviously) if someone runs away from them.
And then there's the question of whether it's the planet of the Cheetah People or the planet that turns people into Cheetahs, and what the Master is doing there, and why he wants to turn Midge into a cat thing. And, in the case of the nightmare scenario of the two dozen or so Cheetah People teleporting from their dying world into this one, just how much damage are they going to be able to do before the armed response unit turns up to dart them so they can all be put in the zoo?
I'm also not entirely sure what the Kitlings are for, or why I'm supposed to find that model in the least bit convincing. I suppose using a real cat wouldn't have worked.
And the anti-hunting message? How'd you like it if someone was hunting you? Bit patronising isn't it? By the end of the 1980s the population was pretty well polarised between those that wanted to put the rich against a wall and shoot them, and those that wanted to ride to hounds and chase the poor. I'm not sure that there were many waverers left.
But, let's not allow my not fully understanding it to prejudice us, it is good drama; it's well-written, well-acted and well-made. It's by far and away much better than Trial of a Time Lord. Jonathan Powell had no right to cancel the show, and there should still be a reckoning.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2012
At the time this was broadcast no one knew that was it, JNT had an idea and got McCoy back in to overdub a farewell speech over the last scene. If Season 24 had been as good as the final season perhaps the series may not have been cancelled but in hindsight and what we know now, the programme needed a rest, and for one thing The BBC needed to fall back in love with the programme. Survival, is a great Dr Who and proved the production team could come up with a good story idea and cast good actors the story was spot on, when you watch this is feels like a completely different show from say Paradise towers. McCoy had settled into the roll and Ace was a very interesting assistant. Although set partly in a Quarry who cares the idea and the story hold together, very well, these three episode stories worked quite well they kept the pace going almost like the modern show. One thing is true went a script is good effects are not so important, OK the cat is pretty naff, but luckily it does not detract from the story. As the last story it was good to have the Master as the foe, and at first you really don't know its him, until you hear that voice. Not all stories are worthy of five stars but Survival as a story I would show anyone does, in the end I am so glad the show went out on a high, imagine if it had been cancelled after Dragon fire?. I watched every episode of Tom Baker through to McCoy, there were highs and lows in every season, but to say McCoy never made a good story is very negative and sweeping he did, and if he had done a forth season, I think it would have been brilliant, but in the end no one wanted the show to survive or spend the money. This a double disc the extras are great a 5.1 sound track which is very good and some good CGI effects making it all look very polished. I remember Russell T Davis saying he watched the series to the end , I was so glad the show fell into the hands of someone who loved it, for everything it was.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Following the cancellation of the programme in 1985, which was changed a few weeks later to an 18 month supension, it seemed that Doctor Who was on borrowed time, and every subsequent season would be its last. By 1989, the series ratings were very low, compared to the 8 million who watched Colin Baker's first season three years earlier. Despite this, the show was actually going through a new and exciting change. Scrpt editor, Andrew Cartmel, moved the series away from the more action packed stories of predecessor Eric Saward, into more mysterious and darker science fiction themed stories. He also attempted to make The Doctor more mysterious, returning to the original premise of the programme, when William Hartnell was The Doctor. To this end, The Doctor, as played by Sylvester McCoy became a darker, manipulative character. Seemingly aware of all that was going on around him, and knowing the outcome before it occurred.
By series 3, Cartmel's plans were in full swing, and we were treated to several very good stories helping to make this last season the best of the McCoy era. Survival in particular links up very well with the next series, some 16 years later. In a break from the past, the story does not feature well known London landmarks, but rather the suburbian location of Perivale. It seems that an ancient cheetah race have been capturing people, and transporting them to their own world, were the people are hunted like animals. As well as a good script by Rona Munro, Survival also benefits from excellent performances, by Julian Holloway, Lisa Bowerman and the two leads Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. It is often been cited that Anthony Ainley is at his best in his last appearance as The Master. Even Hale and Pace, potentially a disaster, play their roles are straight. This is why the story works so well, if actors do not give over the top performances, teh viewers will treat the story seriously.
The only slight disappointment are the cheetah people customes, but compared to the Mandrels poor Vervoids, they are not that bad. This is a good stuff. A great final outing for the original run.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2008
Survival is one of the better Sylvester McCoy stories of his entire era & of this season. It's more coherent than Ghostlight, has more energy than Battlefield but not quite as good as Fenric.
It's very easy to knock it for not being a fitting end to the classic run of Dr Who but then it was never intended to be anything more than a story which was screened last in a season.
It's a slightly better story for Ace than the Doctor. She is returned to her roots and looks for her friends. A mystery involving disappearances linked to black cats takes the Doctor and Ace to a dying planet where they meet Cheetah people and the Master.
On the whole the themes of survival and evolution are well developed and explored. It fits Ace's character that she would be tempted by the possibility of running like an animal. The Glaswegian self defence instructor who ultimately isn't tough enough is good if occasionally unsubtle.
Sylvester McCoy is good as usual although the script makes him look more thick than eccentric genius as he leaves cat food on the streets in the hope that the right black cat will come along! With this and the image of him upside down on an old sofa following the bike crash, he really looks more cosmic dosser than cosmic hobo. When he does get good material though he goes for it, slightly too much with the famous "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!" line, but still a good performance.
Sophie Aldred relishes Ace's wildside and makes the most of her material.
The Master does not get one of his better appearances. He's too dumb to work out that you just need a transformed humanoid from a different planet to escape it. Ainley struggles with poorly judged material and a costume that makes him look portly.
The Cheetah people look like care bears (Wuss Bear and Soppy Bear) but the body language etc. of Lisa Bowerman et al transcends the costume's limitations and makes them believable a good portion of the time.
It's well directed, good and pacy and has a terrific explosion at the end. (although how the Doctor survives it is lazily not explained)The early CGI work etc. to colour the sky is marvellous, making it seem very alien. Generally effects are good with only a woeful animatronic cat letting the side down.
There is a barrelful of extras. "Endgame" is a look at the end of Sylvester McCoy's time. It starts to chronicle the start of McCoy's time but soon settles down for a look at the events. Andrew Cartmel is a major participant and very interesting to listen to. I didn't personally agree with his view that he hired writers who did incredible things with Dr Who but still enjoyed watching. Mccoy, Sophie Aldred, Peter Cregeen (the canceller!) and others also take part. We also get a look at what stories were tentatively planned for the next year and learn what other famous BBC show JNT was offered.
Catflap is an enjoyable making of although I'm not sure why it's in 2 parts. Most of the major players are there and it's V good even if they are a lttle too keen to take the credit for the Rose Tyler set up in New Who.
We also get an enjoyable commentary with Sophie, Sylvester and Andrew Cartmel and an interesting fan commentary for episode 3.
Search out Space is a science show for young kids made a few months after Survival's transmission with Sylv, Sophie and K9 in character. An interesting curio but be warned the K9 and Company theme tune is featured!
There are outtakes and deleted scenes one of which shows an insight into Ainley's approach to a scene and there are Anthonmy Ainley's Master sequences for the Destiny of the Doctors computer game. He puts quite a lot into these!
A great package from a good if not classic story. More for classic who fans who like plenty of extras, and if you're a new who fan who's recently come to appreciate Sylvetser and Sophie, this is one you will want to see.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2013
The last ever Doctor Who story to be shown during the shows original broadcast, so it is little wonder when I watched it I watched it with some sort of sentimentality. I wasn't around during the eighties but I know the show had run its course. The truth is this story like many others had some brilliant ideas but were spoilt by occasional poor editing and the lack of financial support. Survival is a brilliant story , Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy clearly had a chemistry they worked together so well and the back story with it being written around the character of Ace is exactly the sort of writing we appreciated now with the current Doctor Who. Its a pity the show got cancelled when it did as there are many similarities between the modern Doctor Who and this incarnation the darker elements being evolved , but the ideas are brilliant and its just a pity episodes only lasted 23 minutes back then because it really made it difficult to get more detail in but a brilliant adventure , the Sylvester McCoy years are seriously underrated.