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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frogs with funny hairdos
Peter Davison's second serial playing the eponymous Time Lord was actually the first that he recorded; you'd never know this from his assured and breezy performance, although there are a few moments of clunky humour that don't sit well with his earnest demeanour - left over from his fourth incarnation perhaps?. Davison's `wanderer in eternity' is both dashing and as...
Published on 28 May 2009 by Captain Pugwash

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Davison era doomed?
....Not at all!! This isn't the most gripping or well produced of the Fifth Doctor's adventures, however it makes up for this with the deployment of a solid villain and sterling support from all current companions. After the intriguing post-regeneration trauma of Castrovalva, Davison seems to have come to terms with the role, whilst Nyssa, Tegan and Adric have gelled as...
Published on 3 Sep 2001 by Matthew Lidbury


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frogs with funny hairdos, 28 May 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Peter Davison's second serial playing the eponymous Time Lord was actually the first that he recorded; you'd never know this from his assured and breezy performance, although there are a few moments of clunky humour that don't sit well with his earnest demeanour - left over from his fourth incarnation perhaps?. Davison's `wanderer in eternity' is both dashing and as fiercely intelligent as any of his predecessors; he also brings a fresh inquisitiveness and real energy to the role; something that had been lacking in Tom Baker's twilight years on the show.

The story itself is pretty routine; The Doctor and his three companions (Adric, Tegan and Nyssa) arrive on a colossal spaceship and meet its pilots; three amphibian-looking Urbankans. The aliens claim to be visiting Earth as tourists, but their uncanny abilities to replicate the human form, plus the fact that their ship is stocked with androids posing as Earthlings, leads the time travellers to uncover an altogether more sinister purpose.

Perfectly adequate as a lead-in to The Fifth Doctor and his companions; this serial does suffer from being rather static. The best performance comes from the excellent Stratford Johns as the power-crazed Monarch, whilst his fellow Urbankans `Persuasion' and `Enlightenment' are also well played. The music is atmospheric without being intrusive, and the set designs and costumes are effective; reflecting a time in the early 80s when the show still had a pretty healthy budget.

DVD extras here include Davison's first recording session; intriguing as a reminder of how slow it all was in 1981, but rather odd and stilted without the incidental music. It also contains the amusing scenario of Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) demonstrating that he was unable to act his way out of a paper bag.
Rather more entertaining is the short feature `Saturday Night at the Mill'; where interviewee Peter Davison talks extensively about `All Creatures Great and Small' and makes a chocolate milkshake live on air!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Davison era doomed?, 3 Sep 2001
By 
Matthew Lidbury (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
....Not at all!! This isn't the most gripping or well produced of the Fifth Doctor's adventures, however it makes up for this with the deployment of a solid villain and sterling support from all current companions. After the intriguing post-regeneration trauma of Castrovalva, Davison seems to have come to terms with the role, whilst Nyssa, Tegan and Adric have gelled as his bickering but emotive fellow time-travellers. Production values seem to have slipped - particularly evidenced by an unconvincing spaceship and a baddie reminiscent of the Vogon warlord in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Nevertheless, believable characterisations and a robust storyline ensure that Four to Doomsday can sit quite comfortably alongside Enlightenment and The Caves of Androzani, and certainly does the new era justice.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good middling story, 21 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
THE FIRST STORY Peter Davison recorded shows the awkwardness of the new regulars as they try to settle in. The younger cast (presumably brought together to invest a fresh, innocent quality back into the series after the more mature Doctor/Romana relationship of the year before), are a mixed bunch. Davison is instantly appealing, even if he lacks some of the otherworldly edge needed for the role and Janet Fielding has real potential. Sadly, Sarah Sutton's Nyssa is too dull and mannerly to set the screen alight, while pudding-bowl-haired boy genius Adric got on everyone's three-penny bits!
Nevertheless, following a stilted first episode, this emerges as an intriguing tale. The mood and narrative style are reminiscent of the show's earliest days but the concepts are very contemporary (for 1982). Stratford Johns is a wonderfully charming villain and his schemes are both engaging and barking mad. There is wit rather than all-out clowning and the design is gorgeous to boot. Not a story to illicit the panning it has received by others here, or great acclaim either - it's a diverting, middling episode with some interesting ideas and perhaps best if - like me - you watched it go out as a kid where the rush of nostalgia is as powerful as for anyone old enough to remember earlier years and equally influential on one's opinion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing, but nothing special, 8 Feb 2010
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
The Doctor (Peter Davison) and his sidekicks arrive on a spacecraft run by a trio of frog-people on course for the Earth. On board are a lot of people from various Earth cultures. But all is not what it seems.

In 1980 a new production team decided they wanted rid of Romana and K9 because they were geniuses and therefore nobody could identify with them. So they were replaced by an irritatingly smug boy maths genius and a girl science genius with no personality. When the viewer's only 'identification' is with the obnoxious 'mouth on legs' Tegan, you can't help feeling the show was better off with Romana and Robo-Rover. It was also decided in 1980 that the Doctor and his companions should always be wearing the same outfits, hence the main characters in this story wear specially-designed 'uniforms' rather than ordinary clothes. Like I'm sure most viewers do. This being post-Star Wars Dr Who, most of the budget has been blown on a 'big spaceship shot' for the beginning of episode 1.

Another decision in 1980 was that Dr Who should be about 'real science'. What this meant was that for the next two or three years a number of stories felt like they were aimed at swotty nerd types rather than the public at large. It also led to some very long-drawn-out episodes which just seemed to revolve around one 'big idea'.

As demonstrated by the laughable "Doctor plays cricket in space", the supposedly clever scientific stuff made no actual sense whatsoever. This scene is sadly not all that's wrong with this story. It sets out with keen intentions, there are genuinely good points made about human society's failings, and Stratford Johns is excellent as the chief alien Monarch. What lets this story down is its slow pace and its rambling dialogue.
Worth watching, but doesn't really stand up to repeated viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas go to waste, 29 Aug 2009
By 
Mr. A. Anson "Lexifer Crowley" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
It all looks great. We're planted on this space ship with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric, and they explore a ship very slowly. Then they meet some people and, uh, then some more people. Series 18 made it very clear that we would have to sit through 25 minutes of storyline before any action happened, and I was fine with that. I'd got used to 25 minute of character introduction and scene setting, and grown to like it. The problem is that, well, about half way through the third part of this story I realised if there WAS going to be any action, it wasn't going to last very long. I remember saying to my friend "This is like the Doctor Who equivalent to Deep Space Nine: Very little happening in the far future."

Christopher H Bidmead's influence is still visible; problems are solved inventively and scientific ideas are thrown about unnecessarily (but certainly not as interestingly as during Bidmead's own scripts). I wouldn't have minded sitting through parts 1-3 if part 4 was somehow climatic, exciting and a great payoff, but you never get the sense of urgency and excitement you got from the classic stories.

It's a shame, as the central idea is an intriguing one but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cricket Balls In Space!, 28 Oct 2014
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Doctor Who - Four To Doomsday (DVD).

DVD Info.
Format: PAL, Colour
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
Region: 2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Classification: PG
Studio: 2entertain
Running Time: 100 minutes

Extras.
DVD Commentary.
Commentary by Peter Davison (the Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), John Black (Director).

Studio Recording.
Peter Davison's first day in the studio as the Doctor is documented in this unique studio recording recovered from the personal archive of the producer, the late John Nathan-Turner. Duration: 27'11.

Saturday Night at the Mill.
Peter Davison's appearance on the Saturday night magazine programme on Boxing Day, 1980. Interviewed by Bob Langley, with a brief appearance by Davison's then-wife Sandra Dickinson. Duration: 14'25"

Theme Music Video.
A brand new remix of Peter Howell's version of the theme music for the series, exclusively remixed from the original multitrack master. Option to listen to the music in either stereo (default) or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround versions. This feature made a previous appearance on Castrovalva in the New Beginnings Boxset, but the 5.1 mix was inadvertently omitted. Duration: 3'34"

Radio Times Billings.
Listings for this story from the BBC magazine Radio Times in PDF format.

Photo Gallery.
Production, design & publicity photos from the story. Duration: 6'37"

Production Subtitles.
Text commentary by Richard Molesworth providing cast details, script development & other information related to the production of this story.

Coming Soon.
A preview of The War Machines. Duration: 1'06".

Story Info.
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Companion(s): Adric, Nyssa, Tegan
Main enemy: Monarch, Minister of Persuasion, Minister of Enlightenment
Main setting: Monarch's ship, 1981
Writer: Terence Dudley
Director: John Black
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Release details
Story number: 117
Number of episodes: 4
Season 19
Premiere broadcast: 18th January - 26th January 1982
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes

Ratings.
Part one - 8.4 million viewers
Part two - 8.8 million viewers
Part three - 8.9 million viewers
Part four - 9.4 million viewers

Cast.
The Doctor - Peter Davison
Adric - Matthew Waterhouse
Tegan - Janet Fielding
Nyssa - Sarah Sutton
Bigon - Philip Locke
Enlightenment - Annie Lambert
Kurkutji - Illarrio Bisi-Pedro
Lin Futu - Burt Kwouk
Monarch - Stratford Johns
Persuasion - Paul Shelley
Villagra - Nadia Hammam

Trivia.
1)This was the first Fifth Doctor story to be filmed. Though Peter Davison has often said that his first stories were recorded out of sequence so that Castrovalva might include a more confident performance on his part, there was a more practical reason. A little over a month before it was due to go in front of the cameras, Project Zeta-Sigma, which was to be the first story of the Davison era, was shelved by John Nathan-Turner. Since there wasn't time to get a whole new first story for Davison's Doctor, the production order had to be significantly revised. The out-of-order recording had nothing to do with any lack of confidence in Davison; Castrovalva simply wasn't written by the time the Fifth Doctor needed to make his debut in front of the cameras.
2)The working title for this story was Day of Wrath.
3)Nyssa's sudden fainting spell at the end of the story was a throwback to the style of serial transition often employed during the First Doctor era, In this case, the reason for Nyssa's sudden collapse is revealed at the start of Kinda.
4)Philip Locke (Bigon) also provided the voice of Control in parts one & two, but was uncredited on-screen.

What's Up Doc?
The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan & Adric arrive on a spaceship which is headed for Earth, On board they meet natives of Earth from various different eras & also three Urbankans: Monarch, Persuasion & Enlightenment.

But just what are the aliens' intentions when they reach Earth?

Timelord Thoughts.
Peter Davison's first season as the Doctor pushes Doctor Who in a new & fresh direction & Four To Doomsday written by Terrance Dudley sadly always seems to be overlooked which is a pity as it's a hidden gem of a story with a intelligent script barring the actual science of the cricket ball in space sequence & contains some witty dialogue & features good performances by the cast plus some half decent model work which is hampered only by the odd dodgy special effect.

Peter Davison gives a good performance as the Doctor but isn't quite settled down in the role yet which makes his performance all the more unpredictable, those who credit Davisons tenure as "Bland" should check out his brilliant performance here as he injects the show with youthful vigour with just a hint of sarcasm who simply craves adventure.

Janet Fielding is brilliant as the feisty mouth on legs Tegan Jovanka who's never afraid to state her opinions, while Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is the calmer & more rational companion who is best suited with Davison's boyish charming incarnation but is completely underused in this story & the less said about Matthew Waterhouse performance as Adric the better, Waterhouse told the legendary Richard Todd how to act in Kinda should watch his performance here before criticising others as he takes hammy acting to a whole new level in this adventure & is possibly along with Big Finish audios - Thomas Brewster are the two most annoying Doctor Who companions ever.

Thankfully Stratford Johns adds great acting credibility & gives a fantastic believable performance as the frog 'Monarch' who's superiority is deemed Godlike, thankfully John's doesn't turn in a one note performance & instead makes the character unique & unpredictable making for a interesting Doctor Who villain, while Paul Shelly & Anne Lambert both bring a cold ruthlessness to there roles of 'Persuasion' & 'Enlightenment'.

The DVD extras aren't that impressive on this release & doesn't feature the standard making of documentary, but the commentary by Davison & Co is a enjoyable listen while the behind the scenes footage of Davisons first day as the Doctor is just a filler featurette & adds nothing unique to this DVD release.

Four To Doomsday is a charming & often overlooked Fifth Doctor tale that is a far better story than it's given credit for, the story is unique, original & engaging & the performances by the cast are mostly good & showcases actor Peter Davison's younger versatile Doctor breathing new life into the long running series.

Timelord Rating.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Style and Substance, 8 Jan 2003
The opening sequence of 'Four to Doomsday' is remarkably effective: an ominious and enigmatic score accompanies a series of panning and tracking shots of a dark, mysterious, and (presumably) gigantic spaceship; a tone both mysterious and threatening is established. The viewer (this viewer, at least) is not disappointed by what follows, for whatever the flaws of 'Four to Doomsday' it manages to work as an intriguing, textured, and sinister piece of science fiction.
Although on a plot-only level 'Four to Doomsday' is a bit long, and a bit of a drag at times, it does succeed in telling a story tinged with engaging ideas and concepts. The first two cliff-hangers rely not on a terrible fate for the Doctor, but on a revelation: the drama for much of 'Four to Doomsday' is the discovery of more and more of the details of the science fiction set up. One theme which emerges from this SF set up is that of 'difference' and 'alienness': the them\us split. Perception, and the different ways different people view 'others', is everywhere. There is Adric, in his usual, petulant self-important tone, making notably bigotted comments about what he sees as being the difference between men and women and girls. The whole premise of the plot is the fact that the spaceship is full of different cultures and races, collected from Earth at various points in history by the Urbankans. And although they are not fully developed, 'Four to Doomsday' touches on questions of how we define 'cultures', and whether it is possible that cultures can be recorded, and stored, and preserved in stasis. What the Urbankans fail to see is the speed with which culture changes: their ability to alter their appearance to become 'like' other cultures is flawed, because it does not allow for natural evolution and change, and also because it is only skin deep. Culture is more than just accent and clothing and native dances.
On other levels, 'Four to Doomsday' is classic Doctor Who hokum. Questions of race, culture, and class aside, there is no doubt that the Urbankans neatly fill the role of the classic, unambiguous, atypical, nasty Doctor Who aliens we see so frequently, and hopefully will see more of soon! Monarch's eloquent, mannered, and 'civilized' English diction, rather than making him sympathetic, simply makes him more sinister, and more alien. There is a superb line during episode two (when Adric and Nyssa are suffocating) where Enlightenment notes that Adric and Nyssa "have lungs", and Monarch replies with sadistic pleasure: "Let them remember that." Chilling.
Overall, deficiencies of plot aside (well, not 'deficiences', as such'... there just isn't a lot happening), 'Four to Doomsday' is an entertaining story. And it has a brain as well. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, 11 Jan 2009
By 
Varian Beauregard (Le Jardin d'Angleterre) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
I held of buying this one for a while thanks to the unenthusiastic reviews. But having just got a copy and watched it all in one morning I can say it was a lot better than I expected. The effects aren't at all bad for its time and though not my favourite Doctor, Peter Davison gives it a good first attempt (and his performance here is better than in Castrivalva in my opinion). There is a lot of school science thrown in which makes this educational for its target audience and whilst some of the plot and sci-fi elements shouldn't be scrutinised too closely, this is certainly entertaining enough. Not the best of the season but better than Castrovalva or Time Flight.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dancing till doomsday, 25 Sep 2008
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
A four part doctor who story from 1982, featuring peter davison as the fifth doctor, and as his three companions: janet fielding as tegan, sarah sutton as nyssa, and matthew waterhouse as adric.

the story involves the tardis landing on a large spaceship heading towards earth, just four days away. it's run by a biepedial frog like humanoid alien called monarch, and crewed by some others of his race and lots of humans they've taken prisoner over the centuries. Earth will be in big trouble if he gets there again. can the doctor and friends stop him?

as you can see from the variety of reviews here, this is a story that divides opinion and doesnt have a great reputation. It's entirely studio bound. Having three companions does rather restrict the amount of material each gets, and the story is not terrible, but is rather average. the human prisoners put on regular dancing displays, and this can slow the plot down. acting wise peter davison, in his first recorded story in the part, has yet to fully find the character of the fifth doctor, and the script does rather waste a potentially very good villain in the form of monarch.

so it's not terrible, but it's no better than average and ultimately a bit forgettable.

this is a bit lacking extras wise, as well, and it's a surprise it's not one of the cheaper dvd's in the range. most of the decent material about peter davison's start in the role was used for the new beginnings box set, so there's not much left to put on here.

you get the usual:

photo gallery of the story and it's production.

english language subtitles.

production information subtitles, which will display information about the story and the production whilst you watch it.

digitally remastered picture and sound.

the listings for the episodes from the radio times as a PDF file [you use a computer to open them to view]

and also:

a theme music video. a long version, roughly four minutes in total, of the mix of the theme tune that was used around this time on the show, complete with a long version of the title sequence with no text

a fifteen minute long interview with peter davison on a bbc interview show from december 1980. this was recorded prior to him starting work on doctor who. it's a bit slow to start but ultimately quite a decent little chat, although the date of recording means that the majority of it is about his work on all creatures great and small rather than who. but he does have good stories about that

studio recording: twenty seven minutes worth of film of the recording of the story on the first day of production. offering no great insights into the acting process, but an interesting look at how tv production worked back then. although we have seen the like on other doctor who dvds before, and it's a bit long at twenty seven minutes.

there's also a commentary from peter davison and the three actors who played the companions, plus john black, the director of the story. the davison commentaries are always very good and lively and this is no exception, and john black is a good addition to the group. this may help you appreciate the story a little better, because, as they say, watching it with no sound does make you study the sets and design and costumes and some of them are really rather good indeed.

and some people may be pleased to learn that, according to the commentary, they've already recorded one for the highly regarded story kinda, so hopefully that will be along sooner rather than later.

there is also a coming soon trailer for the story the war machines. this actually came out last month, but the production order originally had it coming out after four to doomsday. be careful watching this trailer because it begins with some very fast cuts and then some flashing lights and it nearly gave me a fit as a result.

and that's the whole package for you. average story, and not much with it. but the commentary may help you like it a little better
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pensive, slow paced, but never dull, 20 May 2009
By 
D. De Gruijter (Leiden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Four to Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
Although Peter Davison is 'my' doctor from childhood, I never saw all the episodes. Dutch television eventually dropped the show arguing it was too scary for kids. Oh, you patronizing dolts! <chuckle>

I saw Four to Doomsday on DVD the first time around, and felt a bit apprehensive. It's not that well reviewed around here. But I was pleasantly surprised. It actually might be my favorite of Davison's first season!

Sure, there are flaws. In Doctor Who, there's always flaws. There's some repetition and the soirees with the different cultures showing their song and dance shouldn't have been used twice (perhaps they shouldn't even have been used once!). And the oxygen helmets, what were they thinking!

But there's a nice trio of villains: Monarch, Enlightenment and Perusasion (oh come on, that _is_ good!), with a great motivation for invading the earth. I thought the effects were laughable, but listening to the commentary track Davison and his crew were quite pleased with it. And yes, for Doctor Who standards at the time it's not bad at all.

There's an easy pace throughout, not much running up and down corridors. The menace is also never really there, Monarch really doesn't live up to the Doctor's size. But their interchange is a joy to watch. All in all, vintage Who: unpretentious and fun to watch. A couple of pounds well spent.
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