on 30 August 2010
I'm mostly in disagreement with the notion that this set a "rip-off". This set contains stories that were originally released on DVD almost a decade ago -- so when comparing them to releases dating back to even five years ago, they leave a lot to be desired. Reissued and remastered for this set are: The TV Movie, originally released on DVD August 13, 2001; The Caves of Androzani, originally released on DVD June 18, 2001, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, originally released on DVD April 28, 2003. All have been repackaged with additional discs containing a plethora of new special features and all have been, like I said, re-remastered. It's nice that I get to see more documentaries on the making of these stories but it's the fact that they now have improve sound and picture quality is what's making me buy this set the moment it's available to purchase. I own every story that has been released on DVD to date and it's really nice to see the level of care put into each remaster has improved over the years however the schedule and the variety of releases has created a pretty uneven quality continuity within pretty much every season of the show. Some stories look and sound better than others just for the simple fact that they were remastered later. This has always left me wanting the restoration team to revisit the older releases and give them the care that can be afforded now but just couldn't then. Now for all the fans who are still waiting for classics like Terror of the Zygons or Planet of the Spiders, you probably won't have to wait much longer because 2 entertain's license to release Doctor Who expires in 2013 and judging by the restoration team's release pattern they've been releasing the most popular titles first followed by easier restorations, then harder restorations, then lastly, the hardest restorations, leaving, inevitably, classics like Ambassadors of Death and The Mind of Evil to be released probably in 2012 or even 2013. So for now I'm thrilled with the prospect of buying these (mostly) classic stories again the way I wanted to see them all along.
BTW here is a description of the special features:
The Talons of Weng-Chiang, 3 Discs
The Last Hurrah a new documentary where producer Philip Hinchliffe visits Tom Baker at his home to discuss their final story together
Moving On where Hinchliffe talks about what he envisaged for the series had he stayed as producer
The Foe from the Future, a look at the original story which eventually became The Talons of Weng Chiang
Now and Then, a tour of the locations used in the story
Look East with Tom Baker interviewed.
Whose Doctor Who, presented by Melvyn Bragg - As included on the original release
The Caves of Androzani, 2 Discs
Chain Reaction, a look back at the making of the story
Directing Who: Then and Now - Graeme Harper talks about the changes in TV Production since he made this story
Archive footage from The Russell Harty Show featuring an interview with Peter Davison and Colin Baker.
The TV Movie, 2 Discs
A new commentary featuring Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann
The Seven Year Hitch, looking at the seven year quest to get this story made
The Wilderness Years, looking at how the show was kept alive during the hiatus between the end of Series 26 and the TV Movie
Who Peter 1989-2009, the final part of the documentary looking at the special link between the two programmes Doctor Who and Blue Peter
Stripped for Action, the eighth Doctor in Comic Strip
Tomorrows Times, how the short reign of the Eighth Doctor was reported by the press at the time.
on 21 December 2010
Like many I already owned the original releases of all 3, but a friend has kindly passed his copy of the box set on to me. Starting with the stories, briefly as I have already done fuller reviews of them individually;
Talons of Weng Chiang is classic Uncle Tom Baker stuff. Almost a riff on the "lost" Sherlock Holmes story (referred to but not told by Conan Doyle) the Giant Rat of Sumatra, a rich and fun Robert Holmes script tells us of a series of murders/ disappearances of young girls in Victorian London. The 4th Doctor clearly plays Sherlock Holmes hunting the evil force behind it all. It's well acted and made, with great supporting characters; notably Jago & Litefoot. Maybe a little slow for modern tastes & the giant rat's not so good.
Again from the pen of Robert Holmes, Caves of Androzani is a gritty & well written tale of intrigue, gun running and the dark deeds inspired by an age-defying restorative with good characters and only a woeful creaure letting the side down. Arguably the last tale for Peter Davison was his best. Widely recommended
Dr Who: The Movie is well made, very enjoyable and glossy looking but a poor script gives us moments that don't ring true as Dr Who to me; Daleks that give last requests , The Doctor's psychic clairvoyant knowledge of inner most secrets of whoever he meets and partly solving dilemmas by going back in time in the Tardis. very accessable for New Who fans
In reverse order, the Movie already had contemporary behind the scenes/ promo material, an illmuniating retrospective interview with producer Philip Segal and a good but no gold stars director's commentary. Now we have an excellent package which now includes an cracking commentary with Sylvester McCoy, Paul Mcgann and Mr Dalek-Voice Nicholas Briggs (learn McGann's misgivings with the script and the involvement of past Doctors if it had gone to a series.)
Stripped for Action is brought to a close on the 8th Doctor. The nature of the scripts-not so closely tied to the TV show is well discussed and we learn why they never did a regeneration. very good but given the 9 year run of scripts more time was needed.
Tomorrow's Times looks at press receptions of the movie (varied responses there), there's some intriguing test footage of titles and spider-Daleks. Who Peter deals with the Childrens' Show's support of Who when it was off air and the features done since the triumphant return. Good, even if the wilderness years are rushed through a bit.
But best of all terrific documentaries The 7 Year Hitch and The Wilderness Years cover the years when Who carried on in other mediums and the long battle to get the film made.
Caves of Androzani in addition to the great commentary it already had and the bare pieces of behind the scenes footage gets a great making of "Chain Reaction" an interview with Peter D and Colin Baker on Russell Harty and Graham harper's intresting comparison of directing Who then and as it is now.
Talons which probably needed the upgrade the least (already having a commentary, video studio footage, documentary Whose Dr Who and Blue Peter bits) gets an extensive reboot. A fantastic making of "The Last Hurrah" covers the story's writing, the production, moments that work well and those that don't. The main meat is an interview where Philip Hinchcliffe visits Tom who admits his apparent antipathy toward Louise J was attempting to cover how impressed he was with her.
The now & then look at locations is above the usual standard (they were a stone's throw from where the Globe is now at one point), there are featurettes on what Philip H would have done with a 4th year (you won't believe the tactless way he found out he'd been replaced!), the idea for the original story from Robert Banks Stewart and there's also some historical context with great features on music halls, Victorian culture and Limehouse. A profusion of riches.
These stories are all great packages now and for anyone who didn't buy them 1st off well worth the money, whether there's enough to make it worth buying them a second time, well that's a personal choice.
on 1 November 2010
The big question with Revisitations 1 is 'are you getting value for money'. The answer, however, depends upon whether you already forked out cash for the earlier 'more-vanilla' disks, because if you did the extras alone are probably not worth it.
On the other hand, the extras are very good and perhaps highlight the earlier policy of hardly any extras as really being the thing that we should complain about, though both are products of their time.
What you do get for your money are two of the all-time greats of Doctor Who (Talons was in the top ten of the all-time best in DWM, while Caves was the number one). If you have not seen these before then get this box set.
Individually there are still problems. Both Talons and Caves have some embarrassing special effects (Rat & Magma Monster respectively), but the stories are so well done and so well acted that these shortcomings are easy to overcome. The Magma monster exists only to create a cliffhanger for episode two and if this were edited into a movie then it could be removed without any problem. That said, Caves episode 1 & 3 cliffhangers are two of the best in the series history, primarily because of the threat of regeneration hanging over them - something that happened again more recently with The Stolen Earth.
The Movie (please can someone rename this?), is Doctor Who by committee and it shows. The extras for this explain why the mess occurred and why it failed (in the US anyway)and you feel sorry for the creators of this who were increasingly bound by requirements from all parties.
The best thing about this is Paul McGann who was a fantastic choice for Doctor and makes it worth watching. Anyone who enjoys his performance should probably try and get hold of the Big Finish audios. In fact, given their presence on BBC radio, it is surprising that none of these turned up on the extras, particularly the Lucie Miller stories, as they are so much better than the 'movie'.
Like other reviews, I am a bit annoyed that this is a box set. The DVDs should have been released individually, rather than in this format, though from the '1' appending the title, it is clear that more are on their way.
Buy this if you want to know more about the origins of three of the most fascinating Doctor Whos in history, or if you don't already have them, else probably best to give them a miss.
on 4 September 2010
But let me say one thing very clearly - this set is not a rip off. All three stories featured here have been completely remastered, there is a plethora of new extras, and two of these stories (Caves and the U.S. Movie) were amongst the very first Dr Who dvd releases, almost a decade ago, while the third, Talons, was released over 7 years ago itself, and wasn't as nice a release as many had hoped for such a classic.
Now if you already have the old releases and are still perfectly happy with them, then that's great, enjoy those original discs and move on, no harm, no foul. After all no one is forcing you to buy this set if you don't want it or feel you don't need it. If you don't already own these stories on dvd, or if you do but fancy a quality upgrade, then this is a great release from all accounts. Restored picture and sound, packed with extras, all the old ones plus a ton of new ones, and for a pretty reasonable price all in all. Really, for such a set you can't ask for much more than that.
Oh, and for those complaining about this taking the place of another unreleased story, it didn't. This is an extra release, and all complete stories will still see release by the end of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary in 2013, this much we know for a fact. So this release ultimately takes away nothing at all, and gives fans who want it the chance to upgrade a trio of classic and/or important Who stories in a set that is about as good as could be hoped for.
Let's face facts, not every Who dvd release has been perfect, especially many of the first ones when the line was just starting out, so to revisit some of those important Who stories that may not quite stack up to later releases quality wise is no bad thing at all. The fans who want to can buy said upgrade, and the fans who don't see it as necessary to their collections can wait for the next regular release instead. So why exactly are people complaining again?
Besides, like it or not there will be two more Revisitation sets, that much has already been confirmed. What will be on them has not been announced at the time of my writing this, but we do know that the Troughton classic Tomb of the Cybermen, the much loved Tom Baker story Robots of Death, along with the Pertwee gem Carnival of Monsters are all in line for 'special edition' treatment at some point, as there has been talk of Tomb having undergone the vidfire process, and of new commentary tracks already having been recorded for both Robots and Carnival, so I would expect those to show up at some time in the future. If you don't already own them then it might be best to hold off on those three for a while, though who knows just how long the wait will be, and whether they will be packaged into Revisitation set #2 or #3, be split between each set, or indeed be released as a lone special edition (ala Remembrance of the Daleks and The Five Doctors)...
As for other stories that seem highly likely to see revisitation, I'd say that Pertwee's debut, Spearhead from Space, would seem practically guaranteed for a do-over, and possibly the first Colin Baker story released on dvd back in 2001, Veangeance on Varos, as pressings of that disc had a common fault during episode 2, and it was rather lite on for extras. At time of writing I have heard nothing on either of these getting a do-over, this is purely conjecture on my part, but both would have to make the list of likely candidates at least.
Anyway, buy this set or don't buy it, but don't bemoan it's existence or what these sets are trying to achieve. After all, choice is always a good thing, especially when it comes with a notable increase in overall quality.
By the way, here's the full run down of features for each story:
The Talons of Weng Chiang
· 6 x 25 min colour episodes with mono audio.
· Commentary - with actors Louise Jameson, John Bennett and Christopher Benjamin, producer Philip Hinchcliffe and director David Maloney.
· Coming Soon - a trailer for The Seeds of Doom DVD release.
· Programme Subtitles
· Subtitle Production Notes
· The Last Hurrah - Tom Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe meet at Tom's home to discuss the making of what would be their final story together. Also featuring actors Louise Jameson, Trevor Baxter, Christopher Benjamin, director David Maloney, designer Roger Murray-Leach and costume designer John Bloomfield.
· Moving On - `The Talons of Weng-Chiang' was to be Philip Hinchcliffe's last story as the producer of Doctor Who. In this featurette he looks back at the ideas he had for the next season.
· The Foe from the Future - a look at the original concept idea for the un-made story `The Foe from the Future', which eventually became `The Talons of Weng-Chiang'. With writer Robert Banks Stewart and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
· Now & Then - the latest instalment of this series visits the locations used in the story and compares how they looked on screen in 1977 to how they look now.
· Look East - in January 1977, the BBC's local news programme paid a visit to the filming of `The Talons of Weng-Chiang' in Northampton Repertory Theatre, where reporter David Cass interviewed Tom Baker.
· Victoriana and Chinoiserie - a discussion of the literary references that can be found within the story. With producer Philip Hinchcliffe and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr. Anne Witchard,
· Music Hall - `The Talons of Weng-Chiang' is set within a music hall, a theatrical tradition which is upheld to this day by groups of dedicated performers. This documentary looks at the history of the music hall and features performances by those who continue to uphold its traditions. Hosted by Michael McManus, with Gerald Glover, Pamela Cundell, Johnny Dennis and Victor Spinetti, featuring songs performed by Katy Baker.
· Limehouse - A Victorian Chinatown - Limehouse, in the old docklands area of London's East End is not only the setting for `The Talons of Weng-Chiang' but for many other stories in English literature. Dr. Matthew Sweet investigates the area and its history. With Roehampton University's Dr. John Seed, Dr. Tom Wareham, the curator of the Museum of London Docklands and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr. Anne Witchard.
· Whose Doctor Who (dur. 58' 42") - a 1977 documentary from BBC2's 'The Lively Arts' strand, looking back at the history of the programme and its psychological impact on the viewers, particularly children. Introduced by Melvyn Bragg.
· Blue Peter Theatre (dur. 25' 58") - starts with a 1974 introduction, featuring a strike-bound Blue Peter team having to leave their usual studio and present the programme from the set of the first Tom Baker story, then continues with a series of articles from 1977 in which the team make a Doctor Who theatre, complete with sets and monsters and, with the help of Dick Mills, show how to make your own sound effects to accompany the performance.
· Behind the Scenes (dur. 24'00") - very poor quality (ex DW production office timecoded Shibaden tape) but exceptionally rare footage from the studio recording of the story.
· Philip Hinchcliffe Interview (dur. 11' 30") - series producer Philip Hinchcliffe interviewed on 'Pebble Mill at One' about the show and the possible effects of on-screen violence. Ex Philips 1500 off-air recording.
· Trails and Continuity (dur. 2'24") - trails and continuity announcements (mostly derived from off-air domestic recordings) for 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' and 'Whose Doctor Who'.
· Photo Gallery (dur. 3' 24") - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
· TARDIS-Cam No.6 (dur. 1' 41") - originally produced for the BBC Doctor Who website, this animation shows the TARDIS encountering a pod of space whales.
The Caves of Androzani
· 4 x 25 min colour episodes with mono audio.
· Commentary with actors Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper.
· Isolated Music - option to view the episodes with isolated music scores.
· Behind the Scenes - The Regeneration (dur. 7' 53") - a look inside the studio during the shooting of the climactic regeneration scene. Features an optional commentary track with Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Graeme Harper.
· Behind the Scenes - Creating Sharaz Jek (dur. 5' 04") - inside the character of Sharaz Jek, courtesy of an audio recording of the late Christopher Gable talking about his role in the story, photographs from Gable's own collection and footage from the studio recording.
· Extended Scenes (dur. 4' 12") - three extended scenes taken from the original film sequences and timecoded production tapes. The first has an optional commentary track with Peter Davison and Graeme Harper.
· Trailer (dur. 0' 28") - BBC1 trailer for the first episode.
· News (dur. 5' 21") - a compilation of news reports and interviews about Peter Davison leaving the series.
· Coming Soon (dur. approx 1' 00") - a trail for a forthcoming DVD release.
· PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format.
· Programme Subtitles
· Subtitle Production Notes
· Chain Reaction (dur. 36' 04") - cast and crew look back at the making of the story that is regularly voted as the best Doctor Who story of all time. With actors Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Maurice Roëves, Robert Glenister and Martin Cochrane, director Graeme Harper, script editor Eric Saward, production designer John Hurst and composer Roger Limb. Written and presented by Matthew Sweet.
· Directing Who: Then & Now (dur. 11' 44" ) - Graeme Harper is the only director to have worked on both the classic and new series of Doctor Who. In this featurette he talks about the different production techniques used on both.
· Russell Harty (dur. 8' 36") - Peter Davison and Colin Baker appear on the Russell Harty Show in the week between Davison's last episode and Baker's first.
· Photo Gallery (dur. 4' 55") - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
Doctor Who: The Movie
· 86 minute movie with stereo audio.
· Commentary 1 (2001) - original DVD release solo commentary by director Geoffrey Sax.
· Commentary 2 (2009) - new commentary with actors Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy, moderated by Nicholas Briggs.
· Isolated Music - option to view the movie with isolated music score.
· The Seven Year Hitch (dur. 53' 53") - This documentary looks at executive producer Philip Segal's seven-year quest to return Doctor Who to the screen, from his initial contact with the BBC shortly before its cancellation in 1989, through to the production and transmission of the movie in 1996. Featuring Philip Segal, BBC executive producer Jo Wright, BBC Head of Series Peter Cregeen, BBC1 controller Alan Yentob, writer Matthew Jacobs and Graeme Harper, the director of BBC Enterprises' abandoned Doctor Who movie. Narrated by Amanda Drew.
· The Doctor's Strange Love (dur. 17' 10") - writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier discuss how they stopped worrying and learned to love the TV Movie with comedian Josie Long.
· Photo Gallery (dur.3' 46") - a selection of design and production photographs from the story.
· Music Tracks - four music tracks from the production presented in full: `In a Dream', `All Dressed Up', `Ride into the Moonlight' and `Auld Lang Syne'.
· Coming Soon (dur. approx 1' 00") - a trail for a forthcoming DVD release.
· PDF material - Radio Times listings in PDF format.
· Programme Subtitles
· Subtitle Production Notes
· Paul McGann Audition (dur. 7' 38") - Paul McGann's audition for the role.
· VFX Tests June 1994 (dur. 0' 50") - early video effects tests by Amblin Imaging in 1994, featuring the `Spider Dalek' design.
· VFX March 1996 (dur. 2' 32") - video effects build-ups presented as mute timecoded `work in progress' shots from the CGI effects department.
· EPK (dur. 15' 36") - the Electronic Press Kit put out by Fox in 1996 included a short documentary and interview segments to allow other broadcasters to put together their own packages about the movie.
· Behind the Scenes (dur. 4' 47") - on set and on location during the filming of the movie.
· Philip Segal's Tour of the TARDIS Set (dur. 2'33") - executive producer Philip Segal shows us around the TARDIS control room set.
· Alternate Takes (dur. 1' 02") - two alternate versions of scenes from the movie.
· BBC Trails (dur. 1' 00") - BBC television trails for the movie.
· Who Peter 1989-2009 (dur. 26' 42") - since the birth of Doctor Who in the sixties, it has shared an almost symbiotic relationship with the long-running BBC children's magazine show `Blue Peter'. In the second part of this special documentary series, some of those involved look back over the history of that relationship in the `new series years'. With new series executive producer Russell T. Davies, Blue Peter editor Richard Marson, brand executive Edward Russell, writers Robert Shearman and Clayton Hickman and competition winners William Grantham and John Bell. Presented by Gethin Jones.
· The Wilderness Years (dur. 23' 29") - in the seven years between the end of the classic series and the broadcast of the TVM, Doctor Who survived in print, video and audio, kept alive by fans within those industries who were determined not to let it die. With BBC head of serials Peter Cregeen, former Doctor Who Magazine editor John Freeman and current editor Tom Spilsbury., Virgin Books editor Peter Darvill-Evans, BBC Books consultant Justin Richards, script editor Andrew Cartmel, video producers Keith Barnfather and Bill Baggs, director Kevin Davies and Big Finish producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. Narrated by Glen Allen.
· Stripped for Action - The Eighth Doctor (dur. 19' 45") - the final part of the series looking at the Doctor's adventures in comic-strip form. With writers Scott Gray, former Doctor Who Magazine editors Gary Russell, Alan Barnes and Clayton Hickman, artists Lee Sullivan, Martin Geraghty and Roger Langridge, author Paul Scoones, historian Jeremy Bentham.
· Tomorrow's Times - The Eighth Doctor (dur. 10' 47") another in the series looking at Doctor Who's contemporary coverage in daily newspapers and other publications. Presented by Nicholas Courtney.
LATEST UPDATE ON FUTURE RELEASES: It is confirmed that Revisitations boxed set #2 will feature Jon Pertwee in The Carnival of Monsters, Patrick Troughton in The Seeds of Death, and Peter Davison in Resurrection of the Daleks, for release in mid 2011. It is also confirmed that a special edition of Spearhead from Space will be paired in a boxed set with Terror of the Autons for 2011 release. Finally Tomb of the Cybermen with Patrick Troughton, Robots of Death with Tom Baker, and The Three Doctors with Jon Pertwee and guest stars Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell will be the third Revisitations set lineup, as confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine.