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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Snakes on an Astral Plane"
Sorry about the title, but I couldn't resist. 2 unusual stories from innovative writer Christopher Bailey. For me Kinda has the edge.
The Tardis crew land on paradise planet Deva Loka where an Earth survey team study childlike inhabitants the Kinda. Tegan is attacked in her dreams by malign intelligence the Mara, seeking to cross over into the real world...
Published on 28 April 2011 by Bob Marlowe

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Value
Kinda is one of the most 'adult' and 'interesting' Doctor Who stories of the 1980s. Snakedance, meanwhile, isn't as good -- even though it involves the same enemy. Still, both are well worth watching together like this.
Published 17 months ago by R. C. Irwin


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Snakes on an Astral Plane", 28 April 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
Sorry about the title, but I couldn't resist. 2 unusual stories from innovative writer Christopher Bailey. For me Kinda has the edge.
The Tardis crew land on paradise planet Deva Loka where an Earth survey team study childlike inhabitants the Kinda. Tegan is attacked in her dreams by malign intelligence the Mara, seeking to cross over into the real world.
Kinda's striking dream sequences mark it out as something different to the norm. They work fantastically and are mixed with a great performance from Janet Fielding who gives us scared, paranoid, on waking up-virtually post coital and evil.
The Doctor's role is perfect for Peter Davison as he's a man who sees further than most but doesn't have all the answers-note Todd correcting his assumption that the Kinda are primitive.
Adric is an annoying brat as ever, partly due to Matthew Waterhouse's performance but to be fair, a stupid boy who makes everything worse through his idiocy is not stellar material to work with!
Sorry Sarah Sutton fans but Nyssa does a Susan Foreman tribute act, she goes for a lie down in part 1, then returns in part 4 feeling better.
A good guest cats; Richard Todd, Nerys Hughes, Sarah Prince, Adrian Mills & especially Mary Morris as mystic Panna & Simon Rouse as the unhinged Hindle-yes he's a little OTT but no more than the role demands.
The script has many facets; commenting on colonisation & empire-Hindle arming the peaceful Kinda, Buddhist themes such as fighting evil within yourself and biblical influences-garden of Eden, snake, temptation, apples! A nice touch is the Kinda calling outsiders the "Not we."
Mostly good production values like the jungle set (if only it could have been shot on film) and the War Machine like total survival suit. Only a badly made Snake lets it down but by the end you should have loved the story enough to overlook it (or you can activate a CGI one instead1).

Sequel Snakedance is better structured but less strong. Tegan is still plagued by the Mara which again seeks to cross over into this world on the planet Manussa. This is a world familiar with the Mara but believing it's all a myth. Here the Doctor struggles to convince sceptical people that their rituals are not mere pageantry.
It would have been foolish to try another dream sequence, so here there is a Hall of Mirrors sequence instead. It works well, the imagery fitting the story & underlines the Mara is a difficult enemy as while a circle of mirrors can be used against it, mirrors not in a circle have no such effect.
Nyssa is back to full duties here and apart from a few nice moments like trying to steal the key to the Doctor's cell, mostly spends her time worrying. She gets an awful milk maid costume.
Good guest cast again, the James Mason like John Carson, a pre-Bread Jonathon Morris, Martin Clunes as a bratty spoiled Prince and Collete O'Neil as his mother, plus Preston Lockwood as Dojjen and Elisabeth Sladen's husband Brian Miller as a dodgy Arthur Daley/Del Boy type.
Great Market, Hall of Mirrors and cave sets, although Lon & Tanha's quarters look like a vintage Blue Peter studio. Yes there's another dodgy Snake but not so out & proud as in Kinda.
The script has some good characterisation, note the exchange about Lon's absent father between him and Tanha and how real it sounds.
There are Pete n' Jan show commentaries for both stories and although they are both fun and witty, I did feel they picked a little too much on Matthew Waterhouse who must have gritted his teeth to get through Kinda. They discuss bad snakes, Peter Davison's plan to be rid of Tegan, bad costumes, great guest stars, why Peter Davison looks so odd in the title sequence photo ("I was trying to look like Tom Baker" "Why would you want to do that?") and Waterhouse's artless acting advice to film star Richard Todd.
The competently making of documentaries are both based heavily on the writing interviewing not only Bailey but all 3 script editors he worked with (there's a rare contribution from Anthony Root). There are a range of contributors. & as well as both stories Bailey's aborted 3rd one is discussed.
Directing with Attitude looks at the work of the late Peter Grimwade and is a good tribute making it clear his writing talents were not the equal of his directing. There is an anti-JNT bias which some may not like.

You can compare the CGI effects for Kinda (primarily a better snake) with the old.

Of the most interest in deleted/extended scenes is the full ending to Snakedance.

There's also some Saturday Superstore material and an Easter Egg of Robert Shearman telling Bailey how Snakedance inspired him (I've read this but been unable to find it)

A good package for innovative stories with wide appeal.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You can't mend people!!", 24 Jun 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
In my opinion, Kinda is the deepest, most imaginative and thought provoking story in the history of Dr Who. The Mara is certainly the scariest and most disturbing monster ever seen, and there is a wonderful exploration of madness and crumbling personalities in the characters of Hindle (an outstanding performance from Simon Rouse) and Sanders (veteran actor Richard Todd). Janet Fielding gives easily her best performace as the possessed Tegan, the scenes set inside her mind are eerie and haunting, the music and sound effects are very atmospheric and the dialogue is wonderful. Kinda is a real gem of a story, working on many levels and I believe one of the greatest Dr Who stories ever made.
The sequel Snakedance is almost as good, but tries to be a bit more "normal" so doesn't quite have the same depth as Kinda. The mythology of the Mara is explored well, the sets and effects are pretty good and the performances excellent (Janet Fielding again shines and young Martin Clunes makes a particularly good villain). It's still a very clever story but Kinda was so unusual and thought-provokingly imaginative that it's inevitable it's sequel would seem less impressive. I would still say it's the third best Davison story after Kinda and Caves of Androzani and one of the best of the 80's.
A superb double bill of Dr Who, and an essential purchase just for the wonderful Kinda.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamsnake, 4 April 2011
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
Two Doctor Who stories from Peter Davison's time in the role come to dvd in one box set. There's a cardboard box cover to contain the two individual stories, each in their own individual containers [handy for those who want to put them on their shelves in story broadcast order, because these two are not sequential stories].

Kinda and Snakedance are both four parters, and both complete on single discs.

Kinda sees the TARDIS visit the planet Deva Loka, a jungle world with seemingly primitive tribal inhabitants and a colonial expedition most of whom tend to dress in a not dissimilar fashion to british colonialists of centuries gone by. The latter bunch are in turmoil because some of their number have vanished. And the former seemingly know more than they're telling.

Whilst the Doctor strives to find what's going on here, and deal with a dangerously deranged member of the expedition, Tegan falls prey to the Mara. An evil creature that dwells in the mind. And wants to manifest.

By this time the production team were quickly realising that three companions was a bit restricting, and thus Nyssa gets rather perfunctorily written out for the duration of the story. But even so Kinda contains much to delight. The three actors playing the expedition members all offer excellent performances, particularly Simon Rouse as the deranged Mr Hindle, and the natives have a wise woman played superbly by veteran actress Mary Morris. Also watch out for Mr. Hankin from Grange Hill. Not that you'll recognise him. All the cast do remember that this kind of things work best when you play it straight and believable.

Kinda also offers a very scary monster, some nicely surreal moments inside Tegan's mind, and a script that draws on Buddhist philosophy to offer much that can be interpretered in many ways. Thus there's an awful lot you can get out of it.

It's slightly let down by the manifestation of the Mara. As a large rubber snake. But it's good enough to be forgiven for that.

Snakedance was made the following year, in the show's twentieth year. An anniversary season when every story had a connection to the show's past. In this case the recent past because the Mara returns, taking over Tegan once again on the planet Manussa. A world where ancient history involving the Mara has turned into rituals nobody takes seriously any more.

The Doctor has to save Tegan and stop the Mara. But he can't find too many people who will take him seriously...

It's not quite as original as Kinda but it's another that offers strong character drama from a superb cast who give their roles their all. A pre fame Martin Clunes is amongst them, and clips of his appearance always turn up before they were famous shows where people laugh at his costume. Which is a shame because his role, a bored youth who falls under the Mara's influence, is a good bit of acting.

Also offering an interesting alien world and some colourful sets and costumes in the confines of a tv studio, it may not be quite as highly regarded as Kinda, but it's a pretty strong tale in it's own right anyhow.

And there are real snakes in it so those with certain phobias might be bothered. Even though they're only little ones.

Both discs have the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

Audio captioned: English.

Plus the usual:

Isolated score.

Radio times billings for the stories as PDF files that can be viewed by accessing the discs on a computer.

Production information subtitles.

Photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.

A trailer for the next release in the range.

And both also have commentaries from various members of cast and crew.

Other extras on Kinda:

A thirty four minute long making of documentary. Offering some interesting insights particularly into the early production and the writing processes, this is well worth a look.

There's a twenty four minute long documentary about the work of Peter Grimwade, who directed Kinda and several other stories and also wrote for the show. A fascinating look at a talented man it's a good watch.

There are fifteen minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes. These tend to have a rather rough picture quality but have their moments.

And there's also the option to replace the rubber snake mara manifestation with a cgi version. An extra allows you to do this and another one compares the original with the cgi version. The latter is impressive but also not one for those with certain phobias.

Extras on Snakedance:

A twenty five minute long making of documentary. Just as good as the one on Kinda.

Deleted scenes: a three minute alternate ending to the final part.

In studio: six minutes worth of footage of the special effects being prepared. Half of which is foam coming out the mouth of a large plastic snake.

Saturday Superstore: a fourteen minute long appearance Peter Davison made on the show back in the 1980's, being interviewed and taking viewers' questions.

The best extra though is the easter egg, which runs for fourteen minutes and has Christopher Bailey, who wrote both these stories, in conversation with Robert Shearman, who wrote the ninth doctor episode 'Dalek.' A fascinating and lively chat it's probably the best easter egg on one of these dvds ever. And it's also one of the hardest to find.

To get to it: Watch the disc on a computer. Go to the audio options part of the menu. Click on the option 'Isolated score' and when that is lit up move the pointer over the Doctor Who logo in the top left. It will now light up. Click on that to watch it.

All in all a very good box set of two of the best stories from the Fifth Doctor's era, and well worth getting.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Davison goes deeper and darker..., 16 Jan 2011
By 
P. Sanders "prhsuk" (Belfast) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
Finally, in 2011, we get the long-awaited "Mara Tales" box-set, featuring two of Peter Davison's strongest stories, ones I remember from my childhood. These stories by Christopher Bailey feature an enigmatic entity (race? civilisation? gestalt?) known as the Mara, symbolised by a snake and representing the darker corners of the mind.

Both stories feature striking imagery, and there are a few cracking cliffhangers along the way (opening the box in "Kinda"; the exploding crystal ball in "Snakedance"), and both provide Janet Fielding with plenty to do as the possessed Tegan, who falls under the Mara's influence. We also get two fascinating and believable alien planets (a welcome sight, given that new-Who seems so heavily Earthbound these days).

"Kinda" is a puzzle-box of a story, and like "Warrior's Gate" and "Ghost Light", it rewards multiple viewings. The TARDIS lands on the planet Deva Loka, an apparent paradise. The peaceful Kinda tribe share the planet with a survey team from Earth, but some of the humans have vanished mysteriously. When Tegan falls asleep beneath the mysterious chime-bars, she is lost in a nightmare that threatens everyone...

"Kinda" is full of stunning imagery (eg the journey through Tegan's eye into her dream) and clever dialogue, borrowing concepts from both Buddhist and Christian mythologies. It's a shame that Nyssa is written out for this story ("Oh I need a rest"), but Nerys Hughes's scientist makes a great companion-substitute (and love interest?). The rest of the supporting cast are good too (even Adrian from "That's Life"!), but it's sad that the whole thing is nearly scuppered by a giant prop snake at the climax. Actually the snake isn't that bad really, but it is clearly fake. It will be interesting to see the optional CG version looks like on the DVD.

The Mara was a fascinating creation, and the following year we were to learn a little more about its origins. Tegan has been having nightmares, and unwittingly takes the TARDIS to Manussa, once home to the Mara. The Mara may not be as dead as everyone thinks... "Snakedance" is another cracker, though in many ways it is more of a 'traditional' Doctor Who story than its predecessor. This is no bad thing however, and here we get a smart, fun adventure story. The possessed Tegan gets more to do this time around, as does Nyssa - Davison's Doctor worked best with just two companions and it's a shame Nyssa often got overshadowed by mouthy Tegan and sullen Adric. A young Martin Clunes gives a strong performance as a spoiled aristocrat, though it is his silly costume in the final episode, wielding an oven glove, that nearly scuppers things this time around!

It's interesting that in both stories the Mara is a thing of the past - a returning menace, a danger whose time has long-passed, but who seeks to return. In Snakedance particularly the themes of history and archaeology are used to illustrate this, while Kinda explores the more Buddhist theme of the circle of time - "the wheel turns, civilisations rise; the wheel turns, civilisations fall".

Hopefully there will be plenty of extras and I'm sure Janet Fielding will have a lot to say about these great stories. It's nice when each Doctor's era has something that is its own. For me, the Mara is that for the Davison era. Proper adult science fantasy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dream Time and Snake Charmer, 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
I had this DVD box set for my birthday in May 2011! This contains the first two out of three Mara tales - `Kinda' and `Snakedance'. These stories are from the Peter Davison era of `Doctor Who' featuring the snake-like Mara and focusing heavily on the character Tegan (Janet Fielding). I told Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) at a Swansea convention in 2010 that I was really looking for this DVD box set when it came out. I found `Snakedance' better than `Kinda' really. Both stories of this box set are written by Christopher Bailey who is a Buddhist enthusiast, putting his extraordinary writing talent to `Doctor Who'. These are very surreal and unusual stories that are intriguing and interesting to enjoy! Are you ready to face your nightmares and face the dark places of the inside?

`KINDA'

The first Mara tale is called `Kinda', set during Peter Davison's first season as the Doctor (Season 19).

Just to say, Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) doesn't appear much in this story I'm afraid. That's probably why I didn't enjoy this story much as `Snakedance' since Nyssa wasn't in it and it wasn't better for it. If you wanted to find out why Nyssa fainted at the end of 'Four to Doomsday', you won't find it in this story. The answer is in 'Primeval', a very good Nyssa story from Big Finish. Nyssa gets stuck in the TARDIS for most of the story in `Kinda' as Tegan is given a larger `bite of the cherry'. The scenes where Nyssa's at the beginning and the end are my favourite and the best scenes for me in `Kinda'.

This is Christopher Bailey's first contribution to the world of `Doctor Who' where he introduces the Mara. I admit I found this story rather unusual and very strange to watch. It's not terrible by any means, but it's very unnerving, surreal and I don't honestly understand some of the scenes happening in the story. But it's very intriguing and Chris Bailey puts in a lot of Buddhist elements and concepts throughout. It feels very dreamlike and is a story about metaphysical world more than anything else. The story feels a little like the movie `Avatar' by James Cameron, which was a film that I was completely blown away by.

The story of `Kinda' has the TARDIS arriving on the planet Deva Loka, a jungle planet that is home to the primitive but peaceful natives called the Kinda. It is a paradise planet that feels all too real and good to be true. With the exception of Nyssa, the Doctor, Tegan and Adric explore the planet. Tegan unfortunately falls asleep under some musical chimes and experiences dark dreams where there are people who wear snake tattoos on their arms that is an actual snake and demon-like entity called the Mara. Meanwhile the Doctor and Adric come across a dome with a scientific and military expedition that's doing a survey on the planet. Pretty soon, the Mara is freed out into the open and is ready cause havoc and prey on the ones who fear.

This is a complex story with a lot of things going on in it. What stood out from this story for me were the themes of dreams and possession. It's really scary and frightening when you experience bad dreams that don't make sense and I've been through those dreams and used some of them in writng my stories. It's also frightening when you get possessed, especially when the Mara takes controls of you and makes you evil. The characters are pretty interesting and dynamic in this story, especially when one's going mad like Hindle; speaks in strange riddles like Panna or acting all possessed and evil like Tegan and Aris. A very complex but fascinating story with lots of ideas running through it!

Without Nyssa, the Doctor has to contend with Tegan and Adric. Peter Davison's Doctor is pretty good in this story. Although Chris Bailey wrote for Tom Baker, Peter comes out top trumps! He's very intrigued by what's going on Deva Loka and shares an interesting relationship with Todd. I like it when the Doctor and Todd are out exploring the jungle, trying to reach somewhere in `Part Three'. The Doctor suggests tossing a coin to find their way and he goes `Heads!' `Tails', Todd replies, and she heads off leaving the Doctor bemused which is very funny. The Doctor gets being called `an idiot' by Panna, which must have been annoying being called an idiot all the time, Ha, ha. The Doctor works out what the Mara is and confronts it inside Aris which is an exciting moment. I liked it when Aris bellows "I AM ARIS!!! I HAVE VOICE!!!" and the Doctor puts a hand to his ear `Yes, so I hear!'

This is a good story for Tegan's character (played by Janet Fielding). Tegan accidentally falls asleep under the wind-chimes and experiences harrowing. She's tempted to have the Mara inside her, to which she refuses and tries to resist. I found it quite eerie and frightening when there were two Tegans and both are arguing about having the same memory of hating ice cream at the age of three. There was a moment when there were ten Tegans which is pretty frightening. It's all too much for Tegan and she reluctantly agrees. Here we get a really seductive; sultry and sexy performance from Janet who looks so evil in her make-up and everything. She wearing a snake tattoo on her arm. Tegan throws apples on Aris, one of the Kinda, and manages to transfer the Mara into him. Tegan thinks she's free from the Mara by the end, but it's not as simple as that.

Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) gets a fair share of the action, although he does make mistakes. He agrees to join Hindle who's gone mad. He does this in order to free the Doctor and Todd from their cell, failing miserably. He's still with Hindle and Sanders in the dome after the Doctor and Todd have left. It's clear he's afraid of Hindle and he tries to find a way out of the dome. He develops an interesting bond with Sanders who treats like him like a lad. I'm not sure how true the story is about Matthew giving Richard Todd acting tips in front of a camera. Peter and Janet might have exaggerated the story a little. I find it quite amusing in a way. Adric gets to ride in the TSS (Total Survival Suit) to get out of the dome. But the controls are too powerful for Adric's mind to deal with and he goes into a panic, "Help me! Please somebody help me!" and almost shoots Aris accidentally.

The story features a guest cast of fine actors. There's Richard Todd playing Sanders, a military leader aboard the dome. Todd is a well-known veteran film actor, appearing in films like Alfred Hitchcock's `Stage Fright' and 'The Dam Busters'. Sanders is a gruff military man when we first meet him. He seems to do things by the book. He seems to treat his deputy Hindle rather unfairly and abuses him on his dress sense. "You're improperly dressed, sir! And what's more you haven't brushed your hair!" When Sanders goes out in the TSS to explore the jungles on Deva Loka (or S14 as he calls it), he meets Panna and Karuna who give him the box of Jhana. He opens the box and becomes a changed man when he returns back to the dome. He seems nicer, calmer and more relaxed, as a result of shock looking into the box. He seems to be playing along to Hindle's mad ways and seems nice to Adric when Hindle's scaring him.

There's Simon Rouse playing Hindle. He's a security man under immense pressure and is on the edge a lot. He distrusts the Doctor and Adric and puts them under arrest with Todd when Sander's gone. He ruins Todd's lab in a temper. He's completely flipped it when Sanders returns and he screams, "SOMEBODY MAKE HIM GO AWAY! MUMMY! MUMMY, MAKE HIM GO AWAY!!!" He shouts "SILENCE!!!" a lot whenever anyone tries to get a word in. Hindle acts like a child sometimes and I found him pretty unnerving on the verge of hysteria. When he and Sanders are playing with little cardboard characters, the Doctor accidentally steps and breaks one of them. Sanders suggests gluing them but Hindle explodes, "DON'T BE SILLY! YOU CAN'T MEND PEOPLE, CAN YOU?!! YOU CAN'T MEND PEOPLE!!!" A terrifying and electrifying performance from Simon who's very good in this!

Nerys Hughes, who is a Welsh actress, plays Todd. I've seen Nerys before in an episode of `Torchwood' and is well known for the comedy series `The Liver Birds'. Todd is the dome's scientist and is a really interesting character. She shares a lot of scenes with the Doctor, and is someone who asks a lot of questions. She's really down to Earth and takes everything seriously. He's pretty believable when finding some concepts hard concerning the Kinda, the Mara and dreaming. She and the Doctor get on well, and both sees `the world through the Kinda's eyes' from the Jhana box. Todd and the Doctor experience what Panna shows in the dream sequence at the end of `Part Three'. Nerys does a remarkable performance as Todd and is an easily likeable person to watch in the story who tolerates Sanders and Hindle and becomes a worthy ally to the Doctor.

I enjoyed watching some of the supporting characters in the Kinda tribe. There's Mary Morris playing Panna, a wise wizened old woman who knows more than the Doctor and Todd know. There's Sarah Prince playing Karuna, who's lovely to watch and seems really nice playing this young girl helping Panna. And there's Adrian Mills playing Aris, the Kinda man who gets possessed by the Mara from Tegan. I've met Adrian at a convention in Chiswick last year in April, and he's a really nice guy to chat to. I enjoyed it when he told the story of one extra dusting himself off on the set of `Kinda'.

The use of mirrors is pretty important in this story, especially when Hindle controls two Kinda males under his will and when the Doctor uses solar panels to defeat the Mara from Aris. There are certain dream sequences which I don't fully understand, especially the one at the end of `Part Three' where Todd and the Doctor witness the `the beginning of the end of everything'.

The Mara becomes a giant snake in the story. What can I say about the actual snake in the original TV story? Yes, it looks fake and pathetic! I couldn't help but giggle when I first saw it. It looks gigantic and writhing when it's trapped in the circle of mirrors. But the final result is pretty disappointing. They've done a brand new CGI version of the Mara snake on the DVD, and it looks very impressive and terrifying. Although it is far to say that new series writer Rob Shearman made a fair point. With the story being metaphysical and surreal, why shouldn't the Mara look like a fake giant plastic snake? But then again, it was the 80s. So you can't blame the people making this with the small budget they had. And at least they did try.

This story is well directed by Peter Grimwade, who makes the most of filming a story within a studio. Even though the story should have deserved before outside or in Ealing studios for the exterior scenes, it manages to hold together pretty well. The story contains some very impressive shots, especially when Tegan's experiencing her waking dream and the camera focuses close-up on her eyes. The story also deserves merit in keeping the plot consistence under Grimwade's direction despite it being so complex and extraordinary.

On the DVD for `Kinda', there are a number of special features to enjoy!

There's a making-of documentary on `Kinda' called `Dream Time', featuring contributions cast and crew such as Janet Fielding; Nerys Hughes; Simon Rouse; Adrian Mills; writer Christopher Bailey; script editor Eric Saward; and new series writer Robert Shearman who provides his champion insight on the story as well as `Snakedance'. There's `Peter Grimwade - Directing With Attitude' that looks into the stories Grimwade wrote and directed for `Doctor Who', with contributions from cast and crew and is presented by Mark Strickson (Turlough in `Doctor Who'). There's some `Extended and Deleted Scenes' from the story cut from the final version; and a CGI effects option that shows the newly impressive Mara snake from the end of the story. There's a CGI effects comparison feature that compares both the original and CGI effects version of the snake effect for the viewer to see how both effects differ from each other.

There are trailers and continuity announcements for the original transmission of `Kinda', as well as a photo gallery of the story. There are audio options, including an entertaining commentary with Peter Davison; Janet Fielding; Matthew Waterhouse and Nerys Hughes; and an isolated music-only track to listen/watch to during the story. There's also an info-text commentary option to watch during the story. There are PDF files including a Radio Times Listing for the story.

So `Kinda' is an extraordinary and unusual story in `Doctor Who'. But it's kinda interesting. I enjoyed watching this, and although I don't fully understand what's going on in the story, the themes of dreams and possession are pretty strong throughout. It's an interesting one for Janet to act her socks off as Tegan and a very exotic adventure in the jungles with the Kinda tribe. It's not a favourite of mine, but I found it interesting to watch.

Nyssa is better and fully recovered at the end of the story, as she, Tegan, Adric and the Doctor go off in the TARDIS.

The next story for the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric is 'The Visitation'.

`SNAKEDANCE'

The second Mara tale is called `Snakedance', set during Peter Davison's second season as the Doctor (Season 20).

This is a Mara story I enjoyed very much. This is because Sarah Sutton's Nyssa was in it this time. But also the story was easier to follow in some respects and the characters and situation were easy to identify. The story includes a fine guest cast, some of whom I've met a convention in Chiswick. This story is a sequel to `Kinda' by Christopher Bailey, who provides a brand new interpretation of the Mara by essentially starting the story from scratch. He explains what the Mara is and how evil it is in terms of possessing people and how it affects the derelict society of the planet Manussa.

In the story, Tegan has been having terrible nightmares. These nightmares are connected somehow to her former possession by the Mara in `Kinda'. The Doctor and Nyssa help Tegan as the TARDIS takes them to the planet Manussa, where it was formerly home-world of the Sumaran Empire now become Manussan Empire. This is the planet where the Mara ruled and terrorised the people for years. Pretty soon the Mara returns to take possession of Tegan again, who uses her to reclaim possession of the Great Crystal to control the people of Manussa! Will the Doctor and Nyssa be able to stop the Mara in time before its new reign of terror begins?

`Snakedance' depicts a society in `Doctor Who' that is pretty run down. Manussa is like an empire that has forgotten its moral values, ethics and principles and is now commercialising on the fear factor from the Mara. It's a very interesting society woven together by Chris Bailey as its people like Lon, Tanha, Ambril and Dugdale aren't aware of the impending evil approaching. When the Doctor comes in onto the scene, they think he's mad when he gives them warnings about the Mara and they simply don't listen to him. A moment I like showing how decadent this society is, is where Nyssa's shoved in the face by a merchant selling toy snakes and she politely refusing to buy one and he's going "Look!" In the end, one of the toy snakes scares Tegan away with her screaming.

Nyssa shines! It's lovely to see Sarah Sutton in this! She wears a new costume that is a blue stripy dress. Not many people like this costume. Peter doesn't. I like Sarah in that costume. Blue's my favourite colour; and Sarah looks pretty in it. Nyssa's `the' companion in this story, as she helps solve the mystery and shares more scenes with the Doctor. I really love it when Nyssa's at the cave mouth and she's waving madly to him, `Hello! Hello, Doctor!', and the Doctor looks, "What is she doing?!" Peter, Sarah and Janet comment on this in the commentary. I found that moment funny when the Doctor helps to lift Nyssa and she replies, "Thank you. But it wasn't necessary." Nyssa gets to be action girl again, when she and Chela wrestle with one of the guards at the cave mouth.

This story of course is Tegan's show! Janet Fielding gets to do her Mara-performance again and play a really evil Tegan! Apparently, Janet uses a British-type voice to sound like the Mara compared to her Australian accent as Tegan. I've only realised that in the scene with the hall of mirrors where Janet's talking to herself. Tegan at the beginning is frightened from having dreams about the Mara. Eventually she starts to lose control and becomes rather playful especially towards Nyssa. When she becomes fully possessed by the Mara, she's really scary and horrid . Eventually when Tegan is free from the Mara, she's broken down and upset from all the experiences she has of hate and rage. The Doctor comforts her by putting his arm around her which I found moving.

I like Peter's Doctor in this story, and Chris Bailey's writing serves him pretty well. The Doctor knows there's something wrong with Tegan and is determined to save her. He's trying to get the people to listen to him but they think he's mad. Nobody listens to him and he gets locked up in a cell. But he manages to gain trust and help from young Chela, who knows all about the legend of the Mara's return. Pretty soon the Doctor, Nyssa and Chela escape to the surface of Manussa where they find Dojjen (Preston Lockwood), who's doing the `snake dance' and is the only one who can provide answers to defeating the Mara. It will require finding the `still point' and also a bite from a snake, which Peter didn't enjoy doing as it was a real snake he had to deal with.

I like the guest stars in this story. The biggest guest star is Martin Clunes who plays Lon, son of the Federator on Manussa. I know and have seen Martin Clunes before in `Jeeves and Wooster' where he played Barmy Fungy-Phipps. He's also been in `Goodnight Mr Chips' and recently in `Doc Martin'. This `Doctor Who' story happens to be Martin's first telly and he's really good in this one. I'm not sure about him wearing women's make-up and sometimes women's clothes. That costume he wore in `Part Four' was shocking horrendous. Even when his mother said, "You look absolutely splendid!"; I couldn't help laugh in shock as it makes him look ridiculous! Lon is a character who seems initially bored before he meets Tegan and gets taken over by the Mara, becoming a really bad boy!

There's Colette O'Neil who plays Tanha, Lon's mother in this story. I've actually met Colette in Chiswick last year in April. She's a really lovely person. I chatted to her during a signing session and asked her whether she remembered working with Sarah Sutton in radio, since she's done an awful lot of radio work. Colette admits she doesn't remember, but said she enjoyed working with Sarah on `Snakedance'. She asked me to say hello to Sarah at the convention, and I certainly did being happy to be the messenger boy. Colette has worked with two Doctors now - Peter Davison and Tom Baker (in `Monarch of the Glen'). Colette plays a rather silly woman in Tanha who's besotted with her son and doesn't realise how evil he becomes when he gets taken over by the Mara.

There's also John Carson who plays Ambril, an archaeologist on Manussa. I've seen John before in a BBC production of Jane Austen's `Emma'. I've met John at the convention in Chiswick. I told him I'd seen him in `Emma' and he was glad someone remembers him from that. Ambril is an expert, but doesn't know all the facts. He's read all the textbooks but doesn't get the actual meaning. He certainly ignores the Doctor who warns him of the Mara's return, considering it `nonsense'. The one scene I like with is where he's showing the six heads of delusion to the Doctor. He's supposed to an expert on the Sumaran era, yet he doesn't get the meaning with five heads instead of six. When the Doctor proves his point, Ambril gets embarrassed and lets his anger, "GET OUT! GO ON, GET OUT!!!"

There's also Brian Miller who plays Dugdale, a showman in charge of the hall of mirrors. Brian happens to be the husband of Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in `Doctor Who'. I've also met him at the convention in Chiswick last year. I didn't chat to him for a very long, but I did say I enjoyed watching him in `Doctor Who' and `The Sarah Jane Adventures'. He plays a great character here as Dugdale, who seems like a comic relief character at first before he gets subjected by Tegan as the Mara and undergoes tremendous stress and pressue when the cave of the snake.

There's also Jonathon Morris playing Chela, who is an apprentice of Ambril. He's a nice character who tolerates Ambil, and knows of the great legend of the Mara's return and of the Great Crystal. He's not sure whether to trust the Doctor first and whether he is mad. But he slowly comes round, showing the Doctor's little mind's eye (a small blue crystal); a journal containing Dojjeen's last entries about the Mara and eventually releasing him and Nyssa from their prison cell. It's a pretty good performance by Jonathon who plays the character with such decency.

The cliff-hangers in this story are debated as pretty dodgy. `Part One' ends with the snake-skull appearing in the fortune teller's glass globe, which is pretty frightening. `Part Two ends eerily with Tegan and Lon as Mara forcing Dugdale to look at them. `Part Three' ends with the Doctor, Nyssa and Chela trying to escape, before getting caught, Lon orders to kill him and Nyssa screaming. The third cliff-hanger's pretty weak since they're not killed when it's resolved. Perhaps it would be better if Nyssa didn't scream, or even better have the episode stop with Lon saying, "Give in? You talk as though you have a choice"; then cut to closing credits. That might have worked better.

The Mara appears again as a giant snake in this story, although it looks more convinced than the one in `Kinda' really. It really does look terrifying and horrible to look at, especially where Tegan's standing beside it and looking so triumphant. It was pretty strange and disturbing when seeing Tegan's face inside the Mara's mouth and tempting the Doctor to look at her. A special effect that's properly realised than before and Fiona Cumming directs that scene pretty well.

Talking of Fiona Cumming, she's a really good director on this story. She captures the atmosphere and the world of Manussa pretty well with its costumes; set design and utilising the music from Peter Howell. She also casts well in terms of the supporting cast and has a very firm knowledge on how to direct a story so well. With the story all being studio-bound like `Kinda' was, you do get the feeling that this is a city out in an open and is pretty exotic and hot when you go outside. A fine directorial from Fiona Cumming on this remarkable story!

Just to say, they've got a Punch and Judy Show on Manussa. I found this rather odd. Do they have Punch and Judy Shows on alien planets? They must have. It was pretty fun to watch, especially when it turns out it's a snake instead of a crocodile attacking Punch.

On the `Snakedance' DVD, there are plenty of special features to enjoy on this disc.

There's the flagship making-of documentary for `Snakedance' called `Snake Charmer', including interviews with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Fiona Cumming, Christopher Bailey, and new series writer Robert Shearman. There's also a deleted scene that is an extended ending of `Snakedance' that should have been included in the story. There's `In Studio' that includes some behind-the-scenes footage on the making of `Snakedance'. There's also a `Saturday Superstore' interview with Peter Davison where he also gets to play cricket in this.

There's a photo gallery for this story, as well as some audio options such as a very entertaining audio commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton; and an isolated music-only option to watch during the story. There's an info-text commentary to watch as well, and a PDF document of the Radio Times Listings for `Snakedance'.

There's an `Easter Egg' to look out for featuring an conversation with Robert Shearman and Christopher Bailey about the writing of both `Kinda' and `Snakedance'. You'll find it on the audio options page of the special features. I've had the pleasure of meeting Rob Shearman at a convention in Swansea and we both had an enjoyable lengthy chat about writing which including talking about the Mara tales both on TV and audio and about writing in general.

I really have enjoyed `Snakedance' in this box collection of the Mara tales. It's lovely to see Sarah Sutton in this after the disappointment of not seeing her in `Kinda'. It also features a creepy performance from Janet Fielding as Tegan the Mara; as well as good group of guest stars including Martin Clunes; Colette O'Neil and John Carson. A very invigorating story that re-tells the Mara story in a unique way and pretty bold in terms of its elements and themes of possession throughout.

At the end of `Snakedance' the Doctor says to Tegan, "The Mara has been destroyed!" Wrong, Doctor! The Mara returns for a third Mara adventure by Big Finish called, 'The Cradle of the Snake'.

The next story for the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan is 'Goth Opera'.

This was good birthday present to have in 2011. I enjoyed watching both `Kinda' and `Snakedance', the first two Mara tales of `Doctor Who'. I enjoyed `Snakedance' more `Kinda', and it was lovely to see Sarah Sutton again as Nyssa. These are two intriguing tales delving into the theme of possession and have unique qualities that have been done before in `Doctor Who' during the 1980s. They are well-remembered from the Peter Davison era of `Doctor Who', and I'm sure you'll enjoy them both.

For both Mara Tale DVDs, there is a Coming Soon trailer for the next DVD release which is the 'Revisitations 2' box set (contains brand-new DVD special editions of three stories including `The Seeds of Death'; `Carnival of Monsters' and `Resurrection of the Daleks').
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5.0 out of 5 stars Snakes Alive, 24 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
The Bill

Yup, there's Jack Meadows, Reg Hollis and Tony Stamp in this, before they went to Sun Hill - Graham Cole is only in one shot, non-speaking, and may be one of Karuna's fathers, but Simon Rouse and Jeff Stewart each give excellent, and quite surprising, performances.

The furore that this created was considerable; on the one hand a highly intelligent, literate script - lyrical and allegorical - and on the other, *that* snake. The torrent of contumely from some fans was of a particularly low PH value, I'm quite surprised that the flow has abated.

The story - of two groups of travellers meddling in a world they don't understand - is simple enough: You upset the apple cart, you deal with the consequences, and (preferably) pick the apples up. The echoes of the serpent hissing in Eden are quite distinct, and Tegan is certainly Eve - confounded, and ultimately seduced by the Mara, in the person of Dukkha (Jeff Stewart).

Meanwhile there's a pith-helmeted, British Imperialist, expeditionary force, led by Richard Todd as Sanders (of the River), a galloping major, very much in the mould of Le Carre's Tufty Thesiger who, at first, revels in bullying Hindle but, after his exposure to The Box of Jana returns to a simple, placid, childhood state, while Hindle, also racing back to childhood, becomes dictatorial, paranoid and homicidal, aided by two slave Kinda (he's captured their souls with a mirror), as he builds a cardboard city in the control room, and then decides to destroy everything outside the dome with fire and acid.

Meanwhile, out in the jungle, Tegan has let the Mara well and truly out of the bottle, one of the usually-mute Kinda men has voice, and is intent on leading the others to attack the the dome; history, the force that the Kinda wise ones seem so keen to resist, is about to start, and it will clearly lead to disaster. The apocalyptic vision scene that concludes Episode Three is a tour de force of nightmare imagery, and at the end of it the wise woman (a superb turn from Mary Morris) is dead.

It's one of the best Peter Davison stories, and quite unlike anything that had come before; there is a lot of intelligence in presenting a world that goes beyond the expected and the easily understood (many of the concepts are Buddhist)- not merely Cowboys and Indians in corridors - nonetheless, in the season poll it was voted bottom, which means that some people genuinely thought it was less good than Time Flight.

Now with CGI, they have replaced the giant puppet snake, and viewed side by side with this, the original does look poor, but at the time I *liked* the snake; it was logical - a 3D version of the one on Tegan's arm. The aspect of evil on Deva Loka is that - pink drawing of a snake now made alive and big - I mean, what would we expect it to look like? It looks pretty evil to me, and be fair, and one thing it was never going to be was a *real* snake - they're not just dangerous, they can be chronically uncooperative as well. I'm glad the CGI version retains the look of the drawing on the arm.

Incidentally, Tosh Lines is in Blake's 7 as well.

5/5

Ears

Whatever the merits of that snake, somebody clearly liked it as Christopher Bailey was invited to do another story, with the result with, that with the whole universe to choose from, they wind up on Manussa, the Mara's home-world, which is like trying to avoid Aliens by going to LV-426.

'Facing Your Fear' is an interesting concept (and so useful in Planet of the Spiders - the other blue crystal story!) , and I appreciate the idea of discovering that whatever it is is not as scary as you thought, but what if it is every bit as scary, and dangerous too? It's like Mistress Baldrick telling her son to 'stand up to homicidal maniacs', and when the anti-Mara hat doesn't work - which we knew it wouldn't - the whole question of the Doctor being so much cleverer than humans gets very doubtful indeed.

The story is less sophisticated than the previous one, but it's perfectly good, and the characters are largely well-drawn, particularly Lon, Tanha and Ambril, who are also the best performed. Martin Clunes, in his first named role on telly, is particularly horrid as the spoilt, louche and stupid Lon, while Collete O'Neil is just as bad in her way as his indulgent, brainless mother (I blame the parents), and John Carson finely ridiculous as the archeologist who mistakes his own pomposity for wisdom. 'The Six faces of Being Thick - oh which one's the sixth?' It's your own face - moron!

Once it's got Tegan again, the Mara exploits pretty much all of the Seven Deadly Sins (except possibly Gluttony, I forget) to return to the here and now; of course it's monumentally stupid to plug the Great Minds Eye into the socket - we all know what'll happen then - one thing the story underlines very powerfully is the strength of human stupidity. Like 'Do not pour industrial effluent into river'. 'Der. I'm a moron'.

It's a powerful depiction of how self-interest can destroy society, and in that, a damning indictment of the 1980s.

It's beautifully thought out and very finely designed, evocative of the Mysterious East, even if one of the sets was salvaged from Song For Europe, in fact the story could quite easily be one of Scheherazade's. The two layers of imperialists and locals is nicely pitched; obvious but never overstated.

And it's a clever idea, in a story of a duplicitous monster, to have a whole society engaged in a masquerade - the festival of getting rid of the Mara - complete with a great big puppet snake and its attendant demons. It's all really rather endearing.

And the big snake is much better in this; in fact, there's snakes all over it, right down to the toy ones in the marketplace, and they've even got a *real* one, albeit not very big.

And Preston Lockwood's very good too, isn't he? Sitting out there among his rocks, with his stick and his little snake, and his very thin legs, even if his friend Chela is a bit boring.

The only shortcoming on the extras is no Martin Clunes being embarassed about *that* costume.

4/5

Pity they never completed the trilogy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Who - Mara Tales - Kinda & Snakedance - When Dr Who become Spiritual, 15 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the greatest adventure during the Peter Davison eras, the Mara episodes shows how people fears can turn people evil, and that what happens to Tegan (Yes, that is the correct spelling of her name). As explained in some of my comments, that Peter Davison's first and his first two adventures from his second series (Arc of Infinity and Snakedance) where his greatest.

I know that JNT named Peter Davison's Doctor Who was called the `Wet Vet', I would like to say that is absolute rubbish Peter Davison was the last of the great Doctor Who's along with William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. He was one of the best 1980s Dr Whos, and these adventures are a lot better than the absolute rubbish pantomimes that came from the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who from the mid to late 1980s.

Kinda is the first story of this story arc from 1982, this story demonstrates great acting from both Richard Todd (Saunders), Nerys Hughes (Todd), and the greatest over acting from Simon Rouse (Kindle) and Adrian Mills (Aris) to the brilliant casting of Mary Morris as Panna the Wisewoman and her protage Karuna played fabulously by very young and new coming actress Sarah Prince. Snakedance is the final epic from 1983, and it demonstrates that `New Romantics' styles can survive outer space with fabulous over the top acting from Collette O'Neill (Tanha), John Carson (Ambril), the legendary Elizabeth Sladen's husband Brian Millar (Dugdale) to the new and young actors Martin Clunes (Lon) and Jonathon Morris (Chela). The only downside is poor Sarah Sutton's outfit in Snakedance, its aweful. Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) has always been my favourite 1980s companion and her character and Peter Davison's Doctor are a prefect match its a pity that the BBC didn't televised more adventures with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

As this is the first of the Peter Davison Doctor Who reviews, I would like to award this adventure `5' stars, as this is my second favourite Doctor Who arcs (Tom Baker's 1978 - 1979 Dr Who - Key to Time is my all time favourite).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I respectfully disagree, 13 Oct 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
With most of the reviews on here:

Remembering Kinda from my early adulthood I found it as dull now as I did back then with poor performances/directing almost completely obliterating an interesting story idea.

Snakedance however I found to be a terrifically written and paced gem of Who. Excellent acting, the story just felt more fleshed out and the denouement was nicely played.

So: 5stars for Snakedance, 2.5 for Kinda giving a 4 star experience
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Kinda Magic, 7 April 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
I wanted to focus chiefly on the superior of the two Mara DVDs in this box set - that would be first story 'Kinda'. Arguably, the real strength of this four-part serial from 1982 is its guest cast: Simon Rouse is superb as the barking-mad Hindle, whilst Nerys Hughes adds gravitas and style as anthropologist Todd - and she even manages to look sexy in a potentially unflattering lab-coat cum dress! Richard Todd is excellent as Sanders - moving from overbearing bully to bemused simpleton, while Mary Morris also stands out as wizened wise-woman of the Kinda; her treatment of The Fifth Doctor in episode three is brilliant - "stay with the idiot!" Even the minor roles are played especially well - Rouse's soon-to-be compatriot in ITV's The Bill, Jeff Stewart, is suitably sinister and enigmatic as a humanoid embodiment of The Mara and Lee Cornes, later of Red Dwarf and Grange Hill fame is energetic and amusing as the Trickster.
Apart from a great cast - Matthew Waterhouse and the frankly bizarre sidelining of Nyssa almost immediately episode one begins notwithstanding - this serial has an intriguing storyline and is nicely directed by Peter Grimwade, albeit entirely in the studio; the only downer is the appalling rubber snake that appears in the final episode, however even this fails to ruin a superb story (and it still has more range than Waterhouse).

Snakedance, apart from an interesting early appearance from a pre-fame Martin Clunes who looks like he's escaped from a third division New Romantic pop group (who knows, maybe he had...), is less impressive than Kinda but still has a strong script and lots of good ideas; director Fiona Cumming seems to lack Grimwade's visual flair but does a good job of keeping Peter Davison's Doctor at the centre of the story. The TARDIS crew arrive on the planet Manussa where The insidious Mara is once again attempting to establish itself via an unsuspecting Tegan. The dodgy snake once again makes an unwelcome appearance, whilst Jonathon Morris of 'Bread' and 'Beau Geste' fame is pretty good value as the enthusiastic curator Chela and Elisabeth Sladen's husband Brian Miller pops up as a showman named Dugdale.

The DVD extras are many and varied, but for me the best are an impressive CGI Mara snake that can be viewed instead of the rubber original, and 'Directing with Attitude', an excellent documentary tribute to late director Peter Grimwade.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would be 5 star for kinda, 8 Mar 2011
By 
Mr. R. G. Prizeman "Dickie 1" (croydon UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda/Snakedance) [DVD] (DVD)
It been a long time since i watched Kinda, and the story still stands up today.Kinda now has new CGI effects for the snake at the end of part 4, and i have to say it has made this story excellent. If effects were around like that in 1982 I think i would have been terrified watching it, and it would have got Mary Whitehouse's back up as well two pluses. Tegan (Janet Fielding) gives a very strong performance and Fielding states this and Snakedance are her favorite stories. The dream sequences are very strong and still very spooky and dark. A lot of great ideas in this story with only the males being effected mental effects of the mind. This story was written before the writer knew there would be three companions so Nisya is tucked away in the Tardis for the story. The squeal snake dance (Mara returns)could never live up to Kinda, however it is still a very strong story and a good one at that. Martin Clunes gives a excellent performance in his first TV appearance(we forget how many young actors TV breaks on Who).This is still a Tegan story and Fielding's performance is still just as good as the first, with a very good supporting cast. The extras are good as well with both containing documentaries,making off and also a documentary Peter Grimwade the director, also the usual commentaries, Davidson commentaries are always enjoyable and this is no exception. This is a good value set with two good stories from Davidson era.
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