on 28 April 2011
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.
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:
Audio captioned: English.
Plus the usual:
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.
on 24 June 2011
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.
on 24 October 2013
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.
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.
Pity they never completed the trilogy.
on 15 October 2012
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).
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.
on 1 March 2014
I can see why Steven Moffat holds these two stories up to such high regard. Christopher Bailey writes both of these stories that follows Tegan's mind under the influence of the evil Mara. Both stories follow theological themes, with Snakedance throwing in the themes of cultural depreciation and consumerism into the mix.
The first story, Kinda is one of the most experimental episodes I've ever seen. Grimwade directs and thanks to both him and some quality set design, the world of Deva Loka feels very real for a studio set - this helps to immerse and let you enjoy the theological elements of the story. Tegan gets some quality development and is a joy to watch on screen... It's honestly true! Adric doesn't get in the way either as he's sidelined for an impressive guest cast with Richard Todd playing the leader 'Sanders, and Lee Cornes playing a brilliantly creepy 'Trickster'.
Meanwhile Snakedance follows conventional structure a bit more, to me this elevates Snakedance above Kinda by just a smidge. Again Tegan has her time to shine, being post-Earthshock Adric's left (HOORAY!) and Davison gets some quality characterisation. Snakedance has a really interesting feel since the Doctor is visiting a society that exists centuries after major strife. History has been reduced to trinkets flogged in markets, which feels bustling and full of life thanks to Fiona Cumming's direction and Peter Howell's wonderful music. Martin Clunes impresses in the guest cast.
The prevalence of Tegan on the front of the box is well placed. These two stories give her time and let Janet Fielding sink her acting chops into something other than moaning and complaining - the result is by a country mile Tegan's best two stories. Christopher Bailey is a spectacular writer and his characterisation of the 5th Doctor is a breath of fresh air. Amongst some very poor stories, Kinda and Snakedance are gems.
There's the usual drill of commentaries and documentaries (Snakedance's with Robert Shearman is superb & Christopher Bailey gives rare interviews) but the really joy comes from the episodes. These two stories are some of the cream of the Davison crop and alongside Caves of Anrozani make up a Holy Trinity of fantastic Davison stories and truly fantastic Doctor Who stories in general.
One of my favourite Classic Who boxsets and well worth a spot on your shelf.
on 22 January 2014
'Kinda' and 'Snakedance' are two of the finest ever Doctor Who stories, both were written by Christopher Bailey and both feature the Mara as a central villain.
'Kinda' is a stunning piece of television, its complex but very rewarding. The guest characters are well characterised and acted, in fact this could be the best guest cast ever in Doctor Who. Nerys Hughes is brilliant as scientist Todd, who acts as the Doctor's companion in this story while Tegan is being possessed and Adric is sulking. Simon Rouse gives a confident, inspired performance as the paranoid and increasingly unhinged Hindle and Richard Todd's performance as Sanders is masterful.
As for the regular cast, Peter Davison is fabulous as always and Janet Fielding shines as well, especially as the Mara possessed Tegan, it's a shame that she only gets to play the villain briefly. Sadly Matthew Waterhouse is the weak link of the cast, but luckily his role is fairly small.
Bailey's script is well paced and features mostly exceptional dialogue. The scenes set in Tegan's mind are chilling and, thanks to director Peter Grimwade, the story mostly looks great.
The only place where the story really falls down is in the realisation of the Mara as a giant plastic snake at the end of part 4. The model is risible, but it is only on screen very briefly and included on the DVD is the option to view the story with the plastic snake replaced with an excellent CGI version.
Extras on the 'Kinda' disc include 'Dream time', the 'making of' documentary which is good. There are interviews with Simon Rouse, Nerys Hughes and Christopher Bailey among others. The talking heads tend to be harsh about the sets for the jungle, I thought they were quite good.
The other main extra on this disc is 'Peter Grimwade- Directing with attitude', an excellent documentary about Grimwade's career with, as you'd expect, extra emphasis on his contributions to Doctor Who as a director, writer and production assistant. There's footage from a 1987 interview with Grimwade and the deeply unpleasant incident in which he fell out with John Nathan Turner in 1983 is covered. My only complaint is that Eric Saward uses his interview as an opportunity to slag Nathan Turner off too much for my liking.
For me 'Snakedance' is even better than 'Kinda', it's less complex and more of a conventional Doctor Who story but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Again Bailey has created some intriguing guest characters, and the guest cast bring these to life perfectly. While all the guest performances are strong especial praise has to go to Martin Clunes for his electrifying performance as Lon, you'd never guess it was his first television appearance.
Peter Davison brings a wonderful energy to his performance in this story and Janet Fielding fortunately gets to play the villain in the story right to the end and she is breathtaking playing evil.
The story is set on Manussa and its a very compelling alien civilisation; there is a lot of pleasing detail about its history and its customs which helps it to seem real. The story looks gorgeous, thanks to some very impressive sets and superb direction from Fiona Cumming.
The snake seen at the end of this story is actually really good, the production team had clearly learned from the experience of 'Kinda'.
The extras on the 'Snakedance' disc include 'Snake Charmer' another very good 'making of' documentary. There is an extended version of the end of part 4 included as a deleted scene.
There is also an Easter egg, 'In conversation Chris Bailey and Rob Shearman' which is a very nice discussion between the two writers. Shearman talks about the influence 'Kinda' and 'Snakedance' had on his career.
In conclusion these are two real Doctor Who gems packaged with some fine extras. Highly recommended.
on 31 March 2013
On the planet Deva Loka a seemingly primitive tribe - the Kinda - hides a dark secret. The Mara, still hiding within Tegan's subconscious, wants to be reborn...
Part 1: On Deva Loka Tegan falls asleep in the forest watched by the Kinda.
Part 2: When Hindle's breakdown begins, the Doctor and Todd are in danger.
Part 3: Panna shows the Doctor what the past, present and future holds for Deva Loka.
Part 4: The Mara finally breaks free of its dream dimension.
01 - 09 Feb 1982
Part 1: The Mara is returning home to the planet Manussa, five hundred years after being exiled.
Part 2: Tegan tries to rid her mind of the Mara forever.
Part 3: The Doctor locates the Great Mind's Eye crystal but it is instrumental in the Mara's plan.
Part 4: The Doctor and the original snakedancer Dojeen work to rid the planet of the Mara.
18 - 26 Jan 1983
on 7 April 2011
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.