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Professor Eric Stahlman has a dream. He believes that large pockets of natural gas lie underneath the Earth's crust. The British government, convinced that cheap, unlimited power is close at hand, instigate a massive drilling project - nicknamed "Inferno".

With UNIT providing security, it's no surprise that the Doctor tags along. He isn't convinced about Stahlman's ideas, but is more than happy to tap the Inferno's nuclear power generator. The Doctor believes that this power will enable him to repair the TARDIS and break free from his exile on Earth.

The Doctor does manage to escape, but only sideways - into a parallel universe. There he finds an alternative Earth where his friends are now his enemies, and when the Inferno project penetrates the Earth's crust it has devastating consequences. The parallel Earth is doomed - but can the Doctor return to "his" Earth in time to prevent a similar catastrophe?

Originally transmitted in 1970, Inferno is a 24-carat Doctor Who classic. Series regulars Jon Pertwee, Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney are all on top form and there's a quality guest cast with the likes of Olaf Pooley, Christopher Benjamin and Derek Newark.

Pertwee's wonderful in this story, managing to balance the more arrogant side of his Doctor with flashes of humour. Courtney has a great role in the parallel world as the Brigade-Leader, complete with dueling scar and he relishes the chance to play the part of a baddy for a change. Barring a brief return in The Five Doctors, this was Caroline John's last appearance in the series as Liz Shaw. Throughout this season she gave rock solid support to Jon Pertwee, and Inferno is a good final story for her. It's just a shame she never had a proper leaving scene.

The idea of a parallel Earth is one that's been used surprisingly little in the series, which may be why it's so effective here. Although it's a long story, clocking in at just under three hours, it never feels particularly padded - thanks to the directorial talents of Douglas Camfield and an uncredited Barry Letts on some of the studio sessions.

With the majority of these Doctor Who re-releases, any improvements in the picture quality is usually nice, but it's not a major selling point. Here it is. Originally these episodes were recorded on 625 line PAL videotape. For overseas sales they were converted to 525 line NTSC. The original release took the surviving NTSC tapes which were then treated with a process called RSC in order to restore some of the original fluid look of the 625 PAL VT. It's watchable, but has many drawbacks, not least the jagged effect when there's any sudden movement.

This release uses B&W film prints and overlays the colour from the NTSC tapes. As the B&W prints have first been restored and VIDfired this has resulted in a major improvement in picture quality. Whilst it's still variable, episode 5 for example does look slightly worse than the others, in general it's far better than the original release. In places, you could be mistaken for thinking that you were watching an original 625 PAL VT.

The original DVD had a very good selection of special features, all of which have been ported over onto this Special Edition. The original commentary track is worth a listen, particularly the episodes that feature a solo commentary from John Levene. If you've seen the documentary on the Claws of Axos SE then you might know what you're in for, but it's still comedy gold.

There's a couple of new documentaries - the first is Doctor Forever - Lost in the Dark Dimension. This looks at some of the attempts to return the series to the screen between the end of the original series in 1989 and the relaunch in 2005. It's an entertaining watch and there's a lot of interest here - particularly the story behind the proposed straight-to-video 30th anniversary special "The Dark Dimension".

The other new documentary is Hadoke vs Havoc in which Toby Hadoke attempts to reunite the Havoc team for one last stunt. It's great to see the guys back together again, and also to see Toby attempt a classic Havoc stunt.

Oh, and there's a trailer for Mind of Evil in colour. That's rather exciting.

Given the major increase in picture quality, and the fact that Inferno is one of the greats of this era of Doctor Who, this special edition is well worth picking up.
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on 26 February 2013
Well, to answer the question in the title: apart from the opportunity to add new special features, the restoration team have devised a new remastering technique that gives better results.

To explain briefly: all of the original European-standard (PAL) videotapes for this story were lost or wiped, leaving only black-and-white film recordings (shot off a TV monitor), and North American-standard (NTSC) tapes converted using analogue equipment for the Canadian market.

The previous version of this story used a technique called reverse standards conversion to restore the converted NTSC video to PAL while preserving as much of the original picture quality as possible. Unfortunately, "as much as possible" is still a lot less sharp than the original pictures, and there are little annoyances, like wobbling on any horizontal lines in the picture.

The new restoration technique, first used on The Claws of Axos special edition, combines the picture detail from the remastered black and white films with just the colour from the reverse standards converted video. A technique called VidFIRE is also applied, as on most of the black and white DVDs, to restore smooth video-like motion to the film image. The result is a much sharper-looking image. It looked great on Axos, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on Inferno.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 February 2014
A flaming classic forged from white-hot technology, burning ambition and searing satire. What a scorcher! 5*

A controversial project drilling deep under England to release a vast, untapped reserve of gas with the promise of cheap, home-grown energy. Does that sound strangely familiar? In fact the project nick-named `Inferno' was based on two real attempts, one American, one Russian, to drill deep into the Earth's crust. Both projects were suddenly abandoned - perhaps it was just as well ...

Workers at the `Inferno' drilling site have hit a serious problem - their drilling rig is leaking toxic, green underground goo that turns normal humans into burning hot, green, hairy, mindless monsters bent on destruction. "That noise he was making - I've never heard anything like that before." says the Brigadier. "I have" the Doctor replies, "Krakatoa ... the volcanic eruption of 1883." We never learn exactly what the noxious slime is; it seems they are picking up something primordial that has been buried deep in the Earth since its formation. We do know it's very unpleasant stuff and any sensible scientist would stop now before worse happens.

But Professor Stahlman is too obsessed with penetration of the Earth's crust to care, ignoring the warnings of the project's computer and an oilman (two rather unlikely heroes for 1970's `Doctor Who') that his project is drilling to disaster. The story then unfolds as if seen through a two-way mirror thanks to the wonderful plot device of a parallel world. This was introduced partly to spin the series out over seven episodes without needing more sets or actors, but it's a very clever idea, brilliantly used by the writer and actors to look at the same situation from two sides, often very satirically, and to include an event in the story that not even `Doctor Who' can usually contain.

On one side of the `mirror' in our own 1970s world, we see the project being run as a nationalised `big science' endeavour, with the best of intentions but getting out of control. It is undermined by the personal obsession of the chief scientist/industrialist and the benign but bungling government officials who should be in charge, but can't see the project is heading for catastrophe until it's too late. In the evil, parallel world, the identical drilling scheme is being run for state gain by scientific slave workers in an Orwellian republic, where nothing must be allowed to halt the state's prestige project. There, fascist uniforms are cleverly blended with `1984`-style communist icons like the `Big Brother' posters to create a nightmare world in which democracy has been overthrown and a `people's republic' created by murder. In both worlds the teams of scientists are working to the same disastrous goal with only the Doctor to save the world. And then save it again.

`Inferno' completed Jon Pertwee's excellent first season in the role. Partly an earthbound Time Lord, partly a Swinging Sixties superhero, surely only Jon Pertwee could carry off ruffs, frills, a red cape, a yellow roadster and Venusian aikido with so much credibility and style. Many of the cast have the opportunity to play their characters twice, once in each parallel world and some with more differences than others. Caroline John is excellent as Liz Shaw times two, Nicholas Courtney's splendid Brigadier also appears with a guest eye-patch as his own evil twin and John Levene has possibly his best story as no less than three versions of Sgt. Benton. The guest cast are the usual high quality and the convincing sets are well populated with busy extras and the daring stuntmen of HAVOC. I felt the only weaker point in `Inferno' was the later stages of the Primords. Initially the `possessed' characters are impressively menacing and the makeup works well; the final, hairy `werewolf' transformation seems slightly out of place in a generally serious script, but this minor weakness is swept aside by the drama of the impending disaster.

`Inferno' stands out thanks to the inventive script, excellent cliff-hangers (those for episodes 4 and 6 are superb), eye-catching stunts and brilliant location filming. This shows just how location work should be built into a key part of a `Doctor Who' story - unlike some famous but essentially `decorative' use of locations. There's a grimy authenticity here that continues with the replacement of incidental music by the ceaseless noise of the drilling rig grinding away, creating an atmosphere of unremitting pressure. Douglas Camfield's outstanding direction keeps the tension high - very impressive for a 7-parter when some 6-part serials tended to sag in the middle. Sadly, he became very unwell during the production but Barry Letts stepped in to direct the remaining studio work.

Thanks to all the reviewers who gave `Inferno' top scores and prompted me to buy this special edition - I was too young to remember this season and had the pleasure of seeing this great story for the first time from DVD. As yet another `lost' (i.e. discarded) colour story, later retrieved from Canada and beautifully colour restored here, we're lucky to have it.

`Inferno' fully deserves five blazing stars, I think you'll `lava' it(!)

Thanks for reading.

Picture quality on the special edition is excellent, also the commentary with Nicholas Courtney, John Levene (a very enjoyable commentary `presence') and the famous producer / script editor duo of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks who made the Jon Pertwee years happen.
A very good set of features on Disk 2, including four main items of around 30 minutes each:
`Can You Hear the Earth Scream' looks back at the making of the programme with a special focus on the stunts.
`The UNIT Family - Part 1' covers the creation of UNIT to provide a framework for the Doctor to work in while exiled to Earth and the actors and `missions' up to `Inferno'.
New features for the Special Edition:
`Lost in the Dark Dimension' considers the various attempts, some more promising than others, to return `Doctor Who' to the screen after 1989.
`Hadoke versus HAVOC' is a gem. Toby Hadoke reunites (or should that be re-UNITs?) some of the intrepid HAVOC stunt team in 2013 to teach him to perform a stunt. They prove that being 80 is no reason to spend time lying down - unless you're landing yet another high stunt fall to show the young chap how it's done! Brilliant.
One `Easter Egg' on disk 1, two on disk 2.
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on 12 March 2014
The original DVD of Inferno suffered from a rather ugly transfer which was the best that could be achieved an the time of release. This version goes a different route by VidFiring the film prints and adding colour.. As such the results can only be seen as a massive improvement. Its a great story let down by a few joke shop vampire teeth towards the end, but if you can rise above that aspect (OK I'll allow you one titter) then you are in for a treat. The seventh season of Doctor Who was amazing. This is a superb climax to that run.

Some newly created extras round off the package and all in all its one of the best the series has to offer. Highly recommended
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on 28 June 2015
For me, this is the greatest Doctor Who story of them all. From early in the first episode all the way through to the end, this is as tense, grim, atmospheric and exciting as the programme ever got. The only let-down? The silly Primord costumes, but never mind. The scenes in the alternative universe are a highlight. Modern Doctor Who seems a million miles away from this and it's much the worse for it.
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on 9 July 2015
The Great Pertwee's first series shows all of the invention and promise that a new direction offered, as well as long stories, excellent characters and the Man Himself on great form, settling into the role from the off and commanding that you watch him.

Inferno shows us both the dangers of tapping the earth's core and also of mucking about with TARDIS consoles. I prefer the series with the introduction of the Master and Jo which followed, but these earlier stories are just so wonderful.
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on 4 March 2015
This special edition of the season 7 story, is well worth the upgrade in my opinion. Everyone who knows the story will testify that season 7 is one of the best DW years, all four stories in the season are great, but Inferno just has the edge over the others for me. The picture quality is light years better than the 2006 DVD release. I haven't viewed the extras yet, but all the original extras have been ported across. Well worth the money, which is a paltry £6.50 on Amazon. I recommend anyone who hasn't bought this SE version, buy it you won't regret it.
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on 29 May 2013
Viewers are usually in one of two camps. Those that bemoan the special editions as cash-ins by the bbc and those, like me who see it as a chance to re-evaluate a story. One thing the Doctor Who DVD range has never done is to repackage and sell the same disc, story and special features. Many feature film studios (Universal especially) are porting out the same content with a different cover sleeve every few months. With Doctor Who you always get something extra. Some stories get some slight extras. All get a visual makeover. Some get fantastic additions. The Revisitation box sets started the trend but some of the newer releases are getting slapped back a bit and accused of cashing in. The Visitation admittedly was slight, The Aztecs was packed and with the bonus "Galaxy 4" feature. I still can't get into The Claws of Axos. I don't know why but I just don't like the story but the special features justify the cost.

The up-coming Regeneration set has had some mixed feeling but I quite like the idea of having the whole story of Regeneration combined together. Hopefully there are plenty of additional clips, the cgi-ed Baker/McCoy should be included. It's also the first chance to see The Tenth Planet. After all, the Davros Box Set was the first chance to get the 1st special edition of Remembrance of the Daleks and that was/is a fine set.

And if they make up season box sets, I'm sure I won't be the only one getting them.

BUT TO INFERNO.

I had felt I had seen this recently (the last dvd was out in 2006 although it feels nearer). I left the story itself until I had reviewed the extras. This must prove the point that some stories need revisiting. It was good to revisit the making of the show and the history of UNIT Part 1 (I can't remember where to find Part 2) but the suprising highlight was Hadoke vs HAVOC. Is Toby always got his own Dr Who costume. I can't recollect him ever taking his gloves off in one of these documentaries. Perhaps he's auditioning for a famous role. Anyhow I have enjoyed his past treks to find and meet Who alumni but this was by far the best and most moving. The Forever Doctor features continue to entertain but I always wish they (all) had longer running times.

And the Show itself. I don't think of INFERNO as a Monster feature even with the primords dotted about. It's a planet in peril story and it's the humans who are the big risk. As with Ambassadors of Death I find these the most enjoyable and fast paced stories in the Pertwee canon. Yes, even at 7 episodes.... Take that and your 4 parts, Claws!!! The acting is uniformly impressive and the improved restoration makes this a justified story to be revisited. So if you want to update your library and get a few enjoyable extras in the bargain, just give over a few more coffers to the BBC, via Amazon.

What we do need is a comrehensive, easy access guide to the DVD range extras. DWM should bring out a special.

UPDATE 2/10/13 - I didn't get the Regeneration Set. This is purely down to having all the stories already (bar Tenth Planet which is out soon) and there are no additional incentives (for me) - It's still a good starter for a Whobie Newbie
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on 26 October 2014
I had never seen this episode before and I thought it was one of the best Pertwee episode's I'd ever seen and caught me off guard a 7 episode I don't think there has ever been another 7 episode Doctor Who plenty of 6 episodes and the classic 4 episodes but a 7 was truly worth the ride. Loved this tale called Inferno. The Alternate Universe was so well done I really enjoyed the Brigadeir being a total Bas....... Was a great change and pace to the show.
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on 11 March 2013
I really enjoyed watching Dr Who - Inferno, as I found both acting and the story line very gripping. It is also a fitting tribute to the great Jon Pertwee (The Third Doctor), Nicholas Courtney (Brigader Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart), Caroline John (Dr Liz Shaw), Shelia Dunn (Petra Williams), Derek Newark (Greg Sutton), and producer Barry Letts and Shelia Dunn's husband the Director Douglas Camfield who sadly became ill during the filming of this epic adventure. This was adventure is fabulous as Nicholas Courtney, Caroline John and new 1970s regular John Levene (Sargeant John Benton) portrays two facets of their characters from the two different demisions of planet 'Earth' with great passion.

It is sad to see how many good actors and actresses cope with a story that deals with one man obsession on drilling through the earth's curst can brings one an environment and global disaster that could destroy planet earth. The doctor has faced both the Daleks and the Cybermen, but of his greatest enemies is always an arrogant, ignorant and dark side of humanity itself, and this is excellently captured in the characterisation of Professor Eric Stalhman who is excellently acted by Olaf Pooley. Olaf Pooley's character Professor Stalhman has always been my favourite number one Dr Who human villians (Tony Beckley's Harrison Chase from the 1976 Dr Who adventure 'The Seeds of Doom' coming a close second), and it is fantastic as he arrogantly dismisses and ignores both the Third Doctor's (Pertwee), Sir Keith Gold's (Christopher Benjamin), Greg Sutton's (Newark), Bridader Lethbridge-Stewart's (Courtney) and eventally Petra William's(Dunn)fears, concerns and warnings about the drilling Project:Inferno.

I think the parallel universe was a brilliant idea showing two side of evil earth were the disaster become real and frighting especially the transformation of Stalhman, Sargeant Benton and group of scientist into the monstrous Primiods caused by green bubbling hot slim from the earth core. This is a fabulous Dr Who adventure and it is scarier than the re-launched series with its CGI monsters. I am really looking forward to the final Jon Pertwee 1971 adventure 'The Mind of Evil' in full colour for the first time in June 2013, and Tom Baker's final epic 'Terror of the Zygons' coming out in September 2013.
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