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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 April 2014
This splendid, tartan-clad Highland fling marks the end of an era, as the Brigadier leads the UNIT clan into battle against alien foes for one last time. There would be welcome later appearances by some of the cast, but this was the last of the familiar sequence of stories that began with `The Web of Fear' seven years before.

Robert Banks Stewart’s exciting story is a great adventure to end on, presented on two feature-packed DVDs, with reels of excellent location filming and action under the direction of Douglas Camfield once more, as with some of the early UNIT stories; top performances from the regular stars and guest cast, atmospheric sets and soundtrack and the best aliens ever to bring their Terror to `Doctor Who'. Oil, and the politics of oil, was never far from the news in the mid 1970s. So when the Zygons decide to make their bid for Earth from their Loch Ness base, oil rigs made a logical, topical first target. Fortunately the government have UNIT to call on, and the Brigadier can send for the Doctor, but the Zygons have a secret weapon of their own ...

Tom Baker plays the Doctor with a perfect otherworldly quality, irascible, playful and heroic as the situation demands. It's good to see Elisabeth Sladen given the chance to show Sarah Jane as the independent investigative reporter, in a typically good performance. Ian Marter wasn't in the series for long but his `Harry Sullivan' matches Frazer Hines `Jamie' as the best male companion, and was unlucky to be written out so soon. John Levene gets a good story as RSM Benton for the last time in the full UNIT setting. (Yes he and Ian Marter were both in `The Android Invasion' and it's not a bad story but is it a real UNIT story?) Nicholas Courtney looks every Scottish syllable of Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, complete with his regimental Stewart kilt. He has a great last story in command and finally meets his "alien menace that is not immune to bullets" as Terrance Dicks' line famously put it.

Leading the fine guest cast is John Woodnutt with a superbly understated performance of villainous determination. He has three roles to play and brings equal assurance to them all, the brilliant Zygon makeup and costume allows the actor to be visible and audible and create a convincing alien Warlord. I assume that everyone now knows the Zygons' special `power' (after seeing the 50th anniversary show) so that won't come as a surprise, but it creates some great plot twists which are still enjoyable even when you know the story well.

Given the budgets of the time, it was never going to be easy to pull off the trick of filming an adventure set in a very specific part of Scotland, when you couldn't afford to go further than the Highlands of Sussex - but most of the time, with skilful filming it works very well, the ancient woodlands, the coast with its dunes and lonely beaches, and the heather moors dotted with pines do resemble the real Tulloch Moor in Strathspey. The only glaring mistake is the large pond and "fish-free reservoir" that stand in, very unconvincingly, for Loch Ness - the use of picture inserts of some genuine Highland scenes was considered and would have helped. And it must have been a shock to Clan McLeod to find Dunvegan Castle photographically transported from Skye to the banks of Loch Ness!

The village of Tulloch (not `Tullock' as the sign on the Fox Inn reads!) could almost be somewhere in the coastal northeast Highlands, though you're unlikely to meet a highlander like Angus Ferguson MacRanald, the bagpipe-playing, doom-foretelling landlord with the feudal clan loyalty and the second sight! The character is nicely played by Angus Lennie as a fictional cousin of the Transylvanian innkeepers that set the scene with their dire warnings in countless horror films. Some of the other Scottish characters seem distinctly odd - "rather medieval in his ideas" says the Brigadier of the Duke of Forgill, who openly threatens to have trespassers shot! (and the story is set around 1980 not 1780!) - but wait a while...

The Highland illusion is strengthened by the excellent sets for the Fox Inn and Forgill Castle with its Scottish Baronial style, and in contrast the Zygon ship is very, very alien and `organic'. The model work is mostly exceptional, the opening sequence with the oil rig, and the Zygon ship still look impressive today. Then there is the `Skarasen' ... this monster does suffer by comparison with modern equivalents, but it's unfair to compare 1975 stop-motion animation on a budget with Hollywood spending millions on CGI. I think it works well, except perhaps for the final scene and that's down to the monster's `expression' - the face doesn't really look savage enough, but then I suppose the cyborg creature isn't savage when left to itself, those controlling it are the monsters.

You'll probably want to navigate to `Special Features' and turn on the `Director's Cut' option to restore a deleted scene of the TARDIS and crew arriving, and to `Audio Options' to select the excellent 5:1 stereo remastered soundtrack. This enhanced sound, combined with the extensive location filming, lifts the story to a new level. Waves crash around the oil rig, the Zygon ship pulses with life and as the Doctor and his companions trudge across Tulloch Moor you can even hear a skylark singing off to the left.

Then drape yourself in a Stewart scarf, find some Highland shortbread and maybe a `wee dram' and raise your Scottish bonnet to the end of an era, for auld lang syne. But happily, like Hogmanay itself, `Terror of the Zygons' also brought in the new - the two best seasons in the history of `Doctor Who' started right here. Five tartan stars!

Thanks for reading, fare ye well ... (As they might say in the TV Highlands!)

NOTE: If you don't know the story already, navigate off the main DVD menu quickly because the background clips include a huge spoiler!

An excellent and comprehensive set of Special Features on Disk 2:
The commentary and production subtitles are very interesting as usual.
`Scotch Mist in Sussex' discusses the making of the show, key participants talking against glowing misty-white backgrounds.
`Remembering Douglas Camfield' describes the life and career of the director both on `Doctor Who' and the many other famous shows he directed.
`The UNIT Family - Part Three' concludes this enjoyable series, from the arrival of Sarah Jane Smith to `Battlefield', as stalwarts of the show share their memories and reflect on the UNIT era. Be sure to watch right to the very end of the credits.
`Doctor Who Stories - Tom Baker' and `Doctor Who Stories - Elisabeth Sladen' were both recorded in 2003. Two great collections of anecdotes from their times in the show, intercut with many clips. The highlight is `Davros' and the paper bag, from Tom Baker, brilliant.
`Merry-Go-Round - The Fuel Fishers' sees Elisabeth Sladen visit a North Sea oil rig for the 1970's schools' TV programme.
Two `Easter eggs'.
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on 1 October 2013
Without a doubt, one of the best adventures of the Tom Baker era. The first episode alone is one of the most polished pieces of classic Who ever produced. The whole adventure is well-scripted and acted and has a memorable music score by Geoffrey Burgon. The Duke of Forgyll/Broton (John Woodnutt) turns in a very classy performance, as do Baker, Marter and Sladen. Only the Skarasen lets the side down and we were used to that anyway. The old series nearly always came a cropper when it had to produce over-sized monsters on a tiny budget. I think we can safely call this one of the best and most beautifully-produced Doctor Who stories of the old era...the bug-eyed glove puppet notwithstanding.

Such was the impact of 'Terror of the Zygons'...coming so soon after 'The Ark in Space' and 'Genesis of the Daleks' that an article on Doctor Who was published in the old 'Listener' magazine. It paid tribute to Tom Baker (still a 'new' doctor then), and to the Hinchcliffe production team and speculated that, on the strength of recent stories, the programme might possibly run for all time. Nearly forty years later....
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on 7 January 2015
The early years of Tom Baker's run as The Doctor marked some of the best in the history of Doctor Who, and the classic serial Terror of the Zygons is one of the best of his entire run. Along with companions Sara Jane Smith and Harry, they face off against the shape shifting Zygons who look to take over Earth as their own after their own planet was destroyed. The zygons may not be the most intimidating monster compared to the likes of the Daleks and the Cybermen, but there run in this particular serial obviosuly left a mark as they would make another appearence in the 50th anniversary story The Day of the Doctor.
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Terror of the Zygons might be one of Doctor Who's greatest examples of style over substance, but what style.

Firstly, with one important exception, the design work is first rate - from the Zygon spaceship interior to the creation off the Zygons themselves, one of James Acheson's finest contributions to the series.

The regulars, headed by Tom Baker are all on fine form. It's still quite early on in Baker's reign so the jaded flippancy of later years is absent - here he's firing on all cylinders, as he's still feeling out the possibilities of the part. Elisabeth Sladen's partnership with Tom Baker was going from strength to strength, and for my money the Doctor/Sarah combination of Season 13 is one of the strongest Doctor/companion team-ups in the series' history. It's a shame that Harry, played by the late Ian Marter, doesn't feature more - but sadly that's par for the course. He always gave his best, but there's simply not enough for him to do, so no surprise that this was his last story as a regular.

Though this was to be the final proper UNIT story until 1989, you wouldn't know this by viewing the story in isolation. Far removed from the comic relief of the later Pertwee era, in Zygons UNIT are a rock solid force and strong back-up for the Doctor, headed by Nick Courtney's immaculate performance as the Brig.

Returning to direct a Doctor Who story for the first time since his abortive work on Inferno (1970) was Douglas Camfield, one of the series' greatest stylists. The film work alone - such as the duplicate Harry attacking Sarah with a pitchfork or the hunt for the wounded Zygon through the woods - is several rungs above the norm, demonstrating why Camfield was so in-demand as a director.

Another welcome side effect of Camfield's presence is that we get a break from Dudley Simpson on composing duties. As great as Simpson was, it was always good to have a change now and again, and Camfield chose well, with the late Geoffrey Burgon producing an eerie score, full of menace.

The Skarasen, of course, is rubbish, but every story is allowed at least one faux pas.

With all these positives, it's just a shame that the story doesn't make a great deal of sense. With only six or so Zygons on the planet (although more are due to turn up in a few centuries time) it seems that Broton's master-plan to take over the world entails taking the Skarasen to London and letting it destroy a building. Even if it had, was Broton going to take it to every city on the planet to repeat this feat? Surely UNIT would have wised up and found a big enough missile to destroy it?

With just a little more thought, for example maybe Broton could have attempted to release a virus to wipe out the human race, the story could have ended more satisfyingly, but when everything looks as good as it does here, let's not quibble that the plot makes no sense.

There's a generous helping of special features, beginning with the option to view a "director's cut" of episode one, which basically means that a previously cut scene has been reinstated. Since this scene was partly in black and white it had to be re-coloured manually - so kudos to the RT for going to extra mile with this in order to present the option to view it in context - it would have been far easier to simply have it as a b&w extra - but it's lovely to be able to view it in colour as part of the episode.

Mark Ayres moderates an informative and entertaining commentary track with Philip Hinchcliffe, Robert Banks Stewart, George Gallaccio, Sylvia James and Dick Mills all having plenty of stories to tell.

Tom Baker is on fine form in "Doctor Who Stories". Featuring largely unseen footage recorded in 2003 for the documentary "The Story of Doctor Who", this has been one of the most enjoyable series of features from the last few years, and this one is a particular joy - any time that Tom is given free reign you know you're in for a treat.

There's another "Doctor Who Stories" with Elisabeth Sladen which forms a nice companion piece to the Tom one. And Lis also features on a schools programme - "Merry-Go-Round - The Fuel Fishers" made during the mid 70's. A lovely bit of nostalgia, it's great to see it included.

A good making of feature, "Scotch Mist In Sussex", The UNIT Family part three, a documentary about Douglas Camfield, a piece of tv reportage from South Today, the usual high quality production subs and a coming soon trailer for The Moonbase round off an excellent special features package.

Terror of the Zygons is a strong story from one of the series' greatest eras, so it's well worth a place in anybody's collection - and the plethora of special features make it a must buy.
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on 21 October 2014
Another good 'ripping yarn' from the Tom Baker and Liz Sladen era. Well worth the 7 quid. Good quality video and sound and the DVD was delivered quickly and safely. One or two wobbly bits for the special effects but good for the era and the Beeb budget.

Obviously the overall production and sfx quality can't match the modern Dr Who, yet there is a quality about story-development, cliffhangers and atmosphere that is nicer about many of these old ones. They seem to mix humour and Doctor-authority better than now. New ones have too much reliance on the Sonic Screwdriver/gun/tricorder. Probably me getting old and sentimental...
Anyway, certainly a good one for the collection - though I'm not too sure about using Chivers jelly for a spaceship control panel :)
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The first story from Tom Baker's second year as the Doctor comes to DVD. All four twenty five minute long colour episodes are presented on one disc. With various extras on the second.

The story sees the Doctor, Sarah and Harry, return from travels in space and time to help the Brigadier and U.N.I.T. deal with strange goings on in Scotland. Oil rigs are being destroyed, and the trail leads to an area where local legend speaks of a terrifying monster.

But no one who has heard those stories is prepared for the Zygons. What really lurks in Loch Ness. And the deadly threat to the human race that they pose...

This comes from what is generally regarded as the most popular season of the original show. It features a production team who have just discovered what they want to do - gothic science fiction horror - and a lead actor who has really settled into the role. It's a perfect bridge between this bold new era for the show and what came before, since it's the last proper U.N.I.T. story of the time [two subsequent appearances for the group didn't feature the Brigadier, and thus it was never quite the same].

It features excellent guest star actors who take their roles seriously and deliver great performances.

It features stunning scenery and great location filming.

The Zygons are an utterly superb design and a very memorable monster.

It's also one of the best directed stories ever from the original series. Look out for some chilling moments in a barn and a stunning shot of a survivor from a destroyed oil rig walking ashore on a beach in particular.

There are a couple of lines of dialogue that don't quite work. Some slight stereotyping. And some of the visual effects would look so much better in cgi. But you shouldn't have any problem suspending your disbelief. Because it's classic Doctor Who from a classic era, and well worth five stars.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.
Subtitles: English.

It's also English audio captioned.

Disc one contains a commentary from the producer, the writer, and some of the production staff.

It also offers an isolated score, so you can listen to the incidental music all on it's own. And production information subtitles which offer details and trivia about how the story was made.

There's also a deleted scene from part one, which shows the TARDIS arriving. The only way to watch it [on this disc] is by selecting an option to have it included in the first part. The picture quality isn't perfect, but the scene is very good.

On disc two, you can find some of the usual extras for this range:

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

A trailer for an upcoming release in this dvd range.

Radio Times listings for the story as a PDF file.

And a few other features:

Scotch mist in Suffolk is a thirty two minute long making of feature. It's all talking heads rather than a narrative, but it's very involving and well worth watching.

Remembering Douglas Camfield runs for thirty minutes, and looks at the work of the man who directed this. And a fair few other Doctor Whos. Since it covers all his career before and after it's an interesting look at tv of old, with archive clips from some dramas not seen in a while.

UNIT Family part three runs for twenty six minutes, and continues the story of those involved with it on the show from a point at the end of Jon Pertwee's era right up to the last Seventh Doctor season. This is absorbing viewing, which packs an emotional wallop. Because there's so much in here from Nicholas Courtney it's easy to forget when watching that he's no longer with it. Thus it hits you when you remember. Do watch it to the very end of the credits.

Do the same with Doctor Who stories: Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. Both run for twenty minutes [approx] and are more interviews originally recorded for a 2003 documentary. Both are very good interviews. And one suggestion Tom Baker makes becomes rather interesting in the wake of a recent appearance...

Merry Go Round: The Fuel Fishers, is a twenty minute long programme from 1977. Some will remember BBC schools programmes, broadcast in the morning and something your class would be allowed to watch a few of every so often, depending on the subject matter. This is all about North sea oil rigs. It's a little dated but is well presented and pretty watchable.It's presented by Elisabeth Sladen.

South Today is a three minute long interview with Tom Baker done by a reporter from the BBC regional show back when the story was doing some filming in that local area. It's short. But sweet.

You can also find a couple of easter eggs on the second disc.

These can be found by watching it on a computer, and moving the pointer over the screen till a hidden Doctor Who logo lights.Or when using a dvd remote, move the arrow key to the left when the selection is on remembering Douglas Camfield to light up the logo. This will show you a short clip from an old edition of Disney Time [an old show that would have a presenter introducing clips from Disney movies] which was presented by Tom Baker in character as the Doctor. This clip - which was on the second edition of the VHS - comes from the end of the programme and sees the Doctor leaving to help the Brigadier.

Another easter egg can be found by doing similar with the arrow key when the selection is on South Today. This brings up the deleted scene from part one of the story, and thus it can be watched all on it's own. As before, the picture quality isn't perfect. But the scene is.
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on 6 April 2014
A series of catastrophes involving oil drilling rigs off the coast of Scotland comes to the attention of UNIT. From there The Doctor gets wind of it and along with his sidekicks they go to investigate. There they discover a plot to take over the Earth, heralded by alien super~fiends the Zygons and their gigantic pet cyborg...

I have to say that I'm not the biggest fan of Dr Who, however I am partial to nostalgia, and so, having had fond memories of this one, felt the need to watch it again. The sets and budget are kind of what you'd expect from a 1970s Dr Who 4~parter, insofar that although pretty crumby and a bit shaky, they are nonetheless effective and get the job done.
The cast are entertaining and the story is a fairly good kiddy scarer for it's time. Especially when given the shape shifting, body snatching chills on display. There's plenty of lovely location work and the Zygons are megalomaniacal and distinctive enough to give us a suitably menacing and nasty nemesis for the doctor, even if at no point does he appear in any real danger..
The overall feel of the production works well and although I can't quite put my finger on it there's something quite sinister about the whole proceedings, which finish with a great two fingered salute of inter~stellar superiority at the end ~ without giving too much away of course!

Kind of reminiscent of The Hammer House of Horror TV episode: Two Faces of Evil , that and Peter Jackson's Bad Taste..
In my opinion (formed mostly from memory of different Who stories of the period) this is one of the better/scarier Dr Who stories from it's era and certainly worth a viewing, even for casual 'grown up' viewers of the series like myself.

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on 3 January 2014
'Terror of the Zygons' has great incidental music from Geoffrey Burgon and it's well directed with some great location filming, which is especially impressive considering that the 'Scottish' locations were actually in Sussex.

John Woodnutt gives a fine performance as both the Duke of Forgill and Broton the Zygon leader. Tom Baker is on fine form as is Ian Marter who excels as both the courageous Harry and also as the mindless, aggressive Zygon doppelganger.

The Zygons look and sound great; they really are one of the most effectively realised Doctor Who monsters ever. The interior of the Zygon ship also looks good, the organic looking machinery on the ship is wonderful and the sets are superbly lit and have a creepy atmosphere to them. There's some good model work for the exterior of the ship as well. The part one cliffhanger is brilliant with the first full shot of a Zygon menacing Sarah.

Sadly the Skarasen is poorly realised, with hindsight the scenes where it attacks London were overly ambitious. There is also some plot silliness; the Zygons seem surprised when Sarah finds her way into the Zygon ship, but one of them brought Sarah a ladder that allowed her to reach the door release.

Overall the story is good but far from perfect.

There is an option to watch the first episode with an additional scene featuring the Doctor, Harry and Sarah arriving in Scotland.

The second disc is entirely devoted to special features and there are some great ones. 'Scotch mist in Sussex' is the usual 'making of' documentary. It is informative as you would expect and it clocks in at 31 minutes.

There are also two 'Doctor Who stories' features on Tom Baker and the late Elizabeth Sladen. These consist of footage from interviews with Baker and Sladen which were conducted years ago before Doctor Who's revival in 2005. They discuss various aspects of their periods on the show, both features are both good. Baker's is 23 minutes long while Sladen's is nearly 20 minutes.

'The Unit family part three' analyses the Unit stories from 'The Time Warrior' to 'Battlefield'. 'Mawdryn Undead' in which the Brigadier appears is also discussed. Like the first two installments this is very good.

'Remembering Douglas Camfield' looks at Camfield's life and career including his contributions to Doctor Who. It's a nice tribute with contributions from Graeme Harper, Robert Banks Stewart and John Levene among others.
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on 26 October 2014
My Favorite Doctor Who of all time.!!!!! I remember watching this when it was released and I had never come across aliens so scary to me in the sci fi industry until the Zygons came along, these shape shifting creature that in their true for were the most hideous creatures I had ever seen with a total anialation of the human race had me cringing for the Doctor to free us from this terrible nightmare that was about to take over. Tom Baker outshined in this episode he was truly remarkable and still to this day I'm sure you Doctor Who fans will remember this episode for the years to come.
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on 30 September 2013
Not quite sure why another reviewer was so disappointed with the transfer as it represents a quantum leap in quality compared to the VHS tape - blacks are truly black, grain is negligible and the often jarring switch between film and videotape is minimal. The film segments have also being cleaned (just compare with the atrocious Blake's 7 DVD's from Fabulous where the film gate has distracting hair's in gate and high film grain versus smooth video jars viewer). Yes there is mild over exposure on some exterior footage but its better than fuzzy grain and you can always reduce the contrast.
Anyhow, the story is pure Sunday afternoon escapism with an above average number of outside studio footage and great team rapport between UNIT and the Doctor and his companions. Recommended.
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