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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamsnake, 4 April 2011
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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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Apr 2011 13:56:29 BDT
Sophie says:
wow, that sounds like a good easter egg! This box is looking reeealllly tempting (if you'll pardon!)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2011 21:35:18 BDT
Paul Tapner says:
I didn't actually manage to find it, but I knew that someone online was bound to have, so I just googled 'Doctor who Snakedance DVD easter egg' and the first result told me how. Thank goodness for the internet.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 May 2011 00:08:18 BDT
Iceboy says:
You can do this without a computer, Im sure.
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