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Customer Review

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1666 and all that, 6 May 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Visitation - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
Although the Doctor is still attempting to return Tegan to Heathrow in 1982, the TARDIS is proving less than co-operative. Instead, the time-travellers find themselves in 1666. The fear of plague still haunts the land, but the Doctor is more interested in the wrecked remains of a spacecraft's escape pod.

When he discovers that the alien survivors intend to unleash a virus to destroy the human race, the Doctor faces a race against time to avoid a final visitation.

Eric Saward's debut script for the series clearly impressed producer John Nathan-Turner, as he offered Saward the script-editor's job shortly after.

It's interesting that during Saward's tenure as script editor you sometimes come away with the impression that he was less interested in the Doctor and more interested in his own creations, such as Lytton and Orcini. This seems to start here, as the most compelling character in The Visitation is the roguish actor and highwayman, Richard Mace (a nice guest turn by Michael Robbins).

So whilst Michael Robbins is good value and there's some nice location filming, The Visitation does feel a bit derivative of earlier stories such as The Time Meddler and The Time Warrior. It's therefore a solid, if unremarkable story from Peter Davison's debut season.

This special edition carries over all the bonus features from the original DVD. In addition to this there's three new documentaries, the first of which is another edition of Doctor Forever, this one covers the Audio releases and is an interesting watch.

Grim Tales reunites Davison, Fielding and Sutton, and they, along with Mark Strickson, take a stroll around the locations used in the story, for an informal chat about making The Visitation. This interview footage in intercut with talking heads footage from the likes of Eric Saward. Having the TARDIS crew together is a definite plus, and makes this a cut above the normal making of documentaries.

Davison, Strickson and Fielding are together again for the final documentary, The Television Centre of the Universe. This sees them, along with Yvette Fielding, back at Television Centre to chat about their memories of working there. As with Grim Tales, their interview footage is intercut with talking heads such as costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux and AFM Sue Hedden amongst others. This is another good documentary that explores some of the magic of Television Centre. A second part will appear on a forthcoming release.

As with all these Special Editions. if you have the original DVD then a decision to rebuy rests on any improvement to the picture as well as the new special features.

This release has used the original film elements, so the PQ of those sections does look better than the original DVD. Although I'd say that this isn't enough to justify a new purchase. The two new documentaries featuring Davison and co are entertaining, particularly if you're a fan of this era. So whilst this won't be an essential purchase for many, overall it's a good package.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 May 2013 20:17:44 BDT
Lee Mendham says:
Actually, the original DVD also used the original film elements. Back then they were taken from a good-quality print because the splices on the negatives would have caused picture jumps that would have been too time-consuming to fix. It's possible that they've found a way around that problem since then - certainly I was impressed with the quality of the film inserts in the new version.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2013 20:36:38 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 May 2013 20:39:22 BDT
According to the original RT article -

http://www.purpleville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/rtwebsite/visitation.htm

the initial release didn't use a transfer of the A/B roll negs due to the problem with splices as you mentioned. Instead they used a new transfer of the TX print, which they say offered better PQ than the 1982 telecine transfer.

Quite what's happened in recent years to make utilising the A/B negs worthwhile I don't know, but I'm glad they did as it does result in quite an improvement.

Shame that the story isn't a particular favourite of mine, but at least it looks better than before!
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