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How special is special?
on 21 July 2009
Just now "special" this Special Edition release of REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS is does rather depend on whether you bought the original version released back in the early 2000s. The new material on the main disc was all included in the DAVROS box set a couple of years back and consists of a 35 minute "making of" documentary; a 15 minute piece looking at the connections (or Metatextuality if you will) to other stories referenced in the script; and a couple of the usual bits and bobs that have now become fairly standard across the range. All the rest of the extras (including the commentary) are much the same as the original release. The picture and sound have apparently been remastered since then of course, and a couple of (blink and you'll miss them) authoring errors from the original corrected. I'm probably not an eagle-eyed enough viewer to have noticed any errors on the old version which at least tells you how significant they might be to anyone not in the know.
However, this release does include a bonus second disc which includes a 45 minute DAVROS CONNECTIONS documentary that was also included in the DAVROS box set but was previously unavailable separately. To be fair, it's not the comprehensive look at Davros that I expected it to be with large chunks of it seemingly being included to promote the audio dramas produced by Big Finish. It probably made more sense to include this material in the Davros box set as that also had the Big Finish stories in it, but here those references seem a little superfluous and, of course, the story of Davros himself has already dated when you consider the new series. Whilst the documentary is, I suppose, an in-depth look at the character as he appeared on screen and CD, it is not a look at the development of the character behind the scenes and so I found it generally rather disappointing. I imagine that the feeling was that this subject was rather better dealt with in the various documentaries and "making of"s on the individual story discs, but I'm not so sure. At least, by buying this release, you do at least get the opportunity to see it without having to buy the box set release and possibly repurchasing a clutch of stories you might already have.
Despite all that, to buyers coming new to this particular story, it does have its moments. There are some (fairly) impressive visuals in there, some fine performances from some great guest stars (George Sewell, Simon Williams, Michael Sheard and Pamela Salem probably being the best known) and some pretty memorable lines and lovely moments in an enjoyable script that takes the series back to its geographic roots and probably kicks off the Dalek War... Sometimes its reach does exceed its grasp (this IS a DOCTOR WHO story after all) and the story is a very late 1980s take on the 1960s, but there's a lot of fun to be had along the way. Sylvester McCoy seems a lot more relaxed in the part of the Doctor in this his second season in the role, and Sophie Aldred has her first adventure as the companion proper after her introduction in DRAGONFIRE (as yet unavailable on DVD but you can track down the old VHS release if you want to) the previous year.
So, if you've never bought REMEMBRANCE before, then this is probably the version you should get, but if you already have the old one (or especially if you have the DAVROS set) then it's a much tougher call as to whether to add this version to your collection. There's also the worrying thought as to how many more stories you've already bought are going to get this "Special Edition" treatment later on. If you're a collector, this could get quite expensive.