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Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos (Special Edition) [DVD] 
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Another adventure for everyone's favourite Time Lord. The TARDIS is low on Zyton 7, and the only planet with the ore available is Varos. Upon landing, the Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri discover a society addicted to real life TV violence, ruled by a corrupt regime. They have to help the rebel Jondar and thwart the Thoros Betan delegate, Sil, in his attempts to obtain the Zyton for his own conglomerate.
One of the most popular of Colin (the sixth Doctor) Baker's adventures, Vengeance on Varos finds the Doctor and Peri (Nichola Bryant) involved with rebels in a 1984-like world, where televised torture is used to support and enforce an unworkable regime ruling a mining society on the planet Varos. When first broadcast the story aroused condemnation not only over the violence shown--particularly two men falling into a vat of acid--but also over the implied horror and moral corruption. However, these complaints missed the satiric subtext of a world in which the reality TV suffering pacifies the masses while big business carries on exploiting them; and none were more memorably corrupt than the reptilian alien Sil--a love-it-or-hate-it OTT performance from Nabil Shaban. While there is rather too much running about in corridors, the surreal terrors of the Punishment Dome make for good Doctor Who, and the adventure develops ideas from both The Sunmakers (1977) and The Caves of Androzani (1984) with considerable low-budget aplomb. Filled with bizarre touches such as Peri's transformation into a bird creature, the show also marked Jason Connery's TV debut as a rebel leader.
On the DVD: There's 15 minutes worth of deleted and/or extended scenes and four minutes of stage footage, but by far the finest extra is the three way commentary track, with Baker, Bryant and Nabil Shaban. Affectionately sending the show and themselves up, while still demonstrating a great love for Doctor Who, the track sometimes degenerates into trivia, but at its best is simply hilarious. Both original BBC1 trailers and a continuity link are included, as is a photo gallery and the option to listen with the unfinished "production sound", something which is likely to appeal only to die hard fans. Rather more interesting are the optional on-screen production notes, which offer a wealth of behind-the-scenes information. The extras are completed with a small selection of outtakes. The sound is strong, clear mono, the 4:3 transfer has no sign of compression artefacting and is good enough to reveal the weaknesses in the original studio-bound video production. --Gary S Dalkin --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Actually, I'd been at a loss for a while. I'd been getting what was generally considered the best story (or best two) from each Doctor, on DVD, but I was stuck at one for Colin Baker. No one could settle on one they liked, until a while later I kept hearing 'Vengeance on Varos' was a good one to watch. So, I finally picked it up and I personally say it's up there with all the other greats.
Colin Baker's Doctor isn't dislikable in this story (for once), and instead is relatable and helps out, even given the dire situation. One of the things I loved about this story was that it was so strong without the Doctor and Peri even needing to land on the planet of Varos, but when they came in, they pulled it in a new direction, saving the life of someone who was going to have their execution broadcast to the world... purely for entertainment. In fact, this premise is somewhat relevant to modern audiences, with the height of reality TV and what does count for entertainment on talent shows, it strangely portrays a twisted version of society, as well as some political corruptness.
I was pleasantly surprised by this story.
This is a really strong story, with a good script, good direction and really good acting from Baker and Nabil Shaban as Sil. The scenes set in the Punishment Dome are scary and hilariously psychedelic.
The special features are also really good, the "making of" documentary is very insightful and really shows the writer's intention for the story. Some of the other features, like Baker and Nicola Bryant (sporting her STUPID American accent) being interviewed on swapshop only to be phoned by The Master, are very entertaining.
This DVD is well worth the money and is a definite purchase for any fan of Doctor Who.
The story really works in the 45 minute time slot. Scenes are allowed to be played out to their full potential and characters are allowed to shine. Though ultimately shorter than most of the 4x25 minute episode stories, there feels like there's more to it. A couple of characters serve only to reflect the feelings of a populace kept in line by televised punishments and never become part of the main storyline, and you just get the impression these would have been cut right out of a traditional length episode, which were always about leading up to the next cliffhanger. In this story, the plot is allowed to develop without needing to get the Doctor into dire straits every 20 minutes.
Villain of the piece, Sil, has been described as a love or hate character, and this is possibly true. I found his irate tongue flappings very entertaining. He comes across as the illegitimate child of Jabba the Hutt and Gollum from "Lord Of The Rings".
True star of the show, however, is the much underrated Colin Baker. People found his Doctor grumpy and dislikeable, but in this story he's courageous, witty and a little scatterbrained. He really does seem to care about poor old Peri, too.Read more ›
Plot: This is satire and very good satire at that. It hasn't dated and in fact some elements of it are more relevant today than at the time it was broadcast. In particular the voting aspect can be seen today in all of the reality shows that dominate television at the moment starting with Big Brother and ending with X-Factor et. al. With what we see now it is no leap of the imagination to forseee a future where politicians are voted in. Its primary weaknesses, is the fact that the Doctor doesn't get involved early enough and a secondary villain with a mask that makes him too similar to Sharaz Jek: his self mutilation might have been better served with something different like a false hand. I think that Maldak could have been given a more substantial role, giving his switch over more resonance.
Script: Absolutely superb. The Etta and Arak sequences in particular stand out as being something different from the norm. The closest Who has ever come to doing this again is in Blink. The only false note is the Doctor's comments as two people die in an acid bath. This is more like a James Bond comment than Doctor Who.
Design: The whole planet looks well done. The Punishment Dome looks too clean and artificial, but overall it is not bad. The choices for the look of Sil were well done, making him a very different kind of villain. Only Etta and Arak's place looks lived in.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought to replace video versions, these classic episodes are an informative insight and fitting tribute to the BBC's historical legacy.Published 4 months ago by cool as cats in shades
The story is amazing!! Love it, it's like a fun house type of thing, it's really great! In the beginning Colin Baker's acting wasn't the best but it got much much better and the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by RadGeekGamer
Actually much better seeing this many years later. Did not recalling thinking much of this when I saw it originally but has aged remarkably well. Certainly worth a watch.Published 10 months ago by S. Brown
Controversial Colin Baker story. Entertaining, and not as mean-spirited as people are lead to believePublished 11 months ago by Susan Foreman
A dark commentary on consumerism with some great acting but I find there is a dip in the middle of the story with some padding that doesn't really add anything to the narrative. Read morePublished 15 months ago by R101