Doctor Who - The Visitation [DVD]  
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England, 1666 the darkest days of the Great Plague. When the Doctor and his companions step from the TARDIS into a land gripped by fear and mistrust, they soon discover that they are not the only new arrivals. Strange lights have been seen in the sky, the Grim Reaper stalks the local woods and evidence of advanced technology is all around
Doctor Who: The Visitation is a routine adventure from the show's 19th season, beginning with Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor trying to return air hostess Tegan (Janet Fielding) to Heathrow Airport but materialising the TARDIS just as the Plague is ravaging 17th-century England. Three stranded Terileptils (humanoid-reptilian-fish hybrids in laughable costumes) are planning to wipe out humanity, while the local population have accepted the invader's puzzlingly camp robot for the Grim Reaper incarnate. There's much running around, being imprisoned and escaping again, but little substance in the story bar a return to the original series concept of tying the plot to elements of real history. Trying to find something for all the companions to do stretches the material thin, with the best entertainment coming from Michael Robbins' memorable turn as Richard Mace, an out-of-work actor turned charmingly genial highwayman. The "surprise" ending is predictable, Matthew Waterhouse's Adric as earnestly tiresome as ever and Tegan still tediously grumpy. Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is left too long building a sonic weapon which can vibrate a robot to pieces but doesn't harm the TARDIS or herself, yet Davison goes a long way to redeeming the tale with a charismatic intensity the yarn just doesn't deserve.
On the DVD: Doctor Who: The Visitation is presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio with a good if variable picture. There are numerous unavoidable light trails on the video-shot studio material and some visual distortion on a few scenes. The mono sound is good and extends to an optional isolated presentation of Paddy Kingsland's musical score, a feature complemented by a new 16-minute interview with the composer by fellow Who musician, Mark Ayres. Of greater general interest is a 26-minute reminiscence by director Peter Moffatt covering all the six Doctor Who adventures he helmed. There is a good feature on Eric Saward and on the writing of the show, five minutes of extraordinarily dull Film Trims, detailed Information Text and an automated photo gallery. There are subtitles for both the episodes and a commentary that finds Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Peter Moffatt, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse having great fun bantering their way through the four episodes, a feature that proves far more enjoyable than the serial itself. --Gary S Dalkin
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Eric Saward's script is simple but very effective; there are only a small number of proper characters but they are mostly well written. It's also pleasing that Saward's habit of sidelining the Doctor isn't in evidence here; the Doctor is a central character throughout. I was pleased that the sonic screwdriver was written out in this story as I was never keen on it. The trouble is Saward struggles to find things for all three companions to do. It doesn't help that Richard Mace almost becomes a companion for this story.
Peter Davison gives his usual superb performance here; watching him it's easy to forget that this was only his second story to be filmed. Michael Robbins is magnificent as highwayman and actor Richard Mace. Michael Melia does a good job of playing the Tereleptil leader, it couldn't have been pleasant for him in that costume. John Savident, of Coronation Street fame, puts in an appearance in the first episode sans distinctive Lancashire accent.
The story is very well executed by director Peter Moffatt; the large amount of location filming is splendid. The sequences of the android wandering through the forest disguised as the grim reaper are particularly effective. The Tereleptil costumes are very impressive, the mouth even moves. Paddy Kingsland's incidental music is very good indeed. The scenes towards the end, set in London are nicely done. The Tereleptil leader meets a suitably grim end, burning to death.Read more ›
`Heathrow airport' never looked better. So what if the Doctor did arrive 300 years early, you can't please some people! Attractively filmed around leafy parkland and a manor house west of London, `The Visitation' is a good-looking `history meets the alien' outing for Peter Davison's Doctor in his second story (in filming order), he brought a welcome freshness and energy to the series. The interior sets and effects set a high standard and the animatronic `monster' design is unforgettable. Michael Melia performs a convincing alien even under several inches of latex.
For once this is not a deliberate invasion; the three fugitive Terraleptils have crashed on Earth and have nowhere else to go. So, naturally, they decide to wipe out humanity and take the planet. No Terraleptil is going to win a galactic beauty contest but they do have a love of art (so the Doctor tells us), which must explain why their android looks like a glam-rock / disco art installation on legs! Like all the design work, it conveys high quality and adds to the very distinctive, glossy look of the story.
`The Visitation' gives the Doctor more companions than you can waggle a gill-flap at (if you're a Terraleptil), no less than four. The fourth `companion' is the wonderful creation of Richard Mace, out of work 17th century "ac-tor" and part time highwayman, played with zest, flamboyance and a rich, rolling delivery by Michael Robbins. Mace has obviously spent so long treading the boards of Restoration England's temples of theatrical tradition (as he might say) that for him, "All the world's a stage" is literally true.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Andriods, semi bug eyed monsters, cliffhangers, Tegan again making friendsPublished 1 month ago by Stephan Hanford
Came in great time and the company offered to package it with the other dvd I bought from them. Great episode, great doctor. Cannot flaw this dvdPublished 2 months ago by daryl young
Well I enjoyed this. Another one to add to my increasing Dr Who collection. This, to my mind, is one of Peter Davidson's best. Peter, Janet, and Matthew work well together. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Greg Chapman
Not a great story, but the extra features make its purchase worthwhile. Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton & Mark Strickson (no Matthew Waterhouse for some reason) are... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mervyn Capel