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Doctor Who - Vengeance on Varos [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
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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 ›
I think Philip Martin's script and ideas are possibly the best input from Season 22 and the best since the wonderful Robert Holmes "The Caves Of Androzani" of Season 21. It takes something from the modern day society, (i.e. addiction to reality TV), audience's participation and what level the viewer is willing to go to in order to be entertained. Your left with how far you would go and if you take it away, what does one do.
In this story, yes there's violence, but its not instigated by the doctor, in fact he's trying to stop it and change people perceptions towards their actions and the cruelty of it all. What I find is this story really shines for Colin Baker as the doctor, he takes charge, plays the doctor with style and panache, with a twist of humour.....Colin is strong in this story and its probably his best performance as the doctor is this season, (apart from the early tardis scenes, stop making him narky), John Nathan Turner attribute me thinks here to fill scenes, as Colin has since said he wanted the doctor to be unpredictable, but also to love the companionship with Peri, which we do see in Season 23, Colin will get his wish. However I do find his doctor in this story very fixating, even in that loud outfit, shame more of him taking charge more like this didn't happen sooner.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 10 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 10 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 17 months ago by S. Brown
Controversial Colin Baker story. Entertaining, and not as mean-spirited as people are lead to believePublished 17 months ago by Susan Foreman