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Doctor Who - The Movie [Blu-ray]
Doctor Who - The Movie [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Paul McGann
Price: £9.99

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Eighth Doctor in HD? - Blu-ray Review, 19 Sept. 2016
Last year it seemed Classic Doctor Who was finally over for DVD and Blu-ray, but have BBC Worldwide found a way to continue it?

For this review I won’t focus on the film itself as after 20 years I’m sure anyone interested in this release has already seen it.

So let’s get the obvious out the way first, which is the picture quality. As has been made abundantly clear by now this is just an upscaled transfer. Despite being shot on 35mm film, BBC Worldwide elected not to contact Universal about the original film negatives and restore the film from the ground up for a true HD experience. Instead we’re stuck with the old Standard Definition videotape master that was created back in 1996. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing had this released been encoded to a standard 1080p 24fps to simulate the frame rate of original NTSC master tape. Instead it’s been encoded to 1080i/50, thus meaning we’re still stuck with the 25fps frame rate and higher pitched voices that we’ve been stuck with for 20 years. It’s somewhat ironic that the Series 1-4 Blu-rays are encoded at the US standard frame rate and yet the TV Movie is presented in the UK standard frame rate, will BBC Worldwide ever get it right?
Having said all that, I can safely say it does look a lot better. The TV Movie has always looked a bit washed out and blurry, but the Blu-ray has much more vivid colour and skin tones appear more accurate. Detail is also more apparent; the final scene of the Doctor, Grace and Chang-Lee stepping out the TARDIS in particular looks very good, you can actually make out the fabric of Grace’s coat. The opening title sequences does look a bit… off; I’m not sure if a subtle effect has been applied or if it’s down to the source material, but it didn’t quite click.
If you already own the Series 1-4 Blu-rays you’ll pretty much know what to expect here.

Other than being pitched higher than it should be, the audio quality is fine. Being a Blu-ray it has a little bit more punch, but it’s still in stereo, as it should be.

All of the bonus material from the 2010 Special Edition DVD has been carried, plus The Night of the Doctor. Other than The Night of the Doctor, they’re all presented in Standard Definition across two discs and much like the previous DVD the ‘core’ TV Movie-specific documentaries are on the first disc with the film. Unfortunately, and very cheaply, the second disc is just the DVD from the Special Edition release; it’s not a newly pressed Blu-ray slick new menus, no it’s just the DVD. But this raises more questions than it answers, because being in Standard Definition they could quite easily have fitted everything onto one disc, they had to put some of the extras on the first disc after all, so why not all of them?

Is this the start of Classic Doctor Who on Blu-ray? Maybe season sets? Honestly, I doubt it after this release and with The Power of the Daleks incoming I think Classic Doctor Who will forever remain as story-by-story releases, in its native Standard Definition and not upscaled Blu-rays.

This is a very, very bizarre release and I can’t put my finger on why it exists. It certainly isn’t without merit, the picture quality is better, but it’s hampered by an incorrect frame rate and mixed disc formats. If you’re a completest then wait for the price to come down, because it’ll be much better value for money.
Here’s hoping one day we’ll see a full restoration.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2017 9:45 AM GMT


Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace [DVD] [1967]
Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace [DVD] [1967]
Dvd ~ Patrick Troughton
Price: £8.00

102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Professor is as mad as a hatter." - DVD Review, 27 Oct. 2015
It’s here at the last, the belated DVD release of the earliest surviving Patrick Troughton episodes: The Underwater Menace. Anybody who’s been following this DVD will know it’s had a turbulent time getting to DVD, having to rely on fans to contact BBC Worldwide to persuade them to release it when at one stage it looked like it was never going to be released.

Of course of this four-part story only Episodes 2 and 3 survive, so Episodes 1 and 4 were originally planned for animation for a release in late-2013/early-2014, however for various economic reasons it fell through. Planet 55, the folks that gave us The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase, had moved onto more highly paid work, as they were working on Doctor Who at a much reduced cost, and The Ice Warriors animators, Qurios, sadly went bust due to doing their Doctor Who work too cheaply. This left the DVD in limbo and was ‘cancelled’ by BBC Worldwide, and is now only being released due to fan demand as more affordable telesnap reconstructions for Episodes 1 and 4. You can find out a lot more about this DVD release online, but I won't go into detail here, however the lack of animation should not surprise anyone, because it isn’t cheap to produce animation as The Ice Warriors is evidence of.

The restoration of Episodes 2 and 3 are up to the usual high standards of the Restoration Team. Of course Episode 3 was previously released on the Lost in Time set, but this is definitely the better restoration. When recovered in 2011 Episode 2 was actually a censored version, however the censored clips fortunately do survive and they’ve been edited seamlessly back into the episode. It too looks splendid and to able to see Patrick Trougton’s earliest performance in all its restored glory is wonderful. It’s been an agonising 4 years but we can now finally see Episode 2, especially as at one stage it may never have been released. The audio for all four episodes is also sharp and clear.

As has been made well known by now the reconstructions are just straight-up slide-shows of the telesnaps put to the soundtrack, with none of the surviving clips have been incorporated. This even extends to the opening and closing credits where it opens with a still of the 'Doctor Who' logo and closes the producer and director credits, although the theme music still plays. I don’t have much of an issue with this, but sadly it’s been quite awkwardly done as some stills stay onscreen for too long and don’t correspond with what is happening onscreen, that and there aren’t text prompts onscreen to explain the action sequences. As a result there are plenty of occasions where you have use your imagination to fill in the gaps, but admittedly once the story gets going the recons do speak for themselves a lot of the time, and much of Episode 4 is pretty self-explanatory, apart from one scene in the middle with Professor Zaroff which is near-impossible to follow.
One can only speculate why BBC Worldwide insisted on such minimalist recons, however it should be noted that the wonderful John Kelly who put together the recons stuck to the brief put to him by BBC Worldwide and wasn’t allowed to deviate from it. Simply put he wasn’t allowed to do any pans, zooms, animation or composite shots, including opening and closing credits, and presumably onscreen captions. Having read the most recent issue of Doctor Who Magazine it’s clear he wanted it to be better, but was unable to make it so, as such we're stuck with what we've got and no amount of complaining will convince BBC Worldwide to redo it, especially given the ordeal this release has already gone through.
It's perfectly watchable as a 'complete' story and the recons are serviceable enough, just not as good as they good have been. Yes, animation would have been much better, but as is clear by now, it simply isn't economically viable and is never going to happen.

Fortunately as this release was always in the pipeline we do have a good array of special features that were put together way back in 2012-13.
• Commentaries moderated by Toby Hadoke:
Episode 1 by Patrick Troughton’s son Michael Troughton – This is the second half of the interview ‘commentary’ that first appeared on The Ice Warriors DVD and is a lovely piece to listen. Michael clearly has a lot of respect for his father as an actor and he talks a lot about how Patrick approached his career. Definitely a worthwhile listen, although I did notice it’s already dated as they briefly mention Michael has yet to appear in the show, when of course appeared alongside Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in Last Christmas in 2014
Episodes 2 and 3 by Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Catherine Howe (Ara), Brian Hodson (Special Sound Supervisor) and Quentin Mann (Floor Assistant Mananger) – This a pretty standard commentary, but Wills and Hines are lively as ever and Catherine Howe is equally fun, constantly contributing anecdotes about the story throughout. Hadoke is in top form as expected prompting both Brian Hodgson and Quentin Mann when necessary, at just two episodes though it does make for a very brief commentary.
Episode 4 is the most interesting of the lot though as instead of a standard of commentary we have another ‘interview’ commentary, this time though made up of archival interviews featuring interviews with the director Julia Smith, producer Innes Lloyd, original director Hugh David and best of Patrick Troughton. Troughton naturally gets the most time to speak and it’s a wonderful to hear an in-depth interview with him. Given the rarity of the interviews featuring all these participants this commentary alone makes this DVD worthwhile
• ‘A Fishy Tale’ – This 30-minute documentary narrated by Peter Davison gives us a surprisingly in-depth look into the story’s production. It features many cast and crew discussing the turbulent production this story had. Discussions arise about Troughton disliking both the script and director Julia Smith, the late addition of Frazer Hines to the TARDIS crew and of course Joseph Furst performance as Professor Zaroff. Robert Sherman though helps provide the story within the context of the show’s history and points out the exact moment at which Troughton changes his performance as the Doctor.
• The Television Centre of the Universe: Part 2 – Much like the commentary for Episode 1 this was another reason why I wanted this DVD to be released, because the range felt even more incomplete when it was reflected in both the episodes AND special features, but at long last we get to see the second part of this lovely documentary that first appeared on The Visitation: Special Edition. It very much follows the same pattern as last time, with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Yvette Fielding reminiscing about their time working in the building and meeting up with old colleagues. It’s made even more bittersweet knowing in the years since the documentary was made what has happened to the building.
• Censor Clips – Despite not being included in the reconstructions, the surviving clips from Episodes 1 and 4 are presented here and best of all they’ve been cleaned up and restored.
• Photo Gallery – We have the standard feature here, which isn’t anything to write home about, but is nice nonetheless.
It should be pointed out that sadly there are no production subtitles, even though the case says otherwise. This doesn’t bother too much, but I know some will be very disappointed by this and no coming soon trailer, so this really is the end of the range.

So, the Classic Series DVD range has finally come to an end, it certainly isn't the spectacular end that it could have been or even planned to be. However at least we now have a complete collection of both episodes and special features, something that seemed unlikely at one stage, and I congratulated everybody who made an effort to contact BBC Worlwide to release this story, otherwise we would never have got it. The story may not be strongest in the show's history, but it is good fun. The extras are great as ever, the recons do their job and the restoration is spectacular.
Most of all though I congratulate all those that contributed to the Classic Series DVD range over the past 15 years, your work and dedication has given use the best presentation of a TV show ever on DVD, right from the restorations to the special features. Who'd have thought we'd have every Jon Pertwee episode back in colour and twelve Patrick Troughton stories on our shelves when the range began all those years ago? No other TV show has ever had this much time and effort put into it and as fans we are eternally grateful for it. Thank you, so much!
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 11, 2016 11:45 PM BST


Top Gear - The Great Adventures 4 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Top Gear - The Great Adventures 4 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Clarkson
Price: £9.87

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's about as dangerous as Cheltenham.", 28 Mar. 2011
So, Jezza, Hammond and May return for a fourth round of great adventures in `The Great Adventures 4'. Like the previous release, this set contains three adventures; with one main, big adventure on the first disc and two slightly smaller ones on the second. In this case we have the two specials shown over Christmas (the US Road Trip and the Middle East Special) and one from the main series that has just aired on TV (the Albanian Road Trip), and as usual we get witty banter from the trio as they cross several countries.

Unlike the previous releases, all the adventures receive director's cuts, with a total of more than 30 minutes extra footage. For anyone who saw each adventure upon transmission it's very obvious where the extended sequences are and some of it really adds to the fun of the episodes. My favourite added sequence is one during the Middle East Special when Jezza decides to do some donuts and drifts at the Turkish Border.

Disc One:
`The Middle East Special'
In the main adventure in the set, the presenters recreate the story of journey of the Three Wise Men in the modern age, where they travel across the Middle East to get to Bethlehem.

This is arguably the best Top Gear Special to date, as instead of buying second-hand cars to see if they get travel over different kinds of terrain, we see the trio in second-hand cars trying to make their way through man-made barriers, which makes the episode all that more refreshing to watch. There are also far more areas the crew cover and it feels more of a long journey as well, in comparison to previous adventures. This is also actually one of the most fascinating specials too as its very interesting to see how different countries in the Middle East are compared to here in the UK.
For me, this is the best and my favourite special to date, because it feels like it has more of a purpose beyond simple entertainment and is one of the most immersive Top Gear challenges yet.

Disc Two:
`The US Road Trip'
For their third trip to the US, the trio set out on another road trip, this time through NASCAR country and end up in New York, where one of them appears on a US television.

This certainly the weakest of the three US trips, because many of the laughs and jokes had been used up in the two previous adventures to the US of A, so you don't get that same sense of mischief and fun as you get watching the other two, but along the way the lads have ago at a drive-by shooting course, come across a dancing mayor and James May has to do some yoga, and fortunately for them this time they were able to be `entertaining'.
The special has many highlights, but the best of the bunch is easily the drive by shooting challenge, because it's a real boys and their toys moment and seeing Jezza during the training session is just hilarious.

`The Albanian Road Trip'
In this adventure, the boys are set the task of finding a new getaway vehicle for the Albanian Mafia, but not everything goes according to plan when testing the three cars in question.

The originally transmitted version of this adventure for me didn't feel like one of these great adventures, most likely because it was shown as part of Series 16, rather than as a special, so when I found out this would be on this released I was very surprised. However, when I watched the director's cut of it it suddenly felt more grand and more of what you'd get from a typical Top Gear adventure, albeit a very short one.
This is probably one of the better challenges from Series 16, because it's far more exciting and doesn't feel like it's a rehashed challenge. Jezza deciding a Bentley Mulsanne is exactly the same as a Yugo is just brilliant and really adds to the enjoyment of this adventure, as it's a bit of a cross-between one of the second-hand car challenges and one of the new car challenges.

The extras are pretty much the same as the previous Great Adventures release and James May once again returns for an audio commentary on the main special, along with some of the crew; although for some reason the commentary is only on the originally transmitted version, which does beg the question `why didn't they included both versions of the special?'. The commentary itself though is very typical of a TV audio commentary, with the commentators all having a nice conversation about the production of the special and it's also great to hear May bring up many points that aren't necessarily apparent on the actual episode. There are also several deleted scenes for each special, which are very interesting as well.

The only criticism I'd have is the way the adventures are edited onto the release, as it excludes any opening titles or credits, but more importantly the `settled' £5 bet Jezza and May have on the US Special is edited out after the main feature has ended.

All in all, this is a good typical Top Gear release, apart from a few small niggles. The two smaller adventures do show how the incident with Ben Collins may have meant they probably didn't have much time to put together a strong number of challenges and adventures. However the Middle East Special redeems all the faults of the two mini-adventures and the price alone is worth just that special; so think of the USA and Albanian trips as bonuses. I can't rate this set highly enough and if you're a Top Gear fan then you'll undoubtedly buy it anyway.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2011 3:37 PM GMT


K9 Series One Volume One. [DVD]
K9 Series One Volume One. [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philippa Coulthard
Offered by Not2day Media
Price: £3.95

25 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity, 4 Jan. 2011
In concept a K9 spin-off sounds like a brilliant idea, and it is, but the problem with this show however is it's had no funding or licensing by the BBC, and as such any mention of Doctor Who or its universe are out of the question, even though there have been one or two very minor references. This means when you watch it you get no sense that this is part of the same universe Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures occupy.

Whilst I give enormous credit to original K9 creator Bob Baker for finally getting the series running, after years in development, I can't understand why he didn't stop and notice that this has very little relation to the original K9 and would destroy the whole point of a K9 spin-off.

As others have said the actors are all Australian, but because the show is set in a near-future London the actors fake an English accent and it's blindingly obvious too and in many cases they're worse than Nicola Bryant's attempt at an American accent in her first story, Planet of Fire.

In the New Series and the two spin-offs I've always been amazed at how good the visual effects and CGI are, when in comparison to US TV shows which have much higher budgets, yet the three Doctor Who shows could still rival them in the visual effects department. However with K9 it's so bad that I could easily say I've seen better in TV shows aimed at 0-3 year olds and it falls into the trap of it looking like it's just been laid on afterwards, instead of it interacting with the environment seamlessly.

Like The Sarah Jane Adventures it has a relatively low budget, but the monsters here are pale when compared because they look rubbery and just aren't believable. You get no emotion coming through on any of them, in comparison to say something such as Androvax from The Sarah Jane Adventures where you could see all the movements in his face, but here you can't. To say all the 1970s Doctor Who monsters look better than the ones shown here is a bit of an overstatement, but there are some which look no different and some which look worse.

If you'd never seen K9 then you'd think the new version looks great, but it's pale in comparison to the loveable original. I think the designer of the original, Matt Irvine, actually made a very valid point in one of the documentaries on one of the classic series DVDs when talking about the original design, where he said "you can't imagine K9 any other way", and that's exactly the problem with the new K9, because the original is so iconic and looks so different that you can't connect with or sympathize for the updated design. The only redeeming feature about the new K9 is that he's still voiced by the amazing John Leeson. Now again they had to redesign K9 because there was no BBC input and they held to rights to the design of the original, but it still comes down to the absence of funding by the BBC and that's why the show fails, because it can't connect with Doctor Who and that's the whole point of the character of K9.

Now I know by now it seems I just want to hate the show, but I think it's hard to watch it with high expectations based on everything I've said, and these are the kinds of things you worry about before watching it and in almost all cases they ring true. Having said that though some of the episodes do have good plotlines, but they would have been better executed in The Sarah Jane Adventures because of the setting and also because it has much stronger connections to Doctor Who, which helps both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures enormously.

As you can tell, I'm a huge Doctor Who, but I try not to be like a few other fans who are quite stubborn in their ideas about what the show should be. Instead, I'm open to all kinds of possibilities and styles of the show, but sadly K9 is a wasted opportunity and doesn't deserve to have any connection to the three BBC shows. The characters just aren't likeable and the whole show feels like fake, cheap, rip-off of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In the end this is just a cheap Australian sci-fi with K9 thrown in there for the sake of it and adds nothing to the show. If you're looking for a child-friendly Doctor Who spin-off then always go with The Sarah Jane Adventures because it's much better written, has much better characters and is more closely related to the main show.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2011 2:22 PM BST


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