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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Professor Eric Stahlman has a dream. He believes that large pockets of natural gas lie underneath the Earth's crust. The British government, convinced that cheap, unlimited power is close at hand, instigate a massive drilling project - nicknamed "Inferno".

With UNIT providing security, it's no surprise that the Doctor tags along. He isn't convinced about Stahlman's ideas, but is more than happy to tap the Inferno's nuclear power generator. The Doctor believes that this power will enable him to repair the TARDIS and break free from his exile on Earth.

The Doctor does manage to escape, but only sideways - into a parallel universe. There he finds an alternative Earth where his friends are now his enemies, and when the Inferno project penetrates the Earth's crust it has devastating consequences. The parallel Earth is doomed - but can the Doctor return to "his" Earth in time to prevent a similar catastrophe?

Originally transmitted in 1970, Inferno is a 24-carat Doctor Who classic. Series regulars Jon Pertwee, Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney are all on top form and there's a quality guest cast with the likes of Olaf Pooley, Christopher Benjamin and Derek Newark.

Pertwee's wonderful in this story, managing to balance the more arrogant side of his Doctor with flashes of humour. Courtney has a great role in the parallel world as the Brigade-Leader, complete with dueling scar and he relishes the chance to play the part of a baddy for a change. Barring a brief return in The Five Doctors, this was Caroline John's last appearance in the series as Liz Shaw. Throughout this season she gave rock solid support to Jon Pertwee, and Inferno is a good final story for her. It's just a shame she never had a proper leaving scene.

The idea of a parallel Earth is one that's been used surprisingly little in the series, which may be why it's so effective here. Although it's a long story, clocking in at just under three hours, it never feels particularly padded - thanks to the directorial talents of Douglas Camfield and an uncredited Barry Letts on some of the studio sessions.

With the majority of these Doctor Who re-releases, any improvements in the picture quality is usually nice, but it's not a major selling point. Here it is. Originally these episodes were recorded on 625 line PAL videotape. For overseas sales they were converted to 525 line NTSC. The original release took the surviving NTSC tapes which were then treated with a process called RSC in order to restore some of the original fluid look of the 625 PAL VT. It's watchable, but has many drawbacks, not least the jagged effect when there's any sudden movement.

This release uses B&W film prints and overlays the colour from the NTSC tapes. As the B&W prints have first been restored and VIDfired this has resulted in a major improvement in picture quality. Whilst it's still variable, episode 5 for example does look slightly worse than the others, in general it's far better than the original release. In places, you could be mistaken for thinking that you were watching an original 625 PAL VT.

The original DVD had a very good selection of special features, all of which have been ported over onto this Special Edition. The original commentary track is worth a listen, particularly the episodes that feature a solo commentary from John Levene. If you've seen the documentary on the Claws of Axos SE then you might know what you're in for, but it's still comedy gold.

There's a couple of new documentaries - the first is Doctor Forever - Lost in the Dark Dimension. This looks at some of the attempts to return the series to the screen between the end of the original series in 1989 and the relaunch in 2005. It's an entertaining watch and there's a lot of interest here - particularly the story behind the proposed straight-to-video 30th anniversary special "The Dark Dimension".

The other new documentary is Hadoke vs Havoc in which Toby Hadoke attempts to reunite the Havoc team for one last stunt. It's great to see the guys back together again, and also to see Toby attempt a classic Havoc stunt.

Oh, and there's a trailer for Mind of Evil in colour. That's rather exciting.

Given the major increase in picture quality, and the fact that Inferno is one of the greats of this era of Doctor Who, this special edition is well worth picking up.
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on 1 November 2007
This was one of the first classic Doctor Who episodes I watched, and after viewing more than 40 others, this is still my favourite.

The Doctor is being provided with the means to experiment with his TARDIS console in exchange for him working as a scientific advisor at a drilling project. But when he goes into a parallel universe using his TARDIS, he discovers the horrors that will take place if the drilling on our world isn't stopped...

This episode is fantastic. It was the last episode to be recorded without incidental music, but the ever present sound of the drill reminds us constantly of the danger the Earth is in.

If I had to point out one bad point of this story, it would be that LIz does an awful lot of running between the drill and the Doctor's hut, even in the parallel universe. However, the acting is superb, and although the sound effects of the monsters aren't very convincing, it still deserves five stars.

My final point is that the cliffhanger to episode six is the best I have ever seen in Doctor Who.
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on 26 February 2013
Well, to answer the question in the title: apart from the opportunity to add new special features, the restoration team have devised a new remastering technique that gives better results.

To explain briefly: all of the original European-standard (PAL) videotapes for this story were lost or wiped, leaving only black-and-white film recordings (shot off a TV monitor), and North American-standard (NTSC) tapes converted using analogue equipment for the Canadian market.

The previous version of this story used a technique called reverse standards conversion to restore the converted NTSC video to PAL while preserving as much of the original picture quality as possible. Unfortunately, "as much as possible" is still a lot less sharp than the original pictures, and there are little annoyances, like wobbling on any horizontal lines in the picture.

The new restoration technique, first used on The Claws of Axos special edition, combines the picture detail from the remastered black and white films with just the colour from the reverse standards converted video. A technique called VidFIRE is also applied, as on most of the black and white DVDs, to restore smooth video-like motion to the film image. The result is a much sharper-looking image. It looked great on Axos, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on Inferno.
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on 2 January 2011
In the finest tradition of the BBC's Quatermass serials, the 1970 season of Doctor Who featured a spellbinding array of serials dealing with doomsday scenarios on Earth, in a way that mirrored the realism of both the 1950s 'Quatermass' tales and the contemporary 1970 BBC series 'Doomwatch'.

Of all that first Jon Pertwee season, 'Inferno' was the most spectacular in terms of the scale of the disaster: with England rocked by earthquakes, and tormented by volcanic erruptions, as Project Inferno comes closer and closer to its goal of penetrating the Earth's crust; ultimately unleashing a fury which causes the world to dissolve in a cloud of expanding gas.

The most terrifying aspect of seeing 'Inferno' unfolding for the first time, in 1970, was watching the actual end of the world play out in the climax to Episode 6. Yet running this a close second was the metamorphosis of the Doctor's much loved companions - Liz, the Brigadier, and Benton - into ruthless killers on the parallel world. Perhaps as shocking as the world being consumed in flame is the scene in which Liz guns down the Brigadier in cold blood.

Doctor Who always works best when the story has a really convincing villain. And here, in a serial which preceeded (and perhaps inspired) the introduction of The Master the following year, we have not merely one such creation, but two. The obvious villain is the evil Professor Stahlman, a mad scientist in the classical tradition, intent on his project to blow up the world; but, incredibly, we also have a second villain - perhaps more terrifying than Stahlman - in Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, or, at least, his alter ego in the parallel world. The viewer is left wondering if the Doctor can possibly pull his metaphorical rabbit out of the hat this time, in the face of such odds?

The truly astonishing aspect of this serial is that when Don Houghton turned in his original script, it was only a four-part serial, and there was no parallel world story. Incoming producer Barry Letts, desperate to fill 26 weeks (and ultimately failing to do so!) turned down this serial, as being too short! Houghton was asked to re-submit it as a 7-parter, but using only the existing sets and locations so as not to increase the production costs.

In desperation, he came up with a mad idea for setting the extra episodes in a parallel world, in which the drilling project is more advanced than on "our" world, and of dropping the Doctor in it; and of ultimately seizing the opportunity to blow-up the world! What must the producer have thought, having asked for a story that didn't increase the production costs!

Yet so good were Houghton's eventual scripts, that the concept of the parallel world works seamlessly. There is absolutely no way to tell that it was only an after-thought, as the scenes on the other world are carefully interwoven with scenes in "our" world throughout the entire serial, rather than being simply shoved in as the middle three episodes, and events from both worlds are contrasted against one another to show how small changes in "our" timeline ultimately save one of the two worlds from sharing the fate of the other.

A tremendous guest cast reached back into the very beginnings of Doctor Who, recalling Derek Newark, who had appeared in the very first William Hartnell serial in 1963. Also included is Christopher Benjamin as Sir Keith Gold, a pivotal figure around whom the plot centres, and who would later return in the Tom Baker serial 'Talons of Weng-Chiang'. The menacing Professor Stahlman is played with tremendous panache by Olaf Pooley, providing a sinister, meanacing figure in both worlds, as the infection which he sustains begins transforming him from a somewhat unpleasant Doctor Jeckyl into a murderous Mister Hyde. And regular companions Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney, and John Levene all get to play dual-roles, as their evil alter egos in the parallel world.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 February 2014
A flaming classic forged from white-hot technology, burning ambition and searing satire. What a scorcher! 5*

A controversial project drilling deep under England to release a vast, untapped reserve of gas with the promise of cheap, home-grown energy. Does that sound strangely familiar? In fact the project nick-named `Inferno' was based on two real attempts, one American, one Russian, to drill deep into the Earth's crust. Both projects were suddenly abandoned - perhaps it was just as well ...

Workers at the `Inferno' drilling site have hit a serious problem - their drilling rig is leaking toxic, green underground goo that turns normal humans into burning hot, green, hairy, mindless monsters bent on destruction. "That noise he was making - I've never heard anything like that before." says the Brigadier. "I have" the Doctor replies, "Krakatoa ... the volcanic eruption of 1883." We never learn exactly what the noxious slime is; it seems they are picking up something primordial that has been buried deep in the Earth since its formation. We do know it's very unpleasant stuff and any sensible scientist would stop now before worse happens.

But Professor Stahlman is too obsessed with penetration of the Earth's crust to care, ignoring the warnings of the project's computer and an oilman (two rather unlikely heroes for 1970's `Doctor Who') that his project is drilling to disaster. The story then unfolds as if seen through a two-way mirror thanks to the wonderful plot device of a parallel world. This was introduced partly to spin the series out over seven episodes without needing more sets or actors, but it's a very clever idea, brilliantly used by the writer and actors to look at the same situation from two sides, often very satirically, and to include an event in the story that not even `Doctor Who' can usually contain.

On one side of the `mirror' in our own 1970s world, we see the project being run as a nationalised `big science' endeavour, with the best of intentions but getting out of control. It is undermined by the personal obsession of the chief scientist/industrialist and the benign but bungling government officials who should be in charge, but can't see the project is heading for catastrophe until it's too late. In the evil, parallel world, the identical drilling scheme is being run for state gain by scientific slave workers in an Orwellian republic, where nothing must be allowed to halt the state's prestige project. There, fascist uniforms are cleverly blended with `1984`-style communist icons like the `Big Brother' posters to create a nightmare world in which democracy has been overthrown and a `people's republic' created by murder. In both worlds the teams of scientists are working to the same disastrous goal with only the Doctor to save the world. And then save it again.

`Inferno' completed Jon Pertwee's excellent first season in the role. Partly an earthbound Time Lord, partly a Swinging Sixties superhero, surely only Jon Pertwee could carry off ruffs, frills, a red cape, a yellow roadster and Venusian aikido with so much credibility and style. Many of the cast have the opportunity to play their characters twice, once in each parallel world and some with more differences than others. Caroline John is excellent as Liz Shaw times two, Nicholas Courtney's splendid Brigadier also appears with a guest eye-patch as his own evil twin and John Levene has possibly his best story as no less than three versions of Sgt. Benton. The guest cast are the usual high quality and the convincing sets are well populated with busy extras and the daring stuntmen of HAVOC. I felt the only weaker point in `Inferno' was the later stages of the Primords. Initially the `possessed' characters are impressively menacing and the makeup works well; the final, hairy `werewolf' transformation seems slightly out of place in a generally serious script, but this minor weakness is swept aside by the drama of the impending disaster.

`Inferno' stands out thanks to the inventive script, excellent cliff-hangers (those for episodes 4 and 6 are superb), eye-catching stunts and brilliant location filming. This shows just how location work should be built into a key part of a `Doctor Who' story - unlike some famous but essentially `decorative' use of locations. There's a grimy authenticity here that continues with the replacement of incidental music by the ceaseless noise of the drilling rig grinding away, creating an atmosphere of unremitting pressure. Douglas Camfield's outstanding direction keeps the tension high - very impressive for a 7-parter when some 6-part serials tended to sag in the middle. Sadly, he became very unwell during the production but Barry Letts stepped in to direct the remaining studio work.

Thanks to all the reviewers who gave `Inferno' top scores and prompted me to buy this special edition - I was too young to remember this season and had the pleasure of seeing this great story for the first time from DVD. As yet another `lost' (i.e. discarded) colour story, later retrieved from Canada and beautifully colour restored here, we're lucky to have it.

`Inferno' fully deserves five blazing stars, I think you'll `lava' it(!)

Thanks for reading.

Picture quality on the special edition is excellent, also the commentary with Nicholas Courtney, John Levene (a very enjoyable commentary `presence') and the famous producer / script editor duo of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks who made the Jon Pertwee years happen.
A very good set of features on Disk 2, including four main items of around 30 minutes each:
`Can You Hear the Earth Scream' looks back at the making of the programme with a special focus on the stunts.
`The UNIT Family - Part 1' covers the creation of UNIT to provide a framework for the Doctor to work in while exiled to Earth and the actors and `missions' up to `Inferno'.
New features for the Special Edition:
`Lost in the Dark Dimension' considers the various attempts, some more promising than others, to return `Doctor Who' to the screen after 1989.
`Hadoke versus HAVOC' is a gem. Toby Hadoke reunites (or should that be re-UNITs?) some of the intrepid HAVOC stunt team in 2013 to teach him to perform a stunt. They prove that being 80 is no reason to spend time lying down - unless you're landing yet another high stunt fall to show the young chap how it's done! Brilliant.
One `Easter Egg' on disk 1, two on disk 2.
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on 27 March 2010
Sadly we live in an age these days where everything is done on the quick, what I term 'The Twitter Generation'. A story like 'Inferno' just wouldn't get made today and even suggesting making a story of seven (yes, seven!) 25 minute episodes would give most TV executives a heart attack! And that's a shame, because in my ever changing top 10 of 'Doctor Who' stories 'Inferno' is always high up and is often at the very top.

As with the wonderful 'The Mind Robber', necessity is the mother of invention, and so when this story had to be elongated the idea of the parallel universe came into its own, and is one of the things that makes 'Inferno' a top-quality story. The idea is simple, but effective and we get to see a dystopian alternate world which is a little further along with the same experiment in 'our' world. The Brigadier in this world is a domineering but ultimately cowardly 'Brigade Leader' (sans moustache!) and is a highlight, but you get the sense from these episodes that all the actors enjoyed playing different personae (I expect Pertwee was a little jealous at missing out, if truth be told!).

Despite what younger people may think, a longer story can work and be invigorating, and the proof of this particular pudding is in watching the joy that is 'Inferno'. If you haven't seen it I envy you, as you're in for a real treat!
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on 4 March 2015
This special edition of the season 7 story, is well worth the upgrade in my opinion. Everyone who knows the story will testify that season 7 is one of the best DW years, all four stories in the season are great, but Inferno just has the edge over the others for me. The picture quality is light years better than the 2006 DVD release. I haven't viewed the extras yet, but all the original extras have been ported across. Well worth the money, which is a paltry £6.50 on Amazon. I recommend anyone who hasn't bought this SE version, buy it you won't regret it.
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on 18 May 2006
One of the finest Pertwee stories finally comes to DVD. The only story where you get to see the regular cast in a parrallel universe [that is until 'Rise of the Cybermen], this makes for an exciting adventure as there are two [count 'em] end of the world scenarios. Nicholas Courtney does a fine job as the alternative Brigadier with eye patch. Some of these earlier stories are padded but Inferno avoids this with it's clever plotting, an essential purchase if you like serious, scientific Who.
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2006
Long ago there was a time were the Doctor was a man, a serious man, he acted like a dignified hero and not like an over excited teenager that's just got a new Raleigh Grifter, That's a little Jib at David Tennant by the by. Ah gone are those days but we can still take a peak with BBC's DVD releases and this one, Inferno is an absolute gem, Yes it's from a different time, 1970, with different standards in special effect and production but if you're the kind of person that doesn't have the imagination to see beyond the clunky unconvincing special effects you've no business watching it.
This 7 parter tells the story of a British government sponsored Drilling experiment, The rather obtuse Scientist in charge believes that drilling through the earths crust would tap into reserves of a super gas that could cheaply fuel the UK for years to come, The Doctors involved as an adviser and as far as the chief scientist is concerned an unwelcome one, Whilst tinkering with his own experiment off activating the Tardis's Main console he quickly becomes concerned by the drilling and the sudden appearance of members of staff who after coming in contact with a mysterious green Goo have turned into bizarre green versions of Lon Chaney Jr. Later whilst the Doctor is using the Tardis console he accidentally gets transported to a parallel universe, in this universe the drilling experiment is under way in a UK governed by a 1984 Big Brother style government. In this parallel UK they successfully drill through the earths crust unleashing all sorts of bad stuff, bad stuff like the world blowing up, The doctor of course escapes back to his own universe to prevent the drilling and the same thing happening to his UK.
The Lon Chaney jr monsters running around are obviously an after thought, you get the impression they probably wrote it and thought " Bugger we've no monsters, here's 50p!! , down the corner shop and get some Green poster paint and a wolfman mask", never the less this really doesn't detract from the story, it adds a little excitement, even if it is a little bewildering. There are a few other flaws, not massive ones, I accuse myself of petty niggling to even think of them, just ignore all that and enjoy!, enjoy a ripping good Dr Who story from a time that's lost to us, savour it.

Special mention has to go to the Doctors assistant Caroline John who ( Shock horror) unlike Katy manning can Actually act!!.
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VINE VOICEon 21 July 2006
This is one of the very best stories ever, from one of the best seasons ever. The writing is excellent, despite the story being a 7 parter, and having the consequent occasional story lags. The quality of the acting and direction matches that of the writing, even though director Douglas Camfield was taken ill part way through the filming, and had to be replaced by Barry Letts. Only the realisation of the Primords disappoints. The story is almost devoid of incidental music, and somehow this adds to the tension and feeling of foreboding. Regarding extras, the documentary is very interesting, and the commentary is entertaining but the commentators have a tendancy to repeat themselves. Mind you they do have 7 episodes to cover. All in all this DVD is superb, and a must have for any Who fan.
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