Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Landing on Runway 1666 - The TARDIS!
on 10 February 2014
England's green and pleasant land, spoiled only by rats, plague, the Grim Reaper and a giant alien fish lizard with attitude problems. Welcome to 1666!
`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. Even when he's up a tree or faced with a bad-tempered extraterrestrial, the curtain never falls. ("You jest, Sir!") Brilliant, and an example of how comedy in `Doctor Who' can add to a story when it appears to come naturally from the character's own life.
Three companions plus one does sometimes feel like too many roles with not enough action to go round, but the different characters play off each other well and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) has a good story with something properly scientific to do and gets the result. Attractive as the woods and country settings are, a longer section in plague-ridden London would have added to the story, the sets are excellent and deserved more time on screen.
`The Visitation' is a very enjoyable history plus monsters story with a memorable final twist and well worth a visitation of your own, I'll visit four stars upon it, plus a bonus star for the quality of the special edition extras. The special edition picture quality is sharp and colourful, displaying the fine location filming and sets.
Best of the many extra features on the two special edition DVDs:
The commentary is very entertaining, full of cheerful memories and anecdotes and a good deal of fun at their own characters' expense.
`Grim Tales' where Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton go for a light-hearted celebratory trip (pun alert) in the woods. Mark Strickson guides them round the locations and leads them to find the site of The Chemical Toilet (I'm not making this up) then it's off to the manor for tea. It's obvious that all concerned enjoyed the experience then and now and this sense of enjoyment comes across for us to share.
`The Television Centre of the Universe - Part One' is a similarly jolly stroll through a day in the life of classic `Doctor Who' at the now deserted TV Centre.
`The Apocalypse Element' - the story of `Doctor Who' on audio.
NOTE: The DVD menu shows clips from the programme as background, so if you don't know the story already, press `Play' ASAP. And leave the PDF materials for later unless you want to know the whole plot!