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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The E-Space Trilogy, 24 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warriors' Gate) [DVD] (DVD)
Full Circle

Full Circle kicks off The E-Space Trilogy to a flying start. The story, which is the brainchild of 17-year-old Doctor Who fan, Andrew Smith, is well paced, well placed, and features some great location shots together with some generally good acting.

Compared to the other stories in this box-set, Full Circle is definitely the tidiest DVD, with just the right amount of features to compliment the story.

'All aboard the Starliner', offers an in-depth look at the making of Full Circle. Featuring interviews with Andrew Smith (Writer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Max Samett (Cameraman) with Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), Bernard Padden (Tylos), George Baker (Login) and John Leeson (K9), as well as excepts from an archived interview with Director; Peter Grimwade. The documentary length was just right and made for a thoroughly informative companion to the serial.

'K9 in E-Space' takes a look at K9's role in The E-Space Trilogy, as well as serving some rather amusing Marmite-esque 'love him or hate him' opinions of the character from the cast and crew. It is clear, however, that this feature was recorded as part of 'All aboard the Starliner', and doesn't entirely feel big enough as a standalone feature.

'Swap Shop' features Matthew Waterhouse as interviewed on the show by Noel Edmonds back in 1980. Matthew takes calls from viewers as well as giving away some prizes for a competition on the programme.

'E-Space - Fact or Fiction?' is an intelligent look at the science and plausibility behind the idea of E-Space. Narrated by Sophie Aldred, the feature includes interviews with Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer), Patrick Moore (Presenter and Astronomer), Andrew Ball (Planetary Scientist) as well as Authors; Paul Parsons and Stephen Baxter. Particularly of interest, was Parsons breakdown of the Four different types of Multiverse, which he explains clearly.

The 'Commentary' is provided by Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Andrew Smith (Writer) and Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), and presents honest, open and entertaining perspectives of their involvement in the story. Waterhouse and Bidmead are particularly good at keeping the energy levels up in moments where conversation appears to dip. The Doctor Who DVD Commentaries seem to work best when guided by someone unconnected to the serial, as it helps bring the viewer/listener in further by not feeling so alienated.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' gives us a look at the February 2009 release of The Rescue & The Romans box-set, and has been cut together extremely well with a good choice of music overlay that nips along at an energetic pace.

Also included on the disc are the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

State of Decay

State of Decay, is, quite simply, gothic Doctor Who at its best. It has it all; vampires, creepy woodland, and an underground lair that harbors a gruesome foe. Of the three stories includes in the box-set, it is clearly this one that shines. This second disc is a little feature-heavy, and feels a bit saturated with a couple of items that focus more on themes, rather than the story in hand.

'The Vampire Lovers' looks at the making of State of Decay. Featuring interviews with Terrance Dicks (Writer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Peter Moffatt (Director), Christine Ruscoe (Designer) and Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (Voice of K9) and Clinton Greyn (Ivo).

It touches on the turbulent relationship between Dicks and Bidmead, with frank accounts from both parties, as well as looking at some of the themes within the story such as Blood and Vampirism. There is some fascinating insight into the Design of the set and how Christine Ruscoe took inspiration from Mont St Michel in France.

The 'Film Trims' feature includes 6 minutes of mute model and effects shots including the Great Vampires' hand and subsequent staking, as well as some alternative takes of the tower.

'Leaves of Blood' is a fantastic feature, presented by Nicholas Briggs, and gives us a history of Vampires in written fiction. Featuring interviews with Dr. Tina Rath (Vampire Fiction specialist), Authors; Simon Clark, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Alison L. R. Davies, Chris Fowler and Pete Crowther, as well as excerpts read deliciously by Nick Scovell.

The breakdown and evolution of the Vampire character is laid bare here thanks to the opinions and ideas discussed by the interviewees which have to be the cream of the crop in this subject matter.

'The Blood Show' takes a look at the make-up of blood, as well as its meaning in society. Featuring interviews with Simon Clare (Nurse Specialist in Haematology), Sir Christopher Frayling (Cultural Historian), Stefan Gates (Broadcaster and Food Writer), Emily Richards (Goth Club Promoter), Dr. Lola Martinez (from the Department of Anthropology, SOAS), Fergus Henderson (Chef and Proprietor, St John Restaurant) and Frank Baker (of Frank's Butchers). Although the feature is of interest, it feels too much like padding to a DVD that already has sufficient content.

'The Frayling Reading' offers Christopher Frayling's understanding of the Vampire legend as well as its connection to State of Decay. The feature brings us back to the Doctor Who DVD content, proper, and makes for a welcome addition.

The 'Commentary' is provided by Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Peter Moffatt (Director) and Terrance Dicks (Writer). Right from the off we are given some detailed information on the genesis of the story from Dicks, which sets the pace for what turns out to be a fact-filled commentary. Waterhouse, however, takes a while to warm into the commentary, and rather annoyingly repeats chunks of text spoken by Tom Baker in parrot fashion.

Also included on the disc are the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

Warriors' Gate

Warriors' Gate, as a story is quite complex - perhaps a little too ambitious. What is clear, however, is how much effort has gone into the production. Although it was one of the cheapest Doctor Who stories to be made, the attention to detail in many areas, has to be commended. You do get the feeling that so much more could have been made out of the adventure, however, and end up feeling a little short-changed by the end due to Romana's rushed exit.

Warriors' Gate, holds the most rewarding special features in The E-Space Trilogy box set, with some highly entertaining documentaries and interviews that all connect directly to the story.

'The Dreaming' looks at the making of Warriors' Gate, and features interviews with Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor), Paul Joyce (Director), Stephen Gallagher (Writer), Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer), and Actors; Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (Voice ok K9), Clifford Rose (Rorvik) and David Weston (Biroc).

The documentary, reveals the pitfalls that the production went through before its completion, as well touching on some of the conflicts amongst the cast and crew.

'The Boy with the Golden Star' features an interview with Matthew Waterhouse, as he looks back through his time on the show. A really enjoyable feature that casts Waterhouse in a new light, whilst tackling some of the myths that followed him as a young actor.

'Lalla's Wardrobe' brings us a chronological look at the various costumes Romana wore throughout her tenure on the show. With interviews from June Hudson (Costume Designer), Louise Page (New Series Costume Designer) and Writers; Nev Fountain and Jonathan Morris.

The 'Extended and Deleted Scenes' are barely noticeable, but will no doubt appease completists. Its such a shame a longer farewell scene wasn't recorded between The Doctor and Romana.

The 'Commentary' features Paul Joyce (Director), John Leeson (Voice of K9), Mat Irvine (Effects Designer), Christopher H. Bidmead (Script Editor) and Lalla Ward (Romana).

It becomes obvious quite early on, that five people in a commentary is just too much, and surprisingly, the energy levels are relatively low throughout with some guests tending to fade into the background.

Also included on the disc is an Easter Egg, as well as the usual Continuity announcements, Photo Galleries, Info Text and Radio Times Listings.

Overall, The E-Space Trilogy DVD box set is quite satisfying, with the exception of a couple of red undant features. The commentaries, in general, were good, but needed more direction, which an external presence could have easily provided.

These serials are by no means representative of The Doctor's finest adventures, but they do show how, even with a tight budget, imagination and resourcefulness can pull through to make a trilogy of entertaining science fiction. Together with its feature-laden content, E-Space is a universe you will enjoy coming back to.
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