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Customer Review

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like a sausage, too much 'filler' but you'll still want it..., 15 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Aztecs (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Note: This review of the 11 March 2013 release is based upon official BBC Press Release obtained copies of the DVD and not the 2002 DVD release or speculation.

In the case of DOCTOR WHO - THE AZTECS, expecting something truly remarkable would be like trying to get blood stains off a stone as opposed from it.

The original DVD release (2002) was a must-buy event for any, and I do mean any fan of the series, as it unequivocally demonstrated that William Hartnell was the definitive Doctor not matter what we, the great unwashed critical fans, said. Neither Tom Baker nor David Tennant can be hailed as the `best' actor to have played the character for it was Hartnell that defined it, and it was within John Lucarotti's 1964 four-part serial that he rationalised it in being a true outsider with both a quest for morality and belonging within the establishment.

It is with hope that DOCTOR WHO - THE AZTECS Special Edition adds to valuable commentary to the previous release; why exactly does the story `work' within the context of a time travelling science-fiction fantasy drama series, and how relevant is the story to viewers of the NEW SERIES?

With a two-disc release, hopes are raised. However, with the first of the two being, in essence, a `carbon copy' of the 2002 issue (though the print has been marginally - it would seem to me, an untrained eye - re-mastered it states on the BBC DVD Press Release) and the only Aztec-related feature on the second disc being a `repeat' of a 1969 episode of the BBC's history documentary strand, CHRONICLE - THE REALMS OF GOLD, the re-assessment of the story is, sadly, regrettably, pitifully, absent.

This leads to the question; why bother? It's almost a case of selling a product that states beef on the label but when you come to devour it, as all DOCTOR WHO do, it turns out to be horsemeat.

Certainly, concentrating all things non-THE AZTECS, disc two is a waste. So, ignore that fact that its content is not related to Lucarotti's story in anyway - bar the tedious CHRONICLE episode - and you will discover a jewel encrusted blade that is wield with precision and skill.

The crowning glory of THE AZTECS SE is the first widely available viewing of the "found" episode three of Hartnell's DOCTOR WHO - GALAXY 4 (September 1965), and it is a real gem. Here, BBC DVD has reconstructed - albeit in a truncated format - the four-parter utilising a combination of surviving clips interspersed with off-air photographs, new animation with an audio soundtrack, and it succeeds. At times, yes, the story is pedestrian but, when you're not expecting it, leaps and grabs you around the throat with chilling effect (such as the Drahvin Controller, Maaga, slaying her `clone' soldier at point blank range, and witnessing air being drained from the Drahvin Air Lock as Steven - Peter Purves sporting a Matt Smith coiffured haircut - slumps to the floor). The Palmer & Petts new animation inserts are extraordinarily astute in their realism even down to the metal surface treatment of the Rills' machines (`Chumbley') and the detritus applied to the TARDIS' exterior. If I am incorrect in saying that this is their first contribution to BBC DVD DOCTOR WHO releases then it should not be their last; in adding value to the storytelling, their vision should be sought in further releases where original broadcast content is void.

Following the on-air dissertation of "lost" novel adventures (see THE ARK IN SPACE `Special Edition' DVD documentary, LOVE AND WAR), DR FOREVER! casts its eyes over the toy merchandise range since 1964 and how the series is defined by it. Contributions from Mark Gattis who cheekily equates the 1970's Denys Fisher overly tanned `Leela' to the iconic PLAY SCHOOL toy-host, Hamble, to BBC Licencing Executive, Richard Hollis who categorically states that DOCTOR WHO initiated merchandising options at the BBC, and AUDIOGO's Commissioning Editor, Michael Stevens who exposes the most shocking abuse to two of his Denys Fisher "Fourth Doctor" action figures that has left them with less legs than Oscar Pistorius to stand on.

From TARDIS TUNER (yes, I had one) to vast army of Dalek variants (Russell T Davies claims that this type of DOCTOR WHO toy is the only one that he continues to collect) to the cascading chins of Ian McNeice (NEW SERIES' Winston Churchill) being scanned by a 3-D modelling device, DR FOREVER! CELESTIAL TOYROOM is an unadulterated joy to watch however I feel that the producers missed a trick in not providing a "scrolling timeline" (on-screen throughout...) for toy releases, and, perhaps, a brief professional psychological assessment for toy make-believe-play is essential for child development.

The final two all-new features, IT'S A SQUARE WORLD and A WHOLE SCENE GOING, are not to be overlooked.

Looking remarkably similar to Hartnell's First Doctor, character actor, Clive Dunn (DAD'S ARMY's Crp. Jones) stars in the "...first DOCTOR WHO skit..." that is known to exist. In a very funny and excellently executed comedy sketch, Dunn is Doctor Fothergown, the inventor of a space rocket that is accidently `docked' with BBC TV Centre upon blast-off leaving the iconic studio complex orbiting a the titular `square Earth'. With guest appearance from Patrick Moore, `Albert Steptoe and Hercules' and 1960's gardening expert, Barry Bucknell, this is a diverting and entertaining diversion.

Taking the viewer behind-the-scenes of the second DOCTOR WHO franchise movies, DALEKS' INVASION EARTH: 2150 AD, Gordon Flemyng is interviewed by A WHOLE SCENE GOING - dig the title, man - about filming science fiction (as opposed to `reality') and his relationship to the movie's Producers. Fascinating and a real find.

The COMING SOON feature is for a forthcoming - but not "...next..." release - Patrick Troughton DVD, DOCTOR WHO - THE ICE WARRIORS.

Overall, this `Special Edition' is a, regrettably, a disappointment as the narrative of why THE AZTECS was and remains one of the most highly regarded stories of the programme's 50 years is not assessed further. At its heart, this release seems to be a `dumping ground' for material that hasn't really got a real home. Perhaps, a series of DVDs could be devised, called "DOCTOR WHO - An Extra Dimension" or "DOCTOR WHO - Out of the Vortex" or "DOCTOR WHO - The Matrix Archive volume 1", that collates all the oddities and miscellaneous clips that are remain uncategorised. I would buy it but to pass it/them off attached to a "Special Edition" is neither honest nor clever.

If you don't have DOCTOR WHO - THE AZTECS on your DVD shelf already - and you may not - I can recommend this "Special Edition" but if you, I cannot.

Like a sausage, too much 'filler' (horsemeat and not prime cuts of pork?) but you'll still want it.
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