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As we get closer to gatting all old episodes of Doctor Who out on DVD, it becomes harder for 2entertain to find three stories that can go together in one box set.
So here we have three stories all bound together by the fact that they touch on old myths and legends. A somewhat spurious way of linking them together, but it gets three more out. And it's a good way to release three stories that have never been regarded as the best the show has to offer.
The Time Monster is a six part story starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, and sees him battling his arch enemy the Master, as the latter tries to control the power of a being from beyond time called the Kronove. The battle between the two time lords goes from present day Earth to ancient Atlantis. Full of interesting ideas but a bit too ambitious for it's own good the story has a tone that constantly teeters on the verge of getting a bit silly. If this had been a later Tom Baker tale that might have worked but it doesn't suit the earlier era quite as well. Although it's worth it for a typically excellent performance from Roger Delgado as the Master.
Underworld is a Tom Baker story and recasts the story of Jason and the Argonauts in space, as the Doctor and Leela meet a group of astronauts on a quest for a long lost item. Which is just coming to fruition. Finding a strange world where evil beings enslave their captives they all have a fight on to escape the danger that lurks in the tunnels. Underworld was a victim of budget problems and had to be done with a lot of superimposition work instead of genuine sets. This isn't as big a problem as it might be. The problem with the story is that, after a good first part with an excellent cliffhanger, it goes nowhere fast. Nothing is explained very well and you're left with three episodes of dull people running around tunnels doing things for not much of a given reason. The supporting characters are all desperately underwritten and give the actors nothing to work with. Whilst there's a fun final scene that suggests the Doctor pops out of the TARDIS every so often to have an adventure when he gets bored, little of what comes before lives in the memory.
The Horns of Nimon is another Tom Baker story and sees his Doctor battling the Nimon, evil minotaur like aliens. Coming from a time when the show was accused of going over the top too often, Tom Baker isn't the main culprit this time. Graham Crowden as villainous humanoid Soldeed does that far more. But this isn't the Doctor's tale as much as Romana's. Wearing a striking costume and adopting a great take charge attitude she dominates the tale, which is quite fun if you don't take it too seriously. In which case you're clearly not a Doctor Who fan. But if you're in the mood for a light hearted romp, this is quite good entertainment.
All three discs have the usual features:
Language tracks: English
Production information subtitles.
Coming soon trailer for the next release in this range.
Radio times billings as PDF Files.
And a commentary from selected members of cast and crew.
The other extras are a bit thin on the ground:
The Time Monster has a short feature about the restoration of the picture for the DVD release. Technical but quite interesting. And a twenty five minute long feature on the science presented in the story. Which is fascinating but a bit involved so you need to concentrate hard to get the most from it.
Underworld has an excellent and absorbing thirty minute long documentary about the making of the story and all that had to be done to get it to screen. And eighteen minutes of film of the story being made. This isn't just thrown at the viewer but presented in chronological order and with narration so you can tell what's going on. It's interesting viewing and worth it for the sight of Tom Baker in full flow.
The Horns of Nimon has a music demo that was recorded for the following season of the show, played over a few minutes from the story. A seven minute long chat with the writer of the story about how the script was commissioned and what went into it. This is interesting viewing and just the right length. And a thirty minute long documentary about the close relationship between Doctor Who and Blue Peter and how the latter show has promoted the former over the years. Featuring a few bits of footage that have been on other DVDS in this range, it's nonetheless entertaining viewing that should bring back a fair few memories. This just takes it up to the end of 1989, and there will be another part of this documentary to cover the more recent years on a later DVD release in this range.
For an easter egg watch the Horns of Nimon on a computer, go to the special features screen, and move the pointer over it till a hidden Doctor Who logo lights up. Click on that to see an odd little bit of Doctor Who related sock puppetry. Which you'll either love or hate, but it only lasts a minute so it's quick viewing.
The whole box set is probably for completists more than casual viewers, but there's enough decent moments in here to make it relatively worthwhile.
Having read all the bagging reviews that these 3 episodes have been getting, I feel something needs to be said in defence of the Time Monster episodes. I speak as someone who saw the episode when it was first broadcast. You have to put this story in context: This was during that awful time when the Time Lords had banished the Doctor to Earth, and we were watching week after week of Earth bound stories dominated by UNIT soldiers and the men of HAVOC doing weekly stunts. The TARDIS had practically disappeared into the background, with not a roundel to be seen. We were starved for flights into the Space Time Vortex, and as for watching that rotor going up and down, well it wasn't happenning. We were stuck with 70's fashions on Earth, and the TARDIS couldn't take us away from it to other worlds! To those of us who loved the "other worlds" side of Doctor Who it was getting really boring. Then came the Time Monster. The faithful TARDIS gets carried across the countryside on the back of a truck, attacked by a doodlebug and knights in armour, and finally, by linking to the Master's Tardis, it takes off! We get the Tardis landing inside the Tardis landing inside the Tardis (this infinite regression is used again and again in the series - but this was the first time). We finally get out of the 70's and into another time (even if it is the lost city of Atlantis - and the Doctor's second visit - so it can't be all that lost). We get to see a change to the interior of the Tardis which was another big deal (there have been many changes since). But to me it was the excitement of finally getting away from the 70's - as a bored teenager in Australia these flights of fantasy were what dreams were made of. So please, don't criticise these stories by the standards of today's television, remember where they came from. I know I will purchase the set when released becuase I love the old Doctor Who almost as much as the new one. But especially becuase of Time Monster. I shall be counting down in anticipation. 5-0, 5-5, 6-0... Oh, sorry, that's counting up, but if you watch the episode that will make more sense.
Je m'attendais à beaucoup mieux que ça, mais à cette époque les émissions étaient surtout faites pour les enfants, donc pas très élaborées. De plus, les DVDs sont européens et ne fonctionnent pas sur nos appareils BluRay. Heureusement, j'ai un appareil DVD qui joue ces DVDs.
A forgettable Pertwee tale and two atrocities from the Tom Baker era (as I child, I almost stopped watching after The Horns of Nimon). They're nicely restored, though, and I did like Tom Baker's anecdote about Glenda Jackson's son - who grew up to be the political columnist Dan Hodges - on the Underworld commentary.