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Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews more Doctor Who DVDs. Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space (BBC)

The last time we saw our hero the Doctor, the Time Lords had split him apart from his companions, stranded him on planet Earth, and were forcing regeneration upon him. A regeneration we didn’t get to see (which is obviously a disappointment), but I think it’s because they hadn’t cast the Third Doctor as of yet.

This episode is as close to a Doctor Who reboot as we’ve ever gotten, and that includes “Rose” which was the episode that reintroduced the series all the way back in 2005 (and also coincidentally featured the Autons).

We’ve got a new Doctor and new companions (although, yes, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is a character we’ve met before… calm down, nerds). Instead of traveling through time and space, the Doctor is stranded on Earth with a non-functioning TARDIS. Also, this is the first title to be shown in color.

According to the documentary on the DVD (Down to Earth), Doctor Who was near cancelation after the end of Patrick Troughton’s series. The revamp worked. While the last episode of “The War Games” pulled in about five million viewers, the total for all four episodes of Spearhead from Space came in at over eight million. The documentary also includes archive interview footage with Jon Pertwee as he discusses how he got the part and how he wanted to portray him.

Probably the nicest part of this special edition is the commentary, where we get appearances from both the late Nicholas Courtney and the recently passed Caroline John. It’s always great to hear the Brig’s calm and crisp voice. The DVD also includes a commentary from producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks, a short presentation on the transition from black and white to color, a wacky UNIT Recruitment spoof, and the usual photo gallery, trailers and PDF materials.

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (BBC)

The Seventh Doctor and Ace receive “junk mail” in the TARDIS inviting them to the circus. This story first aired during the ’88-’89 season… and that clown still freaks me out.

My favorite part of the included documentary (The Show Must Go On) is the discussion of the explosion. During shooting, Sylvester McCoy was instructed to leave the circus tent; he’s told that it will explode behind him, but to keep walking forward as if everything were normal. He trusts the production team and does so. Obviously, he is alright afterward (and the shot makes him look pretty badass), but the explosion is bigger than anyone expected… and probably a lot more dangerous.

And that’s my second favorite part of the DVD! My number-one favorite is an outtake where Sylvester McCoy swears because there’s noise going on outside during a take.

An extra documentary short titled Tomorrow’s Times is quite interesting. Anneke Wills hosts this look back at the way the British press reacted to this season—starting with their less-than-impressed opinions of Sylvester McCoy taking over the role—and how it improved over time.

The main joy of the commentary track comes from Ace herself, Sophie Aldred, but also includes Jessica Martin (Mags), Christopher Guard (Bellboy), writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel, and composer Mark Ayres. And the whole thing is emceed by Toby Hadoke.

All in all, these discs are behind-the-scenes looks at two very different (but game-changing) eras of Doctor Who.

Check out Kevin’s other Doctor Who DVD reviews here and here!

Also be sure to visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews three Doctor Who DVDs. Enjoy!

A FOUR AND TWO SEVENS
By Kevin Kittridge


Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden (BBC)
(AKA Doctor Who: The Dark Side of Sid and Marty Kroftt)

The Story

Okay, so Sid and Marty Krofft didn’t actually have anything to do with this episode, but with all the drugs and people in big ugly monster suits you definitely wouldn’t be scoffed at for making the connection.

The Special Features

In The Nightmare of Television Centre, we get an extremely candid behind-the-scenes discussion on the technical aspect of making this episode. During the filming of the extra, even those responsible for the creation of the silly-looking monsters were realizing how goofy it all looked.

There’s an interview with writer Bob Baker who discusses the opportunity he had to write this episode. (How would you like to write a cheap Doctor Who?) He goes on to talk about the intricacies of writing a Doctor Who episode that deals with the illegal drug trade.

The Doctor’s Strange Love featurette documents three fans discussing the episode on the set of The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC)… while sitting in front of Mr. Smith!

The commentary features Lalla Ward (Romana) and Toby Hadoke (among many others), who is best known for his one man show Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf.


Doctor Who: Dragonfire (BBC)

The Story

Mel —> Ace

Dragonfire shows one of those rare special moments where we witness the current companion (Mel) sharing her last episode with the new companion (Ace), essentially passing the torch to her replacement.

The Special Features

The disc features plenty of interesting, insider information in Fire and Ice (The Making of Dragonfire). Sophie Aldred (Ace) discusses how she got the part (which initially wasn’t supposed to be a recurring role) without ever actually having been on television before. Two huge things make this worth checking out:

1. Finding out what Ace’s name was supposed to be (I won’t spoil it), and…

2. …audition footage of Sylvester McCoy for the role of the Doctor, during which the role of “Assistant” is played by Janet Fielding (AKA the former Tegan Jovanka)! Very cool to see!

It’s also interesting to note that Sylvester pushed for certain elements of the audition (in which the assistant tells the Doctor that it is time for her to go) to be included in the real exit scene for Mel.

We get deleted/extended scenes, another discussion by fans in The Doctor’s Strange Love, a look at visual effects in the series, and a commentary track headlined by Sophie Aldred.


Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol (BBC)

The Story

Three words: The Kandy Man.

The Doctor and Ace arrive on a planet where it is illegal to be unhappy.

The Special Features

Happiness Will Prevail (The Making Of) discusses the not-so-thinly-veiled political turn in the show. Helen A was well known as a caricature of Margaret Thatcher. Sylvester McCoy has been quoted as saying, “Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered.”

Politics aside, there are some short (but extremely telling) clips that show McCoy offering suggestions on set as to how to improve the scene. Also, the guy playing the Kandy Man had an absolutely miserable time inside his costume.

When Worlds Collide examines the infusion of politics in the show throughout its history, and debates whether or not the show is the appropriate place for pushing political agendas.

Once again we are treated to audio commentary from Sophie Aldred and moderated by Toby Hadoke. Also included are an impressive photo gallery, as well as numerous extended and deleted scenes.

Check out Kevin’s first batch of Doctor Who DVD reviews here!

Also be sure to visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time around, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews two new Doctor Who DVDs from the BBC. Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters (BBC)

The Story

Freed from his exile on Earth, the Doctor finally is allowed to travel through time anywhere in space… but he and Jo are in danger of being trapped in a much smaller environment!

The Special Features

One of my favorite extras is the all-too-short behind-the-scenes footage that shows the director’s control room. There’s something fun about the juxtaposition of these very serious people at their control boards as they call off cues to actors while wonderfully silly monsters take directions on the screens in front of them. There’s also a fun 1970’s demonstration of green screening (here they use the old-fashioned blue screen) while using models as a landscape.

I very much enjoyed the trailer for the upcoming DVD release of Nightmare of Eden. They made it look really badass!

Less badass and more silly is the making-of featurette (titled “Destroy All Monsters”) which is presented in a quirky style that reminded me of the old Adam West Batman shows. Katy Manning appeared to be having a lot of fun as she recalled the filming of the episode, and she includes an anecdote with Jon Pertwee where they essentially steal the compass off the boat they’re filming on so it can be kept as a memento. She also demonstrates her chicken impression, which is only slightly disturbing.

Also included is a segment on Ian Marter; it outlines both the man himself and his writing of the Target novelizations. I collected those Target Doctor Who books as a kid, so I found it fascinating that Harry Sullivan himself had written some of them.

Another over-the-top (in a fun way) segment is one on the many tech toys that are featured throughout the series. Titled “The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos,” the segment isn’t just limited to the sonic screwdriver. The chameleon circuit, the fault detector (which certainly must be faulty itself) and many others are also featured.

The special features wrap up with commentaries from the always delightful Katy Manning and Barry Letts, as well as an alternate commentary from the actors who played Pletrac and Shima. A standard photo gallery finishes it up.

In all, this set offers plenty for those looking to get their third Doctor fix.

Doctor Who: The Dæmons (BBC)

The Story

The Master summons a demon to gain its power… and rule the world!

I love the Master, especially the (original) Roger Delgado version. I just wanted to point that out. Moving on…

The Dæmons is like a Doctor Who version of Supernatural: evil people (The Master) summoning demons, etc. But the difference is that on Supernatural the demons are actually demons, whereas on Doctor Who the demons and ghosts are almost always aliens.

The Special Features

The making-of featurettes are great; they offer new transitions and intros that really add to the overall presentation. In this one they share that Katy Manning’s audition for Jo Grant was based off a scene from this story, which surprised her when she finally read the entire script five episodes after landing the part.

Also featured is a segment on Barry Letts, who was the executive producer on the show for the vast majority of the third Doctor’s episodes. He also cast who would become perhaps the most iconic Doctor: Tom Baker as Doctor number four.

The set also includes commentary from Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, Damaris Hayman and director Christopher Barry, as well as a piece on the digital restoration of The Dæmons and the always fun photo gallery.

Visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

…but of course, if you’re familiar with “The Blarg” you should already know that.

BBC Home Entertainment has a slew of new DVD/Blu-ray releases out this month, and I was fortunate enough to check out a handful of them.

First up, series one and two of “Luther,” which I already admittedly already love. There isn’t much more that I can say about this series that I haven’t already said before, but I’m so happy that I’m now able to own both of these two series on DVD. Of course, owning them on Blu-ray would be even better, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Idris Elba and the rest of the cast are simply as good as they come in this cop drama/thriller. If you’re not watching this show, you should be. The DVDs aren’t loaded up with a bunch of extras (I guess that’s just one of the rubs of having the show put out on DVD and not Blu-ray), but to be honest I’ve never been one for extras. I’m more interested in owning the show I loved than the extras that inspired or influenced it.

Luckily, the BBC decided to collect the first six episodes (also known as the first series) of “The Hour,” their 1950s-based show on television journalism, on Blu-ray. Collected here is the entire run of the 2011 debut of the show, along with a handful of extras including a behind-the-scenes featurette and an outline of how they recreated the era.

“The Hour” was met with some mixed reviews because of its pacing, and I admit I wasn’t crazy about it when it first debuted. But I think a big problem is that it was a slower-paced show that was released once a week. Watching all of the episodes back-to-back gave me an overall appreciation of the series.

Unfortunately, the BBC’s series “The Fades” didn’t hold up as well. I really loved the concept of the show (a teenager tormented by post-apocalyptic dreams who begins to see the dead), but the idea doesn’t translate as well as it should. Like “The Hour” before it, “The Fades” offers a six-episode arc that should be more than enough to both capture one’s interest and offer enough information to keep viewers from feeling unfulfilled, but the reality is that everything about “The Fades” feels more thin in story than most other offerings from BBC.

The collection offers a few extras including a behind-the-scenes featurette, outtakes and deleted scenes, but they weren’t enough to keep me interested in the next six episodes.

Still, even with its misses, BBC continues to impress me in ways that American network television fails to time and time again. So if you’re looking for something new and fresh to revitalize your television viewing interest, try out some TV programming that was created across the pond.

Pimp-worthy,

-Shady

Wanna learn more? I don’t blame you.

Hop on over to my friend Denise’s column on MatchFlick.com to learn how you can get your grubby little hands on your own copy of this complete set.

Trust me, the odds of someone from “The Blarg” winning the whole shebang are pretty good.

Take my word for it,

-Shady

Old Poop!