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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > Aliens > Monsters > British TV > Supernatural > Doctor Who: The Ark In Space (Story No. 76/1975) + The Aztecs (Story No. 6/1964/BBC DVDs)/Shadow People (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Storage 24 (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)

Doctor Who: The Ark In Space (Story No. 76/1975) + The Aztecs (Story No. 6/1964/BBC DVDs)/Shadow People (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Storage 24 (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)


Picture: C+/C/B-/B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/C+/C-/C     Main Programs: B/C+/C-/C-



Now for some mostly British new genre releases…



The vintage Doctor Who episodes continue to roll out from BBC Video and this time, we get the all-time classic The Ark In Space (Story No. 76/1975) which happens to be a Tom Baker set and The Aztecs (Story No. 6/1964) which is an early tale with William Hartnell that shows its age and holds up only so well.  Though it can be charming and the cast is good, the title characters look fake, the costumes show the limited budget of the show and the idea that the TARDIS gets them stuck inside 15th Century tomb is intriguing, but the writing is just not that memorable and the show is watchable at best but not great.


Ark is a peak of the whole Who franchise and one of the darkest, smartest adventures ever made as the Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) land up on a ship that is electronically alive, but otherwise seems dead.  As they investigate, things become uglier, darker and more shocking down to the implications of what they discover and this becomes a remarkable story overall as a new nemesis is introduced and the series shows that it was on the cutting edge as much as any Science Fiction show around, including the first season of Space: 1999 (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site).


A proud moment in British Sci-Fi TV history, I’m glad to see this expanded Special Edition of the show issued and highly recommend it.


Extras on both DVDs include Making Of featurettes, audio commentary tracks for the episodes, a TARDIS-cam clip, Photo Gallery, production notes subtitles and PDF DVD-ROM materials.  Aztecs adds Designing The Aztecs featurette, Restoration clip, clip on the subject from the Blue Peter series, Making Cocoa clip, Galaxy 4 reconstruction featurette, 1969 Chronicle- Conquest Of Gold program with John Julius Norwich on the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Doctor Forever! – Celestial Toyroom (22 minutes), Intro Sequences, optional Arabic soundtrack on Episode 4, It’s A Square World! – the first Dr. Who skit and A Whole Scene Going, which has four minutes of Director Gordon Flemyng directing on Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD, the second Who feature film with Peter Cushing we have reviewed as an import DVD with extras elsewhere on this site.

Ark adds a TV movie version of this set of episodes (70 minutes), 3D Technical Schematic, Doctor Forever! – Love & War on the novels made between the vintage series and hit revival of the series, 1978 Scene Around Six look at Baker’s career, a minute of amateur 8mm film footage from the Robot episodes (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Original BBC Trailer for these episodes, Optional CGI Effects and a 10-minutes interview with Designer Roger Murray-Leach on the show.



Matthew Arnold’s Shadow People (2012) is supposed to be about some kind of nighttime death syndrome that also happens to be supernatural, but the bad script never convinces us for a second, then when it early on wants to include the people of (and especially children in) Cambodia, I expected some Vietnam history or moiré ugly tales of the Khmer Rouge, but this is so trivial than any more such information and this mess would have been trivializing genocide!


Besides potential racism on the side, this mess never even begins to make any case for anything and is one of the dumbest “something bad we cannot see is happening” features we have run into in a long time.  Acting and camera work is awful, plus this lands up being more smug than I expected.  This had a little potential, but hardly any of it is here and GEEZ, stop showing lame internet images in feature films, because it looks cheap, is cheap and never helps a storyline.  Oh, and this is the one entry here that is not British.


The only extras is the lame Shadow People: More To The Story which is nothing more than further dragging out this dud.



Johannes Roberts’ Storage 24 (2012) is another stuck-in-a thriller where pieces of an airplane land up all over the place, including an engine on someone’s car.  The biggest problem is that something that kills was stored in the title locale and now it is on the loose, made worse by our cast of characters being trapped inside it.


From there, someone knowing their way around a genre could have made this compelling, suspenseful or at least fun, but this runs on and on and on and on concluding with a dumb ending, barely any character development, bad dialogue and a boring waste overall.  Too bad, because even when the visual effects look lame, a better script could have made this at least watchable.

Extras include a Photo Reel, feature length audio commentary track with Clarke & Roberts, Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes, Video Blogs, four Behind The Scenes featurettes, additional scene commentaries, Teaser & Promos.



The 1.33 X 1 on the Who DVDs are as good as they are going to look pretty much, but Aztecs is just plain old, showing its age and being on the soft side throughout.  Ark is an all PAL analog videotaping and the color is consistent, the copy in fine shape and is the most memorable-looking of al the releases in this review.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on People and 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Storage are more defined than the best Who, but not by that much sadly as we get a harsh digital image, with motion blur, color gutting and bad editing than make neither demo material on Blu-ray and People has too much faux-website footage that only hurts it all the more.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Storage and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on People should at least have modern sonic capacities, but when they are too much towards the front speakers, have dialogue and even other sounds stuck too much in the center channel and the result are awful soundfields and lame presentations.  As a result, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both Who DVDs can more than compete.  What were the producers of the new programs thinking?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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