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Category:    Home > Reviews > Special Interest > Phenomenon > Ghosts > Supernatural > Monsters > Aliens > UFOs > Speculation > Special I > Arthur C Clarke Collection (1980, 1985, 1994/VEI DVD set)/Delete (2012/TV Mini-Series/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited (1964 1975/BBC DVD Set)

Arthur C Clarke Collection (1980, 1985, 1994/VEI DVD set)/Delete (2012/TV Mini-Series/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)/Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited (1964 – 1975/BBC DVD Set)

Picture: C+/C/C* Sound: C+ Extras: C/C-/B- Episodes: B-/C-/B-

Science Fiction and science fact have a wide range of possibilities from hard science to speculation to junk. These releases cover that ground...

The Arthur C Clarke Collection is a new DVD box set from VEI (who released the entire In Search Of... series as a DVD box set reviewed elsewhere on this site) combing three TV shows Clarke himself hosted that tried to be like In Search Of..., but included him coming up with brief ideas on how some of these things might have happened, yet without going into deep detail. In this way, they could be as intriguing as the Leonard Nimoy classic, yet try and be more “serious” about the science side, if only for a few minutes.

The shows include Mysterious World (1980, 2 DVDs) including looks at subjects like Monsters Of the Deep, UFOs, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, Easter Island, The Missing Link and even mythical creatures. World Of Strange Powers (1985, 4 DVDs) covers ghosts, stigmata, haunted houses, telekinesis, messages from the dead, reincarnation and haunted photographs. And Mysterious Universe (1994, 2 DVDs) adds crop circles, zombies, strange happenings in The Bermuda Triangle, pyramids, returns from the edge of death the evil eye and more. There is some overlap in topics between shows, but that is minor.

All in all, this is a fine, fun set, with its only limit being it has no extras. Still, a fun set of shows originally produced in England with Yorkshire Television, where we get a huge number of location visits separating it from lesser shows and its better U.S. cousins.

Delete (2012) is yet another goofy Canadian TV Mini-Series, this time with Seth Green being one of the only name participants, as part of Gaiam Vivendi silly “Doomsday Series” and this time, earth will be destroyed by a supercomputer that has become conscious of itself and will blow up the planet. However, it is like Colossus: The Forbin Project with a lobotomy and has barely enough unintentionally amusing moments (in a very, very long 175 minutes running link, including awful CGI visual effects) to stop it from being an absolute dud, but it is very close to it thanks to a terrible teleplay and bad directing by legendary Music Video director Steve Barron.

Never is this anywhere nearly as good or visually well made as any of his classic clips from the 1980s.

Extras (yes, they actually gave us some) include a sneak peak for another formula release in the series (never the same character twice, especially when they are all getting killed off!) called Exploding Sun (yawn!) and cast/crew interviews for this train wreck.

Finally we have an odd collection in Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited (1964 – 1975) which slaps together adventures from the first four actors to play the part and offers less extras than the previous DVD versions of them, most of which we have reviewed. Steven Moffat and guests appear in featurettes discussing each doctor on each DVD presentation, which has some good info for fans and those unfamiliar with the show, but it is basic and does not go as far as the better, original sets.

Then the original shows are presented two ways. One in in their original versions and the others in new widescreen versions with intros by Moffat. The problem is that they take the 1.33 X 1 frames of each and screw them up royally (pun intended) by making each adventure (black and white or color) look like The Doctor and company took the TARDIS through the Lost Episodes of The Honeymooners and got distorted in all kinds of ways (think fun house mirrors) with the only thing missing being Ralph Cramden joining in on the adventures!

We'll get into how bad these versions look, but they are horribly done, hideous looking and abominations of the classic series. Add that Spearhead from Space just came our on Blu-ray looking nice and this is a really bad idea for a set. You can read about each adventure as follows, with links applicable where we already covered the materials:

The Aztecs DVD Set


Tomb Of the Cybermen DVD set


Spearhead from Space Blu-ray


Pyramids Of Mars is a Tom Baker adventure that can be uneven, but is one of the darker, freakier storylines of what I still consider the peak of the entire run of the show in its first half-century as the Doctor and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) come upon a English Mansion where something mysterious is going on. Some strange force is at work, it has to do with Ancient Egypt and for starters, crazy super-mummies (who all look like the Michelin Tire Guy mascot ready for deadly wrestling matches!) are on the loose.

I will not say more, but it is more bizarre and creepy than it sounds and gets darker, even when some of the visual effects are dated, all the way to the creepy ending. Like the previous three sets of episodes telling one story (think serial), this is at least well chosen.

The only other extra is four small refrigerator magnets (connected as a small sheet) of each of the four doctors for fans in our DVD case.

The 1.33 X 1 image on the Clarke shows are all shot on 16mm film, entirely at first, then by the final series, a mix of 16mm and location analog PAL video,but every episode is finished on PAL video and that is why they all has disclaimers as to flaws and limits in their presentations. With that said, they look just fine and as good as anything on the list, so expect playback in line with your usual documentary or speculative TV shows which are sometimes rough and not always great. These are at least consistent and with enough work, could be on Blu-ray in the future, with later shows needing upscaling on the analog video parts to go with the film prints, if they still exist.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Delete is especially soft and sometimes sloppy when CGI effects get added, but this is also on Blu-ray, so this might possibly look better there, but I cannot imagine by much if this DVD represents flaws inherent to the slap-together production. Computer graphics are badly portrayed too.

*The 1.33 X 1 PAL analog versions of all four Who shows are the original versions and the ways they were composed and meant to look, with Spearhead the only all-filmed (in color 16mm) episode arc in the series history and the rest mixing 16mm with analog PAL video. They look fine, but the phony, forced, anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image look terrible for so many reasons including how they all add artifacts, flaws and other issues to images that already have their limits. They actually land up looking softer than it they had just left the taped presentations alone. Besides my comments above, the people doing these hack jobs on each show could not even decide to stick with one approach. Some have the 1.33 stretched out sideways so everyone looks blobby, while other shots cut of sides, tops, bottoms and it is really a wreck that should have never happened. What was the BBC thinking?

All have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound, save the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Delete, but it is harsh on the edges, badly mixed, has some badly recorded elements and is too much towards the front channels as its soundfield plays constantly inconsistent. As a result, the competent mono sound on the other discs can more than compete with it and sound both better and more professional.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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