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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Doctor Who – The Invasion + The Sontaran Experiment + New Beginnings Box (Keeper Of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalya)

Doctor Who – The Invasion + The Sontaran Experiment + New Beginnings Box (Keeper Of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalya)




Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes:


The Invasion  (Story #46)  B-


The Sontaran Experiment  (Story #77)  B


New Beginnings Box (Keeper Of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalya)  (Story #s 115, 116 & 117)  C+



Doctor Who is one of the great Science Fiction heroes and characters.  Even when the BBC finally ended the original series, the fan following continued and eventually led to a few revivals leading up to the new hit series seen worldwide.  During its original run, the show was a smash hit for the BBC and even two feature films were made with the great Peter Cushing as The Doctor.  Ironically, that is the only way most in the U.S. saw the character in action.  By the 1970s, some of the shows with Tom Baker arrived on public TV, but the character was still unknown.  Three decades later, you can find the character all over.


If you have never seen the show, it is about the title time traveler who is part of a group of time lords he decides to battle against by leaving them and taking a time machine with him.  Unfortunately, the TARDIS (which can take on any shape it wants to integrate into its environment) he steals is defective and is stuck in the shape of an old British “call box” telephone booth.  Superman never flies out of it either, but The Doctor can more than hold his own.  In addition, the navigation equipment is a bit off, so like Time Tunnel, he cannot land anywhere on the timeline with pinpoint accuracy.


Capitalizing on the new hit show, BBC Home Video has recently issued some key episodes so fans can see the long, clever, great legacy of the character.  First is an episode from the Patrick Troughton era (1966 – 1969) entitled The Invasion, which has longtime menace The Cybermen invading Washington D.C. with groundbreaking editing, filmed, effects and suspense that brought the show and character to a new high.  This runs a rich 8 episodes and was first broadcast in 1968.  Troughton was very good in the role and makes for an enduring Doctor.  Anyone who loves great Science Fiction Action will enjoy this disc.


By 1975, Baker (whose amazing run began in 1974 and ended 1981) was established as The Doctor and the writing and energy on the show reached a peak rare in TV of any kind, with The Sontaran Experiment one of the greatest Who tales of all.  The Doctor, Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) have arrived on earth in the future and discover another one of his old nemesis is back and when they find him, see it as a great bonus in their final conquest of the planet.


This is a classic tale all on one disc and for their limited budgets, show how great Science fiction produced with heart, soul and great writing is made.  Baker hit the nail on the head and this era of the show is as vital as Diana Rigg’s arrival on The Avengers.  The guest cast he had with him also had exceptional chemistry and the trio here is particularly impressive.  The Sontaran Experiment is so strong, it is one of the best ways to be introduced to the character.


New Beginnings Box (Keeper Of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalya) shows one of the many transitions between actors playing The Doctor.  Instead of just having a new actor turn up without explanation, the one actor leaving would be just another physical persona of the doctor to shed for a younger, newer actor who would hopefully last a while and keep the show a hit.  These episodes show the end of Baker’s run and beginning of that of Peter Davidson.  Baker could have stayed on as long as he wanted to, but realized he had done everything with the character he could and decided to call it a day.


Unfortunately for the show, it was also running out of steam and the BBC made this their most commercial stab for the character to the point that it suffocated the show and eventually ended it.  It is no surprise that Davidson became even more successful after leaving the show and the show became dull.  Even the exciting, mysterious version of the theme song became a dull, bad-disco spoof of itself when revised and re-recorded.


The three stories has The Doctor fighting killer statues, a fixing of the TARDIS backfiring and (in one of the most ironic storylines in series history) the latest regeneration being a major problem to the point where The Doctor has to go to a planet of healing to make sure he does not die.  Unfortunately, these shows seem pedestrian and obvious, the show was no longer thinking Sci-Fi, Baker still had plenty of energy & nowhere to put it and these titles are key in seeing the rise and fall of one of the greatest of all TV shows.  Like Dark Shadows, there are hundreds of shows to see and a few key standouts.  That is why these shows are now available on DVD.


The 1.33 X 1 image on all five DVDs comes from analog PAL masters, though outdoor footage in The Invasion is shot in 16mm, which was a big deal at the time and the film prints seem to be lost for good.  Otherwise, these look about as good as they are going to.  All have Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound and are fine for their age, with some Invasion shows only surviving in audio-only, which is why they have added new animation in place of the loss of footage for two of the episodes.  Though also made in black and white, I was not so impressed and it is a shame they just did not use stills from the archive instead.


Extras on the Troughton disc include audio commentary by the cast, production staff and animators of the new footage, Love Off-Air showing how many fans were actually audio taping 5the shows even though they could not see the picture, Doctor Who Confidential interviews with the animation team, character design featurette, two animated trailers Evolution of The Invasion (50 minutes), stills and Nicholas Courtney’s links to the missing episodes on the original 1993 VHS release.


Extras on the Baker disc include audio commentary by: actress Elisabeth Sladen, co-writer Bob Baker, and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe, Built for War: a 39-minute documentary on the genesis and development of the Sontaran race through the history of the series, subtitled production notes option and stills.


Extras for the three discs in the box set include audio commentary by actors Anthony Ainley, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse & writer Johnny Byrne, DVD ROM Features: 1982 Doctor Who Annual, Radio Times and BBC Enterprises literature PDFs, Being Nice to Each Other making of documentary that includes contributions from Sarah Sutton, Sheila Ruskin, Geoffrey Beevers, John Black, Johnny Byrne & Christopher H. Bidmead, Swap Shop with Noel Edmond interviewing Sarah Sutton, music-only track, The Return of the Master: Geoffrey Beevers, Christopher H. Bidmead & John Black talk about the return of the Doctor's arch-enemy, trailers & announcements, stills, production notes, audio commentary by actors Tom Baker and Janet Fielding and writer Christopher H. Bidmead, A New Body at Last documentary on the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison, with many of the actors & production team involved with exclusive behind the scenes footage of the regeneration, interviews with Tom Baker and Peter Davison, Pebble Mill at One: Peter Davison interview, BBC News Reports on Tom Baker's wedding, the announcement of Tom Baker's departure and Peter Davison's arrival, audio commentary by actors Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, writer Christopher H. Bidmead & director Fiona Cumming, deleted scenes, The Crowded TARDIS with Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, John Black & Christopher H. Bidmead, Being Doctor Who: Peter Davison discusses how he approached this iconic role, Directing Castrovalva interview with Fiona Cumming, Blue Peter: Peter Davison interviews and a Music Video of a new remix of Peter Howell's Doctor Who theme music for 1980 in stereo or Dolby 5.1 surround that you may or may not like.



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-   Nicholas Sheffo


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