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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who – Delta & The Bannermen (1987/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who – Delta & The Bannermen (1987/BBC DVD)


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



Listed as story number 150, originally broadcast in November of 1987, Delta and the Bannermen is a 3-parter from the era of the 7th Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy.  The story opens with the Doctor and Mel, exploring the possibility of some time off when they arrive at an intergalactic toll port and, as the 10,000,000,000th customers, win a vacation to Disneyland in 1959.  The vehicle of transport is a tricked-out, crystal-powered warp drive omnibus.  With the Doctor following in the Tardis, the bus heads out and promptly hits a satellite, ending up at a holiday camp in Wales in 1959, instead of Disneyland. One of the occupants of the bus is the escaped Chimeron queen, Delta, who is fleeing from the Bannermen, who in turn have wiped out the population of her home planet and are attempting to finish the job.


The story runs a fairly predictable course, adding a nice twist with the hatching of an egg that Delta has brought with her, thereby birthing a new Chimeron princess.  The landing of the bus at a typical UK holiday camp gives British viewers a chance to reminisce about their youthful summers and gives a rare glimpse for American fans into a cultural artifact (Welcome, Campers!) notoriously memorialized in The Who’s famed rock opera, Tommy.  One of the camp employees, Billy, falls in love with the Chimeron queen and gets to send up British pop stars of the era, a la Cliff Richard, as he leads his band through what is no doubt a bit of nostalgia fueled fluff for the faithful.


Of course, the Doctor outwits the Bannermen (brandishing his famous question mark umbrella for the 1st time), Billy departs with the Chimeron queen, leaving his motorcycle, Vincent (perhaps named after proto-pop star, Gene Vincent), to his former flame, Ray (tip of the hat to pop star Johnnie Ray?), and the Doctor and Mel are anything but rested at the episode conclusion.


American fans are not left out of all the fun, however; the in-his-day well known comedian and actor, Stubby Kaye (Guys and Dolls, Li’l Abner, and Cat Ballou), makes an appearance as one of two American operatives investigating an experimental satellite in a nearly superfluous secondary storyline.  Kaye is amusing as Weismuller; his partner Hawk, played by Morgan Deare, is unintentionally hilarious as he upholds the long standing tradition of English actors with horrific American accents.


This go round, the extras are on the disappointing side: the usual blasé photo gallery, a But First This behind the scenes segment (plus outtakes from the interviews), another behind the scenes segment by BBC Wales (this episode was the only classic episode set in Wales), an alternative edit of the first of the three episodes with additional scenes, outtakes of a “Clown Court” segment from The Noel Edmonds Saturday Road Show (mildly amusing once), Hugh and Me, an interview with British character actor Hugh Lloyd (who plays Goronw).


The highlight of the extras for Who fans is Stripped for Action – The Story of Doctor Who Comics (The Seventh Doctor,) which is a historical overview of the comic strip with the original writers, artists, and editors.  Since this particular aspect of the Who Universe took place during a period when the TV series had been cancelled, so the novels and comic strips in the Doctor Who magazine were actually moving the stories forward without the series itself.


All in all, this is an average outing for the Doctor – though foreshadowing the recent 10th Doctor’s forage into space aboard an omnibus – and as such should be moderately pleasing to the average fan.


Oh, and one more bit from the trivia department: evidently, the episode title is evidently a send-up of the then current pop/rock band, Echo and the Bunnymen (whose Killing Moon was a major part of the hit film Donnie Darko a few years ago), thereby forever fixing this particular Who adventure firmly in a most specific time, indeed.



-   Don Wentworth


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