Doctor Who: Revisitations 2 - Part 3 (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros witness the bloodthirsty Resurrection of the Daleks
Due to the increased traffic for us in terms of reviewing, these Revisitations reviews will be in a more compact form; Doctor Who fans will be more than familiar with the stories, but we have included some of the essential information to bring those outside of Who-fandom up to speed...
The Doctor/Companions: The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding), Turlough (Mark Strickson)
The Adversaries: The Daleks, Davros
The Plot: The Doctor, Tegan & Turlough are forced through a time corridor, landing on Earth in the late 20th century. The true purpose of this temporal alleyway is to release Davros, the creator of the Daleks and had been in suspended animation for 90 years, as his notorious creations have been decimated by the virus created by the Movellans (during Destiny of the Daleks) and they are seeking his help in order to restore their fearsome place as conquerors of the universe. Davros, however, has other plans, which include destroying his own creations...
Observations: This was one of the Doctor Who stories from the early eighties that seriously began to get the show into trouble in terms of the amount of violence and death depicted on-screen. There is a surprisingly high body-count in this story, and opens as it means to go on, with seemingly murderous coppers armed with machine-guns.
Terry Molloy breathes new life into the creator of the Daleks, imbuing his Davros something that was far beyond a mere impersonation of Michael Wisher's original performance (something that Molloy's predecessor, David Gooderson - with his ill-fitting mask - was guilty of); this Davros is a more passionate genocidal scientist with an added touch of letchery that you would find from an overfriendly, tipsy uncle at a family reunion.
Peter Davison is on fine form here, showing that he's not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to action; Mark Strickson's Turlough isn't quite as slimy as usual and Janet Fielding puts in a great, final regular performance as mouth-on-legs, Tegan.
The supporting cast is great, including Likely Lad Rodney Bewes, Maurice Colbourne as Lytton (who would return wonderfully in Colin Baker's Attack of the Cybermen), Rula Lenska and future Eastender Leslie Grantham.
Matthew Robinson's direction is great, bringing real cinematic feel to the location sequences; London's unrenovated areas that are seen in this story have a wonderfully dingy atmosphere that hangs heavily in the air and make the viewer believe that anything is possible in this story.
There is nothing much to report here, as the Restoration Team have done there usual bang-up job in making 80s Doctor Who look as good as possible, given the decades’ technical limitations. It’s as clean as you would expect, pleasingly fresh on the video side of things. The filmed exteriors maintain the familiar characteristics we all know, and as presented as best as the materials allow. We haven't got a copy of the original DVD release to hand, so we can't provide a side-by-side comparison, so we'll just assume that the image quality is either just as good as the original, or better.
Both edits come with the original mono mix, but the four-part version retains the rather nice Dolby Digital 5.1 remix from the previous release, and whilst not a subtle, understated track, it perfectly suit’s the story, with plenty of beefy explosions to wake up your subwoofer, as well as pretty dynamic pans to engage the surrounds. The monaural option is a clean, faithful rendering of what was intended by the director, and always a happy inclusion for the purist what wants to relive the story as it went out.
Audio Commentary: The track for this quartered version of the story features Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and director Matthew Robinson, and it really is a blast from beginning to end. What separates this from other tracks is that all three participants were in up front in the proceedings, with no guests on the recording session to impose their ego on proceedings, not mention that Robinson is as sparky and irreverent as the actors.
As mentioned in the following retrospective of Davison‘s career, John Nathan-Turner‘s decision to have the female companions in more revealing outfits was disliked by Fielding, and opines: “Why couldn’t I have had something more like Rula’s (Lenska) costume”? at her more practical attire. Speaking of things which sear the eye, what is considered a landmark by many in Doctor Who - the destruction of a Dalek into a fiery ball of flame by chucking it out of a building naturally prompts irreverence. “This is my son’s favourite part…” announces Davison. “Where you hug a Dalek?” chides Robinson. Unfazed, Davison gives credit where it is due: “That is pretty good special effects for the BBC…” he compliments, without a trace of snide.
With all the genuine laughs generated between the three during the commentary, Davison is quick to point out that moments of humour were injected into the show in the face of departmental directives: “We used to fight to bits of humour in the show… as there was a kind of backlash when Tom [Baker] left… there were no jokes allowed…not even in light moments”. OK, there were times when Baker was perilously close to bringing Doctor Who to its knees with irreverence, but there should always be something to leaven the proceedings, as with the best gallows humour.
Dear God, Davison is a man obsessed! Once again he seizes the opportunity to go on about the use of videotape in TV, and how electronic cameras were shortly going to take over at the time. Obviously this didn’t happen as scheduled, but luckily along come a couple of Daleks affected by the virus, and his rant is interrupted by the controversial image of Skaro’s finest spurting a substance which looks awfully close to the ol’ white wee-wee.
It’s a really fun way to kill some time, with all participants really having a ball whilst reminiscing about one of the most violent stories during the original run.
Tomorrow’s Times - The Fifth Doctor: Given the recent death of Nick Courtney, it was rather poignant when sitting down to review this and being greeted by The Brig’s voice. The ingenious fusion of Doctor Who and What the Papers Say is hosted by Fraser Hines is back to trawl through the archives of the printed media and find out the state of journalistic opinion at the time, both the insightful and the tabloid. With a new Doctor at the helm and John Nathan-Turner firmly established, journos were going to have a lot of ammunition loaded. What do we find out this time? Well, The Express doesn’t read its notes properly before going to press, giving Davison’s first story the moniker of “It’s Castrovlava”
It’s funny that they give a rather butch voice to the comments attributed to JNT, but give those of Colin Baker something almost identical to the former producer. Our favourite has to be one of the few reviews of The Five Doctors in the press (due to a printers’ strike) where Guardian writer Nancy Banks-Smith recalled her meeting with John Scott Martin, in full Zarbi costume, during the filming of The Web Planet. No hyphen, of course. Whilst mentioning levity, possibly the biggest surprise come when The Daily Mail’s reportage of the death of Adric was somewhat glib, running with “Dr Who’s Lad is Dead Unlucky”. Given the material they had been gifted, you’d have expected something more in their usual style. How about: “Boy Abducted By Traveller Dead”.
Proceedings conclude with the departure of Davison from the title role being overshadowed in the press by the marriage of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward. Ironically, the Fifth Doctor’s tenure on the show lasted twice as long as married life did for his previous incarnation.
Come In Number Five: Narrated by David Tennant, this is a comprehensive look at the uneasy years which followed in the wake of Tom Baker becoming the nation’s favourite. It all began shakily with the matter of the youthfulness of the incoming actor, where a lot of the counter-measures to combat criticism of Matt Smith were used when Davison were rolled out. Davison himself said that he “…felt in my head that The Doctor was an older person.” Interviewed for the documentary, Davison cringes when he remembers an early appearance of Pebble Mill at One when they opened the floor up to suggestions from the audience as to how he should play the part. He is even more embarrassed when he realises that 2Entertain intend to play the clip!
The promotion of John Nathan-Turner is looked at in-depth, from the rocky start with the antagonistic relationship between JNT and Barry Letts, to the resignation of Christopher Bidmead, who was getting sick of pulling all-nighters to take up JN-T’s slack. Possibly the most engrossing element of the whole shebang is how incoming script editor Antony Root had the dirty done on him by JNT, who dumped a pile of scripts on the rookie’s desk and sodded off to America for a week, leaving him to get them prepped for immanent production. Overwhelmed by the task, Root called on Barry Letts, who dismissed the Flanagan/McCulloch script Project Zeta-Sigma, and put Four To Doomsday in as a replacement. Rest assured that JN-T got a good arse-kicking from Letts when he swanned back into the BBC.
The baggage of having three companions is addressed. Polarised options: Fielding: “We just tripped over each other, basically”. Steven Moffat: “I actually like multiple companions. I like the ability of two characters to go and talk about the Doctor as someone they know, whereas if you’ve got just the Doctor and one other person, that doesn’t really happen. They just adore each other and run around, they get split up and eaten by green things.” Given the addition of Arthur Darvill in the shows now being produced by Moffat, it seems as though this is not him merely waxing lyrical. Speaking of agreeing with JNT, Moffat sides with him about the use of celebrities in key guest roles in the show, which elevated the former producer to Max Clifford status, always wanting to keep Doctor Who in the press through any number of publicity gimmicks. Davison agrees that although was against the direction JN-T was pushing the programme, he was “a brilliant publicist”. Moffat sums up his personal attitude to the casting of celebs thusly: “…if I’ve got the right part for Bruce Forsyth , you think I won’t do it? You betcha I will, in a heartbeat!”
There are two contrasting views of JN-T from the late Barry Letts and director Fiona Cumming, with the former firmly pointing out his deficiencies, including not having knowledge of the structure of shows, otherwise they concentrate too much on the logistics and publicity side of things. Cumming considers JN-T to be “…an extremely good producer”, as he was able to get the best out of everyone. Even Tennant notes the disparity of opinions between the two parties.
Turlough entering the fray is covered, but is viewed as a controversial decision from the outset. Fielding wonders if the concept of having a companion trying to kill the Doctor was really though through, speculating that it was the end product of too many glasses of wine, being too late to stop it once in production. Eric Saward concurs that a couple of glasses of the old vino make it sound like a brilliant concept.
The bulk of the remaining time is spent covering the filming as a whole, focusing on how many of the directors involved didn’t really understand the processes which made up filming Doctor Who. Most didn’t even understand the scripts, with others merely content to just make sure the actors read their lines accurately rather than giving them direction. Some were fresh out of director’s school, and lacked experience whilst others were seasoned veterans who were just filling the void in their lives before retirement. Both parties added to the lack of spark at the time. Davison asserts that there were many occasions where he understood the stories “…a heck of a lot better than the directors did”. The name Peter Moffatt is mentioned…
It’s pretty damned depressing to hear JN-T recount that the decision to move the show to a twice-weekly slot was as a testing ground to find the best position for the upcoming Eastenders, the absolute antithesis of Doctor Who. Come in Number Five is a prime example of how Fielding’s newfound trust of 2Entertain is paying off, and how the Revisitations sets allow for fresh perspective on the material, providing illuminating female insight in a genre primarily populated by the boys.
Naturally all things must pass, so it is only fitting that we end on the leaving of Davison in the title role, even when asked to extend into a fourth year. While there might have been some wavering under the surface, one thing cemented his decision to quit: The Myrka. Yes, this lumbering beast summed up all of Davison’s frustrations, and played a significant part in his downfall. Happily, all agree that his final series was a return to form, with very little in the way of duds, leaving a clear conscience for the outgoing Doctor. All applaud his work on Doctor Who, with clips played from Time Crash, the Children In Need love-letter from Moffat, which encapsulates who many feel about the Fifth Doctor.
If you only buy Revisitations 2 for this documentary alone, then it is a worthwhile upgrade.
Info Text: Once again, this is another superb combination of the fascinating, the enlightening, the trivial and the downright hilarious. Invaluable as reference material for its exhaustive look at variations between the drafts of the script and changes made on the day, not to mention pointing out little mistakes even some of the most ardent of fans might have missed, only adding to the charm even more. Did you notice the body behind Davison in the experimentation room having a nice stretch? Well, yes, you can’t miss it, but honesty is the best policy. How about that one of Fielding’s shoes flew off whilst running along by the Thames, prompting an necessary re-shoot? The brief appearance by Cyberman favourite Graham Cole? You’ll come away both entertained and possessed of a few more bits with which to win a pub quiz.
Walrus: Good God, this is weird. From the BBC archives, a Dalek tries to get a Welsh housewife to speak in a flat monotone, under penalty of extermination. Shot in a sparse, garishly-lit studio, this plays like a dry run for an abandoned sketch from Little Britain, or even Absolutely. Well, anyone who talks like the Why Bird might rub a Dalek up the wrong way, and extermination is inevitable. Maybe a burst of Road Rage might have appealed to the better nature of the motorised-dustbin. Odd.
Photo Gallery: Always reliable, this is another exhaustive gathering of photos taken from the production, and delights all fans when they see shots they haven’t clapped eyes on for years. There is much posing of the TARDIS crew with Daleks on location in London, including the one with Davison scratching his head in very broad fashion whilst flanked by the barking pepper-pots. Bewes was obviously the real coup in casting terms, and he gets easily the largest number of photos of the guests, with Lenska not too far behind. There is irrefutable proof that the BBC had little or no faith (nor expectation) in the career of Leslie Grantham is displayed in this gallery. To even get a sparse two pictures of him, the camera has to zoom in on him in the background of a wide-shot. There’s a lot less in the way of production material, but it really is worth devoting a few minutes of your time to, all accompanied by the excellent music of Malcolm Clarke. By the way, our favourite is probably the one of Davros doing a gesture which looks awfully like the Nazi salute…
Coming Soon: Good grieth, Thara-Jane! Yes, the old boy’s last hurrah is coming to DVD, which saw a final bow to his irascible vanity by letting him drive numerous vehicles during an extended chase sequence that lasted nearly half an hour. Planet of the Spiders really isn't very good, and plays out like a series of old ideas lovingly kicked to death over the course of six episodes. At least the Third Doctors’ ego survived the regeneration process…
Casting Far and Wide: Actor/comedian and Doctor Who fan Toby Hadoke meets up with five thespians who did their parts in bringing Resurrection of the Daleks to the screen, chatting about their experiences on the show
Up first is Roger Davenport, a man with few breaks onscreen before the TARDIS came his way. Well, we find out that the helmet her wore was incredibly uncomfortable to work with, biting into his neck whenever he’d turn his head. Not being too thrilled with the title his character was lumbered with, he asserts that “Bill” would have been a good “masculine name” for his character, rather than just “Dalek Trooper”. Davenport left the acting biz in favour of security, winding up writing for shows like All Creatures Great and Small before venturing back into the limelight.
A friendly warning is given that former Straw Dogs star Del Henney is very candid about his experiences, but it threw as with regard to what. OK, he says that the banning of the explosive Peckinpah movie didn’t do his career much good, but the reason for a heads-up is probably more for the fans of Doctor Who, as he states that he was eventually glad he took the job in Resurrection of the Daleks. “It turned out to be a good payday for me, not at the time, not the initial fee, but because of the repeats and the DVDs, it’s been very good to me.” In spite this, Henney is bitter about his career, frustrated about not living up to the potential he had been diagnosed with in his youth. Hadoke takes time out to address this curious attitude from an actor who has had a CV which most in the business would kill for.
Next up is a chat with the one, the only Leslie Grantham. Interviewed at the Alexandra Theatre, he is quick to point out that he owes a good chunk of gratitude to Who aluminates Louise Jameson and Pamela Salem, just two of a couple of people who were very kind to him in getting the ex-con into drama school. He praises all involved with Resurrection of the Daleks, with the exception of one “…who shall remain nameless” being somebody who treated those in smaller roles with contempt, including Grantham himself. Naturally, he discusses Eastenders, and is happy to talk about it and the way it continues to follow him around, but there isn’t a trace of bitterness about it, or indeed any aspect of his career. He asserts that he isn’t the best actor in the world, as the best ones are “…working in Sketchleys Cleaners” (they know the meaning of cleaning), but has had a damn good run. For all the infamy he has gained through newspaper headlines, Grantham really shines here, providing an amusing, honest account of his work, with more than a little self-deprecation thrown in.
Jim Findlay isn’t as content as Grantham, with his career centred mainly on theatre, which occupies the majority of his interview, but is in no way bitter, which soured the proceedings with Henney. He remembers previously sharing digs with Rodney Bewes during a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and that sharing a dressing room with Grantham was a laugh. He speaks proudly of working on Cry Freedom, and chuckling at needling Bewes’ line “I am a Dalek Agent” by asking if he was taking anyone on. As to be expected with theatre actors, it’s all about the TV work paying residuals, so it comes as little surprise that his favourite appearances on TV includes Silent Witness because “…that’s another of those like this [Doctor Who] where the money comes in!”
Finally we come to accomplished thespian William Sleigh, is quick to praise the Mathew Robinson and the production team, commenting that the show “…just went like clockwork”, surely a stark contrast to the programme under other directors. He recounts his career with good humour, quick to point out that in spite of a pretty impressive CV, he never deluded himself that he was the next Olivier. He worries for today’s youngsters embarking in the business, who are going to come out of drama school expecting to find experience in non-existent reps. To truncate a quote he is probably more than familiar with, Sleigh is a fellow of most excellent fancy.
Although genial enough, Hadoke is lacking the last little bit of polish in the presenting department, with the real giveaway being when he is interviewing his guests, where occasionally his lack of genuine engagement and interaction are evident. Nitpicking is what Doctor Who is all about, but it really doesn’t overshadow a truly unique angle for the show, and offers a sobering insight into the what happens after looking down the business-end of a Dalek’s gun. Excellent stuff.
On Location: This is more of a retrospective of the production as a whole, which happens to feature those involved being interviewed in the areas they filmed the story. The weather for this outing is suitably miserable, echoing the inclement conditions when Resurrection of the Daleks was filmed as they revisit the locations.
It’s a real surprise to find that John Nathan-Turner is on hand to discuss the London location used in Resurrection of the Daleks. It comes as no major revelation that his primary reason for featuring Skaro’s finest at key points in the run was that it was a way of guaranteeing a higher place in the ratings. Spoken like a true producer. Still, he was pleased at how well it holds up, which is at least something honest to come out of him. He agrees with Eric Saward that although Resurrection of the Daleks ended up being put out in two 45-mintues parts, it wasn’t as a dry-run for the longer episodes brought in the following year.
Speaking of Saward, he is usually rather serious when discussing his work, not really being one for levity, here we have a rare exception: he speaks of not being bothered with trivial changes to his scripts when being filmed, remarking that “…Mathew [Robinson] was good. He worked very hard and certainly did his best”. At that point he finishes his soundbite before dropping in: “…given the crap he had to work with” as he bursts into giggles, probably not expecting the impromptu coda to be used.
What might be regarded as the crown jewel in the proceedings might be where we get the low-down on how to make policemen disappear through camera trickery, including the original in-camera production footage used to achieve this. Oh, and the great Ian Levine’s participation during production is rightly mentioned, and who better to select the best footage of former companions for inclusion than the man who saved the Daleks from their greatest enemy: the BBC!
If goes out on a surprisingly dour note, with Robinson explaining that things can get very tense during production, with any numbers of parties trying to change the directors’ vision of how he wants it to play out, leading to all sorts of anger. He asserts that as the years go by, “…all that passion sort of fades away, I suppose like anything in life.” Wise words, and where better to end a grey day by the Thames?
Extended and Deleted Scenes: There is much talk of the differences during the Info Track, but we’ll leave it to you as to how much of it has found a home here. If you haven't seen them before, let’s just tell you of submachine guns being teleported aboard spacecrafts, Lenska mentioning that she only has eight weeks ‘til she finishes her current assignment and more drunken Dalek mayhem as they spew curious white fluid everywhere.
Breakfast Time: Given a few of the comments Janet has fielded about JNT on previous discs, it is a surprise that the two of them were sitting on the same comfortable sofa together. The purpose of the entire exercise is to plug the [then] new book Doctor Who: The Companions, with the two guests rattling off stories about the show, including Fielding’s superb bluff in getting the role in spite of her height disadvantage. Fielding is on fine form, remarking that her favourite villains were the Daleks, as you could play dodgems with them during rehearsals. Smack bang in the middle of all this is an article about the music for Doctor Who, with Brain Hodgson and Malcolm Clarke running viewers through the equipment used to mix music into the show. Another gem from the archives.
Trailer: Hot damn, we remember this one from the time! Yep, the Daleks have suffered heavy losses, and Davros is not happy! It’s an advert for the show so good that it would have had anyone fortunate to own a video at the time running to set the timer.
The Last Dalek: As featured in the Lost in Time box set, this is Tony Cornell’s fascinating film showing the shooting the Patrick Troughton epic, Evil of the Daleks, with down-to-earth commentary by designers Michealjohn Harris and Peter Day. With the last episode as unlikely to be found as Lord Lucan, this is an incredible look at what has been lost, and the original fate of the metallic monsters. If you haven’t seen it, then we strongly urge you to do so.
TARDIS Cam no.4: Remember when these little snippets opened the door to the possibilities of an adequately-funded universe for The Doctor? Well, in the wake of Nu-Who, what better time that to relive those times when both anything seemed possible and everything looked a long way off.
Audio Commentary: Featuring Davros actor Terry Molloy, Eric Saward, Effects Designer Peter Wragg and moderated by Nick Pegg, this is a much drier track than the one gracing the previous disc, but offers a wealth of information for those hungry to know more. Up for discussion is how the gruesome makeup for unfortunate soldiers prompted complaints, including a terse letter to the Radio Times, but was simply the result of the effects artist getting a bit carried away. With the number of deaths in the story being to high, it’s suggested that a little counter be put in the corner of the screen to keep up! We hear of Terry Nation’s rejection of the project, getting the wrong end of the stick after Douglas Adams’ famous line given to Tom Baker about stairs. Wragg pretty much closes the proceedings with the perils of working with real machine guns, the spent cartridges a menace for anyone in proximity of their wildly unpredictable trajectory. It’s engrossing stuff, and a nice balance when put next to the cast track.
Isolated Music: Malcolm Clarke’s rather nice score for Resurrection of the Daleks is provided without the interference of thespians and other pesky distractions, Clarke’s music has an appropriately metallic quality to it, and what more praise can you heap on a composer than their music hits all the right dramatic notes and heightens every sequence it’s used in? After watching the piece with Clarke on Breakfast Time, we’ll bet that many will go straight to the piece shown on it and add another dimension by examining the material with just the score. Excellent stuff.
PDF Material: Not only do we get the listings for the original two-part version of the show, we are also treated to a reprint of an edition of John Craven’s Back Pages, entitled: The Exterminators Return. Superb, and nice to see a little more PDF material than we’ve been getting lately.
Well, there you have it. This is the definitive release for one of Davison’s finest hours, or at least his most action-packed story, anyway. Every fan has their own unshakeable opinion of each tale, and there’s no point trying to change minds on the subject. We’ll just say that it’s a hell of a lot of fun, with the departure of a companion which comes almost as much of a shock as Adric getting offed and a level of violence which would leave the youngest viewers of Nu-Who not so much hiding behind the sofa as swiftly heading for counselling.
The extras are plentiful, with real insight into the Davison era and a trawl through the archives which helps to put the story and times it was made into context. 2Entertain really have pulled out all the stops, and truly dedicated fans will appreciate the first time they have been able to get their mitts on the two-part edition Resurrection of the Daleks. This set isn’t just putting a new hat on Malibu Stacy.
A sterling upgrade and highly recommended.
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 28th March 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Aspect: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Mono
Extras: 2x Audio Commentaries, Casting Far & Wide, On Location, Extended & Deleted Scenes, Breakfast Time, Trailer, The Last Dalek, TARDIS Cam No 4, Isolated Music Score, Coming Soon Trailer, PDF Materials, Info-Text, Come In Number Five, Tommorrow's Times - The Fifth Doctor, Walrus, Photo Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: Matthew Robinson
Cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Terry Molloy, Dirty Den
Length: 100 minutes
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