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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Sylvester McCoy, Sohie Aldred
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Isolated music score
  • Photo gallery
  • 2 TV spot
  • 2 Multiple angle - Not as part of the feature.
  • Outtakes
  • Trivia track - Subtitle information

Doctor Who - Remembrance of the Daleks

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

I'm going to go out on a limb here and risk upsetting many Dr Who fans, but as much as I love Dr Who, I can't say I love this story or much else about the show in its final few seasons. I will go into some of the reasons why in just a minute, so flamers hear me out.

Dr Who - Remembrance of the Daleks is fondly remembered by many fans and has topped several "Favourite Story" type polls, and Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor) and Sophie Aldred (the companion, Ace), are quite likeable in their roles. Although this was the first time the pair had worked together in a full story with Ace as a companion, there is an obvious chemistry between them as characters and actors, confirmed when listening to their commentary. The problem is, well, just about everything that was once charming and fun has deteriorated into parody and forced humour, with weak and under developed storylines.

Dr Who is well loved by fans as much for its faults as its strong points. Great imaginations combined with cheap special effects, rubber monsters, wobbly sets and more wooden actors than a cheap carnival ride came together to create a television show that ran for over 30 years. So why do I think it all went wrong?

One of the main reasons is the quality of the writing. In the 1970s, writers created stories that were more about monsters and adventure. In the later seasons, writers seemed more intent on increasingly complex and less likely storylines, all the while pushing various moral issues. While this isn't a bad thing in itself, it meant less focus was given to character development. Similarly, where writers in the '70s wrote stories that contained something for children and adults, the later writers seemed more intent on writing only for children (cliché ridden), and continuity and believability suffered greatly. In Dr Who - Remembrance of the Daleks, the lead actors are strong and charismatic, but many of the supporting actors are stilted and the characters shallow, never questioning even once who the Doctor is and why he is interfering. Without hesitation, they let him take control. This would never have happened to Tom Baker's Doctor who regularly had to talk his way out of trouble before taking control of the situation.

The atmosphere is different in the later stories such as Dr Who - Remembrance of the Daleks and even things like the music seem inappropriate, cold, mechanical - and loud. Set in 1963 at the scene of the very first Doctor Who story (looking for the various clues and links is fun) it is in some ways a continuation of that very first story. It seems the Daleks are keen to get their hands (suckers? stalks?) on the Hand Of Omega which the Doctor left hidden on a previous visit. It will reveal many of the secrets of The Time Lords that would make the Daleks even more powerful and deadly.

OK, enough bagging. There are no surprises here for even the most casual of Dr Who fans, but it does have the Daleks who are always good fun. The storyline is aimed mostly at children and has more holes that Swiss cheese (it's amazing how many characters become Dalek experts in the space of a few minutes). The storyline jumps about, and characters, as well as being underdeveloped, perform actions that are out of character or are poorly explained and not justified. However, adults and kids should still find something here that they will enjoy. I just need more convincing that we are getting the best and strongest Dr Who stories on DVD.

  Video
Contract

Filmed for TV (and broadcast in stereo for the first time) in 1988, this is a fair transfer presented in full frame and not 16x9 enhanced - and NTSC. You will therefore need to have an NTSC compatible set up. Apparently there is a copyright issue with some of the original background music. A number of contemporary songs were unable to be used in versions outside of the UK, and rather than spend money on another PAL version for Region 4, we are given the Region 1 NTSC version. Done - and we have been.

Consequently, the image varies in clarity between quite clear and slightly blurred. Shadow detail varies and the few very dark scenes are lacking detail. In the well-lit outdoor scenes, shadow detail is noticeably better. Colours are generally good, and flesh tones consistent. There is no evidence of low-level noise or chroma noise, though some cross-colourisation is evident.

One of the more frequent problems is aliasing, with too many examples to mention. Almost anything with a straight edge seems to be affected, even window panes and the Daleks themselves. There are no examples of film artefacts however, and only some mild grain affects this relatively clean transfer.

Thankfully, the layer change must be placed between episodes and therefore it's not disruptive.

  Audio
Contract

There are three audio tracks and all are Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The first is the English dialogue; the others are dedicated to the commentary and isolated music score, but more about them later.

As expected, there is nothing impressive about the audio. It gets the job done adequately and there are no problems with clarity or synchronisation. Only the left and right front speakers are used and there is little noticeable separation even though it is a stereo presentation.

As mentioned, the often-inappropriate incidental music is a little loud and rather than compliment the scene and build the tension, is actually quite jarring. The all-new title sequence has also been reworked for the seventh Doctor and while more electronic sounding than earlier seasons, is still instantly recognisable.

  Extras
Contract

Folks, get ready for another fine collection of extras with this Dr Who release.

Deleted Scenes collects deleted or extended scenes but they are only of limited interest.

Outtakes is four minutes of fluffed lines, actors tripping over and amusing prop problems.

Multi-Angle Scenes includes two scenes that can be viewed from either of two angles in their entirety or by jumping from angle to angle.

BBC Trailers are two television spots from 1988 advertising Episodes One and Two of the Doctor's 'exciting new adventure'.

Music-Only Option allows you to play the incidental music while the action takes place on screen sans vocals and sound effects. Maybe it's just me, but the long pauses make this hard to listen to.

On-Screen Production Notes are subtitles that flash on the screen regularly and cover all manner of trivia from cast appearances to locations, continuity errors and other assorted snippets.

Commentary is provided by Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. It is one of those 'Oh yes I remember him' type commentaries with a few pauses the closer you get to the end of Episode Four. However the actors' fondness for the show shines through and in conjunction with the On-Screen Production Notes this is entertaining through to the end.

Cast Biographies is a mix of character and actor information and quite informative and interesting.

Photo Gallery is, well, a gallery of photos. Not overly interesting unless you like looking at photos I guess.

  Overall  
Contract

No doubt by now there are die-hard fans who are already piecing together counter arguments to point out the error of my ways. I am fine with this, but I would ask them, "Is this story the best Dalek story made?" and I think many will agree that it is not. It's not bad, it's not unwatchable, it just lacks a great storyline such as the earlier Dalek stories enjoyed. It is almost as if enemies such as the Daleks and Cybermen were dragged out when the ratings began to slip. This is a shame, as they were great foes and should have been treated as more than ratings winners. There are many individuals responsible for Dr Who and all believed then, as they do now, that Dr Who deserves its place in history. It does, but there are many other stories I feel deserve the full DVD treatment more than this one. Still, the extras are an added incentive to buy, or at the very least, rent Dr Who – Remembrance Of The Daleks

On a final and sad note, long-time Dr Who staffer from 1969 and producer from 1979 to 1989, John Nathan-Turner, died on April 30 2002 after a brief illness. Loved by many for the way he evolved Dr Who, and hated by others for the very same reason, his dedication to the show will be missed.


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      And I quote...
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