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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • 2 Additional footage - Alternate ending, Alternate opening credits
  • Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer - The Five Faces of Dr Who
  • Audio commentary - Barry Letts, Katy Manning
  • 3 Featurette - Test sequences, SFX explained, New SFX sequence
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Trivia track - Subtitled text

Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters

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

  Feature
Contract

It's been a few months since the last Doctor Who adventure was released on DVD, and the wait has been worth it. The effort put into this release is obvious, in both the quality of the transfer and in the range and number of extras included. 1972's Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters continues the high standards set by previous releases and is another must have for Doctor Who lovers.

Fresh from having his freedom reinstated by the Time Lords, the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning), on another of the Doctor's TARDIS test flights, arrive on the cargo ship SS Bernice, which is just two days out from arriving in Bombay. The Doctor remembers this ship as a kind of Marie Celeste, and that it disappeared without trace on June 3, 1926. Accused of being stowaways, they are locked in a cabin but soon escape, and are stumped as the crew not only no longer recognise them, but keep on repeating their actions and conversations a la Groundhog Day. Even the large plesiosaur that rises from the sea to attack the ship seems happy to play out the same drama over and over.

Being a clever-clogs, the Doctor deduces that they are trapped in an intergalactic peepshow relic called a miniscope. The "Scope" is the property of two Lurmans, Vorg (Leslie Dwyer) and his assistant, the bubbly Shirna (Cheryl Hall), a pair of carnival types who travel the galaxies 'entertaining' the masses with their Scope. Vorg and Shirna are on the planet Inter Minor, trying their hardest to gain entry as they have spent their last credit bars on the passage there. The officials are not sure what to make of them or the Scope.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Jo have managed to break out of the SS Bernice compartment of the Scope and straight into the 'cage' that holds the Drashigs, huge omnivorous creatures that eat anything, especially meat. They never give up on a scent, and they have smelled the Doctor and Jo.

The Doctor manages to escape from the machine and right into a political coup, with the protagonists hoping to use the Scope as their weapon. They plan to let the Drashigs escape; proving the reigning leader has lost control. The Doctor is going to have a very tough time to keep everyone happy, whilst saving the lives of the occupants trapped in the Scope, including Jo.

It is very easy to dismiss Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters as another cheaply made, poor excuse for science fiction kids show - and you'd be half right. It is cheaply made, and even blind Freddy could see that the Minorians are wearing rubber swimming caps, the Drashigs are simply hand puppets, and the CSO (Colour Separation Overlay) special effects are, well they're crap. Do yourself a favour though and look past this, even if it is half the charm of Doctor Who. The story is another gem from writer Robert Holmes, producer Barry Letts and their team. The acting is good, especially that of Pertwee who was into his fourth season, and his strong off-screen friendship with Manning translates well on-screen.

The story has been well cast, and the costumes are great fun, especially the carnival-like Lurmans, Vorg and Shirna.

Everything is here to make this DVD a worthy addition to any Doctor Who fan's library, right down to the packaging and menus which are consistent with all previous releases. This is great fun, a great DVD and great value.

  Video
Contract

Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters is presented in a full frame aspect ratio and therefore is not 16x9 enhanced. This is another great job from the BBC's Doctor Who Restoration Team. The overall image is very sharp and clear, and colours are solid, bright and even. There is no colour bleeding or cross-colouration, nor chroma noise. There are not many areas of black in this brightly-lit adventure, and shadow detail is good.

There are no artefacts such as dirt and dust, and no evidence of other glitches, Film artefacts are almost non-existent and film to video artefacts such as alaising are all but missing. The only let down is the cheap and early '70s special effects, but these are not a result of the transfer and something fans have come to love.

There is no layer change, as it's most likely positioned between episodes. The Doctor Who releases are getting quite a reputation as quality transfers and this is no exception.

  Audio
Contract

As with most Doctor Who DVDs, this is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and as such there is nothing overly special to report. Dialogue is clear and in synch and there are no drop outs. The incidental music is provided by main music man Dudley Simpson and is a great mix of electronica and weird sound effects. There is a very slight background hiss that is just noticeable in the silent passages.

The commentary is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and is loud and clear. There is no action for anything other than the front speakers, but the general lack of sound effects means that this is not particularly missed.

  Extras
Contract

Again there is a nice collection of extras simply increasing the interest and value factors. All are presented in a full frame aspect ratio.

  • Audio Commentary: This is a great commentary from Katy Manning and Barry Letts. They are obviously having fun, able to laugh at all the right moments and reveal some interesting memories. At last, a cast-member that can says more than "Oh, I remember so-and-so!", Katy Manning provides some genuine insight into being a Doctor Who regular.

  • Extended and Deleted Scenes: Included here are one deleted and two extended scenes that last a total of 3:54. They are not overly exciting, but then these things seldom are. These scenes were actually shown in Australia by mistake, after the BBC initially sent out the wrong copy of the film back in 1972.

  • Behind the Scenes - Looking In: Originally screened in 1972, this 1:45 minute snippet was part of the BBC's 50th Anniversary celebrations.

  • Model Sequences: This is 4:23 of poorly coloured 16mm visual effects of the Drashig puppets and spacecraft landing sequences.

  • CSO Demo: This is introduced by Barry Letts and explains, in a little over three minutes, how CSO is used to create special effects. This possibly impressed at one time, but by today's standards is very unimpressive.

  • Delaware Original Title Sequence: As part of the tenth anniversary celebrations, a new version of the familiar theme tune was commissioned, but thankfully abandoned. There were also new opening and closing credits that were also ditched; though some early versions of episode two did have the new tune accidentally included. It's starting to sound like Episode Two was a stuff up all around.

  • The Five Faces of Doctor Who. The BBC, always looking for a way to promote something they've already shown, decided in 1981 to run five Doctor Who adventures featuring the five Doctors to that point. This is the trailer used by the BBC to promote the idea, and includes Carnival of Monsters.

  • Alternate Ending: Upon its rerun in 1981, producer Barry Letts decided to cut 44 seconds from the last episode due mainly to one of the actors' rubber bald-caps coming off. The alternate ending is included here and is actually a better conclusion.

  • Photo Gallery: This is self-navigating and includes stills from the commentary session.

  • Production Subtitles: Another trivia track that flashes all manner of titbits on the bottom of the screen. When viewed with the commentary, it's a great way to brush up on your Doctor Who trivia for the next anorak quiz night.

  • TARDIS-Cam no. 2: It seems the BBC are still keen to produce new Doctor Who visual effects using modern techniques. If only they were commissioned to produce a whole new adventure.

  • Easter Eggs. A little hard to find (see our Easter egg page) is a 30 second countdown to Carnival of Monsters, and a full opening title sequence lasting 45 seconds.

  Overall  
Contract

Phew - what a package! A great story, a lovingly restored transfer and enough extras to keep everyone handy - and even Easter eggs. If you've heard these are a great series of releases and are wondering if they are as good as you've heard, then rest assured, they are. For a wonderful dose of nostalgia, grab this, sit back and enjoy.


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      And I quote...
    "Rubber suits, glove puppets and cheap special effects? It must be Doctor Who right? It is, and it's fabulous..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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