The 25th Season of Doctor Who kicked off with one
of the best Sylvester McCoy adventures featuring his most popular foes,
Daleks. With a new companion, Ace, and a
fairly large budget, the story was pretty exciting and had a lot for
fans to enjoy,
along with several flaws and plot holes that irritatingly make it less
could have been. The story was
originally released in the US
in 2002, but this newly restored version boasts a new set of bonus
So, why re-release this story when there are so many
adventures that haven't arrived on DVD yet?
The answer is a bit convoluted. Originally
released in the UK
in 2001, Remembrance of the Daleks
was one of the first Doctor Who releases, and there were some mistakes
the restoration: some special effects
were left out, and (through no fault of the restoration team) a pair of
songs had to be replaced due to rights issues.
The missing SFX shots were quickly replaced for the Region 1
2002) but the fans living in the UK had to live with the
Flash forward to 2007.
The Restoration Team, not happy with their first attempt at this
starts from scratch and restores the whole thing again for a big Davros
set (that was sadly never released in the US.)
Not only are they able to fix the SFX cockup, but due to a new
agreement, they can include the Beatles songs!
In 2009 this new edition is released by itself in the UK. Across the pond, we have to wait until 2010
to get the new version, but, since the licensing agreement with the
only good for the UK,
the two songs by the Fab Four are replaced with cover versions. The upshot is that now Region One buyers can
get the updated image restoration, but it's still not totally perfect.
As for the story itself, it's a great adventure that
unfortunately has some major flaws.
Landing in London
in 1963 (very soon after he originally left in the very first episode)
Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) run into some military
scientists investigating a magnetic anomaly.
They're soon called off to an old junk yard where a Dalek is
having killed a soldier. With a lot of
help from the Doctor the single Dalek is disposed of, but that's only
of a much larger plan. The Daleks are
looking for The Hand of Omega, a Gallifreyan device that was
letting that race gain control of time.
It was something that the Doctor left on Earth when he abruptly
back in November of 1963, and now he's returned just in time to claim
the Daleks do.
The plot is made more interesting by the fact that there are
actually two Dalek groups after the Hand, the silver Daleks lead by the
Emperor, and a faction of renegade Daleks, creatures that have not
far as their shiny counterparts. These
two groups are in a war, and both hope to get the Hand in order to give
distinct advantage over their enemy. Of
course the Doctor knows where the Hand is, but he's not eager to stop
from taking it... as a mater of fact, that's exactly what he wants.
There's a lot to like about this serial, and I'll start with
that. Writer Ben Aaronovitch did a good
job making the Doctor's character darker and even a bit mysterious, and
a lot of small jokes that fans will enjoy without making it too obvious. (The junkyard is the same one (though
misspelled) that the Tardis was originally discovered in during An
Child, the school at the heart of the mystery is the same one Susan
attending, etc.) If you're not a big fan
and don't know the history, you'll miss the jokes but not be confused
all. They're subtle and fit in with the
story. And, most of all, we finally see
a Dalek levitate up a flight of stairs!! Woo-hoo.
This story also has a lot of action that's really
exciting. Seeing Ace destroy a Dalek
with a super-powered baseball bat is fun, and the Dalek vs. Dalek
great. The Special Weapons Dalek was
also very cool and really kicked some ass.
The thing I think I enjoyed about this adventure the most
however was that the Doctor was in control just about the whole time. There are a lot of serials where he's simply
reacting to events as they unfold, like a leaf that is being carried
away by a
stream. Here he's anticipating what's
going to happen and does something about it.
He doesn't come up with a plan on the fly; he's had one from the
beginning. The Doctor is also darker in
this story, almost ruthless.
Unfortunately there were some aspects of the show that
really didn't work and really mar the whole production.
The first is the incidental music. To
put it simply, Keff McCulloch's music
sucks. It's trying to be hip and groovy,
cool music for the 80's so that teens will tune in, but listening to it
it's just painful.
The romantic relation between Ace and the young handsome
Sergeant didn't work for me at all... it was just clunky and seemed
The Daleks still act stupid, unfortunately. They
always do, but it's just more irritating
here. The biggest strike against them is
when they're chasing Ace through the school, shooting at her and
"Exterminate!" as they do so well. When
a trio of the creatures finally does manage to corner her, do they
shoot her? No.
Instead they just close in and repeat "Exterminate!" over and
Finally, there are several continuity errors that are really
galling. No one heard or saw the Dalek
shuttle land the first time (before episode one)??
When it lands in the third episode it made a
huge noise and blew out windows. Or
about when the Doctor and Ace run up to a military truck and the
they've never met before, and he just gives them a shoulder-mounted
launcher??! Of course the Doctor had to
sign for it, but that's all.
What happens at the end?
The Doctor tells the final Black Dalek that he (the Doctor) has
destroyed the invasion fleet. So it
spins about in circles and then blows up.
WTF? What about the creepy
girl? How can she shoot lighting from
her hands? Why does she die at the
end? None of that makes any sense, but
it sure ends the story quickly.
One more thing... The doctor was supposed to have planned
everything from the beginning? He
purposely left the Hand of Omega behind on Earth when he left with Ian
Barbara in the very first episode as a trap to destroy the Daleks,
right? But he didn't even know that the
existed then. If you're going to have
fun with continuity, you can't break it too.
Oh yeah, and what happens to the Thalls living on Skaro??
I'll admit that the last couple of continuity errors are
easy to overlook, but the first couple really bring the story down.
Having said that, this story does have one of my favorite
scenes from any episode of the classic Doctor Who.
There's a part where the Doctor is trying to
decide if he should let his plan go through to fruition.
He goes into a café and orders some tea and
tries to decide if he should have sugar with it. Anyone
who says that Sylvester McCoy was
lousy as the Doctor needs only look at this scene to see that he did
This new version comes on two discs that are contained in a
single-width double keepcase.
This disc includes the original stereo audio track (though the back cover lists it as mono) as well as
a newly created made 5.1 track and an isolated music track (for
only) but they're hidden. For some
reason there isn't an audio sub menu on the main screen.
Instead you have to search for these in the
extras menu, where they're located on the second page of bonus material. In addition to that, the technical specs
on the back of the DVD case only lists the mono track, which is a bit
you ask me. In any case, both tracks
sound good, but I preferred the 5.1 for the action scenes, especially
the battle between the rival Dalek factions under the bridge. Great stuff.
The 1.33:1 image looks very good. I did a
comparison with the earlier release
and there is a definite improvement. The
colors are a bit brighter and more solid, the flesh tones are just a
realistic, and the image seems to be a bit sharper.
It's not a night-and-day difference, but this
new restoration does look better.
There are a host of extras included on this release (all on
disc one save the last item), like usual, and I always enjoy digging
They've ported over the commentary track by Sylvester McCoy
(The Doctor) and Sophie Aldred (Ace), from the earlier release which is
but not outstanding. There's nothing
really wrong with it, I was never really engaged while it was playing
There are a couple of new featurettes. The
first is Back to School (36 min) where the cast and
crew reminisce about the
filming and what they thought of the serial.
This was very good, and they even go to some of the original
sets and show what they look like today.
In Remembrances (15 min) - The
cast and crew point out all of the hidden 'in' jokes and references to
other Doctor Who stories that are contained in
this serial. It's fun to see how many
you can spot.
Following that up are a series of extended and deleted scenes
(12 min) and outtakes (4 min). There's a
pair of Multi-Angle Sequences where
you can switch between two cameras filming the same scene as it's
playing, a Photo Gallery, Radio Times
and Continuity (the bumpers before and after the show) and the
famous Production Information Subtitles that
fill you in on everything you'd want to know about the creation of the
really like these.)
Disc two only has one extra:
Davros Connections (43 min) a
featurette that was originally included in the UK Darvos set. This looks at the evil genius who created the
Daleks and traces his journey through the TV series and through the Big
audio books, especially I, Davros.
While I had not heard the audio plays, this special
didn't really do much for me. It went
over the things I new from the show and talked to both actors who had
the role and writers who had worked with the character.
There were a lot of spoilers if you haven't
seen all of his appearances yet, which may make novice fans what to
but if you're an old time fan you know most of his story.
This is easily one of the best Sylvester McCoy stories, but
it's marred by a few problems that keep it from being truly great. Well worth picking up if you don't have a copy
already, and so this gets a strong Recommended
rating. If you have the earlier release
however, I'm not sure if it's worth the upgrade. The
version includes the effects shots that the UK
release missed, and that's a big
thing. The improved image quality is
nice, but the earlier released didn't look bad by any stretch of the
imagination. The new featurettes are
nice too, but how often are you going to watch them?
If it were me, I'd pass on the double dip
this time around, but it largely depends on how much you want the bonus
and the improvement in video quality.