Another short and sweet two part adventure from Peter
Davison's tenure as The Doctor, The
Awakening is a decent story that's mainly hampered by the short run
time. It has a lot going for it though,
including some nice locations shots, a nice (for Doctor Who)
looking villain, and a cast of supporting characters
that really look like they're enjoying themselves.
Traveling into the past after dealing with the Silurians in Warriors
of the Deep, the Doctor,
Turlough, and Tegan decide to pay a visit to Tegan's grandfather in the
1984. When they arrive however,
something is amiss. He lives in the village of Little Hodcombe where a
battle was fought during the English civil war way back in 1643, and
in celebrating the anniversary of the conflict by staging a reenactment. The only thing is that people are taking it
way too seriously. Not content to just
play soldier, they plan on having a real battle and they're going to
the festivities by burning the May Queen at the stake.
This is all happening because of the Malus, a demon-like
entity that is creating a psychic link between 1984 and 1643. He needs the villagers to slaughter each
other for... well, some good reason I'm sure, and it's up to The Doctor
to stop it.
This story had a lot of potential, and it is pretty good as
it stands, but it just falls under the 'average' category.
On the plus side are the good costumes and
exteriors settings, the BBC certainly knows how to stage authentic
period pieces. The story also has some
nice aspects, including a cool stone face monster that breaths smoke.
The main drawback is the short running time. This
story was originally intended as a
four-part adventure and in cutting it back to half that length a lot of
holes were created. I never did get a
good handle on the Malus and what his intentions were.
They did make an off-hand remark that he was
the spearhead of an invasion, but why wait 350 years to start the plan? Why didn't the original battle fulfill
need it had? Oh yeah, and what type of
race sends out an immobile soldier to wreak havoc in advance of an
invasion? I'm sure these questions (and
many, many more) would have been fleshed out if they had a little bit
The mono soundtrack is very good. It's
clean and clear with no hiss or
background noise to take away from the story.
The dialog is easy to discern and the background music and
never overpowering. Being a mono track,
there's really not much more to say about it.
The full frame video has been cleaned up by the Restoration
Team and looks fine though not stunning.
There's only so much you can do with 27 year old video tape. Some scenes are a bit soft, but generally the
image is clean and the colors are fine. There
is a section where guards with red capes enter a room, and the bright
blooms pretty noticeably. That was the
biggest defect however. If you've seen
the other restored Davison era stories, then you'll know what to expect.
Even with a (arguably) minor two-part story, the BBC has
come up with some nice extras. Honestly,
no one would have blamed them if they had released this as a bare bones
but I'm really glad they went the extra mile to create some added
content. First off is a commentary tracks,
one with director
Michael Owen Morris and script editor Eric Seward moderated by Toby
Hadoke. This track, lacking the
participation of any of the actors, was a bit dry.
It didn't have the humor and energy that's
present on a lot of the other Doctor Who commentary tracks. They talk about the locations and shooting,
and discuss how this serial differs from the new Doctor Who. Overall, it was okay, but you won't miss a
lot if you skip it.
That's followed by a trio of
featuettes. Return to Little
Hodcombe (19 minutes) is a making-of piece where
they interview the crew as well as some of the natives from the
this story was recorded. It's a fun bit,
especially seeing some of the pictures with the cast posing with the
locals. Making the Malus
(7 min) is a short bit on how the main villain of
the piece was created. They managed to
track down the prop face, which was in surprisingly good condition, in
private collection and had the creators describe how the created the
demonic being. Now and Then
(7 min) revisits the shooting locations to see how
little they've changed.
In addition to that there are nine minutes worth of deleted
scenes (including a piece with Kamelion) and a clip from the Golden Egg Awards where Doctor Who is
honored for an outtake
that's not really all that funny.
The story also comes with an optional pop up trivia tracks
that's filled with information. Some of
it is minutia, the date the episodes were filmed and ever the time that
shoots wrapped, but also background info on the supporting and
characters and it points out on screen gaffs.
These are wonderful. There's also
a photo gallery, the Radio Times listings (in .pdf format) and an
This is a decent story hampered only by the fact that
several plot points were trimmed when they reduced the story from four
to two. There is something nice about
these short two-parters that occurred during Davison's tenure, they're
and to the point and can be a lot of fun as long as you don't analyze