The BBC released Carnival of Monsters on DVD for the first time in the US
back in 2003. Now they've revisited the
serial for a second
time and put it out in Special Edition format with more bonus features
tweaked image courtesy the Restoration Team.
This Jon Pertwee adventure is a fun romp with some nice twists
turns, a few horrible monsters, and an over-the-top conman who really
show. The new extra features are a nice
At the end of the previous serial, the Time Lords released
The Doctor from his exile on Earth, giving him a new dematerialization
returning all of his knowledge of time travel.
Naturally he wants to take the TARDIS for a spin, so he whisks
Jo off to
the Blue Planet, Metebelis Three. Or
that's where he thought he was going.
When they materialize they're in the hull of a freighter ship,
Bernice, which is traveling through the Indian Ocean to Bombay in 1923. The Doctor can't believe they're on
Earth. It's just not possible, yet that's
where they appear to be.
But appearances can be deceiving and in this case they
are. The Doctor and Jo have materialized
inside of a Miniscope, an outlawed device that shrinks several species,
each in a separate, natural, environment, and then displays they're
a screen for the amusement of on-lookers.
This Miniscope is owned by a traveling showman/conman named Vorg
Dwyer) and has his attractive assistant Shirma (Cheryl Hall). They are the very first aliens to be allowed
to land on the paranoid planet Inter Minor since an interplanetary war
and years ago. Vorg is greeted by a
whose three members think he might be a spy, especially once they learn
brought alien monsters with him inside of the Miniscope.
At first the tribunal is thinking of just
killing Vorg and everything in the Miniscope, but then one of the
brother of the ruling president, sees how he can use the situation to
advantage and take over.
Meanwhile The Doctor has figured out that something is amiss
and manages to escape from the SS Bernice and into the interior of the
Miniscope. He and Jo wander around until
they discover what might be an exit.
Unfortunately it turns out to be an entrance to another
that houses Drashigs, a vicious carnivore that will track anything that
scents until it has captured it. The
Doctor and Jo do manage to escape back in to the Miniscope, but so do
I really enjoyed this adventure. It's not
deep or important to The Doctor's
continuity, but it's light and fun. We
get to see The Doctor running around a giant circuit board and running
monster slug puppets. What's not to
like? The Miniscope was a neat idea and
they used it well. At one point Vorg is
showing the various creatures he has encased in the machine and he
of a Cyberman and an Ogron, which is a nice touch.
Leslie Dwyer who played the carny Vorg was great and really
added a lot to the show. Dressed in a
loud outfit and a transparent hat, he threw himself into the role with
a hammy verve
that's funny and entertaining. Every
time he's on the screen the show is interesting.
It's only too bad that this is a four-parter. They
could have easily made it into six
episodes by adding another world or two for The Doctor and Jo to
might have been fun.
This release is a two-disc affair. The five-episode story is on disc
the second one is reserved for the bulk of the special features.
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
I was pleased with the full frame color image. The Restoration
their usual top-notch job, though it's not significantly better than
original release back from 2003. I have
seen that one, though I didn't have it on hand to do a side-by-side
and I don't recall there being too much difference in image quality. This disc looks nice with solid colors, tight
lines, and nice detail.
This two-disc SE has the extras from the original release and adds a
new ones too. First there are two
commentary tracks. The first, from the
2003 release, features Katy Manning and Barry Letts and the second has
of the actors featured in this adventure, Peter Halliday, Cheryl Hall,
McCracken as well as special sound effects creator Brian Hodgson. There's also an unrestored, alternate edit of
the second episode that was accidently sent to Australia. It's slightly longer and features a new
version of the Doctor Who theme song that was nixed by the BBC execs
somehow ended up on this installment anyway.
Next is a making-of featurette that runs 23 minutes. They do the usually top-notch job tracking
down people who worked on this show both in front of and behind the
discuss the genesis and filming of the story.
The late Ian Marter, who played Harry Sullivan in the early
Tom Baker episodes, has a smaller supporting role in this serial and
nice tribute to him and his work on Doctor
Who: On Target with Ian
Several of his friends and colleges, including tom Baker and the
recently deceased Elisabeth Sladen reminisce about the actor and scribe
several Doctor Who novelizations. It's a
nice, touching, piece.
The A-Z of Gadets and
Gizmos is an 11-minute look at the tech items used in the series,
alright, while Mary Celeste, an
18-minute discussion of ships lost at sea is a bit of a waste. It is only tangentially related to the show
and I didn't find it very interesting.
The extras from the older release include some raw
behind-the-scenes filming of the show that runs 2-minutes and is very
interesting, 8-minutes worth of model tests (they get boring after a
I'm glad they included them), a trailer to a Doctor Who marathon on the
special effects demo reel, and a very slightly altered ending.
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
storyboard comparison, a trailer for the story, a photo gallery, and
listing from the Radio Times in .pdf format.
A fun Jon Pertwee story, Carnival of
Monsters has a lot of what I enjoy about the classic Doctor Who:
ideas for a children's show, some enjoyable bad guys, a supporting
steals several scenes, and a last-minute rescue. On
top of that, this new Special Edition has
a nice selection of new bonus items. It's
a good time and well worth watching. Recommended.