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Docotor Who - Remembrance of the Daleks

BBC Worldwide // Unrated // April 2, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted August 23, 2002 | E-mail the Author
The Seventh Doctor and Ace arrive in 1963 London. While helping the military the Doctor finds that his old nemesis, the Daleks, are up to their usual nefarious business. While their mother ship orbits above the Earth, the Daleks have taken over school and use it as a transport base. The Doctor believes that the Daleks are on Earth searching for a powerful artifact called The Hand of Omega that he left behind. What the Doctor didn't count on is that there are two factions of Daleks vying for the Hand.

Remembrance of the Daleks (1987) marked not only a good Doctor Who adventure but one with an air of nostalgia. Throughout this tale of Daleks wobbling their way to domination of the universe and the eradication of Time Lords, there are some nice (The Doc making a Pertwee-like gadget) and heavy-handed (a tv set about to play the original, first Who episode) references to the shows history. The timeline is such that the events in the show coincide shortly after the first appearance of the Doc, and the school where the first elderly Doctors "granddaughter" attended is a key location... And, of course any appearance by the Daleks, the series most popular villain, usually had high expectations and thus more attention paid to delivering a good story. And here the concept of a Dalek race war, with hints touching upon our own early 60's sad state of civil rights, provides an interesting evolution in the development of the Daleks

Sylvester McCoy's tenure as the Doctor was surely the one most plagued by ill circumstances- He was the last tv series Doctor. His was the first replacement Doctor due to the previous actor being fired. His Doctor's personality saw a pretty drastic shift in characterization, (so odd in another review I had trouble coming up with a one word description, so I just went with the generic title "eccentric."). And, one assumes, during his time Doctor Who had lost any of its champions in the BBC programming department since, at the first dip in ratings, it was unceremoniously canceled after 26 years on television... Remembrance marked the start of McCoy's second season and saw the first sings of a shift from a buffonish Doctor do a more dark and mysterious one. I think the Doctor can have almost any kind of personality, be it clownish, sullen, egotistical, whatever, and even behave in questionable ways (opposed to his other incarnations) as long as the essential trait- that he is alien- is there. That's why the mid-90's Fox/BBC speculative revival film made the biggest, flat-out, dumbest error in Doctor Who's history, having him state he was half-human, because it betrays, in my opinion, the core of what makes him interesting. Remembrance does contain what is considered to be a questionable decision on the Doctor's part and hints at a more luminary background. But with every Doctor there is change, and with the right development, perhaps, had the series not been canceled we could have seen more of these loose strands defined.

The DVD: BBC Worldwide

Picture: Standard 1.33:1. For most of its run Doctor Who used a combination of video for studio shoots and film (16mm) for location work. I'm unsure exactly when, but all of the McCoy's I have seen were video only. So, sometime in the mid-eighties video production had gotten to the point that all of Doctor Who was shot on video... Anyway, I have to say that the image here looks quite better than the McCoy era Who vhs I've seen, which I thought looked horrible. Remeberance of the Daleks is as sharp, deep, and as colorful as older video production can get. There is some very, very minor edge enhancement that, in most cases, will take and eagle eye to spot.

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. According to the text info this was the first Doctor Who episode to be broadcast in stereo, and it is a fair enough track- delivers the goods. Oddly there is an isolated music track. I say 'oddly' because, while extras are always welcome especially the not often done isolated music track, the music on Remembrance is very dated 80's synth. It even uses the old break dancing "clap" effect, so I half expected the Doctor to start busting a move and doing the robot. Doctor Who: Electric Boogaloo

Extras: Episode and Chapter Selections--- BBC Trailers for episodes one and two--- Who's Who cast and character bios--- BBC Trailers for episodes one and two--- Photo Gallery--- Alternative Angles for two scenes--- Out-takes Compilation. Funny, nice lighthearted blooper clips, including Sophie Aldred giving a non-stunt Dalek a beating like she was a member of the Baseball Furies.--- On-Screen Production Notes subtitle option.--- Alternate/Deleted Scenes. Nice assemblages of scenes, including a great extended conversation as the Doctor mulls over what to do about the Dalek threat.--- Audio Commentary with actors Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). Easily one of the more entertaining and interested Doctor Who commentaries (so far Peter Davidson wins as best Doc commentator on Caves of Androzani and The Five Doctors is my favorite Who commentary-period). Aldred is probably the most talkative. Aldred and McCoy playfully trade jokes and remain casual while keeping the commentary moving with nice anecdotes.

Conclusion: Well, I have now seen every current (US) Doctor Who DVD release, and I have to say this is the one with the best extras. Really, you could even forgo the usual Doc DVD extras (Who's Who, still gallery, text subs, trailers) and with just the triumvirate of good commentary, interesting deleted/alternate scenes, and fun out-takes this disc would be a winner.

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Highly Recommended

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