Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

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Released 6-Mar-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Fiona Cumming, Chris Bidmead
Informational Subtitles
Featurette-Being Doctor Who
Featurette-Directing Castrovalva
Featurette-The Crowded TARDIS
Featurette-Blue Peter - Peter Davison
Featurette-Swap Shop - Peter Davison
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Trails and Continuities
Music Video-Theme Music Video
DVD-ROM Extras-1982 Doctor Who Annual
DVD-ROM Extras-Radio Times Billings
DVD-ROM Extras-Season 18 Sales Literature
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 96:21 (Case: 182)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Fiona Cumming

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Peter Davison
Janet Fielding
Sarah Sutton
Matthew Waterhouse
Anthony Ainley
Dallas Cavell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Box Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Having recently fallen to his death, well one of them at any rate, the Doctor (a fresh-faced Peter Davison) awakes to find himself surrounded by his companions Tegan, Adric and Nyssa. There's not much time for pleasantries, however, as a group of armed guards are on their way to arrest the four for trespassing onto a top secret science base. Worse still, the Doctor's latest regeneration hasn't taken quite as well as it normally should have and he is incredibly weak. Finally, the cherry atop this cake of disaster, the Master (Anthony Ainley) is still lurking about having just sent the Doctor to his last body's death.

    After a manic escape, the Doctor seals himself in a protective chamber of the TARDIS known as the Zero Room and leaves his companions to blindly pilot the TARDIS. The girls rely on Adric's mathematical mind to attempt to pilot them somewhere safe. Little do they realise that Adric has been kidnapped by the Master and replaced by a mindless dummy that is doing his bidding. The dummy Adric heads the crew to a world known as Castrovalva, a civilization that purports to offer the special kind of healing the Doctor requires to successfully complete his regeneration, before disappearing.

    Once on Castrovalva, Tegan and Nyssa spend some time running from the natives before they find themselves in the main citadel of Castrovalva. All this while carrying the Doctor in a protective casket made from the walls of the Zero Room. Alas, Castrovalva turns out not to be all it is cracked up to be... in fact it's all quite the opposite - the citadel is populated by a chaotic backward community and itself has a makeup similar to a warped M.C. Escher image of reality. No prizes for spotting that the episode was indeed named after an Escher drawing!

    Castrovalva is a bit of a misstep for the new Doctor, but one unfortunately indicative of much of Peter Davison's tenure (as Davison himself openly admits). The real problem is that, despite plenty of good ideas, the story is a downright mess. None of the different ideas really gel with one another and the awfully underwritten story frequently relies on infamous Doctor Who corridor running sequences to bridge the holes.

    Davison himself at least makes the most of the situation and does a good job of forming his own persona as Doctor. The Master is as hammy as ever though and has really overstayed his welcome by the end of the story.

    Castrovalva makes for some pretty middle-of-the-road Doctor Who. It is certainly not awful, but it is a big step down in quality from the preceding few seasons.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Castrovalva looks very good for a modest-budget show from 1982. The restoration team have done an excellent job returning these episodes to all their glory.

    The episodes are presented in their original 1.29:1 full frame aspect ratio.

    The episodes are sourced from a mix of 16mm and video and scenes from both different sources look surprisingly consistent and reasonably sharp. A modest degree of low level noise is present throughout, although it is rarely noticeable. Contrast levels and black levels are both excellent and very true to their intended source. The colour is very consistent, though a touch pale throughout.

    There are no significant MPEG compression related artefacts visible. A number of analogue video artefacts are noticeable, however, but none are terribly distracting (particularly to anyone used to the standard typically found in Doctor Who releases). The most noticeable being occasional comet trails and mild cross-colouration during those scenes that were shot on video (typically the in-studio scenes). A particularly good example of the comet trails occurs at 28:55.

    The English subtitles are white with a black border. Based on the section I sampled, they appear accurate and well-timed.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer change occurs between episodes 3 and 4, at 72:09.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    An English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kbps) audio track and a music-only Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kbps) audio track are available.

    The dialogue is clearly audible throughout and at a good level in the mix.

    The score is quite bold and composed from the kind of synth sounds usually associated with Doctor Who. A music only track is available. The score is crystal clear and well mixed in both the main audio track and the music-only track.

    There is modest pro-logic surround use throughout the episodes, mostly around music balance. Very little bottom end makes its way to subwoofer level however, though that's not much of a surprise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This set features a comparatively modest but worthwhile set of extras.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Fairly standard animation with clips and audio form the show.

Audio Commentary with Peter Davison (Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Fiona Cumming (director) and Christopher H. Bidmead (writer)

    This is quite a chatty chatty commentary with little dead air, but there's not really a lot to be gained from it. It suffers a little too much from the "I remember him/her, weren't the great?" and surprisingly cheerfully toned "I wanted this to be done completely differently" comments. The commentators are good natured and quite pleasant to listen to, however.

Informational Subtitles

    A set of subtitles with production notes and other trivia about the episodes. These notes are frequently more interesting than the commentary.

Being Doctor Who Featurette (13:32)

    A recent interview with Peter Davison about his experience of becoming the Doctor. Of particular interest is his polite criticism of his dissatisfaction with the first two seasons of his tenure.

Directing Castrovalva Featurette (11:20)

    A recent interview with Castrovalva director Fiona Cumming. This interview provides some mildly interesting info on Cumming's experience directing her first Doctor Who story, but is mostly a fluff piece.

The Crowded TARDIS Featurette (11:27)

    A featurette about the producer's decision to expand the Doctor's roster of companions to the point he had a rather crowded TARDIS, particularly the decision to give the Doctor an Aussie companion. Features interviews with Peter Davison, Tom Baker, writers and companions.

Blue Peter - Peter Davison Clip (9:17)

    A clip from the BBC children's show Blue Peter featuring Peter Davison. A good portion of the clip provides a history to Doctor Who, including clips of past nemeses of the Doctor and past regenerations.

Swap Shop - Peter Davison clip (20:42)

    A rather sizeable clip from an episode of the British children's variety show Swap Shop featuring Peter Davison, filmed shortly before Castrovalva going to air. Davison makes for a fairly lively guest as he takes on a variety of questions over a rather lo-fi telephone connection.

Deleted Scenes (1:37)

    Two fairly inconsequential deleted scenes, neither of which further the story in any way.

Trails and Continuities Clips (5:30)

    A series of clips of the continuity announcements bookending the episodes during their numerous broadcasts in the UK. Some of these are so painfully dated to the extent they are worth a look.

Photo Gallery (5:20)

    A fairly run-of-the-mill set of production stills done as a slideshow and backed by one of the better passages of music from the episodes.

Theme Music Video (3:35)

    A brief "music video" assembled from chunks of the opening credits from the Peter Davison and Tom Baker era that really acts as an excuse to present a fairly lush Dolby Digital 2.0 prologic surround-encoded remix of the famous title theme to the show. Sadly, this is not a 5.1 remix as is stated on the packaging.

DVD-ROM Extras - 1982 Doctor Who Annual

    A PDF copy of the 1982 Doctor Who annual, faithfully re-produced. This is the same document that appears on The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis.

DVD-ROM Extras - Radio Times Billings: Illustrations, Articles and Listings

    A 6 page PDF document that collates a variety of clippings about the episodes from the Radio Times (Britain's equivalent to the TV Guide) when the episodes first aired. This one even includes a full page introduction to the new Doctor and the new series.

DVD-ROM Extras - Doctor Who Season 18 Sales Literature

    A 14 page PDF file with synopses, images, cast information and technical details of the episodes, used for international sales of the series. This is the same document that appears on The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Castrovalva is only available in Regions 2 and 4 as part of the New Beginnings box set. It will be available separately in Region 1 as of around June 2007 and features an identical set of special features to the Region 2/4 disc. I would favour the Region 2/4 release as it preserves the original PAL formatting.


    Somewhat of a hiccup to usher in Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor. Castrovalva is brimming with good ideas, but none really gel. This is certainly far from the worst of classic Doctor Who, but it's even further from the best.

    This disc features a sizeable list of extras and most of them are well worth a look. You couldn't really ask for more from a single disc.

    The video and audio have both been restored superbly and arguably look better today than when they were first broadcast.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, May 07, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Music video - 5.1? - cztery REPLY POSTED
re: Music video - cztery