Overall | Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981) | Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981) | Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

Doctor Who-New Beginnings (Box Set) (1981)

Doctor Who-New Beginnings (Box Set) (1981)

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Released 6-Mar-2007

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Overall Package

The transition form Tom Baker to Peter Davison heralded more than just the changing of the guard for Doctor Who. It was the end of an era and the beginning of the series' slow decline. The episodes in this set are virtually a microcosm of that decline. The final two Tom Baker episodes are brilliant pieces of science fiction, whereas Peter Davison's debut isn't bad but is a noticeable decline from the golden age of Doctor Who.

Each episode is a must-own for any Doctor Who fan. The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis are recommended viewing for anyone.

Each disc features ample extras and the restoration effort on each disc deserves commendation, although Logopolis is far from perfect.

Highly Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981) | Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981) | Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981)

Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981)

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Released 6-Mar-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Anthony Ainley, Sarah Sutton,Johnny Byrne,Matthew Waterhouse
Informational Subtitles
Featurette-The Return of the Master
Featurette-Sarah Sutton on Swap Shop
Featurette-Making Of-Being Nice to Each Other
Featurette-Trails and Continuities
Gallery-Photo
DVD-ROM Extras-1982 Doctor Who Annual
DVD-ROM Extras-Radio Times Billings
DVD-ROM Extras-Doctor Who Season 18 Sales Literature
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 98:17 (Case: 165)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Black
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Anthony Ainley
Geoffrey Beevers
Matthew Waterhouse
Sarah Sutton
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Box Music Roger Limb
Rod Waldron
Tony Burrough


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Alternate Music/Sound 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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Anthony Ainley Dedication

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

Plot Synopsis

    An unknown force hijacks the TARDIS while the Doctor (Tom Baker in this incarnation) and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) are travelling and directs them to Traken, in the Doctor's words "an empire held together by people being terribly nice to each other.". After some initial confusion, a decrepit old man materialises before the pair and confesses to being responsible for the TARDIS' new course. That old man is the Keeper of Traken, one of only a few beings in the universe capable of such a feat. The Keeper explains his actions and in doing so pleads for the Doctor's assistance.

    The Keeper is the leader of the council that governs Traken and a being who lives for thousands of years, though who drops in and out of physical manifestation during that time. This ability is controlled by a device that draws on the life force of all Trakens. The Keeper is nearing death and means to pass on his position to a council elder named Tremas (Anthony Ainley), but he fears that a plot exists to usurp the power of Traken.

    Some years earlier an evil creature named the Melkur had landed in Traken and calcified into a statue in the gardens of Traken. Kassia, now Tremas' wife, has cared for the gardens and the Melkur for some decades, and as the succession nears the Melkur gradually comes to life and plays on Kassia's fears over losing her husband to the entire people of Traken. No sooner does this plot begin than the Doctor arrives in Traken, just in time to be accused of the misdeeds that have begun. Little does the Doctor know that an old foe stands behind the plot and there is little anyone can do to stop them... If you don't want to know who that foe is, as it is a bit of a twist in the story, don't read the "Extras" section of this review!

    The Keeper of Traken is top shelf Doctor Who. The plot builds to a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions and design. It exploits the family dynamic for a calculated powerplay by the story's nemesis and does so with a good degree of plausibility (and not too much overacting!). The dialogue is well pitched. It doesn't over-explain anything or resort to excessive jargon to cover plot holes (not that there really are any). The pacing of the story is spot-on.

    The set and prop design warrant special mention. They reach for a rather timeless neo-Victorian look and manage to pull it off quite well. The look of this episode is quite a testament to what the Doctor Who team could do when they had a modest budget.

    This story also sees the introduction of the companion Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), the daughter of Tremas who virtually loses everything by the conclusion of the story.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good, not to mention consistent, for a TV show that was shot entirely on video more than 25 years ago.

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

    The image is reasonably sharp, particularly given its heritage, but hardly compares to modern video. The colour palette is a little soft by today's standard, but it is quite true to its source and consistent. There is a good level of detail in the dark areas of the picture. A modest degree of low level noise is visible throughout, as is typically the case for older video. One or two brief shots suffer considerably worse noise than the rest of the video (eg. at 66:47, where a large out of focus object is in front of the focal point of the video), but these shots are brief enough so as not to be a real distraction.

    The MPEG compression is very good and suffers no significant artefacts. A number of analogue video artefacts are noticeable, however, but none are terribly distracting - they really just emphasize the age of the video. Cross colouration and a mild blur when fast actions take place are the biggest culprits.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are present and appear to be quite accurate and well timed, based on the small portion I sampled.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer change occurs between episodes at 72:45 and is not noticeable even when the episodes are played together.

    A good deal of information about the restoration and transfer is available on the Doctor Who Restoration Team website.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The remastered audio is excellent. The mix is surprisingly clean and well levelled.

    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 and in good sync throughout.

    The Roger Limb's score is a fairly typical Dr. Who synth work, but is quite epic in it's style. The score sounds excellent in both the main soundtrack and the music-only track.

    There is a modest degree of pro-logic surround usage in the soundtrack, mostly by the score. The subwoofer picks up very little bottom end, however.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A typically well-stocked bag of Doctor Who extras is available on this disc.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Fairly standard animation with clips and audio from the show.

Audio Commentary with Anthony Ainley (Tremas), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Johnny Byrne (writer) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)

    A fairly chatty commentary that talks about all kinds of things going on-screen. The writer is a bit pretentious, but has a lot to say about where he was coming from with the story. It's also worth noting that it is one of only a few Doctor Who commentaries to feature the late Anthony Ainley and he is a bit of a character.

Informational Subtitles

    A set of subtitles with production notes and other trivia about the episodes. These notes are often more interesting than the commentary (and it's a good commentary on this one)

Being Nice to Each Other Featurette (30:03)

    A recently recorded "Making of" featurette that details the development and production of the story through interviews with the writer, script editor and cast. This is a fairly interesting "Making of", but doesn't go into too much detail - more of a chat and reminisce about what was done rather than how it was done.

The Return of the Master Featurette (9:41)

    A featurette about how and why the Master was re-introduced to Doctor Who. This is a bit of a simplistic character study on the Master's development through the episodes of this story and his transformation throughout it.

Sarah Sutton on Swap Shop Clip (11:17)

    A series of clips from an episode of the old UK weekend kids' show Swap Shop that introduce Sarah Sutton as the Doctor's new companion.

Trails and Continuities Clip (5:57)

    A series of clips of the continuity announcements bookending the episodes during their numerous broadcasts in the UK.

Photo Gallery (8:24)

    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.

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 Logopolis and Castrovalva.

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

    A 5 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. Interesting archival material.

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 Logopolis and Castrovalva.

Isolated Music

    A gloriously remastered isolated score.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Keeper of Traken 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.

Summary

    The Keeper of Traken is Doctor Who at its' best. It is innovative sci-fi that brings together an epic tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. This is not one to miss.

    The video and audio look and sound great for a show of this age.

    There is a decent swag of extras and all are worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, May 04, 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) NONE
Overall | Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981) | Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981) | Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981)

Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981)

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Released 6-Mar-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Tom Baker, Janet Fielding and Christopher H. Bidmead
Informational Subtitles
Featurette-A New Body at Last
Featurette-Nationwide - Tom Baker
Featurette-Nationwide - Peter Davison
Featurette-Pebble Mill at One - Peter Davison
Featurette-News Items
Featurette-Trails and Continuities
Gallery-Photo
DVD-ROM Extras-1982 Doctor Who Annual
DVD-ROM Extras-Radio Times Billings
DVD-ROM Extras-Doctor Who Season 18 Sales Literature
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 98:25 (Case: 179)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Grimwade
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Peter Davison
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)
Alternate Music/Sound 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 for the Hearing Impaired
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

    The cloister bell in the TARDIS is ringing. That means trouble is on the way for the Doctor (Tom Baker), but trouble is something he would rather ignore until it is actually upon him so the Doctor looks for something to fill in the time until that time. Having recently seen a TARDIS with a working chameleon circuit (a gizmo that allows the TARDIS to take any external shape in order to blend in to the surrounds), the Doctor is inspired to finally get the chameleon circuit on his TARDIS fixed.

    The Doctor and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) briefly head to Earth to make sure they have the correct exterior dimensions for his TARDIS and inadvertently kidnap an Australian airline stewardess named Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) in the process. The Doctor and company then head to Logopolis, a city where the humanoid inhabitants (the Registers) live to perform calculations and have the ability to alter reality when their mathematic ability is combined.

    Unbeknownst to the Doctor, along the course of his journey he has materialised his TARDIS around that of the Master and is now carrying the Master's TARDIS within his own. Worse still, this has created a near-infinite recursive loop of TARDIS' within one another - a convenient decoy for the Master to occupy the Doctor with as he tries to take over Logopolis. Furthermore, the Doctor is being shadowed by a mysterious white figure everywhere he goes.

    Unfortunately for the universe, the Master's plan manages to unravel a secret the Logopolans have been hiding for generations - that their very ability to bend makeup of the universe has introduced such entropy into it that the universe is literally bursting at the seems. Only the concentrated efforts of the Logopolans can repair this damage, but it's nigh on impossible to concentrate when the Master is running around shrinking any Register that gets in his way!

    This heavily conceptual mathematics-themed story has the entire universe in jeopardy - even more so than the average Doctor Who story anyway - and spells the end of the Doctor's life as he currently knows it... as Tom Baker that is.

    Logopolis manages to weave a lot of conceptual mathematics theory, albeit largely simplified, together for a rather epic and sinister tale. It is one of the more dialogue driven stories that furthers the character of the Master almost as significantly as it does the Doctor himself. All in all it makes for a fitting exit for the longest surviving Doctor.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of these episodes is good, but not the best for Doctor Who of this era. Like most Doctor Who stories of this age, it is sourced from a mix of video (in-studio) and 16mm (on location). The difference between the two is obvious while watching, the former being sharper but prone to video artefacts and the later being softer and prone to film artefacts and grain.

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

    The episodes are reasonably sharp, even the 16mm scenes, but suffer a significant amount of low-level noise. Some scenes, such as at 6:40, suffer from significantly worse levels of noise than others. This does not make the episodes unwatchable, but they are certainly inferior to many other recently released episodes of Doctor Who.

    The colours appear fairly typical for a show of this age, pale by today's standard but reasonably accurate and certainly consistent. There is typically a good amount of shadow detail visible

    No significant MPEG compression artefacts are noticeable beyond some mild background macro blocking. A raft of the usual old video artefacts, such as occasional comet trails and mild cross colouration, are noticeable but not terribly distracting. Several scenes (eg. at 37:07) appear to have undergone excessive edge enhancement, however, and this can be a little distracting.

    White English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included. Based on the small section I sampled, they appear accurate and well timed.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer change occurs between the third and fourth episodes at 67:35.

    A good deal of information about the restoration and transfer is available on the Doctor Who Restoration Team website.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

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

    The remastered audio is of fair quality, although some portions sound noticeably worse that the rest. In particular, the dialogue in some scenes sounds heavily processed and a overly compressed (eg. at 2:00). These issues do not extend to the score, which has been very cleanly remastered. Even when it is at its worst, the dialogue is clearly audible and understandable (it just isn't terribly crisp) as well as well synchronised to the video.

    The score for these episodes is very distinctive and a little different to many other Doctor Who scores in that it has a fairly identifiable hook to it. It also a slightly more traditional sounding score that opts for a more straight forward electric organ sound than some of the far out synth sounds found in other Doctor Who scores.

    There is a modest degree of pro-logic surround usage in the soundtrack, mostly by the score, but there is very little bottom end that reaches subwoofer level.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Fairly standard animation with clips and audio form the show.

Audio Commentary with Tom Baker (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) and Christopher H. Bidmead (writer)

    The three commentators have quite a lot to say during the course of this commentary, not much that is terribly insightful but there is hardly a dead moment in this chatty commentary. Pet hates, favourite bits, dodgy behind-the-camera anecdotes, comparison between the Logopolans and sweat-shop labour - it's all surprisingly fluffy and makes for a better than average Doctor Who commentary.

Informational Subtitles

    A set of subtitles with production notes and other trivia about the episodes. Like many of the trivia tracks on Doctor Who releases, this one is filled with interesting information and well worth a read.

A New Body at Last Featurette (50:23)

    This is a bit of a mish-mash documentary that is loosely about the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison. It covers a bit of history around Tom Baker as the Doctor, a bit about the transition of personality and style between the fourth and fifth doctors and a bit about the actual transition that takes place during The Keeper of Traken. This hodge-podge nature actually does a good job of keeping the featurette interesting for its' duration. This one is well worth a watch.

Nationwide - Tom Baker Clip (4:33)

    Tom Baker appears on the British infotainment show Nationwide to discuss his departure from the show. As per most interviews with Tom Baker, he seems a little off in the clouds for the most part is strangely interesting nonetheless. This clip also provides a little history on past Doctors.

Nationwide - Peter Davison Clip (3:43)

    Peter Davison appears on the British infotainment show Nationwide to discuss his arrival to the show. This interview offers a little insight into Davison's goals in the role of Doctor Who and conjecture on how it would be fitting to dispose of Tom Baker.

Pebble Mill at One - Peter Davison Clip (12:02)

    Peter Davison appears on the long-running BBC lunchtime chat show Pebble Mill at One to discuss his debut as the Doctor. Beyond Doctor Who, Davison also discusses his time on All Creatures Great and Small and his then upcoming sitcom Sink or Swim. The highlight of this interview sees Davison commentating on a range of suggested new outfits for the Doctor (including one female outfit!).

News Items Clips (1:58)

    A series of news items from the BBC news reports that announced the departure of Tom Baker and the arrival of Peter Davison in the role of the Doctor. These clips are very brief, many are just one-liners, but provide an interesting timeline of the change.

Trails and Continuities Clip (2:24)

    A series of clips of the continuity announcements bookending the episodes during their numerous broadcasts in the UK.

Photo Gallery (5:08)

    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.

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 Castrovalva.

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

    A 5 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. Interesting archival material.

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 Castrovalva.

R4 vs R1

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

    Logopolis 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.

Summary

    A fitting farewell to the longest serving Doctor, Tom Baker, and truly the end of an era. Logopolis features an engaging and sinister plot that well and truly ranks at the better end of Doctor Who episodes.

    The range of extras focus heavily on archival material, but are is pretty much about as good as you could ask of a single disc release.

    The video and audio are both reasonable, but far from perfect. The video, in particular, appears to have suffered the ravages of time (no pun intended!) in the form of a noisy picture, despite extensive restoration.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, May 05, 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) NONE
Overall | Doctor Who-The Keeper of Traken (1981) | Doctor Who-Logopolis (1981) | Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

Doctor Who-Castrovalva (1982)

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Released 6-Mar-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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
Gallery-Photo
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
Studio
Distributor

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

Video

    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
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    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)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© 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
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Music video - 5.1? - REPLY POSTED
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