Doctor Who-Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) (NTSC)

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Released 8-May-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer-2
Audio Commentary
Isolated Musical Score
Multiple Angles-2 x 2
Outtakes
Informational Subtitles
Biographies-Cast
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 98:11 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrew Morgan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sylvester McCoy
Sophie Aldred
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Ron Grainer
Keff McCulloch


Video (NTSC) 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 None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Information Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It is with great anticipation and excitement that I bring out the old Doctor Who plot synopsis kit:

     Remembrance Of The Daleks has been voted in several polls as being one of the best Doctor Who serials of all time, which is no mean feat, given that were hundreds of serials made between 1963 and 1989. Part of this can be attributed to the dynamic between the Seventh Doctor and his new companion, a dynamic not seen since the original Doctor and his granddaughter, only this serial and those that followed take that surrogate relationship to a much darker place. Indeed, some of the adventures Ace shares with the Doctor reveal a whole new side to the latter that many younger viewers were put off by.

    This story begins just after the First Doctor leaves in his TARDIS, with his granddaughter and two of her teachers at school in tow. Six regenerations later (this fact is cleverly referenced in the screenplay, too), the Doctor has brought Ace to visit this period of the Earth's history, which makes for some interesting situations considering that she was born centuries ahead of this time. After some rather odd encounters with the local populace, the Doctor learns that the Daleks have come to Earth in search of something called the Hand Of Omega, which he apparently left behind the last time he was in this place and time. Of course, the Hand Of Omega is a powerful device that could be used to learn some of the secrets the Time Lords have held about their technologies.

    It is interesting to note that the Doctor arrives well after the Daleks do, as is evidenced by the scorch marks in the school playground and the fact that two humans are under the control of the Daleks. There are also some great themes about racism and the fact that, at least for we mere humans, the past cannot be altered, sandwiched between the Doctor's usual snide comments about how destructive an animal man really is. Myself, I just love to have any serial with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred in it, as the series really got its stride back with this pairing, making it all the more painful that Doctor Who was put "on hiatus" by the BBC in 1989. In that year, I would have given anything to see more adventures with Sophie Aldred, as I had quite a crush on her character due to her strength and intelligence.

    It is interesting to note that most of the characters shown in this serial are relatively unfamiliar in the Doctor Who universe, with no appearance by members of UNIT, especially not the Brigadier (I don't think UNIT actually existed in 1963). However, small parts are played by actors who have previously appeared in earlier serials, and those who have already bought The Robots Of Death will remember Pamela Salem from there. Another interesting aspect of this serial is that unlike the vast majority of its predecessors, it does not end on a high or light note, with both Ace and the Doctor severely conflicted about the good of their actions in this adventure. So, if you want a disc that you can sit your children in front of for ninety-eight minutes and expect it to nourish their intellect rather than stunt it, then Remembrance Of The Daleks is the disc for you.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    I'll start with the bad news first: this disc is presented in NTSC, and you will need to make sure that your display device can handle such a signal before you buy this product. I have to say that this is definitely not on - Doctor Who was clearly shot with the intention of being displayed in PAL, and there are already more than enough artefacts in your average Doctor Who transfer without a PAL to NTSC conversion adding to the woes.

The good news is that in spite of its flaws, this disc is a reasonable presentation, presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and not 16x9 Enhanced.

    As a consequence of the PAL to NTSC conversion, this transfer is not sharp - it does get rather blurry at times, in fact, usually during outdoor shots. Having seen this serial on the ABC thirteen years ago, I remember the pictures being noticeably sharper and clearer than this, although not greatly so. At least the question of whether our friends in America will have a decent NTSC version of this classic series to fail to understand has been answered. The shadow detail hovers between average and poor, with the shots in the basement of the school being particularly dark, although this is inherent in the source material. Thankfully, there is no low-level noise in this transfer.

    The colours in this transfer are reasonably well-represented, although there is some noticeable blooming in any light source, and cross-colouration artefacts are occasionally noticeable. These artefacts would almost certainly be inherent in the source material, unfortunately.

    MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were frequently noticed, with the worst example being a grave in Episode Three at 6:23. I suspect that the source of the aliasing, which also occurs at 3:02, 7:04, and 13:08 in Episode One, just to be pedantic, would be the PAL to NTSC conversion, where lines have been blurred into one another, and possibly another level of interlacing has been introduced. Film artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, although a mild amount of grain can be seen in the location shots.

    Disappointingly, there are no English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc.

    This disc is dual-layered, but I suspect that the layer change is between episodes, as no pause was discernable during the programme.

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

Audio

    I had heard rumours for some time that Remembrance Of The Daleks was going to be presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, just like The Five Doctors. Sadly, this is not the case, but I suspect that may have something to do with the available source materials. It is worth noting that this serial was the first to be broadcast in stereo.

    There are three soundtracks on this DVD, all of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at 192 kilobits per second. In order, these are the original English dialogue, an English Audio Commentary, and an Isolated Music Score. I listened to the first two soundtracks in their entirety, while sampling a little bit of the Isolated Music Score.

    The dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand at all times, although some viewers may experience problems with Sylvester McCoy's mild Scottish accent, or Sophie Aldred's rather thick British accent. The odd thing, at least to my mind, is that they sound virtually identical during the audio commentary, which goes to show that the BBC were too cheap to even spring for a dialogue coach. The audio sync is pretty much spot-on.

    The score music in this serial consists of an opening theme written by the great Ron Grainer, which has been reworked for each new Doctor as the series has progressed, although never quite so radically as this incarnation, and incidental music by Keff McCulloch. The score music in this serial is very well integrated into the onscreen action, supporting the tension and drama of a scene whenever it can. It is worth noting that some pieces of contemporary music make their way into this serial, although the pieces that were originally used couldn't be used on the DVD due to copyright issues. The Region 2 version of this disc apparently has also had the original Beatles numbers replaced, so we are not alone in this.

    The surround channels are not used in this soundtrack, and neither is the subwoofer. They were not particularly missed.

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

Extras

    Once again, we have a comprehensive collection of enlightening extras that any Doctor Who fan should be satisfied with. All of the extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Annoyingly, none of them display timing information.

Menu

    The menu features the usual Doctor Who introduction, is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Sylvester McCoy (Actor) & Sophie Aldred (Actor)

    A Doctor Who commentary is always worth listening to, as it is often quite nostalgic for the participants, and thus it has a much more personal touch about it. The commentary included here is certainly no exception, and clearly these two actors have had a lot of fun reminiscing about working with props and sets that were as cheap as chips, not to mention McCoy's amusing anecdotes about how the Daleks wobble like drunks. Other interesting tidbits are pointed out, such as when modern-day skyscrapers can been seen in the background, or how the Emperor Dalek looks like a roll-on deodorant.

Isolated Musical Score

    Not much to remark about here - just the musical cues separated from the rest of the sound so that they may be heard properly.

Deleted Scenes

    This is a collection of deleted and extended scenes from the serial - cuts were made in order to make the episodes conform to the standard running length, and some of what was left on the cutting room floor was left there for a good reason.

Theatrical Trailers

    Two trailers that were broadcast on the BBC, each approximately thirty seconds in length, which were obviously designed to pep the remaining viewers up for the coming episodes.

Multiple-Angle Featurettes

    Two scenes are presented here with two angles a piece - Chemistry Lab, and Gate Explosion. This is actually quite a good use of the multiple angle feature, as it allows the viewer to see just how different the original shots are from the finished product.

Outtakes

    A collection of blunders on the set, with time codes included for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

Informational Subtitles

    Subtitles that provide some interesting insights into what went on behind the scenes in Doctor Who. These are quite useful in conjunction with the audio commentary.

Cast Biographies

    These are actually presented as character biographies in the submenu, but they include some relevant information about the cast members who played them. In order, we have biographies for The Doctor, Ace, Group-Captain Gilmore, Ratcliffe, Doctor Rachel Jensen, the Headmaster, the Vicar, the Daleks, and Davros, whose biography can be accessed from the Daleks' bio. They are only about two pages in length, however, which is disappointing considering the background that could have been shared for some of the characters and actors.

Photo Gallery

    Do we really need more collections of unannotated stills?

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is pretty much identical to the Region 1 version, so a comparison to the Region 2 DVD is more appropriate.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    Lest the NTSC Region 4 transfer curse continue to spread through our market, I feel it is time to put our feet down and vote with our money, especially when you consider that Doctor Who serials have always been recorded in PAL. My vote is with the Region 2 disc.

Summary

    Remembrance Of The Daleks is one of my favourite Doctor Who serials, and obviously a favourite among a lot of other people, too. It is rather sad that the BBC put the series on the shelf just as it was starting to get its rhythm back. This serial features my favourite Doctor of all time, my favourite companion of all time, and the nemesis that always got dragged out when the ratings were starting to flag. Now all I need is a serial featuring William Hartnell and I will feel more complete.

    The video transfer is of acceptable quality, but could have been better.

    The audio transfer is good, although this is one serial that screams for a 5.1 remix.

    The extras fit the usual Doctor Who standard - comprehensive and informative.

    I was emailed by Steve Roberts again, who cleared up the copyright and NTSC mess up a little better for me - Apparently, the problem arose because the UK PAL master contained music clearable for UK use only. The options presented to Roadshow in a nutshell were to have the region 2 DVD master redone with the music changed (and at the same time they could have taken the opportunity to reinstate some video effects accidently missing from the UK release), or to use the US R1 DVD which had been prepared from scratch from a clearable tape master with the effects already reinstated.

    I still recommend we put our foot down and demand that Roadshow do the right thing by Australian Doctor Who fans by remastering this disc in PAL.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, April 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
The Reason why it's in NTSC.... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
So... which one? - cztery