Saturday, January 28, 2012

PREVIEW: Revisitations 3 - The Robots of Death

As there is so much material on the Revisitations 3 box set (featuring three stories on five discs), I've split the review into their respective parts - with each focusing on the separate tales. You can read full details about the box set HERE but, first up, the Tom Baker 1977 outing, The Robots of Death.

There are very few perfect, and I mean literally, perfect Doctor Who stories. Even with the best there's usually a Skarasen or Magma monster to slightly mess up the production. But here is a bona fide perfect tale. (Not the best, I'm saying.) Anyway, there's little point in actually reviewing it as, no doubt, you've seen it and probably own it on DVD already - it's the extras you're interested in. But, suffice to say this is a genuine classic in the Whoeuvre

EXTRAS
The original DVD release, incredibly almost 12 years ago (actual gasps), didn't serve the perfection of the story that well - they had the cheek to list "Graphical Menus" as a Special Feature. (Ah, were we so simple in 2000?) So, thankfully, The Robots of Death has been given the VAM it deserves; and a suitably wonderful array of extras at that.

The main documentary, The Sandmine Murders, is your expected behind~the~scenes look at the story with contributions from the cast and crew. It's fact~packed and features great turns from Tommy B, Louise Jamieson, Philip Hinchfliffe, Michael Bryant, David Collings and Brian Croucher. Highlights include Baker being almost chaste about his on~set behaviour and Croucher calling his leading actor a "creative terrorist." As always, with the "classic" DVD range, it's a fascinating watch with fantastic subjects, and cut together with style.

The other "documentary" is Robophobia which, you quickly discover, is not an entirely serious look at robots. Presented by Toby Hadoke (who seems to be on all the classic DVD release these days #jealous), we are amusingly guided through the history of robots; featuring some of the best/worst from Doctor Who (though none post~1989). It's fittingly humorous and the Fifties~style production looks great; complete with a special guest role for... well, I shan't spoil it for you.

The original audio commentary is included (featuring producer Hinchcliffe and writer Chris Boucher) but there's also a newly recorded commentary with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Pamela Salem and director Michael E Briant. It's always good to have actors on audio duties and the three here are an absolute riot, with stories, ribbing and more stories to beguile the listener with. Baker reveals, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that children gave him ideas to put in the show; even suggesting that jelly babies came from some kids he'd met (fact fans will know, of course, that Jelly Babies were used by The Second Doctor).

Baker even manages to shoehorn in a dig at the new series, proclaiming that Julian Bleach's Davros (in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End) as a "not a very good impression" of Michael Wisher's original version (Genesis of the Daleks). Yet again, however, you do get the usual bemoaning how television works these days - which is frankly getting a bit tedious (cropping up now on every release). And there's a few tales from the cast and crew which pop up in the main docco (an irritation to completists who devour everything).

Bolstering these are the original DVD extras (Photo Gallery, Studio Floor Plans, clip featuring Studio Sound and Model Sequences) complemented by the additions of the always essential Production Notes and Radio Times listings. Thus resulting in a perfect collection for a perfect story.

Uh~oh, I just remembered. Those tin~foil slippers. Bah!

Thanks to 2|entertain
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