Doctor Who : MANNEQUIN MANIA DVD REVIEW.
Last month brought us the end of the third doctors era in the form of Planet of the Spiders while this month brings us a box set containing his very first story. This box could have been called – regenerations 2.5 as it not only holds a DVD we already own but deals with two 70'S reboots for our beloved show.
The first story – Spearhead from Space – is the benchmark in post regeneration stories. The parallels with the Eighth Doctor Movie and the Eleventh Hour are plane as the nose on the Doctors new face. While we are engrossed in learning about the latest Doctor some sneaky aliens have invaded the Home Counties and had the audacity to place an order for some plastic dolls. (Obviously with evil intent.) Our Hero most come to terms with a new self and a new place stuck on earth while defeating a squelchy box full of Clingfilm and hair gel. Oh and not to forget , introducing us to a new companion.
Due to industrial action the entire story was shot on film giving it a quality and uniformity not seen again for many years. And as such it has a cinematic look and feel which the story so richly deserves. The basic plot of an invasion which UNIT must stop will be echoed and re worked for the next four years but we see it here in its purest form. The Brig on top form, practical and lacking the humour that came through later.
The second story – Terror of the Autons – marks the arrival of the, so called, Doctors Moriarty, The Master. Played here by the magnificent Rodger Delagado. As well as seeing the arrival of the lovely Jo Grant. (Played by Katie Manning)
Unlike the first story this was shot in a more traditional way making an increasing use of CSO (and then lost to the bbc) We now have a superb repair job from an NTSC copy. Viewed side by side its clear to see that the third doctors time could have looked so much better. Though we should be grateful we can see them at all.
In both of these stories the 'Monster' is secondary to the establishment of new characters and it is a testament to the superb writing that this is never overly apparent. The Autons are an idea 'any monster' with simple costumes that wouldn't stretch any budget.
As always it is the extras that give these stories added value and this box set does not let you down.
An original commentary with actors Caroline John and the late Nicholas Courtney are augmented with a new commentary by the producer Derrick Sherwin and Script a making of called Down To Earth and a superb documentary called Regenerations dealing with the change in both production crew/cast and the changes from black and white to colour production. All of these come with the usual suspects in the form of Photo Gallery, Coming Soon (Earth Stories) and Radio Times Listings.
Terror of the Autons extras has a single commentary by Katy Manning and Nicolas Courtney and Producer Barry Letts, its making of Documentary (Life On Earth) takes a different tack from usual by looking beyond the basic facts and looking at the larger picture, this is secondary to the wonderful short - The Doctor’s Moriarty. A Featurette looking at the Master, as played by Delgado. A short feature - Plastic Fantastic rounds this disc off with a look at the Autons and the use of the 'new' wonder material Plastic.
You would be forgiven for thinking that you have been tricked into buying Spearhead for a second time in order to buy Terror and if you feel that way Id consider hanging on until it is reduced – but given that you'll probably be paying less for this double pack than you did for the original release of Spearhead in sure you can justify it to yourself.
Over all this is a superb box set. Worthy of