With a 1979 vintage – a sort of a table-wine – ?ity of Death?is one of the few classic DOCTOR WHO stories you could show fans of the new series without having to spend your time making excuses for the script, the acting and the special effects. Widely regarded as one of the very best DOCTOR WHO stories ever made, it? a rare example of latterday DOCTOR WHO getting it spectacularly right on almost all fronts – good effects, great script, convincing acting, only one or two wobbly walls. Marvellous!
The Doctor and Romana (dressed in school uniform – gibber) are enjoying a pleasant holiday in Paris. Suddenly Time starts to go all peculiar and the Doctor realises someone? interfering with the flow of Time. The pair team-up with bumbling private eye Duggan (Chadbon) and together they uncover a plot by the suave Count Scarlioni (Glover) which stretches right back to the very dawn of human civilisation. Scarlioni is actually spaghetti-headed monstrosity Scaroth, the last of the alien Jagaroth, whose stranded spaceship exploded on prehistoric Earth. Splintered in Time, Scaroth has been working throughout the ages to amass a fortune which will allow him to finance lavish Time experiments, with the intention of sending his 1979 self back in Time to prevent the explosion which caused the extinction of his race. Clever, twisty-turny stuff -the sort of storyline which, in 1979, could really only have been the work of HITCH-HIKER? creator Douglas Adams, at the time DOCTOR WHO? script editor. Notoriously written over a coffee-fuelled weekend, ?ity of Death?is a joyously opulent, witty romp and it? clear that everyone involved is having a whale of a time. The plentiful location filming in Paris gives the episodes a big screen gloss they didn? usually manage and the acting is unusally strong – probably due to the gleaming quality of Adams? witty, snappy dialogue. Baker is on top form here, simultaneously the buffoon – ? don? think he? as stupid as he seems,?warns the Count? wife at one point to which the Count wryly replies ?y dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems,?- and alternately the incensed Guardian of Time and Space. Chadbon over-eggs his clumsy gumshoe role and Julian Glover obviously relishes his rich dialogue. Lalla Ward, by the way, is dressed in a school girls?outfit throughout. Did I mention this???
This is a show which barely puts a foot wrong. The opening FX scene is gloriously cinematic, the story is strong and engrossing, the comedy outrageously witty, the stakes spectacularly high. This is as good as old-style WHO gets and you?e really very silly indeed if you haven? already got this DVD or don? plan to get your hands on it almost immediately.
THE DISCS: A four part story generously spread across two discs, the first disc houses a beautiful transfer of the episodes and a commentary by the Director Glover and Chadbon. The ?aris in the Springtime?forty-five minute ?aking of?us wonderful and other extras include a nice FX reel, interesting studio footage and a woefully unfunny comedy skit. Great value.]]>