Review By Liam O Brien, 5 out of 5
“That’s the point group captain it isn’t even remotely human!”
To think I have spent most of my fifteen years on this earth oblivious of the joys of Doctor Who is a scary thought. Over the past few months, with help from repeats on UK Gold, half hearted VHS compilations, Big Finish audio’s and a hell of a lot catching up, I am slowly getting caught up in this, Doctor Who’s fortieth year (come on BBC, bring it back, please). To start off my Who dvd collection, I decided to get this 1988 adventure. Why? Good word of mouth on Amazon, the Daleks, no Mel and the fact that Sylvester McCoy is, undoutably the best Doctor in the show’s long history. He is dark, brooding; a cosmic instigator, and in this story, a mass murderer. The story is dark and brooding, full of action, pretty good effects (well, better than Who is used to!) and interesting key players. The main plot is this: Its 1963 in the Trotters Lane junk yard, incidentally where the series began twenty-five years before, and the Daleks are back. This time they want to take over time, and there’s some timelord technology on Earth that will let them do it. The Hand Of Omega is a device created by one of the founders of Gallifrey (the Doctor’s home planet) which will give the Daleks power to take over the galaxy. But is the Doctor in on more than he is letting his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) know? Of course he is! What follows is a twisting turning plot, with McCoy’s Doc always one step ahead, leaving other characters to wonder what his true motives are.
And that’s the real strength of this adventure, and any adventure with McCoy in the title role- he is brooding and mysterious- he is a mixture of all the Doctors, but with an added dose of darkness. You get the feeling that he knows exactly whats going to happen next; and even if things don’t go to his plan, he has a back up idea. Others may pick Pertwee or Baker (Tom, not Colin) but McCoy is simply the most interesting incarnation of the Doctor (so faru. Considering this was the seventh Doctor’s first episode with Ace, its surprising how well they already had gelled (a tribute to the workmanship of Aldred and McCoy) The other actors are generally solid at best, but there are two notable appearances- George Sewell of UFO and The Detectives fame, and Terry Molloy who playsNwell go on then, who plays Dalek creator Davros. This story was supposed to give a finite ending for the Daleks, and, surprisingly enough it achieves that; the destruction of Skaro’s sun and the resulting destruction of Skaro, the Dalek mother-ship and, perhaps, Davros(?) gives a real feeling of closure for the very irritated men in wheelie bins.
THE DISC: Another BBC Doctor Who disc is lavished with care and attention, from a very nice video clip montage menu screen starting us off well. The play options on this disc cover all possibilities- a play all function lets you watch the four part tale in one big go, the play episode function let you watch them individually, and the scene selection lets youUerr select scenes. What struck me about this release was the picture quality- its excellent, no trace of grain- well done BBC restoration team. The sound is good quality, but there is no 5.1 mix for those looking for room shaking action. The special features encompass a nice spread, from a chummy but slightly gap filled McCoy/Aldred commentary, trailers for the first two episodes (see the yea olde BBC ads!!!) on screen production notes, the prerequisite photo gallery, a multi angle scene option, and a very cool isolated audio track that showcases the very late 80’s score. Rounded off by a nice for page booklet inside, and well presented overall, this is a very nice set. Lets hope we get more Sylvester McCoy (without Mel, for the love of god WITHOUT MEL!!) dvd’s coming soon!
ANY GOOD?: A very nice set indeed. McCoy shines as the best, most interesting Doctor this side of the galaxy, Sophie Aldred’s Ace may be out of time now, but shes good fun none the less. The Daleks never fail to disappoint, and as this story proves- THEY CAN CLIMB STAIRS! The extras meanwhile make this another triumphant package. Now where’s my umbrellaU