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Doctor Who- The Curse Of Peladon and The Masque Of Mandragora DVD Reviews

 

“The Curse Of Peladon” and “The Masque Of Mandragora” are so-so “Doctor Who” episodes.

“The Curse Of Peladon” begins with the third Doctor and Jo Grant taking a test flight only to wind up on the planet of Peladon amidst a conference involving negotiations for Peladon to join the Galactic Federation. The Doctor and Jo are mistaken for the Earth delegates and from there on chaos breaks loose. It’s a story filled with politics, suspicion, death, betrayal, and a legendary monster known as Aggedor.

“The Masque Of Mandragora” sees the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith accidentally releasing a dangerous stow-away Mandragora helix energy upon their arrival in San Martino, Italy in the fifteenth century. Of course, the Doctor has to try and stop the helix, but the trouble doesn’t end there when the Doc encounters an evil cult group.

‘Masque’ and ‘Peladon’ are far from being iconic “Doctor Who” episodes but there’s enough here to satisfy devoted fans. ‘Masque’ really sees Tom Baker at his best. Whether he’s rambling, playing with toys, riding a horse, engaging in a sword fight, or using his scarf as a weapon, it’s impossible not to be won over by his performance here. It’s a good thing he carries the episode too as the story of ‘Masque’ is a mess from start to finish. The plot simply isn’t very engaging and the pivotal character of Hieronymous (played by an overacting Norman Jones) is positively irritating. Story issues aside, I can forgive the script’s shortcomings thanks to a fantastic opening scene that references the second and third Doctors and introduces the second TARDIS control room.

Story-wise, ‘Peladon’ is the stronger of the two as the mysterious story grabs the viewer more. Yes, the pacing is slow, but the intriguing political script is generally well written aside from the usual “Doctor Who” crutches of characters being captured for the sake of the plot. Highlights of this episode include a gladiator style fight involving the third Doctor and the bizarre, but memorable heramaphroditic one-eyed character Alpha Centauri.

Summary: “The Masque Of Mandragora” and “The Curse Of Peladon” are worth a rent. “Doctor Who” completists, however, will no doubt want to buy these discs asap.

Considering its age, “The Curse Of Peladon” 4:3 fullscreen picture quality looked impressive. The picture quality for ‘Masque,’ on the other hand was a bit hit-and-miss. Some of the shots looked nice and cleaned up, but the exterior forest shots are a bit rough looking.

The Dolby Digital Mono track for “The Curse Of Peladon” is the better of the two. I really felt the dialogue and sound f/x (such as the lightning) were worthy of praise. ‘Masque’ sounded fine, but some of the dialogue was a bit muffled in spots.

“The Curse Of Peladon” extras:

* “Dr. Who” series 4 trailer, photo gallery, Radio Times listings, and info text.
* A comparison between storyboards and final sequences.
* “Jon And Katy”- A featurette on Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning and their on screen chemistry as the Doctor and Jo. An interview with Katy Manning is included.
* “Warriors Of Mars”- A featurette on the Ice Warriors and their history in the Whoniverse.
* “The Peladon Saga- Part One”- A making of documentary containing interviews, discussions about the script, and real-life political themes.
* Commentary by Katy Manning, Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts, Chris D’Oyly-John, and Toby Hadoke (of “Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf” fame). This is a very lively track filled with personal stories, set recollections, Toby spouting off trivia, etc. Worth a listen.

“The Masque Of Mandragora” extras:
* Trailers for “Doctor Who” series 4,“The Space Museum,” “The Chase,” and trails and continuity for ‘Mandragora’.
* Photo gallery, info text, and Radio Times listings.
* A decent commentary by Tom Baker, Gareth Armstrong, Philip Hinchcliffe and Chris D’Oyly-John. Some nice recollections about the production.
* “Beneath The Masque”- A weird featurette on the episode.
* “Now And Then”- A featurette on the town of Portmeirion (where the episode was shot at).
* “Bigger On The Inside”- A featurette on the TARDIS. Interviews with “Doctor Who” cast and crew members are included. This is the best extra on this disc.
* “The Secret Of The Labyrinth”- A making of docu about “The Masque Of Mandragora” featuring interviews with Philip Hinchcliffe and others. There are a lot of discussions about the story, setting, etc.

May 18, 2010 - Posted by | DVD review | , , ,

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