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Doctor Who: Dreamland and Doctor Who: Planet Of Fire DVD Reviews

 

While not as good as “The Infinite Quest,” “Dreamland” is a solid little animated “Doctor Who” tale.

“Planet Of Fire” is a good character oriented episode with a mediocre plot.

Doctor Who: Dreamland:

The plot: Upon arriving in Arizona in the 1950’s, the Doctor and two locals named Cassie and Jimmy soon find themselves caught up in a complicated situation involving an alien weapon, Area 51, an angry Colonel, treacherous aliens named the Viporox, robots known as the “Alliance Of Shades,” an alien spacecraft, and two alien beings. How do all of these things connect? That would be spoiling the fun. “Dreamland” is a 6 part 42 minute animated adventure.

Back in 2007, BBC put out a well-made 45 animated episode titled “The Infinite Quest” with the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones. In addition to having an engaging plot, the episode featured superb animation by the Firestep animation company (who also worked on the fantastic missing episodes of the classic ‘Who’ episode “The Invasion”). Unfortunately, to my knowledge, Firestep was not involved in “Dreamland” and it shows in the funky looking CGI animation here. Simply put, the environments are bland, the character motions are awkward, and the visual style is just boring. It’s a shame they couldn’t get better animators as it would have no doubt improved the episode overall.

Clumsy animation aside, “Dreamland” is still an enjoyable albeit a pretty standard alien centric story written by Phil Ford. The episode is made watchable thanks to some snappy dialogue for the 10th Doctor character and because of David Tennant’s fantastic voice work. I also have to admit that the story has a good pacing to it. From the get go, the story moves at a brisk pace and it never slows down at all.

As I received a screener copy, I cannot comment on the picture and audio quality of the product.

Extras:
* Trailer for “The Sarah Jane Adventures.”
* 3 specials titled “Doctor Who” greatest moments centered around The Doctor, The Companions and The Enemies. While it would have been nice to see these specials focus on the entire history of Doctor Who Doctors, companions and enemies, it only centers around the new series (specifically the Ninth and Tenth Doctor eras). Interviews with cast and crew members (such as David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, and John Barrowman) are included. Casual fans might want to give these a watch, but if you’re a Whovian, there’s nothing new here.

Doctor Who: Planet Of Fire:

The plot: The Doctor, Turlough, Kamelion, and Peri are lead to the volcanic planet Sarn where they encounter Sarn natives who worship a fire God, links to Turlough’s past/family, powerful Numismaton gas, and The Master up to no good as per usual.

While the story is a bit too cluttered with interconnected subplots, “Planet Of Fire” is still a noteworthy episode as it features breathtaking location shooting in Lanzarote and some interesting character moments (as well as Peri in a bikini). First and foremost, I liked that more information about Turlough’s character is revealed in his final episode on ‘Who.’ Granted, it felt forced and might not have been what fans were expecting, but it was still interesting nonetheless. Plus, it was just nice to see the Turlough character develop more as he didn’t really have much to have after the Black Guardian trilogy. Secondly, I quite liked the Doctor in this episode as we got to see a different side of Davison’s fifth Doctor. We see that he’s still a bit saddened about Tegan’s departure and we see also see a darker side of the Doctor in the end confrontation with the Master.

Video/Audio:

The 4:3 fullscreen picture quality is top notch. This is a beautifully shot episode that has been remastered quite nicely.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio track is as good as you can expect from a classic ‘Who’ episode.

Extras:
* Easily the most appealing extra on this disc is the special edition version of “Planet Of Fire.” It’s an edited down 66 minute movie version of the episode complete with new special f/x and a Dolby Digital 5.1 episode. While the pacing of the episode is certainly more intense and fast paced (albeit more choppy), I have to wonder why the BBC singled out this episode to edit? “Planet Of Fire” isn’t known as one of the best classic Who episodes. Still, it’s an interesting experiment.
* Photo gallery, isolated music score, info text, “Doctor Who” series 4 trailer, Radio Times Listings, a trailer for “The Dominators,” and a continuity ad.
* An introduction to the special edition by Fiona Cumming.
* “Calling The Shots”- A collection of behind-the-scenes set footage with interviews with the cast/crew.
* “Remembering Anthony Ainley”- A narrator and “Doctor Who” cast and crew members talk about the late Anthony Ainley’s (who portrayed The Master) career and what he was like. Footage of Ainley is also included. 
* 12 ½ minutes of alternate, deleted, and extended shots/scenes.
* “Designs Of Sarn”- An interview with designer Malcolm Thornton talking about the sets/scenery.
* “Return To The Planet Of Fire”- Fiona Cumming and Malcolm Thornton tour Lanzarote and talk about where scenes were shot.

* Commentary by Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Mark Strickson, and Fiona Cumming. The group talks about location shooting, Kamelion, a nudist beach, characters, etc. A good track worth listening to.

October 4, 2010 - Posted by | DVD review | , , ,

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