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Doctor Who: Nightmare Of Eden and The Sensorites DVD Reviews

 

“The Sensorites” and “Nightmare Of Eden” never live up to their interesting story concepts.

Nightmare Of Eden

The plot: The Doctor, Romana II, and K-9 arrive on a cruise liner that has collided and fused with another ship. As the Doctor tries to fix the situation, more troubling situations rear their ugly head in the form of a CET Perfection Machine (which can store specimens on crystals), drug smuggling, and murderous creatures known as the Mandrels. How do all these stories tie in together? That’s for me to know and you to find out!

“Nightmare Of Eden” is one of those frustrating “Doctor Who” episodes that should be better than it is. Writer Bob Baker’s script is certainly ambitious and full of inventive ideas, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work as a whole. Baker crams too many ideas into one poorly paced adventure. A lot of time is wasted in this story and it takes far too long to get going.

Thankfully, there are two aspects that make this serial adventure watchable. The first is, of course, Tom Baker. Thanks to writer Bob Baker’s amusing quips, Tom Baker is at the top of his game here as he provides plenty of humorous moments that cure the boredom that the story sometimes provides. The second aspect that caught my attention was the inclusion of the CET Perfection Machine. While a ludicrous concept to be sure, it was imaginative and provided a much needed spark to this story. Without spoling too much about it, I will say that the more you learn about this Machine, the more interesting it becomes from a storytelling and visual standpoint.

Video/Audio:

‘Eden,’ which is presented in fullscreen, looks top notch here. This is a very clean transfer for a Fourth Doctor era episode.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio track is also solid. This is as good as Mono tracks can get.

Extras:
* “Doctor Who” series 6, “The Happiness Patrol,” and “Dragonfire” trailers, Radio Times Listings, info text, and a photo gallery.
* “Ask Aspel”- An 11 minute segment of this children’s show featuring Lalla Ward.
* “The Doctor’s Strange Love”- Another lame roundtable chat (this time about ‘Eden’) with Josie Long, Joe Lidster, and Simon Guerrier. Couldn’t they have gotten a better cast for a chat show? Toby Hadoke would have been perfect here.
* “Going Solo”- Writer Bob Barker talks about the “Nightmare Of Eden” script he wrote by himself.
* “The Nightmare Of Television Centre”- A different sort of making of with critical and honest points of view from the visual effects and video effects artists and the assistant floor manager. I’d like to see more making ofs live this to be honest.
* Commentary by Lalla Ward, Peter Craze, Toby Hadoke, Bob Baker, Colin Mapson, and Joan Stribling. Sorry folks, no Tom Baker here. Instead, we get lots of discussions about f/x, the cast and characters, the sets, etc.

The Sensorites:

The plot: The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan arrive on a spaceship and immediately discover that things are not right on board this vessel. The humans, who appear dead at first sight, are in fact being controlled. They are unable to fly away and escape the control because of their powerful captors (the Sensorites). The Sensorites are controlling the humans because of they want to protect the minerals on their planet Sense-Sphere. On top of that, we later learn that the Sensorites are suffering from unknown ill effects and that several Sensorites are planning a rebellion against the elders in charge. Can the Doctor fix the Sensorites’ problems? Can the humans survive against the Sensorites and the oncoming uprise?

After seeing the final shot in part 1 of a creepy Sensorite floating outside the spaceship and peering inside the window, your attention is immediately grabbed. You can’t help but wonder who these aliens are and what they want from the human characters. Unfortunately, all that excitement soon vanishes as soon as we learn about the Sensorites. Truth be told, they are just a dull alien race. It’s not hard to see why they never showed up in the series again because all they do is bicker and whine non-stop.

Another big issue with this 6 parter is the scene staging. I’m not sure if the directors or production/set designers are to blame here, but you can’t help but shout at the screen during a scene in which the Doctor and company can’t see a Sensorite stealing the TARDIS lock directly behind them. Shortly after that, there’s another moronic scene in which John passes right by a “hiding” Barbara and Susan who are sticking out like a sore thumb. I suppose these complaints can be directed at the budget limitations of the small sets, but I found it really distracting as it took me out of the episode.

Summary: “Nightmare Of Eden” and “The Sensorites” are by no means must see episodes, but Whovians might still want to pick these discs up.

Video/Audio:

“The Sensorites,” which is presented in fullscreen, is hands down the best First Doctor DVD transfer to date. I was shocked at how sharp the episode looked. A job well done by the DVD production team.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio track is adequate, but rather flat.

Extras:

* “Doctor Who” series 6 and “The Robots Of Death,””The Tomb Of The Cybermen,” and “The Three Doctors” special edition DVD trailers, Radio Times Listings, photo gallery, info text, and original design drawings.

* “Vision On”- Clive Doig chats about the job of a vision mixer.

* “Secret Voices Of The Sense Sphere”- Clive Doig talks about the mysterious lady’s voice during a scene.

* “Looking For Peter”- Superfan Toby Hadoke looks for information on the mysterious writer of “The Sensorites” Peter R. Newman. Definitely the best extra here.

* Commentary by William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Joe Greig, Martyn Huntley, Giles Phibbs, Frank Cox, Raymond Cusick, Sonia Markham, and Toby Hadoke. As usual, Hadoke does a fine job of guiding the commentary as he tries to get information about the episode. Note: Some commentators only appear in various parts of the episode.

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June 28, 2012 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , ,

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