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Doctor Who: Death To The Daleks and Dragonfire DVD Reviews

“Death To The Daleks” and “Dragonfire” contain memorable moments in “Doctor Who” history.

After the TARDIS is plagued by a power drain, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are forced to arrive on the planet Exxilon. While there, the two encounter cloaked figures (the Exxilons), the mysterious white city, Marine Space Corps seeking minerals, and, of course, the Daleks who are on the planet for their own evil purposes. How do all of these stories mesh together? That would be spoiling the fun.

Before rewatching “Death To The Daleks,” I remember it being one of my favorite 3rd Doctor era adventures mostly due to the fact that it felt like a fun-filled Saturday Afternoon Serial. Upon rewatching it, however, it’s not quite as fun-filled as I remembered.

Writer Terry Nation’s script may boast some great moments (such as the maze and the Daleks not being able to use their guns) and a fascinating new character (Bellal), but the script is rather clumsy and overwritten. The story starts off far too slowly with the first part being stuffed with filler. Sadly, it’s not until around the midway point when the story begins to inch forward to something involving.

Another issue I had was the rather cartoonish portrayal of the Daleks. The fearsome foes of the Doctor should never have dopey theme music nor should they panic and self destruct. That’s just completely out of character for the Daleks.

Moving forward to the 7th Doctor era, we have “Dragonfire.” In this serial adventure, the Doctor and Mel arrive on the space trading colony known as Iceworld. Iceworld is ruled by the evil Kane who is desperately seeking treasure that is supposedly guarded by a dragon. Kane isn’t the only one searching for the treasure for his own reasons, however, as we learn that Sabalom Glitz (previously seen in “The Mysterious Planet”) is also looking for it. To no surprise, the Doctor, Mel, and future companion Ace get into a lot of trouble with Kane and his minions as they begin to learn more about what is really going on with Kane.

Of all the 7th Doctor era episodes, “Dragonfire” is arguably one of the most entertaining and most important episodes. From a technical standpoint, this is hands down one of the best looking episodes from a production value point of view. The sets are massive and cool (pun intended) and it’s refreshing to see the Doctor somewhere outside of a quarry.

From a story angle “Dragonfire” is important because it sees the departure of Mel and the introduction of fan favorite Ace. We also get to see the return of the underrated character Sabalom Glitz and are also treated to a fantastic guest star in Patricia Quinn (Magenta from “Rocky Horror Picture Show”). All of these elements provide a lively and exciting spark to the story to be sure.

As for the story itself, it strangely rips off  “Star Wars,” “Alien,” and “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” while also infusing original, funny humor like the Doctor trying to pet a baby alien. If you can get past the blatant sci-fi references, however, it’s a pretty fun, albeit oddball,  ride.

Summary: “Death To The Daleks” and “Dragonfire” may not be essential episodes, but they are both worth seeking out.

Video/Audio:

Both adventures are presented in fullscreen and both adventures have their visual issues. ‘Daleks’  looks solid at times, but the left side of the screen suffers from blurry lines and discoloring. “Dragonfire,” meanwhile, looks sharper than several McCoy era episodes, but has an irritating flicker on the bottom left of the screen sometimes.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio tracks are decidedly better than the video quality. “Dragonfire” sounds clear while the ‘Daleks’ track sounds so loud that it almost resembles a 5.1 track.

“Death To The Daleks” Extras:
* “Doctor Who” series 6 and “The Krotons” trailers, photo gallery, info text, Radio Times Listings and isolated score.
* “Doctor Who Stories- Dalek Men”- A fun 13 minute extra about a couple of the Dalek operators’ experiences.
* “Studio Recording”- A collection of on set takes and rehearsals for certain scenes.
* “On The Set Of Dr. Who And The Daleks”- A behind-the-scenes footage Peter Cushing featurette, film trims, Gordon Flemyng (Jason Flemyng son), stories info photos fav extra has nothing to do with the episode
* “Beneath the City Of The Exxilons”- The standard 27 minute making of containing cast and crew interviews, set stories, discussions about Terry Nation’s script, etc.
* Commentary by Julian Fox, Toby Hadoke, Cy Town, Michael E. Briant, Richard Leyland, L. Rowland Warne, and Dick Mills. As usual, the knowledgeable Whovian Toby Hadoke does a fine job of guiding the commentary by asking interesting questions to the commentators. Worth a listen.

“Dragonfire” Extras:

* “Doctor Who” series 6 and “Death To The Daleks” trailers, photo gallery, info text, Radio Times Listings, and isolated score.

* Nearly 10 minutes of deleted and extended scenes.

* “The Doctor’s Strange Love”- Josie Long, Simon Guerrier and Joe Lidster have a “roundtable” discussion about “Dragonfire.”

* “The Big Bang Theory”- New “Doctor Who” F/X supervisor Danny Hargreaves chats about certain explosions from the classic and new series.

* “Fire And Ice”- A making of with the usual cast/crew interviews, discussions about the script, characters, the production values and so forth. Better than the usual making of featurette.

* Commentary by Sophie Aldred, Edward Peel, Ian Briggs, Andrew Cartmel, Dominic Glynn, Chris Clough, and Mark Ayres. Not all of these commentators appear on all 3 parts. Interesting conversations about the script’s birth, the cast, the sets, the Doctor’s humor, etc.

September 9, 2012 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , ,

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