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Doctor Who: Inferno- Special Edition DVD Review

Doctor Who- Inferno- Special Edition DVD

“Inferno” is one of the best Jon Pertwee era episodes.

“Inferno” is a 7 part serial adventure that centers around Professor Stahlman’s Project Inferno. The project’s plan to drill into the earth’s crust for a new gas energy source may seem important on paper, but as the drilling progresses, all hell breaks loose. Not only could this project cause a literal doomsday, but it’s also turning people into heated animals. The Doctor sees the project’s true dangers when he becomes trapped in a parallel universe after a TARDIS trial run goes awry. In this parallel universe, the drilling project is further along than in the other timeline and it slowly begins to endanger all of mankind. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Doctor struggles to get back to the proper timeline to warn everyone about the project because nobody in the parallel universe knows him (not even Liz, the Brigadier, or UNIT). As a result of this, everyone views the Doctor as an enemy or a madman so he has to prove to them what is really happening with the Inferno project. Can the Doctor get back to his own timeline to save the day or will Earth be doomed?

As with any long serialized “Doctor Who” story, “Inferno” has its faults. With a 166 minute runtime, writer Don Houghton spends a little too much time setting up the story. Houghton also has a tendency to have the characters engage in repetitive arguments (especially with the intentionally infuriating Professor Stahlman character). Still, if you can get past those issues and the silly cheap looking Wolf man esque creature costumes, there is much to admire about this 7 parter.

When you think of parallel universe stories, “Star Trek” is usually the first thing that comes to mind because the writing staff used that storytelling gimmick often. In the Whoniverse, however, parallel universes don’t appear very often in the television episodes so it seems fresh when they do appear. In the case of “Inferno,” the parallel universe plot device is used exceedingly well in terms of both the story and the characters. From a story standpoint, it was engaging to see events unfolding in two timelines especially since we (the audience) know what could befall our beloved characters in the real timeline. From a character standpoint, “Inferno” gives the cast a lot to work with. Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw) in particular are having an absolute blast here as they play dual roles. Courtney (who had publicly stated that “Inferno” was his favorite episode) really shines playing both a good and bad Brig while John also impresses by playing a more complex Liz in the parallel universe. Of course, Jon Pertwee also deserves much praise here as he effortlessly juggles humor, action, and drama scenes. Pertwee truly makes the character his own and it’s always fun just to watch him (even if the episodes may not always be winners).

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 4:3. How does it look? The exterior shots contain murky colors and blurry images while the interior scenes look slightly better. This isn’t one of the best remastered jobs by any means.   

Audio Track: Dolby Digital Mono. How does it sound? The music and sound f/x sound decent, but the track is pretty bland overall.

Extras:
* “Doctor Who” series 7 part 2 and “The Mind of Evil” trailers, photo gallery, Radio Times Listings, 1971 “Doctor Who” annual PDF, info text, and a deleted scene.
* Commentary by Nicholas Courtney, John Levene, Barry Letts, and Terrance Dicks. While not the most involving commentary, there are some interesting discussions about cast members, Venusian Akido, set stories, dual roles, etc.
* “Pertwee Years Intro”- Jon Pertwee’s intro to the “Pertwee Years” special.
* “Visual Effects Promo Film”- A BBC F/X promo film.
* “Hadoke Versus HAVOC”- Toby Hadoke chats with several “Doctor Who” stuntmen from the HAVOC stunt team and also gets some stunt training from the group.
* “Doctor Forever! Lost In The Dark Dimension”- Another segment from this great series of extras. This one revolves around the dark times where there was no televised “Doctor Who.” I found this to a completely fascinating extra as I had never heard about some of the planned projects in the 90’s.
* “The UNIT Family- Part One”- A featurette about UNIT’s inclusion in “Doctor Who” that includes interviews with cast and crew members, set stories, character discussions, etc.
* “Can You Hear The Earth Scream?”- Last, but not least is the obligatory making of with the usual cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes information, episode clips, photos, cast and character discussions, and much more.

Overall Thoughts: If you haven’t picked up “Inferno” on DVD yet, check out the “Special Edition” copy. You’ll be glad you did.

November 8, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , ,

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