Revisitations:1 - DVD

The first of three boxsets where we revisit some of the earliest DVD releases with newly remastered episodes and a greatly increased extras package. The first box features the Fourth Doctor and Leela's atmospheric foray into Victorian London in 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang', the Fifth Doctor's highly regarded swansong 'The Caves of Androzani', and the one and only TV outing for the Eighth Doctor in 'Doctor Who - The TV Movie'.

This article should be read in conjunction with the notes made for the original DVD releases - The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Caves of Androzani and the TV Movie.

For such a large re-release project, the remastering side of things was actually pretty straight forward.

'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' had already been through our preferred Transform PAL decoder for the original release, so it was decided to base this re-release on the existing DVD masters, but to go in and perform additional clean-up work on the pictures and remaster the audio from scratch. Picture noise had always been a problem with this story, which didn't play well with the less advanced MPEG encoders available back then. Some additional noise reduction was applied here which helped produce much better pictures through the modern encoders used now.

For the re-issue 'The Caves of Androzani', we tackled the job from scratch, going back to the transmission masters and putting them through our standard Transform PAL decode, grade and noise reduce workflow, with full audio restoration. Prints of the film sequences were held in private hands and once again a modern Spirit transfer used to replace the unstable, noisy and poor resolution examples in the transmission masters. Unfortunately, a dissolve from a film sequence back to studio was inadvertently missed in one episode, resulting in the film running a couple of seconds longer than it should and ending in a cut rather than the dissolve intended by the director.

On the initial release, the matte paintings of the planet surface were recomposited with the new film and the viewer offered the choice to view the original or new version as desired. This time round, the new version is the one that is seen in the episode as would be the case for any remade sequence these days. The original can be found as an Easter Egg if desired.

We did discover that for some reason the commentary on the 'Behind the Scenes: The Regeneration' feature was woefully out of sync originally. This has now been corrected.

Ironically, the TV Movie probably had the most time spent on this time around, even though it is the newest production. The existing DVD master was used as the basis for some picture additional cleanup, but much of the time was spent on correcting the picture phase throughout the story. Generally, you would expect a frame of film to be contained within a single frame of video. However, due to the DEFT decoding carried out to create the PAL master from the NTSC original in 1996, the whole show was a mix of these "in-phase" shots and "out of phase" shots where a film frame occupied field two of one video frame and field one of the next. On a traditional interlaced CRT television, this makes no difference to the viewing experience whatsoever. However, the consumer electronics market has moved on hugely in the last decade, with CRT being mostly replaced by LCD or plasma flat-panel progressive displays. These displays use complicated de-interlacing algorithms to convert the interlaced source material for progressive display. Generally, a de-interlacer doesn't mind if the material is in-phase or out-of-phase, but they can get very confused if the phase switches constantly. This can produce varied effects, from skips and stutters on movement to visible line structure on moving objects. For this reason, Peter Crocker spent a great deal of time moving the out-of-phase shots by a field in time to  correct the picture phase throughout, a tricky and time-consuming process but one that we hope viewers with sensitive equipment will feel to be worth it.


Disc Contents:

The Talons of Weng-Chiang - Disc 1

• Six episodes with mono audio.

Commentary - with actors Louise Jameson, John Bennett and Christopher Benjamin, producer Philip Hinchcliffe and director David Maloney.

The Talons of Weng-Chiang - Disc 2

The Last Hurrah (dur. 32’ 32”) - Tom Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe meet at Tom’s home to discuss the making of what would be their final story together. Also featuring actors Louise Jameson, Trevor Baxter, Christopher Benjamin, director David Maloney, designer Roger Murray-Leach and costume designer John Bloomfield.

Moving On (dur. 4’ 33”) - ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ was to be Philip Hinchcliffe’s last story as the producer of Doctor Who. In this featurette he looks back at the ideas he had for the next season.

The Foe from the Future (dur. 6’ 45” ) - a look at the original concept idea for the un-made story ‘The Foe from the Future’, which eventually became ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’. With writer Robert Banks Stewart and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.

Now & Then (dur. 11’ 01”) - the latest instalment of this series visits the locations used in the story and compares how they looked on screen in 1977 to how they look now.

Look East (dur. 3’ 45”) - in January 1977, the BBC’s local news programme paid a visit to the filming of ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ in Northampton Repertory Theatre, where reporter David Cass interviewed Tom Baker.

Victoriana and Chinoiserie (dur. 8’ 06”) - a discussion of the literary references that can be found within the story. With producer Philip Hinchcliffe and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr. Anne Witchard.

Music Hall (dur. 21’ 42”) - ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ is set within a music hall, a theatrical tradition which is upheld to this day by groups of dedicated performers. This documentary looks at the history of the music hall and features performances by those who continue to uphold its traditions. Hosted by Michael McManus, with Gerald Glover, Pamela Cundell, Johnny Dennis and Victor Spinetti, featuring songs performed by Katy Baker.

Limehouse - A Victorian Chinatown (dur. 19’ 20”) - Limehouse, in the old docklands area of London’s East End is not only the setting for ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ but for many other stories in English literature. Dr. Matthew Sweet investigates the area and its history. With Roehampton University’s Dr. John Seed, Dr. Tom Wareham, the curator of the Museum of London Docklands and University of Westminster lecturer in English Literature, Dr. Anne Witchard.

The Talons of Weng-Chiang - Disc 3

(Disc 3 in this new set is disc 2 from the original release BBC DVD1152)

Whose Doctor Who (dur. 58' 42") - a 1977 documentary from BBC2's 'The Lively Arts' strand, looking back at the history of the programme and its psychological impact on the viewers, particularly children. Introduced by Melvyn Bragg.

Blue Peter Theatre (dur. 25' 58”) - starts with a 1974 introduction, featuring a strike-bound Blue Peter team having to leave their usual studio and present the programme from the set of the first Tom Baker story, then continues with a series of articles from 1977 in which the team make a Doctor Who theatre, complete with sets and monsters and, with the help of Dick Mills, show how to make your own sound effects to accompany the performance.

Behind the Scenes (dur. 24'00") - very poor quality (ex DW production office timecoded Shibaden tape) but exceptionally rare footage from the studio recording of the story.

Philip Hinchcliffe Interview (dur. 11' 30") - series producer Philip Hinchcliffe interviewed on 'Pebble Mill at One' about the show and the possible effects of on-screen violence. Ex Philips 1500 off-air recording.

Trails and Continuity (dur. 2'24”) - trails and continuity announcements (mostly derived from off-air domestic recordings) for 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' and 'Whose Doctor Who'.

TARDIS-Cam No.6 (dur. 1’ 41”) - originally produced for the BBC Doctor Who website, this animation shows the TARDIS encountering a pod of space whales.

Easter Egg (dur 0' 40”) - clean title sequence.

The Caves of Andozani - Disc 1

• Four episodes with mono audio.

Commentary with actors Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper.

Behind the Scenes - The Regeneration (dur. 7’ 53”) - a look inside the studio during the shooting of the climactic regeneration scene. Features an optional commentary track.
• Audio 1: Studio sound
• Audio 2: Commentary with Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Graeme Harper

Behind the Scenes - Creating Sharaz Jek (dur. 5’ 04”) - inside the character of Sharaz Jek, courtesy of an audio recording of the late Christopher Gable talking about his role in the story, photographs from Gable’s own collection and footage from the studio recording.

Extended Scenes (dur. 4’ 12”) - three extended scenes taken from the original film sequences and timecoded production tapes. The first has an optional commentary track.
• Audio 1: Studio sound
• Audio 2: Commentary with Peter Davison and Graeme Harper

Trailer (dur. 0’ 28”) - BBC1 trailer for the first episode.

News (dur. 5’ 21”) - a compilation of news reports and interviews about Peter Davison leaving the series.

Isolated Music - option to view the episodes with isolated music scores.

Easter Egg – the original opening of episode one complete with ‘wobbly matte’ shots of the planet surface. Included simply because it was on the original release.

The Caves of Andozani - Disc 2

Chain Reaction (dur. 36’ 04”) - cast and crew look back at the making of the story that is regularly voted as the best Doctor Who story of all time. With actors Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Maurice RoŽves, Robert Glenister and Martin Cochrane, director Graeme Harper, script editor Eric Saward, production designer John Hurst and composer Roger Limb. Written and presented by Matthew Sweet.

Directing Who: Then & Now (dur. 11’ 44” ) - Graeme Harper is the only director to have worked on both the classic and new series of Doctor Who. In this featurette he talks about the different production techniques used on both.

Russell Harty (dur. 8’ 36”) - Peter Davison and Colin Baker appear on the Russell Harty Show in the week between Davison’s last episode and Baker’s first.

The Television Movie - Disc 1

Commentary 1 (2001) – original DVD release solo commentary by director Geoffrey Sax.
Commentary 2 (2009) – new commentary with actors Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy, moderated by Nicholas Briggs.

The Seven Year Hitch (dur. 53’ 53”) – This documentary looks at executive producer Philip Segal’s seven-year quest to return Doctor Who to the screen, from his initial contact with the BBC shortly before its cancellation in 1989, through to the production and transmission of the movie in 1996. Featuring Philip Segal, BBC executive producer Jo Wright, BBC Head of Series Peter Cregeen, BBC1 controller Alan Yentob, writer Matthew Jacobs and Graeme Harper, the director of BBC Enterprises' abandoned Doctor Who movie. Narrated by Amanda Drew.

The Doctor’s Strange Love (dur. 17’ 10”) – writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier discuss how they stopped worrying and learned to love the TV Movie with comedian Josie Long.

Isolated Music - option to view the movie with isolated music score.

Music Tracks – four music tracks from the production presented in full: ‘In a Dream’, ‘All Dressed Up’, ‘Ride into the Moonlight’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The Television Movie - Disc 2

Paul McGann Audition (dur. 7’ 38”) – Paul McGann’s audition for the role.

VFX Tests June 1994 (dur. 0’ 50”) – early video effects tests by Amblin Imaging in 1994, featuring the ‘Spider Dalek’ design.

VFX March 1996 (dur. 2’ 32”) – video effects build-ups presented as mute timecoded ‘work in progress’ shots from the CGI effects department.

EPK (dur. 15’ 36”) – the Electronic Press Kit put out by Fox in 1996 included a short documentary and interview segments to allow other broadcasters to put together their own packages about the movie.

Behind the Scenes (dur. 4’ 47”) – on set and on location during the filming of the movie.

Philip Segal’s Tour of the TARDIS Set (dur. 2’33”) – executive producer Philip Segal shows us around the TARDIS control room set.

Alternate Takes (dur. 1’ 02”) – two alternate versions of scenes from the movie.

BBC Trails (dur. 1’ 00”) – BBC television trails for the movie.

Who Peter 1989-2009 (dur. 26’ 42”) - since the birth of Doctor Who in the sixties, it has shared an almost symbiotic relationship with the long-running BBC children’s magazine show ‘Blue Peter’. In the second part of this special documentary series, some of those involved look back over the history of that relationship in the ‘new series years’. With new series executive producer Russell T. Davies, Blue Peter editor Richard Marson, brand executive Edward Russell, writers Robert Shearman and Clayton Hickman and competition winners William Grantham and John Bell. Presented by Gethin Jones.

The Wilderness Years (dur. 23’ 29”) – in the seven years between the end of the classic series and the broadcast of the TVM, Doctor Who survived in print, video and audio, kept alive by fans within those industries who were determined not to let it die. With BBC head of serials Peter Cregeen, former Doctor Who Magazine editor John Freeman and current editor Tom Spilsbury., Virgin Books editor Peter Darvill-Evans, BBC Books consultant Justin Richards, script editor Andrew Cartmel, video producers Keith Barnfather and Bill Baggs, director Kevin Davies and Big Finish producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. Narrated by Glen Allen.

Stripped for Action – The Eighth Doctor (dur. 19’ 45”) – the final part of the series looking at the Doctor’s adventures in comic-strip form. With writers Scott Gray, former Doctor Who Magazine editors Gary Russell, Alan Barnes and Clayton Hickman, artists Lee Sullivan, Martin Geraghty and Roger Langridge, author Paul Scoones, historian Jeremy Bentham.

Tomorrow’s Times – The Eighth Doctor (dur. 10’ 47”) another in the series looking at Doctor Who’s contemporary coverage in daily newspapers and other publications. Presented by Nicholas Courtney. 16:9 FHA

Easter Egg 1 (dur. 2’ 02”) – writer Matthew Jacobs recalls his earliest memory of Doctor Who.

Easter Egg 2 (dur. 9’ 00”) – a 2001 interview with Philip Segal. This was a menu item on the original release, but all of the points he makes have been expanded upon in newer features on these discs.

• Plus of course the usual PDF materials, Coming Soon trailer, Programme Subtitles, Subtitle Production Notes and Photo Galleries.


Copyright Steve Roberts, 10 August 2011. No reproduction allowed without written permission.