Written by: Ben Aaronovitch
Directed by: Andrew Morgan
Starring: Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred
- Commentary by McCoy and Aldred
- Deleted scenes and out-takes
- Multi-angle scenes
- Pop-up production notes
- BBC1 Trailers
- Music-only audio track
- Photo Gallery
- “Who’s Who” actor bios
Released by: BBC Video
Rating: NR, suitable for audiences 12+
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in original 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio
My Advice: Buy it.
[ad#longpost]Drawn from the later years of the Doctor Who TV legacy, Remembrance of the Daleks chronicles the seventh Doctor’s (McCoy) clash with the ubiquitous Daleks in Earth’s recent past. Returning to 1963 (the year of the very first Doctor Who adventure, incidentally, and the year that the first Doctor fled Earth using the TARDIS), the Doctor discovers two opposing factions of Daleks fighting over a device he himself had hidden on Earth all those years before.
The device, known as the Hand of Omega, would enable the Daleks to perfect their own time-travel technology, and unleash their destructive might across all of time and space. So the Doctor and his new companion Ace (Aldred) must work with the military of the day to foil the plans of both factions and ensure the safety of the universe and the time stream. All of this culminates in a clash of wills between the Doctor and the Dalek leader that leaves little question as to how a man with an umbrella and a funny sweater can defeat an entire race of walking tanks, without so much as picking up a weapon.
If it all sounds a bit convoluted, it’s understandable. For those of us on the west end of the pond, Doctor Who is a bit of an enigma. Many, like myself, had precious little exposure to the Doctor’s adventures growing up, and with 27 years worth of episodes, there’s a lot one can miss. In-jokes, running plots, and overlapping time-travel all serve to confound the casual viewer, as does the very enigma of multiple Doctors running around. But, those pitfalls aside, Doctor Who is quite enjoyable storytelling, even if the production values are dubious in the face of Hollywood sci-fi.
The BBC treatment of Doctor Who for home video is phenomenal. The commentary track is entertaining, and provides some good insight into the trials and tribulations of filming a show under tight timelines and on limited budget, particularly considering how long the Who-crew have been churning out episodes. The other features are likewise enlightening, and the out-take reel is pretty funny stuff. The on-screen production notes are incredibly extensive, so much so that I had to turn them off periodically to stop the constant march of text across the bottom of the screen.
If you don’t know Doctor Who, then Remembrance of the Daleks might be a bit much to digest as a first exposure. The production notes are helpful in pointing out subtle references to earlier adventures, but even with those, it can be a bit bewildering. On the other hand, if you’re willing to roll with the punches and accept what the script tells you, the story is quite good. Veterans of Who-ville are going to want to pick this one up, as it represents one of (if not the last) clash between the Gallifreyan Doctor and the evil Daleks. The DVD presentation rivals the best of television series DVDs, and should have enough material to appease even the most die-hard fan of the Doctor and his Companion.