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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
Inferno (Special Edition)


Starring: Jon Pertwee
Distributor: BBC DVD
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 27 May 2013

While the Doctor continues to try and repair his TARDIS, he also continues as scientific advisor to UNIT. Currently he is overseeing Professor Stahlman's attempt to break through the planet's core, to release a form of gas which holds the hope of curing Earth's energy crisis. However, the Doctor's reservations about the project are turned into horrific truth when he is accidentally transported to an alternative Earth where the project is more advanced. As he battles the fascistic regime which rules there he witnesses the culmination of the project and the death of the Earth...

Inferno: Special Edition is a seven part story from Jon Pertwee’s first season as the Doctor. This season saw the show take a more Earth bound and adult approach to the show. The story was written by Don Houghton and jointly directed between Douglas Campfield and Barry Letts. The show originally ran from 09 May and 20 June nineteen seventy.

The story is essentially told in two halves, the contemporary Earth based side and the alternative universe, where a fascistic regime has taken hold in Britain. The regular cast have a blast portraying evil versions of themselves and it remained one of Nicholas Courtney’s (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) favourite stories.

By this season the show had pretty much turned into Doomwatch (1970 - 1972) with many of the stories revolving around environmental concerns. In the case of Inferno it is a cautionary tale about hubris and the limits of human knowledge, it’s certainly a tale whose moral is that there are some areas where it is best to tread really carefully.

Although, admittedly, the monsters are a bit on the crap side, they were not included in the original story. This was an era of Who where monster of the week had become embedded in the show. This is a shame as it detracts from the real monster in the show, Professor Stahlman, played by Olaf Pooley, a near perfect representation of the driven scientist, so obsessed with being right that he would endanger the whole world to prove it. The introduction of the Primordial creatures waters down the actual message of the script. Even so the intelligently written Inferno, along with the whole of this season remained a high point in the Doctor's fifty years.

The story has been reissued using the latest restoration techniques and it does actually make for a better picture, plus the set comes with a number of new extras, though whether this is enough for you to invest in another version of the story is very much a personal choice.

The show comes on a two disc DVD set. Disc one gets you all seven episodes with a full length commentary with actors Nicholas Courtney, John Levene (Benton), producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks. The disc also comes with English subtitles.

Disc two is where the extras reside, starting with Can You Hear the Earth Scream (34 min, 45 sec) is the ubiquitous ‘making of’ bring back together surviving members of the cast a crew to share their memories of the show. Hadoke Versus HAVOK (27 min, 33 sec) has Hadoke training with some of the HAVOK team, the stunt guys who featured in many who stories, to see if he can make the grade as a stunt man.

The penultimate episode of Doctor Forever – Lost in the Dark Dimension (27 min, 26 sec) continues the informative look at how the show survived in other media during its hiatus. This time the feature concentrates on attempt to bring the show back to life. The UNIT Family – Part One (35 min, 35 sec) takes a look at the inclusion of UNIT, with lots of shots from the older stories. The piece has a lot of new interviews and material and so is well worth a look. There is a Promo Film from the BBC (6 min) when the corporation was trying to sell its expertise in this area, featuring shots from some of the Who shows.

There is a short Deleted Scene (1 min, 56 sec which, although it was seen in the American transmission, was cut from the British showing as it has Jon Pertwee doing a voice over as a radio presenter. It was cut as it is pretty obvious that it is Pertwee. Included from the original VHS release of the show we have Pertwee’s introduction to the story (2 min, 43 sec).

The disc is wrapped with a photo gallery (6 min, 10 sec), the 1971 Doctor Who Annual from 1971 in PDF form, the radio times listings and the coming soon for a full colour version of The Mind of Evil.

There is no denying that Inferno is a more mature slice of Who, full of action with a thought provoking script, If you have not picked up the story so far, then you’re in for a treat.


Charles Packer

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