Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PREVIEW: Revisitations 3 - Tomb of the Cybermen

As there is so much material on the Revisitations 3 box set (featuring three stories over five discs), I've split the review into their respective parts - with each focusing on the separate tales. You can read full details about the box set HERE but, first up it's the Patrick Troughton story, Tomb of the Cybermen.

STORY
As with my previous two previews, I won't dwell on the main feature (as you no doubt own it already) but I will say that I don't regard it in quite the same high esteem as many others do. Tomb of the Cybermen is a great story (and I've watched it numerous times), with some astonishing film work and a tremendous score (if borrowed in parts), but I wouldn't call it a "classic."

For me, some of it is still too stagey in the acting department (even by Who Sixties standards) with only Troughton coming off well (who I'm not normally a fan of, it has to be said). Anyway, I'm probably in the minority as loads of people absolutely adore this story, so let's plough on and have a look at the special features.

EXTRAS
Again, like The Three Doctors (preview HERE), I'm slightly curious as to just why this was worthy of another release. Granted, it has been remastered (again), though, I don't not a picture quality nerd - I grew up watching dodgy off-air tapes or purchased VHSs on less than excellent definition televisions. So it looks great (if that's the sort of thing that gets you going) but I'm guessing as the original release didn't feature a "making of" for Tomb, then that's why we're getting it again.

The main doc, The Lost Giants, is an excellent look at the making of the story and features actress Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan), script editor Victor Pemberton, Frazer Hines (Jamie), Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Michael Kilgarriff (Cyber~Controller) and visual effects designer, Peter Day. It's superbly put together with some great computer~generated imagery to please the eye (included by itself as an Easter Egg, fact fans) - a very nice and most appreciated touch. Full marks to Rob Semenoff for his outstanding graphic work.

If I were to be critical of the piece, it's that there's no archival interviews (a point I'll return to); resulting in no input or thoughts from Patrick Troughton, for example. I would also like to add that the green screen work in this docco is a tad obvious with Watling's hair becoming distracting with its changing colours. Small points, I should add.


The next feature, The Curse of the Cybermen’s Tomb with Sir Christopher Frayling and Dr Debbie Challis, examines the ancient Egyptian origins to the story. Normally, this kind of extraneous extra would be barely watchable once but the producers and contributors have done a wonderful job in relavatising the historical materials in a Doctor Who context. Or rather, they've contextualised Tomb of the Cybermen with the discovery of Tutankhamun. Clocking in at only fifteen minutes, it's a brief but fantastic and informative film.

Bolstering these two docs is another revised piece, Cybermen – Extended Edition. This is a thirty minute look at the history of the tin men with the always VFM, Dr Matthew Sweet. It popped up originally on the Cybermen box set back in 2009 (featuring "Nu" Who Cyber~stories). It's a well produced film (though Sweet's voice is rather tinny throughout) taking in the entirety of the Cybermen's televisual adventures up until the Series 5 finale (so, annoyingly, it's already out of date). As many probably didn't get the initial box set, it's pleasing to see this released again.

The Magic of VidFIRE is a rather technical look at the process involved in bring "classic" Who to the small screen. For nerds and tech~buffs it's fascinating, though I'm too sure how a "normal" would view it (do "normals" buy Doctor Who DVDs?). There's also the television advert for the Walls Sky Ray ice lolly which features a Troughton "lookalike" and the Daleks but, even better, the discs come with a PDF which not only includes all the collectible cards from the Sky Ray lollies but also all the promotion materials. A real find, lifting this collection above your typical Doctor Who DVD release. #joy

Accompanying the original commentary (a rather dry affair from Hines and Watling) is a shiny new audio moderated throughout by Toby Hadoke. He's joined by: Victor Pemberton and Bernard Holley on Ep 1; Shirley Cooklin, Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines on Eps 2-4; whilst Cyberman Reg Whitehead joins them on the latter two episodes. It's a bouncy affair and the gang get on very well (and, being actors, it's entertaining) though there is a bit of repetition of stories with the main doc (some almost word for word).

And this is where I would humbly suggest that the classic range take a note from the Disney DVD book, as it were. No bear with me, please. On certain releases from the animated company, the audio commentary would feature archival materials, such as interviews with writers, directors, etc...; really fleshing out the entire story of a film with many voices. With the same people used in both the main documentary and the commentary for Tomb, it seems a waste that some people's thoughts and memories are absent.

Regardless, the makers of this set have packed a whole lot of love (and new features) into Tomb of the Cybermen, making it certainly worth a look - even if you already own it. Plus you've probably worn out that ancient DVD 'cos you've watched it so many times 'cos it's such a bleedin' classic*


REVISITATIONS 3
is released Feb 13
Thanks to 2|entertain




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