Moving right along, here we are with my last classic Doctor Who DVD post for a month or so. Yes, I’ve defeated that pile of them that’s been glaring at me for the last few months. And of course, we’re less than two weeks away from the expected return of new Doctor Who episodes.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We need to go back to October 1987 for this one. Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor, in his second story and Bonnie Langford is Mel, who I’m afraid remains my least favourite companion of all time.
Mel fancies a swim, and apparently the TARDIS swimming pool wasn’t available at the time, so the Doctor takes her to Paradise Towers, which is supposedly the crowning achievement of the Great Architect Kroagnon, but which turns out to be not all it’s cracked up to be. With most of the adult population away at a carefully unspecified war, the building is occupied by gangs of young girls – Kangs, elderly residents with cannibalistic tendencies – Rezzies, rule-bound caretakers, one would-be action hero, oh and some homicidal cleaning robots.
Being in a tower block offers lots of chances for running down corridors in the traditional manner, so that’s good. Richard Briers puts on a good show as the Chief Caretaker, though loses it a bit in the last episode when he’s taken over by the source of all the trouble, the disembodied Great Architect himself, who can’t be doing with all these people messing up his perfect building by breathing in it…
There’s some inventive use of slang by the Kangs, some lovely trickery by the Doctor, and Mel almost gets eaten by Rezzies, but manages to escape. Still, you can’t have everything…
Good stuff all round, really. Sylvester was getting into the part quite nicely, though without the darker, more manipulative characteristics that would emerge later. Fun.
There are some nifty bits in the extras, too. Apart from all the usual stuff, we are presented with:
- Horror on the High Rise A nicely done look back at the making of the story, with some of the guest actors, including Richard Briers, script editor Andrew Cartmel, who was just settling into the job and writer Stephen Wyatt.
- Girls! Girls! Girls! – The Eighties Sophie Aldred (Ace), Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) sit and talk about their experiences of being Doctor Who companions, sexism in TV, and generally seem to have a good time. Nicely done.
- Casting Sylvester Clive Doig talks about his part in casting Sylvester McCoy.
- Alternative Soundtrack For reasons that probably made sense at the time, the music originally commissioned was found to be unsuitable, so a new soundtrack was created. The DVD has an option to watch the story with the unused music.