Doctor Who – Survival

No, this isn’t the slightly overdue latest episode review, it’s the latest DVD release from the classic series. And it’s a bit of a special one – first shown in late 1989, Survival was the last story in what turned out to be the last series of Doctor Who until 2005.[1]

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy this time round) takes his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) back to her home town of Perivale for a visit. But something’s wrong – her old friends have disappeared, and it’s not long before the travellers find out where they’ve gone.

They’re transported to the planet of the Cheetah People – humanoid, horse riding predators. The planet is unstable, and appears to be about to break up. And it seems to have a strange effect on the people who are taken there – they gradually become wild and cat-like.

All that would be a lot of fun, but just to make things more interesting, the Master (Anthony Ainley) is around, in full evil form. Somehow the Doctor has to escape from the collapsing planet make sure Ace doesn’t change irreversibly. Of course, the Master has other ideas, and once again his determination to destroy the Doctor gets him into more trouble.

As was normal at the time, this is a three-part story, making it not a great deal longer than a single parter in the current series. And at the time, the series had been cut back to just fourteen 25-minute episodes, meaning that there was a lot less Doctor Who around than we get these days. Interestingly, this final story has some details in common with the revived series – the suburban setting, mostly Earth-based…

Apart from the entertaining story, there’s a nice collection of extras:

  • Cat Flap – a two part documentary on the making of Survival
  • Endgame – a look at how the series came to be cancelled, and how it might have developed if the 27th season had been in 1990 rather than 2005.
  • Little Girl Lost – a look at the development of Ace’s character
  • The usual production subtitles, plus out-takes and much much more

All good stuff, and every fan should watch it!

[1] Insert standard stuff about not paying much attention to the Paul McGann TV movie