Yes, it’s that time again: time for Les to catch up a bit. This three-disc set came out quite a while ago, and what with one thing and another, I haven’t got round to wittering about it. So here we go, then.
The three stories in this set come towards the end of Tom Baker’s long run as the Doctor, and see the departure of two old friends, and the arrival of a companion that many fans were less keen on. I’ll deal with each on in turn.
This one was first shown in October/Novermber 1980. The Doctor (Tom Baker), Romana (Lalla Ward) and K-9 are trying to return to Gallifrey – Romana’s been summoned home, and just for once the Doctor is going for the obedience ploy. There’s a bit of nonsense about how she was only supposed to have been away for that little matter of the Key to Time, which makes not a lot of sense, since it was the White Guardian who sent her along, rather than the Lord President, but never mind. In the usual way, things go a wee bit wrong, and the Tardis is dragged into another universe, which becomes known as E-Space for reasons I won’t go into here…
There’s not a lot in E-Space, so the Tardis lands on a planet called Alzarius, where a starliner that crashed quite some time ago is getting ready to leave. But there’s something nasty stirring. Mistfall is coming, and the truth is about to be revealed. Yes, it’s the usual kind of base under siege thingy, with a few twists to make it more interesting. The Time Lords get a little help from a friendly young native of the planet called Adric, who obviously had so much fun that he stows away in the Tardis at the end…
A good selection this time:
- All Aboard the Starliner – the usual look back at the making of the story, with assorted members of the cast and crew
- K-9 in E-Space – A small feature about what K-9 got up to in these three stories
- E-Space – Fact or Fiction – A bit of chat featuring, amongst others, Sir Patrick Moore, on the idea of other universes…
- And more – TV clips, a photo gallery, and the usual production subtitles
State of Decay
First shown in November/December 1980, this is the last blast of Doctor Who’s gothic horror tendency. Yes, it’s got vampires, who turn out to be relics of a singularly nasty race from the dawn of time, who had previosuly been though to have been nicely sorted out by the Time Lords a very long time ago. Well, it seems that one Great Vampire survived, and with its formerly human friends, it’s occupying the traditional castle, and indeed terrorising the people, and all that kind of thing. Mostly silly, but good fun.
And odd assortment this time:
- The Vampire Lovers – The standard look back at the making of the story
- Production Subtitles, Photo Gallery, etc
But in addition to the usual stuff, there’s an odd set of documentaries:
- Leaves of Blood – A history of vampires in fiction, with contributions from Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell and many more. Interesting, but I’m not sure what it’s doing here..
- The Blood Show – A more than slightly unexpected “insight into the use and meaning of blood in society and culture”. Errr, OK…
- The Frayling Reading – A look at how this story relates to vampire stories in general.
First shown in January 1981, this story is the immediate predecessor to the New Beginnings set which came out a couple of years ago. Still trapped in E-Space, the Tardis is taken over by a time-sensitive alien and arrives in a strange void. There’s some fun with mirrors, and finally a way home is found. But Romana and K-9 stay behind..
Pretty much business as usual for this disk:
- The Dreaming – The usual look back at the show
- The Boy with the Golden Star – Matthew Waterhouse looking back at his time playing Adric
- Lalla’s Wardrobe – A look at Romana’s costumes.
- Production subtitles, pictures, and more stuff
And that’s about it. A good set of stories, really.
 Inertia, mostly