Doctor Who – Mara Tales

This has been sitting in my drafts list for about a month now, so I suppose it’s time to pull my metaphorical finger out and get on with it before I get buried under a deluge of classic releases.

This set contains two of the most highly-rated stories from the classic series. To be honest, they’re not my personal favourites, but they are well-written and a little off the normal for the series at the time, which makes them at the very least interesting. Both star Peter Davison as the Doctor, Janet Fielding as Tegan and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. Matthew Waterhouse is Adric in Kinda, but not in Snakedance as he’d been killed off by the Cybermen by then.

Kinda

This was first shown in February 1982. Lots of fun ensues when the TARDIS lands on the *cough* idyllic planet Deva Loka. Nyssa, having only just been written in as a permanent companion, spends most of the story asleep to save anyone finding her something to do. Meanwhile, a colonial base[1] is having the usual kind of trouble, with members disappearing into the jungle, leaving only Nerys Hughes and a loony to deal with the natives, who are not so much restless as in possession of Mysterious Powers. Oh, and Tegan manages to get herself possessed by an ancient evil snake-like thing known as the Mara, which eventually manifests as possibly the dodgiest model snake ever seen. It would probably have been better to not actually see it, but that’s a minor issue in what is really an absorbing story.

Apart from the expected commentary, picture gallery, production subtitles and other bits and bobs, there are some decent extras:

  • Dream Time – the usual making of thingy, with cast and crew reminiscing.
  • Peter Grimwade – Directing with Attitude – A good look at Peter’s career, featuring the man himself and various cast and crew members
  • Deleted and extended scenes – a bit rough, but mildly interesting
  • CGI Mara – Conscious of the general badness of the monster, a new CGI version has been created. You can see it inserted into the episode, or watch it on its own and compare it to the rubber snake

Snakedance

This was first shown in January 1983, and is a sequel to Kinda. Tegan, it seems, is not entirely free of the Mara’s influence, which causes a bit of a problem when the TARDIS lands on Manussa, which is where the Mara originally came from. It’s five hundred years since the apparently quite nasty Sumaran Empire was defeated, and people are getting ready to celebrate. Of course, in these enlightened times, nobody believes a word of all this nonsense about the Mara[2], which makes the Doctor’s job a wee bit tricky. Things are also complicated by the story being the first TV appearance of Martin Clunes, as a rather effete aristocrat with some quite impressive ear rings. It’s all quite complicated, and definitely good fun.

The extras this time round include:

  • Snake Charmer – The usual making of, talking heads thingy
  • Deleted scenes
  • Saturday Superstore – Peter Davison on the BBC Saturday morning TV show

[1] Note to costume designers: the pith helmets made it look a bit like you were, err, taking the pith
[2] Yes, yes, I’m recycling Doug Adams lines again