Doctor Who – Vengeance on Varos (Special Edition)

This is another of the improved reissues. The original DVD came out in 2001, and had very little in the way of extra material, so this new version is quite welcome.

This was first shown in January 1985, ten years after The Ark in Space, and what a difference a decade makes. The Doctor is played by someone called Baker, and after a switch to weekdays, the show is back in its traditional and correct spot of Saturday evening. Of course, the Baker in question is Colin rather than Tom, and the episodes are now 45 minutes long (ridiculous! as if that would ever catch on!) rather than 25. The Doctor is accompanied by Peri, played by Nicola Bryant, and there’s a problem with the TARDIS. It seems it’s run out of Maguffinite[1], which can only be obtained from the planet Varos, which once again makes one wonder about Time Lords and their tendency to rely on unreliable sources of rare materials, but never mind.

Varos turns out to have an, err, interesting system of government involving TV viewers voting by pressing buttons next to their screens, a sinister alien villain, and much more. It’s another one of those stories where a very unlikely social set-up exists for the Doctor to disrupt, which he does. It’s noted for some quite nasty violence, and for the Doctor being more than a little callous.

The extras, by contrast, are rather nice, and in addition to the usual bits and bobs, include:

  • Nice or Nasty? The usual making of thingy
  • The Idiot’s Lantern A look at how Doctor Who has used television within its narrative, though without mentioning The Idiot’s Lantern.
  • Tomorrow’s Times – The Sixth Doctor Another in the series looking at how the press reacted to the show, which was not too well in the case of Colin Baker’s Doctor.

[1] Yes, I’m making that up as the actual substance isn’t strictly relevant