The TARDIS arrives on board a huge spaceship where the Doctor and his companions encounter the frog-like Urbankans and a population of human androids. The androids are drawn from four different ethnic groups - Greek (led by Bigon), Chinese (led by Lin Futu), Mayan (led by Villagra) and Aboriginal Australian (led by Kurkutji) - and perform regular displays of dance and other rituals termed 'recreationals'.
The Urbankans' leader, Monarch, aided by his ministers Persuasion and Enlightenment, is engaged in a complex scheme to plunder from Earth the raw materials needed to enable him to travel back in time and thereby confirm his belief in his own status as the universe's divine creator.
- 00:03:33:00 DOCTOR WHO (THEME MUSIC VIDEO 5.1 remix))
- 00:01:02:23 DOCTOR WHO - COMING SOON TO DVD - THE WAR MACHINES (TRAILER)
- 00:06:36:18 FOUR TO DOOMSDAY - PHOTO GALLERY
- 00:27:10:03 PETER DAVISON'S FIRST STUDIO RECORDING (BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE)
- 00:14:23:17 SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MILL (ARCHIVAL TELEVISION FOOTAGE)
COMMENT - SPOILERS AHEAD
FOUR TO DOOMSDAY is MARMITE for DOCTOR WHO fans. You either love it or, without saying "hate", are indifferent to it.
Me? Love maybe too strong a word but I like it. It has a simplistic storytelling format that echoes theoughout the CLASSIC SERIES era. Certainly, it is predictable but a viewer should not denigrate it or forcefully budge it into the "boring" category based upon a reputation (assigned by a minority in a DOCTOR WHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY). The storytelling is appreciated on varying levels and, for the "casual viewer", gradually unfurls like a Great Britain Union Flag at the Beijing Olympics to a rewarding denouement.
It is, almost, the perfect DOCTOR WHO story. And, in their DVD commentary, the cast agree that it's not a bad as memory has been tricked into thinking otherwise.
The DVD release will garner a new set of NEW SERIES fans enticed by the appearance of Peter Davison's celery-bespoke Fifth Doctor following his materialisation alongside Tennant in TIME CRASH.
The unexpurgated studio commentary is, as ever, highly entertaining and , perhaps, more informative than previously recorded. Davison is encamped with Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Janet Fielding (Tegan) and director, John Black (his second DOCTOR WHO, following the stunning THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN).
The commentary highlights:
On his first days on the DOCTOR WHO set, Peter Davison admits:
"I'd just started and I didn't know what I was doing."
On the lack of financial investment in the story, Janet Fielding comments that the lighting & design looks very like the film ALIEN though John Black enviously states:
"Ridley Scott had a bit more money."
Matthew Waterhouse was impressed:
"The sets look good. The lighting is really good."
John Black on working with set designer, *Tony Burrough:
"I requested him for this."
Janet Fielding was shocked by her hair - a she does in every DVD commentary: The hair! Who nailed that rat to my head?
On the number of TARDIS companions that were onboard, Davison explains former Producer, John Nathan-Turner, reasoning for the concept:
"I think I wasn't trusted to do it myself."
On Stratford Johns appearance as Monarch, John Black comments on the restriction of the costume:
"Stratford Johns hated the costume and make-up."
"He couldn't drink anything because he could pee."
On the story's Production Manager, Henry Foster was less than impressed with his handling of cast & crew:
"Henry Foster was not the most diplomatic."
Matthew Waterhouse revealed that whilst filming with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward:
"When Baker had a disagreement with Lalla Ward, he'd lump her with "the children". He'd mean with me."
Peter Davison replies:
Fact: The actress playing Enlightenment, Annie Lambert amused the cast every time she punctuated her laughter with a uncontrolled "snort".
Fact: The Monarch costume contains numerous condoms to make the moving parts more flexible.
Fact: The impressive "clean-up" quality of the DVD presentation allows viewers to see how dusty the TARDIS console really is (watch episode 4 clearly as Tegan attempts to operate the controls. If only she had a yellow duster to wipe to wipe up the grime.
Other highlights include: Peter Davison explaining the controversy over the "momentum gained in theowing a cricket ball in space"; spot a crew member in the shadows as, in episode 4, Nyssa is lead away by Monarch's guards from the main chamber; the disappointment that, unlike the NEW SERIES, the cast did not engage in on-screen kissing.
The DVD extras:
There is a voyeuristic (almost sadistic) pleasure in re-winding to 13 th April 1981 watching as Peter Davison steps from the TARDIS for the very first time. And what a confident, professional entrance it was too. With these behind the scenes "out-takes" we witness the variations of scenes orchestrated by the seemingly diplomatically challenged Henry Foster, and the special effects manipulation of the spaceship's floating CCTV devices. Nearly 28 minutes worth classic nostalgia; if only every DOCTOR WHO DVD release had "cutting room floor clippings" as standard.
The theme music video is a "repeat", it seems. Featured on another DVD release, it is presented here with a "remix" variation. Too be frank, it seems an oddity and blatant padding.
SATURDAY NIGHT AT PEBBLE MILL is wonderfully comforting as Peter Davison makes his, probably, first appearance following his "coronation" as the Doctor. Fresh-faced and garrulous (discussing his time on ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL), it is easy to see why he impressed John Nathan-Turner to entrust him with the role after the iconic Tom Baker. He recalls that if "corpsing" was a problem during filming that he would remember Patrick Troughton's THE ICE WARRIORS story.
An unintentional highlight is the preview for William Hartnell's THE WAR MACHINES. eyeofhorus.org.uk is looking forward to this classic CLASSIC SERIES.
Like finding a glittering new pound coin at the bottom of your Christmas stocking having pulled out an overpriced "selection box", another pair of socks, a Will Young CD, the 2|entertain and BBC DVD's release, FOUR TO DOOMSDAY DVD presentation is genuinely surprising and will delight both old and new fans alike.
* The eyeofhorus.org.uk interview with FOUR TO DOOMSDAY set designer, Tony Burrough