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    Doctor Who – Terror Of The Zygons: Laserdisc Review

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    Doctor Who – Terror Of The Zygons: Laserdisc Review

    Post  DGTWoodward on Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:24 pm

    Laserdisc Review: Doctor Who – Terror Of The Zygons

    Format: Laserdisc
    Studio: Encore Entertainment
    Year of Release: ?
    TV Standard: PAL
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (4:3)
    Sound: Digital, mono
    Running Time: 99mins (approx.)
    Discs/Sides: 1 Disc, 2 Sides, CLV
    Replay Equipment:

    PIONEER CLD-D925 Laserdisc Player, connected via AV amp
    Samsung 46” 1080p LCD HDTV (calibrated using a Video Essentials Laserdisc calibration tool)
    PIONEER SR-609K A/V Receiver
    Ixos Gold Tos-Link audio cable, AV-GOLD composite leads.
    Eltax Speakers/sub

    Movie Genre: SF space adventure.

    The Movie

    Terror of the Zygons is an adventure from the period covering the Doctor’s fourth regeneration. The lead is, of course, the WHO legend that is Tom Baker. In this story his companions are Sarah Jane Smith (played by the late Elisabeth Slayden) and Dr Harry Sullivan (played by the late Ian Marter).

    The story opens on an oil drilling platform, off the coast of Scotland, that is mysteriously destroyed after a strange and very sudden radio blackout and a piercing sound. So sudden and swift is the destruction that there are thought to be no survivors!

    On the mainland, the Doctor (Tom Baker) strides confidently across the Scottish moors, consulting a small, hand-held locator device. He is followed closely by his two companions, Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter). On reaching a nearby road, they flag down a car and hitch a lift to their destination, the nearest town.

    As things transpire, the car is being driven by a Clan Chief and local Laird, the Duke of Foregill (John Woodnutt), who is en route to speak to the drilling Operations Manager Mr. Huckle (Tony Sibbald). The rigs are partially positioned off the shores of his land and he is not happy. Whilst demonstrating a remarkably consistent ability to get the Ops. Manager’s name wrong, he informs Huckle that should any rig worker be caught on his land, that he has informed his Gillie that they are to be shot on sight as trespassers!

    Initially, the Doctor is not interested in the oil rig disasters, dismissing oil as “sludge”…but eventually the actual mystery of it all intrigues him. He dispatches Harry to examine the wounds to the recovered riggers’ bodies.

    During his journey back, Harry notices the form of an exhausted man stumbling ashore, a real survivor from the mystery! Harry moves to help him, asking him what caused the destruction. The man begins to mumble a few garbled words about the rig’s collapse.

    Unseen by either of them, they have been spotted by the Duke’s Gillie, named simply ‘The Caber’ (Robert Russell). He is carrying a rifle, and he carefully gets both men in his sights. Just as the survivor opens his mouth and begins to speak, The Caber shoots him dead. He lines up his next shot at Harry, but being a Naval officer and accustomed to the sound of gun-fire, he ducks just in time as The Caber’s shot grazes him in the forehead.

    On receiving the news about Harry, Sarah and The Doctor rush to his side at the medical facility.

    During this time, a third rig is attacked, but this time, we see alien hands operating mushroom like, organic technology.

    Sister Lamont (Lillias Walker) is keeping Harry settled so, leaving Sarah at his bedside to sit vigil for him, the Doctor goes out to examine some recovered wreckage from one of the rigs. On examining the pieces, he notices some uniformly round holes in them. With the aid of some Plaster-of-Paris, he deduces that the rig was attacked by something that had very large and pointed teeth!

    Harry’s eyes flicker open. Sarah rushes out to the ‘phone to inform the Doctor of the progress, as she does this, Sister Lamont turns to Harry and the room fills with an unearthly green glow. His eyes snap open in total shock!

    Out in the corridor, Sarah is on the ‘phone and is giving the Doctor the news of Harry’s return to consciousness, but she is interrupted by a hand on her shoulder, a be-suckered, watery hand. She turns, and stares into the face of…a Zygon!!

    The Disc.

    The Picture.

    This 99 minute presentation contains all four individual episodes that make up this adventure for the Doctor, Sarah and Harry. The PAL encoded picture is very stable but ever so slightly grainy – when either video or actual 16mm film is being used - on both of my HDTVs. I am working on getting a 32” 16:9 CRT tube TV into the review equipment set up so that I can report if this is true across all replay platforms. What I can tell you is that this is not laser-rot. Sadly, it seems that rot is developing into a more common problem with both Dr. Who and Blake’s 7 Laserdiscs. This one is spared of it.

    Slight fizz aside, the picture looks very good. It has the typical Chroma under-saturated pictures of 1970’s BBC TV video but that should not be held against it, being nothing more than a product of its time.

    The Sound.

    The sound is totally serviceable digital mono. It is a good clean track with no obvious distortion or fall out. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s infamous Dr Who ‘howl’ played at the cliff-hanger episode ends are reproduced with no flutter or breaking up of the audio, and dialogue is well balanced in the mix.

    Ian Marter 1944 - 1986

    Elisabeth Sladen 1946 -2011

    Nicholas Courtney 1922 – 2011

    The Conclusion.

    This series is from my favourite period of WHO, which ran from the early Jon Pertwee era to the end of the Peter Davidson era and contains, to my mind, the most consistent run of top quality Who ever produced in the pre-2005 run.

    As the BBC release schedule continues to trundle its way through what’s left of the Dr. Who back catalogue, this series remains (so far) on the VHS and LD only ‘exclusive’ list. As such it is pretty collectable.

    As a Who adventure in itself, it is a very good one, with the antics ranging from Scotland to London. The Zygons are a good enemy, and one wonders, with all the organic technology in this series, just what it would look like today as it has a very high production image (compared to some) but even when the budget failings become a bit more obvious, like with the reveal of the Loch Ness Monster for example, it is still good because the story is engaging enough to allow you to overlook such things and because you just have to admire the brass balls on the FX crew for even trying to bring a full stop-motion animation monster to the small screen on miniscule BBC FX money. All things considered, they actually do quite well.

    A good adventure from the best Who period. This currently is a Laserdisc and VHS exclusive.

    Overall mark 8 out of 10.

    Last edited by DGTWoodward on Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:40 am; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : Final polish.)


      Current date/time is Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:21 pm