Christmas vouchers and a tidy win on an office charity quiz (not to mention cheapy shop offers) have furnished me with some nice Doctor Who and Red Dwarf DVDs. A few thoughts on the contents thereof:
1. The Cosgrove Hall animated episodes on The Invasion really are pukkha. They've grown on me on second viewing (with the commentary). There are one or two moments where I get flashes of South Park (Tobias Vaughn's face getting larger when he shouts being the main one), and they haven't really got Vaughn's squint or Jamie's face in profile, but by and large it's top stuff.
And hey, it's better than looking at a black screen (or even looking at a slide show of off-screen photographs, I should imagine). It's even better than having Nicholas Courtney read synopses of the missing episodes, although it's nice that they included that option on the DVD. If only animating those two episodes hadn't (reportedly) cost something like four times as much as remastering the other six episodes and putting the other extras together, it might have been a viable (and entertaining) way of replacing all those missing 1960s stories.
To my mind, though, the best thing of all about the first episode of The Invasion being animated is that the Doctor and his chums come out of the Land of Fiction at the end of the previous story and straight into a cartoon. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Double the delicious irony that this should happen to such a famously gritty and realistic story.
2. The optional CGI effects on Revelation of the Daleks (1985) actually work better than the optional CGI effects on The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964). Odd, no?
The thing is, although I'm a Colin Baker fan, and although this is undeniably his most presentable story (Vengeance on Varos is technically the best, say I, but Revelation is the one you can show to your mother without feeling dirty), I've always disliked those... enthusiastic 1980s video effects. They clutter up the screen and on more than one occasion here, they actually confuse what's meant to be happening. But with the new effects! Why, it's, if you will, a revelation.
(The other thing is that I can hear many of Davros' lines on the DVD that I previously couldn't make out. I don't know if this is down to remastering, or just my cloth ears. I'm hoping the former, because if the Restoration Team have rectified sound balance issues here, there's half a chance they may have done similar with Ghost Light and turned the f***ing incidental music down. Yes, it's beautiful, but it obscures most of the dialogue. When a certain online shop send me my rental copy, I shall find out.)
[EDIT: D'you know, it may just be wishful thinking, but I think perhaps they might. I'm sure I could hear a lot of dialogue at tactful late evening volume that I couldn't previously hear at normal volume or above on the VHS. Then again, there were still a few scenes where I had to lean forward to hear anything (actors mumbling a bit, to be honest). I suspect what may have happened is the Restoration Team guy has tweaked the volume up in the bits without loud incidental music so that we can hear the dialogue, but has had to leave other bits as they are. Sadly full details of the sound restoration for that one are not available on their website.]
The effects on Dalek Invasion, on the other hand, are few and only really concern the Dalek flying saucer, and to be honest it adds a wad of Sixties atmosphere to have the old B-movie model saucers in there.
3. While I'm on the subject of Dalek Invasion, it's funny how it suddenly changes tone after Episode Four. Up until that point, it's been unremittingly grim and utterly compelling. Then you see the Slyther and find out what the Daleks' plan is (to TWOC the Earth, basically, and joyride it round the galaxy - why??), and it becomes rather more comical. Still, as the Lovely Jo justly remarked, the model of the bomb shaft is a lovely piece of work and the addition of a little model Dalek a nice touch. And it's all good clean family fun.
4. Hattie Hayridge is not the best commentator on Red Dwarf. This is understandable, since she tended only to get half a dozen lines a show, if she was lucky (poor woman). But it is a bit wearing to keep hearing Hattie chip in with "Is this the one where [synopsis of an episode in a completely different season]?" Still, now we have the sacred Quarantine on DVD. Mr Flibble can be ours for the viewing at a moment's notice. Sweeeet.