ENGLAND, 1666 - THE

 darkest days of the

 Great Plague. When

 the Doctor and his

 companions step from

 the TARDIS into a land

 gripped by fear and

 mistrust, they soon

 discover that they

 are not the only new

 arrivals. Strange

 lights have been seen

 in the sky, the Grim

 Reaper stalks the

 local woods, and

 evidence of advanced

 technology is all

 around. . .


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The Visitation

15th february 1982 - 23rd february 1982







The recent fifth Doctor DVD releases have been a particularly impressive bunch. Whilst occasionally the Restoration Team will put out an average or even a poor story with excellent special features (or vice versa), the fifth Doctor’s era seems capable of generating excellent stories combined with excellent special features on DVD.



“The Visitation” continues the impressive string of releases with a couple of nice special features, a commentary (this time with the entire TARDIS crew on board as well as the Director, Peter Moffatt) and a superb Restoration job – the sound and picture quality is so very good that it could have been shot yesterday. The commentary is very informative and often very amusing - Peter Davison is very clued up as usual - and combined with the production subtitles it is quite easy to really get a feel for the production of this story.


However, “The Visitation” falls short of the previous fifth Doctor releases in a couple of ways. Most noticeably, there are fewer special features than were included on DVDs over the anniversary year. The special features we do have are still of a high standard, it is just that there are less of them and they are far shorter. Moreover, as with “Earthshock” there is no 5.1 sound mix for the story - a great shame as it added a whole new dimension to “The Five Doctors” and “Resurrection of the Daleks”, neither of which was produced long after this story.



“The Visitation” itself a first class story, a very enjoyable pseudo-historical adventure which demonstrates just how well the BBC could produce Doctor Who in a period setting. It is also a brilliant piece of work on the part of Eric Saward – in my opinion one of Doctor Who’s most underrated writers. His characters - such as the unforgettable Richard Mace and the Terileptil leader - are both compelling and believable. The Terileptil leader in particular is a more complex villain than a lot of Doctor Who stories offer up. His horrific treatment in prison and his love of beauty whilst being so horribly scarred himself gives the viewer a strange empathy with the creature (until he destroys the Doctor's sonic screwdriver that is - then

there is no forgiveness!)



It is also a nice touch to see the show offering a science fiction explanation for real life historical events. Whilst Saward restrains himself from wiping out the Dinosaurs in this story, the does manage to attribute the Black Death to aliens and the Great Fire of London to the Doctor!


All things considered, “The Visitation” is perhaps the quintessential season nineteen story and the DVD is certainly equal to it. Those who have a fondness for this era will really relish this release, but there is still plenty here even for those who look upon this season less than affectionately.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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