THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
CLAW" AND THE TV
'THE LEISURE HIVE' DVD
RELEASED IN JULY 2004.
The Doctor and
Romana decide to
beach and take a
on the pleasure
planet of Argolis.
Ravaged decades ago
by an interstellar
war between the
Argolin and the
Foamasi, Argolis now
hosts the Leisure Hive
– an ideal retreat for
tourists from all
over the cosmos. But
a series of ‘accidents’
leads the Doctor and
Romana to discover
that the Hive holds
dark Secrets. . .
The Leisure Hive
30th august 1980 - 20th september 1980
Here is a DVD that surpassed my (admittedly low) expectations by a long, long way. If every story is treated to such a lavish DVD release then I look forward to buying “The Mutants”, “Paradise Towers”, “Underworld” and all the rest of the driftwood. I have never been impressed by “The Leisure Hive” as a story; whilst I might not rank it right down there in the pits with the aforementioned group of stories, I find it an appallingly poor effort, save for the obvious “wow!” factor viewers no doubt experienced when they tuned in back in August 1980.
Pitch black. A colourful starfield explodes onto the screen. Tom Baker’s face appears dancing with light before fading away into the starfield to give way to a neon-blue typically eighties Doctor Who logo. After years of the howl-around theme tune, we have a new, more melodic ‘discotheque’ theme tune.
The John Nathan-Turner era has begun.
The opening shots of this story are brilliant – the Doctor asleep in his deck chair on the beach. It feels like we have missed out on something; like this is a much older Doctor than the one we last saw. He even wears different, less extravagant clothes. Maybe Romana has been smartening him up. Of course, this beautiful opening scene completely cocks up the pacing of the first part, like the year before when we were treated to Tom Baker and Lalla Ward running around aimlessly in Paris for about five minutes for no other reason than to showcase the location! After these first few shots when the TARDIS materialises on the Leisure Hive, a very torrid affair unfolds which, even with its wonderful new 5.1 Surround mix, still totally fails to grab my attention.
What the Restoration Team have done with “The Leisure Hive” is make it a cannot miss release due to the sheer quality of some of the special features. Like with some of the best releases so far, the main documentary “A New Beginning” does not focus solely on “The Leisure Hive” but the John Nathan-Turner era as a whole, and quite frankly it is fantastic. I had never heard from, for example, Christopher H Bidmead, on any of the other DVDs
which I found interesting as “Logopolis” which he wrote is amongst my favourite stories.
Moreover, the production standard of the documentary was amazing – it was even presented in 16:9 widescreen which I was very pleased with. “From Avalon to Argolis” is just as good in many respects, although this featurette is much shorter and does focus solely on the writing of “The Leisure Hive”. Nevertheless, it gives a fascinating insight into the writer/script editor relationship. A few other extras are included which are worth a look at – “Synthesizing Starfields” looks at the creation of the famous early eighties title sequence
and theme arrangement; “Leisure Wear” is of slightly less interest, being basically an interview with costume designer June Hudson; and no Doctor Who DVD would be complete without a Blue Peter clip!
Chris Bidmead, Lalla Ward (Romana) and Lovett Bickford (much-maligned money
spending director) also provide an interesting commentary - especially interesting, I felt, considering that Bidmead and Bickford clearly have very different views on certain parts of the story!
In all then, “The Leisure Hive” DVD is worth purchasing the brilliant special features alone, although if you watch the extras first (as I did) and get swept up in the whole “…brave, bold new beginning…” hype, you will probably find that on watching the four (very short) episodes you are suffering from Phantom Menace syndrome!
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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