THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE AFTER THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO BOOK "THE
DARKENING EYE" AND
TO THE TV STORY
RELEASED IN AUGUST
disappearance of an
is merely the prelude
to a deadlier threat
for the Doctor and
his companions – the
Cybermen want to
destroy Earth, and
will use any means at
their disposal. The
Doctor’s ingenuity is
stretched to its very
limits as he battles
to defeat the Cyber
army at any cost. But
even he does not
realise just how high
that cost will be...
8th march 1982 - 16th march 1982
“Earthshock” is undoubtedly one of the best Doctor Who DVDs released to date. Not only is the story first class, it is notable for featuring the shock return to the series of the Cybermen at the end of the first episode, and yes, for being the story that kills off a ‘proper’ companion.
The quality of the documentary - “Putting the ‘Shock’ Into Earthshock” - is one of the best and most interesting that the Restoration Team have produced thus far, featuring contributions from all the regulars plus Peter Grimwade (Director), Eric Saward (Writer), Mark Gatiss (“Invaders From Mars”), and Steve Moffat (“The Curse of Fatal Death”), amongst others.
And, unusually for these fifth Doctor DVD releases, somehow all four members of the TARDIS crew were cajoled into recording a commentary. Whilst Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse do not remember all that much (and what they do remember is often wildly inaccurate) and Janet Fielding seems only interested in what people are wearing, Peter Davison has really done his homework and provides some worthwhile comments.
Unfortunately there is no 5.1 sound mix, which would have benefited a story such as this one hugely, however the DVD does have the option to view the story with some of the original effects replaced by new CGI versions; the ship crashing into Earth at the end of the final episode has been improved no end.
Apart from the ever informative production subtitles, the rest of the special features are
pretty throwaway, but it is nice to have them on the disk all the same. The “Did You See?” extract is not that alluring in itself, but it certainly shows just how well “Earthshock” has aged compared to “Did You See?” and other light entertainment shows of the era!
“Earthshock” itself is great, not only for the two sensationalist moments for which it will forever be remembered, but because this is the first story where we really see how different the fifth Doctor is from those that have gone before – Davison really does an phenomenal job of conveying the (fairly) new Doctor’s vulnerability. For instance, there is a wonderful scene between the Doctor and the Cyber Leader where the Doctor tries to point out all that the Cybermen have lost in becoming so mechanical and logical but fails utterly – the Cyber Leader merely threatens Tegan’s life to show that the Doctor’s emotion is a weakness, and how the Doctor’s care for Tegan places him under his control.
Nyssa being sidelined in the TARDIS for half of this very story as there is nothing for her to do I think illustrates exactly why one companion had to go for the chop, and I think killing off Adric was a bold and brilliant move by Saward and Nathan-Turner. To have the Doctor’s companions all survive and for them to be victorious in every story defies credulity somewhat, even in such a fantastical show. Moreover, as the boy everybody loves to hate does snuff it, he does so in truly heroic fashion, perhaps even enough to redeem his abhorrent boy-genius character. Most important of all though, like the appearance of the Cybermen at the end of the first episode, on first transmission nobody saw it coming. A companion had not died since “The Daleks’ Master Plan", and even then both ‘companions’ killed had not travelled with the Doctor for any real length of time so it had nowhere near the emotional impact of “Earthshock.”
The story's climax is nothing short of magnificent. It is shocking... it is moving... it is just fantastic! The credits roll silently over Adric’s destroyed badge, and you realise that the Doctor can be beaten, and it makes you love him even more. From this point on in the fifth Doctor’s era, there is the feeling that no one is safe…
This DVD really is an absolute must.
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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