Reviews selected from TV Zone #135

Reviews online this month (ratings given are out of 10)
• Jon Pertwee's first Doctor Who story acclaimed on DVD
Angel meets up with Darla again in Season 2
• Going by the board with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game
• and Charmed comes up trumps for the Halliwells

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BBC DVD, Cat: BBCDVD1033 Out 29 January 2001
order it from Black Star with free postage
Reviewed by
David Richardson
Spearhead from Space DVDPlastic Fantastic

The third Doctor Who DVD is a sound investment for BBC Worldwide. Spearhead from Space ranks in most fans’ Top 10 stories, a slick, well-structured tale that introduces Jon Pertwee as the exiled third Doctor. It’s got the lot: UNIT, stunts, a cool non-blinking villain, and the Autons, probably the show’s creepiest monsters ever.

This is an impressive transfer of a good print, although some reverb on the audio and poor lighting must be attributed to the production’s vintage. The DVD has a clip-tastic menu (which actually becomes irritating as it loops), and there’s a choice of extra material which rivals, and actually exceeds, releases of many films.

Trailers for recent BBC2 repeats are included (loud, thrashy, and obviously tailored for a yoof audience), along with the droll custom-made preview for the Doctor Who night. There’s an extensive gallery of over four dozen photographs, including press call pictures of Pertwee, many gallery images, and a few episodic. Some will be familiar, but many had never been published before.

The UNIT Recruitment Film is a tongue-in-cheek montage of excerpts from the show’s action hey-day. It outstays its welcome, but does allow us to gauge how each included story might look on DVD…

In addition to experiencing Spearhead as transmitted, viewers can also select a text option, which provides on-screen information throughout all four episodes. An idea apparently unique to Who DVDs, it’s an excellent way of relaying production information, although its use is sporadic and inconsistent. There are long gaps, some obvious opportunities for trivia are missed, and do we really care if a particular shot was used later as a clip in Mawdryn Undead? Nevertheless, it’s an interesting and worthy experiment worth repeating.

Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John collaborate on the commentary track, and their ability to keep chatting for 90 minutes is admirable. Thirty years have passed since they filmed this story, but their memories are better than they think, and it’s often fun just observing their reactions as viewers (“Snotty-nosed so-and-so” says John of her character, more than once). Best of all, though, is Courtney’s observation of the file on the Brigadier’s shelf. Yup, it’s got a big ‘X’ on it…

Sarah Prescot Games
Find it at above Reviewed by
Paul Spragg
Playing the game

Buffy Board GameTo adequately test the Buffy The Vampire Slayer board game, five of the TV Zone staff (Lee, Tom, Richard, myself and interloper Grant) were enlisted to play it and determine just how easy or difficult it was. Like a cross between Cluedo and Fighting Fantasy books, the game involves each player having a colour and character that the other players must try to uncover by moving any playing piece around the board.

This eventually leads to combat in one of the eight location squares, in which one by one people are eliminated from the game. Tom’s challenge to Grant didn’t go well as Grant was elsewhere. “Unless you’ve got a Fate card which means you can take over someone else’s character,” offered Tom. “And have you?” “No,” Grant admitted. A thought struck him: “Does that mean everyone’s going to start moving their own pieces and it’s going to be really obvious?” “In theory, if you know who Grant is, you can move him to you and then take him out of the game by fighting him,” I suggested, to a chorus of understanding “aaaaah!”s. “Paul in ‘sudden penny drops’ shock,” I admitted.

Finally Tom got his chance to enter a fight with Grant, who was revealed, perhaps surprisingly, as Cordelia, featuring a grand combat total of two to Tom’s (the vampiric Master) 10. Grant was unceremoniously chucked out of the game. “This is just really unfair,” noted Tom, “because if you’re a crap character like Grant is, you just get your ass kicked.” “I could beat Willow at night,” said Grant who’d obviously now drifted off into a fantasy world.

How to overcome this problem was shortly demonstrated by Lee, who when attacked proclaimed ‘Summon an Ally’ and enlisted my (Buffy) aid. Checking his Fate cards for protection, Tom’s final words before his defeat were, “Oh, this can’t prevent Summon an Ally. B******s.” As the game reached its end, the final verdict was that the board game is inherently flawed, but can kind of work. Play a few games of it and you might discover there’s a lot of strategy involved.

selected from TV Zone #135
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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