July 30, 2013


Courtesy BBC Home
(Special thanks to BBC Home Entertainment for providing a complimentary DVD set for review)

Watching 1980s Doctor Who - especially Peter Davison's first season - is tinged with a slight bit of nostalgia. From catching the end of episode 1 of Earthshock at a convention to bugging the local PBS station about purchasing the rights, I have a slightly skewed perception of then-current Doctor Who. So when I heard about The Visitation being rereleased as a "Special Edition", my initial thought was....Really? Does this story warrant a 'special edition'?

Although it's pretty much an example of then-Who by numbers, The Visitation is an OK watch, but the two-disc Special Edition contains some extras which are really good viewing.

Courtesy BBC
Home Entertainment

Written by Eric Saward, The Visitation is a neo-historical; it's a story that - conceptually, at least - would not be out of place on the new series, focusing on alien intervention in Earth's past. Taking place in 17th century England (within one day of a great event of historical importance), The Visitation is a languidly paced adventure, and can be a bit draggy in places. (This could easily be restructured as a single new-episode drama). Although the production values are exceptional, there are a few plot holes and inconsistencies, but as a good piece of lazy, Sunday afternoon viewing, The Visitation is a pretty good story, and the picture quality is pretty superb.

But it's the Special Features on Disc 2 that make this a really good addition to a DVD library. Part of the continuing series of Doctor Who Forever featurettes, The Apocalypse Element focuses on the efforts of Big Finish and BBC Audio to provide continuing audio-based stories of classic Doctors. Grim Tales and The Television Centre of the Universe focuses on the cast of The Visitation, focusing not just on locations and the intricacies of television production in the early '80s, but showing that - after all these years - a strong chemistry remains between them. (Don't worry - the original featurettes that came with the initial Visitation DVD release are on Disc One.)

So if you're a sucker for early 80s Who - or you enjoy watching documentaries about various aspects of production - The Visitation: Special Edition is a must-own. It's a good story, great for an afternoon, but it's not quite a "classic"...but don't let that stop you from checking it out.

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