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October 13, 2015

New Doctor Who DVD features new CG-enhanced episode

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 18th 2009 3:02PM
Doctor Who: Enlightenment features a feature length version of the episode with new effects.Many sci-fi fans wonder what classic Doctor Who might look like if the BBC bosses of the '70s and '80s could have budgeted more than £6 per episode for visual effects.

A new Who DVD set from BBC Video features a specially remastered episode that offers you just that experience.

Doctor Who: "The Black Guardian Trilogy" serves up a trio of 1983 Who episodes featuring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor in a life and death struggle against a supernatural evil force.

A team of restoration and digital effects artists took the final episode of that trilogy ("Enlightenment" -- a well-written, high-concept adventure featuring a simulated sailing race in deep space) and laid in 21st Century CG visuals.

The end result is a little jarring at times when the flatter look of BBC's video 1980s production technology inter-cuts with some industry standard space effects. But, it's intriguing to watch -- even for fans who know the episode well.

Could this become a trend? If it's not cost-prohibitive, it'd be great to see more Doctor Who episodes receive sharp effects to match the show's grand imagination and clever writing.

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Joe Siegler

That's not the first time they've done that. This isn't really news if you've been following the Doctor Who releases.

Several of them have the ability to watch the original SFX or the updated ones.

An old Hartnell Dalek story (Dalek Invasion of Earth - released in 2003) has a sequence when a Dalek spaceship is chasing some of the characters in a truck. The original special effect was pretty horrible - they created a new version where it looks a lot better. On top of that the Dalek ship model they used was the basis for the Dalek ships in the revived show (first used on Ecceleston's episode "Bad Wolf").

They have others that are more subtle (like better tracked laser effects), too. Go read the restoration page for details on all their DVD releases, and what's changed/updated:


November 18 2009 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joe Siegler's comment
J Lee

I think the first time the restoration team did this was with one of their first DVD releases Tom Baker's Ark in Space. Sequences involving model shots of the Ark and a rocket launching and exploding were replaced with CG work. At the time I was outraged until I saw the old footage again and was reminded how dire it was.

The team have since included enhanced Computer-Generated effects in certain stories. To please purists, the DVDs always offer separate viewing options so that you can watch the program as it originally aired or the new 'enhanced' effects.

Very nice of them to be so accommodating!

The work done on Enlightenment is another thing altogether as director Fiona Cumming was asked to review the material and oversaw a new cut complete with additional CG effects to replace the model work of the original. The result is a brand new story without episode breaks. For purists the original is included on a separate disc. The same was done for a later story, Battlefield.

I have to say that the work done on these DVD releases reflect the adoration that many have for the classic Doctor Who series and it is commendable.

I have written some reviews and articles about Doctor Who on my blog (http://dailypop.wordpress.com/category/doctor-who/) which some may find interesting.

November 19 2009 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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