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Published on June 20th, 2010 | by James Whittington

Kamelion Tales DVD Boxset

Ahh, Kamelion, one of the Doctor’s most elaborate companions. A grand idea, in theory this robotic creation would become the K-9 for the Fifth Doctor and was just as reliable(!). OK, I’m being a tad sarcastic as it’s well known that the prop would regularly malfunction so he was restricted to only two full Doctor Who adventures.

Voiced by Gerald Flood (when in the guise of the robot) it could take the form of any humanoid (hence its name) but possessed its own personality. Never used to its full capacity the two stories he appeared in were at opposite ends of the entertainment scale, one a historical, the other an outer space adventure and this box set brings them together.
Doctor Who - Kamelion TalesIf you’re unfamiliar with either tale, read on – first of all, The King’s Demons:

The King’s Demons

When the TARDIS materialises and disturbs a jousting duel, the Doctor’s party are proclaimed friendly demons by the King, who seems strangely interested in their “blue engine”. Before long the Doctor becomes embroiled in court politics, and he realises that there is a far more to the situation than a simple battle of honour between nobles. Sir Geoffrey de Lacey arrives at the castle astonished to find the King present. He has just left His Majesty in London preparing to sign Magna Carta, a document that will shape the future of democracy in the western world. The Doctor learns that neither the King nor Sir Giles Estram are exactly who they claim, and that their true identities involve a battle-ravaged alien planet light-years away, and one of the Doctor’s oldest and deadliest enemies.

By the time this adventure had come around the Master had become little more than a pantomime villain, all gnashing teeth, daft beard and little else. Anthony Ainley hammed it up to perfection but the real criminal here is script writer, Terence Dudley. For starters the idea that the Master would go to so much trouble just to change Earth’s history is bizarre. Why choose then? Why not something more simplistic such as release a virus and allow (under the cover of the bubonic plague) it to wipe out the population? Also why would the Doctor want to keep Kamelion as a companion?

This was the final story of Season 20 and ended the run on a limp note. Everyone looks tired here, with the only saving grace being the costumes and sets which are the usual high standard the BBC are renowned for. Thankfully this is only a two part story and the extras on the disc make up for the serials short comings.

Extras:

Audio Commentary – Peter Davison, Isla Blair and script editor Eric Saward all reflect on the creation of this two parter. Davison keeps the track moving along at a jolly pace, trying to coax as much from the other contributors as he can. As a bonus director Tony Virgo contributes to a separate gag track for episode one and gives as much technical background as he can.

Kamelion: Metal Man – A fun look at Kamelion’s short screen life. Honest with some great comments from Eric Saward and Peter Davison amongst others but it’s sad to learn that something that could have been really cool just didn’t function for the show.

Magna Carta – The BBC prove that Doctor Who releases can be education as well as entertaining here is a documentary on how and why the Magna Carta is relevant today as well as a major player in history. More interesting than you think.

Photo Gallery – The usual collection of snaps from the production of the story.

Isolated Score – Your chance to listen to the incidental music from Jonathan Gibbs and Peter Howell. Sparse in places it does help the atmosphere by, at times, using instruments from the period this story was set.

Coming Soon – A tasty trailer for The Dominators DVD. Looks better than I recall.

PDF Material – Place the disc into your PC or Mac and you can view the original Radio Times listings from when this was originally shown.

Subtitle Production Notes – These awesome information straps of text return with more incredible researched material. Huge fun.

Doctor Who - The King's Demons stars Peter Davison

Planet Of Fire

A strange signal from Earth draws the TARDIS to the island of Lanzarote. While the Doctor tries to track down the source of the signal, his companion Turlough rescues a young girl, Peri, from drowning. She is holding an artefact made from platinum bearing a strange symbol – the same symbol that Turlough carries himself carries on his arm, branded into the flesh…It is the artefact that is emitting the signal, leading them all to the planet Sarn, a world ravaged by volcanoes and yet holding the secret of eternal life. But an old foe of the Doctor’s is desperate for the Elixir, and will stop at nothing to gain it.

Also known as by fans as “The one where Peri wore a rather fetching bikini to keep the dad’s watching (possibly)” Planet Of Fire allowed the Master to be more than his usual grandiose persona and Ainley is actually permitted to act. Peter Grimwade’s (the man who created Vislor Turlough) script is littered with wonderful but slightly sinister dialogue. This is a dark story and the Master returns to his original remit of being “a nasty piece of work”.

Planet Of Fire has a lot going on, being designed to write out Turlough, Kamelion and the Master (for good) as well as introduce Peri and it does them all to good effect. It also benefits from a strong supporting cast that includes cult favourite Peter Wyngarde as Timanov. The location of Lanzarote is used to full effect with some quite wonderful camera work that captures the alien-esque environment very well.

Extras

Audio Commentary – The TARDIS crew of Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Mark Strickson alongside director Fiona Cumming outshine each other in this excellent commentary.

The Flames Of Sarn – Cast and crew recall the production on the story and the problems encountered whilst filming in Lanzarote. Its not all glamorous working on location, you know?

Return To The Planet Of Fire – As the title suggests this is a visit to Lanzarote with director Fiona Cumming and designer Malcolm Thornton who talk us through the production of the story.

Designs On Sarn – Malcolm Thornton pops back up to tell us what inspired him when designing the production.

Alternate Edits, Deleated And Extended Scenes – Just over fifteen minutes of what the title suggests and its fun comparing what was kept and what was left out of the final edit.

Continuity – I like these, a compilation of continuity announcements from when the story was originally broadcast. That old BBC1 logo always sends waves of nostalgia flooding through my mind.

Photo Gallery – More snaps for fans of such things.

Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales

Isolated Score – As with the first disc this gives you the chance to hear Peter Howells’ rather wonderful score without dialogue getting in the way.

Coming Soon – The trailer for The Dominators once more.

PDF Material – As before this is the Radio Times listings from the original showings.

Subtitle Production Notes – Hurrah, more well researched gems of information.

Planet Of Fire: Special Edition –

This is a feature length edition of Planet Of Fire which has brand new effects, a 5.1 soundtrack and is more like New Who than the Classic Series. Maybe this is the intent and it’s a great idea, a way of introducing people to the show via the format of the new one and lasts just over 65 minutes. Anyone with a surround system will love the theme in this mix but be careful as the bass has been turned up on the effects! I enjoyed the special edition of Enlightenment (which was also directed by Fiona Cumming) and hope more are on their way.

Optional Introduction – Director Fiona Cumming is on hand to introduce the Special Edition. This was her last story for the series, having been behind a number of classics including The Mutants.

Calling The Shots – A look from the director’s point of view of how hard it is (or was at the time) to bring in an episode of Doctor Who to the screen. There’s lots of production footage which captures the urgency and pressure on all concerned.

Remembering Anthony Ainley – As you can probably guess, this is a retrospective on the career of Mr Ainley, a man who put pantomime back into the show with loud gusto and although few of his stories were classics he will go down as a legendary part of the Classic Series.

So then, this set is worth picking up if only for the Planet Of Fire story.

Released on June 14th, 2010, Kamelion Tales is available for just £17.71 from Amazon!

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About the Author

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James has been a Doctor Who fan for as long as he can recall. A child of the 70s and 80s, he weathered all the storms and controversies the show encountered, though he didn’t buy the “Doctor In Distress” single.



One Response to Kamelion Tales DVD Boxset

  1. avatar Carn says:

    I really enjoy Planet of Fire but I’m also quite fond of the Kings Demon’s too so a definite purchase for me (in fact they all are, even the stories I like the absolute least such as Battlefield or Time & the Rani, I must have all of them!)

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