It might’ve taken a little while (the release and this review) but the latest box set in Doctor Who: The Collection range is available now. Season 22 is Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant‘s only full season together. But given the hiatus that was to follow it can’t be any good, can it?
Confession time. I think that Season 22 is a brilliant season of Doctor Who. It kicks off with Cybermen, introduces new villains, brings back the Sontarans and finishes up with a Dalek story. What more could you want? It is ludicrous that the show was put on hiatus at this point because it is in no way a reflection of the quality being broadcast. Yes, Vengeance on Varos is violent but that’s the whole point! As we are on the subject, let’s discuss the stories featured across Season 22.
Opening the season with a returning monster is a solid idea which had been used in the past. ‘Attack of the Cybermen‘ follows the trend of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen‘, ‘Terror of the Autons‘, ‘Day of the Daleks‘, ‘Destiny of the Daleks‘ and ‘Warriors of the Deep‘. But more accurately it is a continuation of story threads from ‘Resurrection of the Daleks‘. It opens like a gritty heist movie but ends with an explosive shootout on an alien world. There’s quite a wild ride in between.
‘Vengeance on Varos‘ is very much a piece of the time. Those however who use the violence within it as a stick to bash Doctor Who are missing the point. It is also reflective of the video nasties trend of the era. But the highlight is Nabil Shaban who absolutely steals the show as new alien creature Sil.
In addition to adding the villainous creature Sil this season also introduces a new Time Lord. The wonderful Kate O’Mara is superb casting as the Rani. No wonder Anthony Ainley’s Master was perturbed by being opposite her. Although ‘The Mark of the Rani‘ is let down slightly with unconvincing tree acting, the location work is some of the best ever produced. Blists Hill Victorian Town provides the ideal place to film and it still remains the same, highlighted in one of this set’s bonus features.
Bringing back the Sontarans for the first time in seven years was a good move. Bringing back Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines was even better. ‘The Two Doctors‘ has some wonderful location work in and around Seville which helps elevate the piece. Had it all been shot in BBC TV Centre it may have been a miss but the location work helps enormously.
For all the negativity that surrounds ‘Timelash‘, the makeup of the Borad is one of the most impressive pieces of work of the 1980’s. Those purchasing this set can also watch the story with updated special effects, which may improve the experience.
Concluding the season is ‘Revelation of the Daleks‘. Never dull having the Daleks back but this is very much the mid-point in the Davros trilogy of the 1980’s. Dalek Creator and the Great Healer is at his best in this story, sitting like a spider in his web. Sneering, speaking softly rather than just loudly rambling. This is supported by an excellent script and the premise which is wonderfully dark.
Season 22 therefore contains a solid selection of stories with new and familiar faces and foes to enjoy!
Matthew Sweet has interviewed several individuals for these box sets in the past. However this new set offers three new interviews with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Michael Grade. These are perhaps the most intimate and personal interviews conducted so far. They are detailed and cover a fascinating range of topics and are the highlight of this particular box set.
‘Location, Location, Location‘ sees Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant revisit some of the English locations used for filming Season 22. They have a wonderful relationship which comes across so well on screen. Along the way they meet other contributors including Graeme Harper who share their recollections on filming Doctor Who.
The ‘Making of’ documentaries previously produced for the DVD releases have also been supplemented with a new more detailed feature for ‘The Two Doctors‘.
In addition to these features there are of course commentaries, photo galleries, PDF files and clips from the BBC archives. Hours and hours of entertainment to be found.