INFERNO: SPECIAL EDITION
Starring Jon Pertwee

2 Disc DVD
Extras: See HERE
 
UK: May 27
Australasia: June 5 
North America: June 11
STORY
It’s a rare event in Doctor Who when our hero finds himself unable to
save the day. The Doctor invariably bluffs, charms or – just
occasionally – blows things up to defeat his enemies and save his
friends. At the end of episode six however, the Doctor finds himself
utterly defeated, the chain reaction unleashed by the Inferno project
now impossible to stop. He’s wholly reliant on the survivors of this
alternate fascist reality to help get him home.
Inferno
is all the more powerful for that stark moment, informing the Doctor’s
subsequent desperate efforts to stop the drilling project in “his”
version of Earth, to the evident confusion of his friends, and
emphasising the contrast between the cosiness of UNIT and its alternate
reality counterpart.

This is classic Seventies Who, and
to my mind, not much bettered. I await the Blogtor’s comments, assuming
he has the good sense to place Inferno high in his top fifty countdown… [Sorry, didn’t make the Top 50 – Ed.]
As a reissued DVD, albeit remastered and with additional
extras, there will be few who aren’t aware of the story. The Doctor,
Liz Shaw, the Brigadier and UNIT are all in residence at the Inferno
project, a venture overseen by the icy, domineering Professor Stahlman,
drilling down below the Earth’s crust (presumably avoiding any
hibernating Silurians?) to tap into hidden energy resources.
The
Doctor is ostensibly present as an advisor, but is in fact there to
make use of the project’s nuclear reactor to conduct experiments on the
TARDIS console. With the countdown descending inexorably towards
Penetration Zero, the sense of tension rises and the Doctor and Stahlman
clash over their views on the inherent dangers of drilling through the
Earth’s crust. With perhaps questionable timing, the Doctor manages to
get the TARDIS working and pitches off in a fit of pique into a parallel
dimension. Paradoxically it’s there, trapped in the skewed reality of
Earth v2 that he comes to realise the appalling consequences should
Stahlman’s project reach completion on Earth v1.
It’s a
remarkable testament to all involved that over the course of seven
episodes, this is a story that doesn’t sag or drag. Jon Pertwee is on
fantastic form, his rare flashes of humour and charm heightening the
seriousness of the Doctor’s predicament. His portrayal of the Doctor’s
mounting sense of desperation towards the story’s climax, in contrast to
his usually urbane and unflappable demeanour, underscores the perilous
situation. The supporting cast clearly follow their lead’s example,
playing their roles dead straight and with total conviction.

Nicholas
Courtney and Caroline John are dependably supportive as the Brigadier
and Liz, believably selling the alternate reality of their counterparts,
the Brigade Leader and Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw. Theirs is a
nightmarish version of Earth in a parallel dimension. Praise also goes
to Olaf Pooley (Professor Stahlman), Derek Newark (Greg Sutton) and
Sheila Dunn (Petra Williams) for their solid work, breathing life into
their characters and alternate reality versions.

Writer
Don Houghton is well served by the meticulous directorial control
afforded his story by Douglas Camfield (the baton then gamely taken up
by Producer Barry Letts), in giving vision to two versions of the
Inferno project. The attention to detail in the model work, the effects
of the rising heat levels once the drill has broken through the crust
of the alternate reality Earth and the ever-present dull roar of the
drilling, all combine to draw the viewer in over the course of this
adventure. This reviewer, having finished watching Inferno, began to start worrying anew about the current day trend of “fracking”…
This
truly is a gem worth drilling for. And I haven’t even said a word
about the Primords’ shiny white teeth other than to say – Douglas
Camfield was right. Darker lighting would have helped.

EXTRAS
The
DVD comes with the plethora of extras that Who fans have now
become accustomed to, spoiled as we are. In addition to the extras
provided with the story’s first DVD release, there are: Can You Hear the Earth
Scream?,
covering the making of the serial; the self-explanatory The UNIT Family – Part One; Deleted scene (Jon Pertwee’s Haw-Haw,
hawhawhaw); photo gallery, etc… We also have the fascinating Production Notes – as always, an enhancement of the viewing experience, providing detailed insight into the making of Inferno.

Hadoke
versus HAVOC
– in which Toby Hadoke sets himself the daring mission of
bringing together the surviving stalwarts of the HAVOC stunt squad, to
assist him in his quest of becoming an honorary member. Whilst it could
never be described as a reverent tribute to the unsung members of the
Pertwee era “family” – and really how could it be, interspersed with
footage of the various members of the team being variously shot at,
blown up, run over and falling off… things – it’s an affectionate,
sincere and informative tribute to the unknown stuntmen that made
Pertwee look so fine. There is something gloriously, quintessentially
Whovian (if I’m allowed that word) about the HAVOC survivors assisting
Toby Hadoke in jumping from the top of an alarmingly high scaffold,
before settling down for a barbecue on a disused airfield.

Talking
of the glorious quintessentiality [nice word – Ed.] of WhoDoctor Forever: Lost in
the Dark Dimension
investigates the forgotten years, when it looked as
if Doctor Who was destined to continue crossing the void beyond the mind
and all other places in between – so long as it wasn’t happening on the
telly. Narrated by Zeb Soanes, this is a documentary which will linger
long in this reviewer’s memory for the bemused appearance early on in
the proceedings of David Burton, “the man with the car”. I’m still not
entirely sure whether to ascribe any particular significance to the fact
that, during his segment of the documentary, there was a bottle of
smarties sitting on the shelf behind him. The succession of “wacky”
photos illustrating the mysterious Mr Burton’s career provide a detailed
counterpoint to the considerably less detailed recollections of his
short tenure as someone who might have been, “The Doct…”.

The
documentary then plots its way carefully across the tragi-comic
landscape of Who fandom’s increasing desperate campaigns to rescue the
Doctor from obscurity: the polite letter-writing, the “Day of Action”,
the declaration of war…and perhaps somewhere in an alternate reality
these might have worked too.

This DVD provides, in both
its main feature and extras, a timely reminder in the anniversary year
of Doctor Who’s rich history. Well worth seeking out and adding to the
collection. 
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Thanks to BBC Worldwide

Previous articleDoctor Who reference on “Frankie”
Next articleThe Beano celebrates Who!
Avatar
Cameron K McEwan was the first owner and site editor of Blogtor Who since its creation in May 2008 until Dec 2015. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, Cameron has also written two books, The Who’s Who of Doctor Who and Doctor Who: The Big Book of Lists, and directed a film all about Doctor Who fans throughout the years, Who’s Changing - An Adventure In Time With Fans. Cameron also contributes TV and film news and reviews to BBC Radio London, Metro, Digital Spy, New York Observer and Den of Geek. He lives in London with his one trousers.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.