DVD REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO – THE HAND OF FEAR aka the SEXIEST DR WHO Villain?!!!?

Well that’s a strange heading for a blog post I admit, but I was re-watching the 1976 episode of DOCTOR WHO: THE HAND OF FEAR, and man is this a ‘rocking’ episode of Doctor Who!

Okay the following contains spoilers for the episode (as well as a smattering of risque adult themed humor :)), now you regular readers know I typically avoid spoilers like the plague, but there is no way to really sell this episode and not describe its reveals. And it is still a great episode, even when you know what is coming.

However, jump to the last paragraph if you want to avoid any spoilers (or avoid tasteless humor :)).

For the rest of you… into the mystery.

This 4 part episode works in large part because of the villain of Eldrad played by Judith Paris. A silicone rock based creature who is one of the first scifi gender-bending characters I’m aware of. This alien menace starts out off camera as a dude, becomes a dudette, and in the final episode returns to a dude form. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t see the whole serial as a kid, as my young mind may not have been able to compute all that. But as an adult I can appreciate the entire serial.

But yeah the first three episodes, and much of the fourth are just great, and again largely it’s because the villain of Eldrad is such a rich and complex character. Powerful, a bit violent, but also a bit vulnerable, it’s just a well written part, that Judith Paris I thought performed the heck out of.

It didn’t hurt at all that she was drop-dead gorgeous. Between her and Catwoman in the Adam West Batman reruns… I knew puberty had arrived. 🙂

Wait did I say that out loud?!!

What can I say that woman was frigging gorgeous. Okay there were slight problems, she was an alien menace, and she was made out of rock. Okay I see that being a minor hiccup, but hand me my ‘Ben Grimm’ condoms and cry ‘Clobbering Time!’, and I’m good.

(Heh, Heh! That joke is only for fans of the FF. Yes, I am evil! 🙂 )

Okay getting my mind out of the gutter (I’m telling you, I’m going to find that costume and put my girlfriend in it— wait… did I say THAT out loud?!! DOH!!) it’s just a great 4 part storyline, right up till the last episode, when Judith Paris’ Eldrad gives way to a male version.

Now, I’m not a sexist, and I’m not going to hate on the rock dude villain, because he’s a dude, but I am going to hate on him because… he is effing rubbish! Eldrad turns from a complex, intriguing, nuanced character, to this blustering, shouting, scenery chewing, mustache twirling stock villain… yeah.. it is just disappointing; a glaring combination of bad writing, and horrendously bad over acting.

But thankfully the screen-time of the male Eldrad is brief, and the episode ends on one of the pivotal scenes between the Doctor and his companion, Sarah Jane Smith. It was a good four part-er that really showed how well these two work together and what they mean to each other, which made the ending all the more… bitter-sweet.

All in all it is not a perfect episode of Doctor Who, largely because of dropping the ball with the demise of Eldrad, but that aside it’s a beautifully directed, and well performed episode that comes highly recommended. Plus the DVD offers a commentary with the cast, so it’s worth getting for that alone. Grade: B/B+.

Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (Story 87)

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SUPERBOY THE SERIES vs SMALLVILLE

Superboy – The Complete First Season

I liked the first three seasons of Smallville. However from season 4 on of Smallville, I thought it became pretty god-awful and stayed that way. I would peek in on the occasional episode, I saw probably 5 or 6 of them across the remaining 6 seasons of the series. But every-time I looked in on the show, it just convinced me I was correct to stay away.

However rewinding the clock back to the late 80s, there was a live action Superboy series that managed to be fun for its full 4 season run. Called THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY, after 20years the series is finally available on DVD. At least the first season is.

The first season starts off for most of its run as very campy, really silly, stuff, though it’s still harmless fun, and it begins to hit its stride in the last several episodes of Season 1. But honestly it’s not till Season 2, that the show gets really friggin good. With a new actor playing Clark, and a better chemistry between all involved. And in seasons 3 and season 4 the show gets friggin GREAT, as Clark and Lois, in a show that predates the X-Files, intern at a Paranormal Bureau of Investigation handling all manner of oddities and monstrosities.

Seasons 2-4 are much more sophisticated seasons, and far better written than season 1, and of particular acclaim are some of the episodes with Luther and Bizarro and Metallo. Season 2-4 are better than any season of SMALLVILLE I’ve seen, and of course better than the atrocious LOIS & CLARK series.

These later episodes of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY are quite brilliant and quite touching. Particularly as the show winds to a close, due to an unfortunately forced demise. The demise is interesting in that the ratings were great, and two additional seasons were planned as well as movies, but Warner Brothers stepped in and sued the show out of existence.

And even today 20 years later, the whole series is not available on DVD. Warner Brothers wanting nothing on the market to show up their crappy SMALLVILLE. It’s a shame because the loser is the viewer.

So a series that doesn’t get its due, not just for being one of the best live-action interpretations of the Kal-El myth, but a highly influential show in terms of being the template for shows such as X-FILES, really deserves to have its other seasons on DVD.

But unfortunately all that is currently available is Season 1. I mean I recommend getting Season 1, like I say it’s good in places, but it is very much the adventures of a Superboy in High-school, Season 2-4 is a completely different, and better animal.

I of course have all the seasons available on VHS (sorry to rub it in! “But they are real… And they are Fabulous!” 🙂 [One of the few Seinfeld jokes I’ll quote. Michael Richards soured me on that show] I got them years ago, before the crackdown), but yeah a DVD release is definitely needed. In the interim Season 1 is available on sale for OVER 70% off!!!

At the price, it’s a no brainer. Grab your copy and thank me later. 🙂
Superboy – The Complete First Season

Get info about all four seasons here!
And here’s the latest discussion on the DVD fate of seasons 2-4. But in short Warner Brothers are, as always, the problem.

It’s just a dick move, to keep this great television hidden away from people for decades; to try and sell your sub-par garbage. It’s just sad.

Man, I have to go watch my episodes of Superboy Seasons 2-4, just to make myself feel better. (Yes, I am rubbing it in aren’t I?!! I’m so evil!!! But they are so good!!! :))

Superboy – The Complete First Season

Oh and for my money… Stacey Haiduk… BEST… LANA LANG… EVER!!! You don’t see it in the first season too much, but seasons 2-4 she…. (swoon)…. is the greatest :).. But seriously, she’s not annoying harpy, not a crying damsel in distress, not overbearing and bossy, she’s just perfect.

See for yourself.

THREE BEST MOVIES NOT AVAILABLE ON DVD

THREE BEST MOVIES NOT AVAILABLE ON DVD

Dance of the Damned – Definitely of its 80s time, and since films (among them a mediocre ‘remake’) and television shows have borrowed liberally from this film’s premise it will seem familiar, but I think here in this low-budget nearly one scene film, is where this premise of predator and prey and the time before dawn… works best.

Dance of the Damned [VHS]

Cappuccino (1998) – I’ve spoken about this film before. A GREAT modern day noir/neo noir. And one that I definitely miss not having a great DVD version of with Director and Cast/Crew commentary.

Cappuccino [VHS]

Dark Side of the Moon – This low-budget ALIEN ripoff, I should hate desperately, as I dislike most of the knockoffs that popped up in the wake of ALIEN. The problem is, ..

Did anybody see that Jody Foster film SOMMERSBY where David Gere comes back as someone purporting to be her missing husband, and she keeps saying he’s not her husband, and finally he asks her why she doesn’t believe he’s her husband, and she responds, with that drawl, the way only Jodie Foster can…

“BECAUSE I NEVER LOVED HIM, THE WAY I LOVE YOU!”

God I adore Jody Foster. Wait did I say that out loud?

Anyhow that line illuminates a bit of my feelings regarding DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

While I acknowledge ALIEN is the better, superior film in terms of budget, craft, performance, direction, etc. DARK SIDE OF THE MOON’s central conceit, at the time just wowed me.

And the thing is, even though all kind of films have tried to redo this film’s premise, it was done best here. I strongly recommend going into this film not knowing anything, no synopsis, no reviews, nothing, and I think you’ll find a film to enjoy.

Let’s put it this way, having seen this film numerous times, I still enjoy it. And I’m always in the mood to watch it again, unlike ALIEN that I feel very little desire to revisit.

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is the more intriguing and metaphysical film. Definitely deserves to be remastered and preserved on DVD.

Dark Side of the Moon [VHS]

If you have films you think need to be on DVD, definitely feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!