Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive [DVD]

Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive [DVD]

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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play.

"I don't think much of this Earth idea of recreation. Why can't we do something constructive?" The Argolin-Foamisi War lasted for just 20 minutes, during which time the planet of Argolis was turned into a blasted cinder - a radioactive wasteland deadly to almost all. The few surviving members of the now ageing and sterile Argolin race made a remarkable decision: the story of their people and the husk of their world would stand as a lesson to the galaxy about the horrors of war. The planet would become the most unlikely of holiday resorts. To the Doctor and Romana, Argolis seems like a restful and fascinating place to relax after their recent adventures. They can take in the beauty of the multi-coloured shifting sands from the safety of the towering Leisure Hive, and catch up with Argolin advances in the obscure science of tachyonics. Typically enough, however, murder and intrigue follow the time travellers wherever they go; and a lunatic's plan to restore Argolis' proud warrior past could, quite literally, tear the Doctor and his friend apart... Originally transmitted 30/08/80 - 20/09/80.

Actors Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, John Leeson, Adrienne Corri, David Haig, Laurence Payne & John CollinDirector Lovett BickfordCertificate PGYear 1980Screen Fullscreen 4:3Languages English - Dolby Digital (5.1)Additional Languages English (Dolby Digital Mono)Subtitles English for the hearing impairedDuration 1 hour and 27 minutes (approx)

It's hardly surprising that the Beeb take so long releasing DVDs in the Doctor Who series when they're as highly polished and as carefully selected as The Leisure Hive. Particularly significant in terms of the series' history, this sequence marked an end to Who's descent into vaudeville, and heralded the entrance of hotshot, new-broom Series Producer, John Nathan-Turner.

The opening long, slow pan across a wintry beach, on which an autumnal Doctor sits slumped, immediately declares the show's serious intentions. The narrative itself is an erudite discussion on fascism and racism taking in regeneration, megalomania, cloning and a series of Agatha Christie-esque murders. It's the style, rather than the story, however, that's foregrounded in The Leisure Hive: along with his new sober approach, Nathan-Turner brought a new theme tune, a new logo, a new striking red costume and a new title sequence--one that, tellingly, moved away from the enclosed time tunnel to show the vastness of space opening up. Productions values are similarly high: the Quantel effects are impressive even now, and the performances are quite stunning, particularly Baker's as the prematurely aged, infirm Doctor.

By dispensing with the clowning and with what he termed "Douglas Adams' undergrad humour", Nathan-Turner reinvigorated a show that was becoming stale. The diegetic rebirth brought about by the Regeneration Drive at the show's denouement is an apposite motif, emblematic of the rebirth of the show itself--The Leisure Hive truly represented a new beginning for Who.

On the DVD: the images, colours and new 5.1 sound are all impressive, as are the abundance of extras. "A New Beginning" features a rare interview with Baker himself, and "From Avalon to Argolis" indulges in some very satisfying back-biting. There's also a nostalgia-inducing contemporaneous clip of an impossibly young Blue Peter presenter looking genuinely frightened by the exhibits of the then-great Longleat Doctor Who Exhibition. --Paul Eisinger

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