Reviewed: Inferno Special Edition DVD

Doctor Who TV, books and audio reviews at KasterborousSet for DVD release on May 27th is Inferno, the seven-part serial that closed Doctor Who‘s seventh season in 1970. But as it was only out on DVD in 2006, do you really need to buy it again?

Starring Jon Pertwee and Caroline John as the Doctor and Liz Shaw, this particular serial gives Nicholas Courtney some of his most famous scenes (and one of his most famous convention stories…).

Inferno was directed by Douglas Camfield and also features Olaf Pooley as Professor Stahlman, Christopher Benjamin (The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Unicorn and the Wasp) as Sir Keith Gold and Derek Newark (100,000 BC) as Greg Sutton – along with Camfield’s wife, Sheila Dunn, as Petra Williams. John Levene is also prominent as Sgt Benton.

You should all know Inferno. It is one of Doctor Who‘s greatest ever serials, standing head and shoulders above the majority of classic and nuWho, and it goes a little like this:

Inferno: the name of a project designed to drill into the Earth’s core and release a powerful energy source; what’s yielded instead is an insidious substance that transforms men into monsters. The resulting chaos interrupts the Doctor’s experiments with the TARDIS, knocking him into an alternate Earth run by a military dictatorship, and where Project Inferno’s progress threatens to bring about an apocalypse.


Jon Pertwee stars in Doctor Who: Inferno

Improved Video and Audio

All seven parts of Inferno have had some work done to the video and audio. The result is a crisper appearance (although I would argue that you probably won’t notice any different to the sound unless you’re using decent audio equipment).

Improvements of this kind are part of the raison d’etre of the special edition releases – the other being new extras, or “value added content”…

Inferno: Special Edition Extras

Extras for this release are largely on disc 2 (unless you consider the commentary to be an extra) and are among some of the best you will see. Can You Hear the Earth Scream? and The UNIT Family – Part One both carry over from the original release of Inferno, as does the Visual Effects Promo Film and Jon Pertwee’s introduction to a clip from the serial on The Pertwee Years VHS. You can also relive Pertwee’s obvious radio announcer cameo in a scene cut from the broadcast serial, the PDF of the Doctor Who Annual 1971, Radio Times listings and the photo gallery.


There are, however, two or three absolute gems in this release. First we have Hadoke versus HAVOC in which the actor and writer is set the task of reuniting the surviving members of the stunt team responsible for the majority of UNIT action scenes in the early 1970s and trains with them. It’s a fun, quirky film running to just under 28 minutes and features stunt arranger Derek Ware and stunt men Roy Scammell, Derek Martin and Stuart Fell.

Next is Doctor Forever – Lost in the Dark Dimension, the the penultimate instalment of the five part series that examines how Doctor Who in other mediums survived while the show was off TV. Among the contributors are former Doctor Who Magazine editors Tom Spilsbury, John Freeman and Gary Russell, Russell T Davies, Graeme Harper and the writer of Lost in the Dark Dimension, Adrian Rigelsford. It also features David Burton, a DJ and actor who in the 1990s briefly claimed he had been cast as the Doctor.

I was disappointed to see that he appeared briefly in this extra, but delighted to discover that he has an entire Easter Egg to himself! The Easter Eggs on this release are as follows:

  • Easter Egg 1 (dur. 1′ 01″)- clean opening title backgrounds including the special ‘volcano’ graphics used for this story.
  • Easter Egg 2 (dur. 0′ 40″) – VT countdown clock for episode 7.
  • Easter Egg 3 – Being David Burton (dur. 5’ 20” ) – actor David Burton talks at greater length about his career and casting as the Doctor.

This longer chat with Burton is quite an eye-opener. Put simply, it seems to suggest that he genuinely was cast as the Doctor for an independent production that briefly went before cameras. The interview will also hit Gary Russell’s pocket quite hard…

Depending upon how you feel about Toby Hadoke, HAVOC and Lost in the Dark Dimension, this might be a disc that you choose to miss, simply because you already bought it. However, if you haven’t seen Inferno, know little about Doctor Who‘s lean years and didn’t buy this DVD the last time around, buy it now and enjoy the benefit of the improved video and sound.

UK release of Inferno: Special Edition is Monday, 27th May (pre-order for just £13.76 from Amazon), while North American fans will be able to buy their copy (Amazon US price $27.99) from June 11th – finally it’s been given the release it deserves.


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