Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bond @ 50: GoldenEye

Little did I know when watching the film Licence to Kill that waiting to watch a new Bond film would be a long time coming. In fact, little did I realize that while watching the film that I was watching the final film of my favourite Bond Timothy Dalton. I think it was pretty much assumed that every other year or so a new Bond film would be released. Unfortunately I only started to get back into Bond with Dalton’s first film, The Living Daylights, and I was saddened to see things go so quiet so quickly. After I saw Licence to Kill in July of 1989 (one of the best summer movie years), I eagerly awaited news on the next film. I waited and waited and waited. It probably wasn’t until 1991 when I watched Timothy Dalton be interviewed on a local TV program about The Rocketeer. At the end of it, he was asked about when we would see Bond again. His response was that there was legal trouble and once that got resolved, we would see a new film. So I started once again to wait and wait and wait……

The legal issue stemmed from MGM/UA being sold to Pathe Communications. The Parent company of Eon, Danjag sued because Pathe was going to run films in other countries without Danjag’s approval. This led to a lack of a film for 6 years. What is interesting is that 6 years does not seem like a very long time but in fact, the entire world had changed.
The 17th film of the Bond franchise was released in 1995. It was called Goldeneye. It needed to introduce the world to a new James Bond. Unlike the first time they needed to introduce a new Bond for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969 this process literally was the least of their worries. In fact this may have been the easiest introduction of a new Bond of all time. One of the casualties of the ongoing legal battle between Pathe and Danjag was that Timothy Dalton bowed out of doing a third Bond film. As I mentioned above, he was my favourite but he may not have been a popular Bond for the masses. When it was announced that the new Bond would be Pierce Brosnan it was like we were re-introduced to an old friend. Brosnan had been announced as Bond before. He was going to take over after Roger Moore had left. The problem was that NBC wouldn’t let him out of his contract on his TV series Remington Steele. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Pierce took over the role after Roger Moore left. He could have been the longest serving Bond as I don’t see him leaving especially being so much younger than he was when he actually took on the role or it could have been very different. His wife Cassandra Harris was diagnosed with cancer and sadly passed away in 1991. Of course none of this matters as he wasn’t able to take the role when it was originally offered to him.

The only other actor to return from the pre-legal battle was Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Moneypenny was re-cast for a second time with Samantha Bond taking on the role. Perhaps most interesting was that M was recast, this time to a woman. She was the one and only Judi Dench. This piece of casting is very significnt because it plays into a larger part of the film and Bond’s place in history.
As I mentioned above, casting Pierce Brosnan as Bond was a piece of cake and there wasn’t much to worry about but since Licence to Kill the world itself had changed significantly. Both politically and globally, the mentality of the world was very different. The Cold War was over. Russia was a very different place and there was no longer a Soviet Union. Communism was gone in Europe and the landscape of Europe was completely different. Countries had changed shapes and names since 1989. The world’s political climate was very different. On top of that, women’s place in the world had changed. Women were being recognized more and more for equality and more prominent positions with governments and big organizations. Such as M now being a woman. The major problem with Bond from the very beginning of the franchise is that he is extremely sexist. He is a womanizer and uses women as he would use a cigarette; only to discard them when finished with them. As an audience from the 1960s, it was fashionable and popular. How would an audience from 1995 handle it? Bringing Bond back with Goldeneye in 1995 was not exactly a sure thing.

Goldeneye is interesting. It’s a film that wants to tell us the franchise has moved with the times even if its main character hasn’t changed at all. Regardless of all I said above with how the world has changed, the film starts out in Russia. It is set during the time of the Soviet Union. Bond and his fellow agent 006, Alec Trevelyan, are on a mission to blow up a base. Like I mentioned this takes place while the Soviet Union still existed. 006 is murdered by Colonel Ourumov. 006 was played by Sean Bean and such an actor of his stature would not have only appeared in the pre-credits sequence. In fact, he turns out to be a double agent and heads up a crime syndicate in Russia. Sean Bean is a wonderful choice for this role. He is sort of the alter-ego of Bond. He is attractive, physical, and rugged. He could have been a good James Bond. Unfortuantely they would never cast someone who had too rugged of looks and blonde hair to play Bond…..oh, wait!
Ultimately what happens is that this syndicate takes control of this super-secret weapon Goldeneye. There are two satellites. One that destroys its command centre in Russia and the other one will be used to eliminate London. Goldeneye is a direct link to Ian Fleming. The film itself is the first to not have any plot pieces based on one of the original Fleming books or short stories. Yet the title is based off of Fleming’s estate in Jamaica called Goldeneye plus the name for the home is based on  a mission that Fleming monitored in Spain after the Spanish Civil War called Operation Goldeneye.

The film is going alright until we meet up with Bond again in London. This is the same kind of complaint I have with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. They seem to once again hit us over the head with how much has changed since the last film. I understand why they do it but I think it could be handled more subtly than how it is presented in this film. In the scene where M is talking to Bond in her office, she calls him a dinosaur, a relic from the Cold War. Really? Why is he even around anymore then? Moneypenny tells Bond that the way he is speaking to her could be considered sexual harassment. What is this, an after school special? The dialogue is so poor in these scenes. I still cringe when I watch it.  I am sure other people enjoy it but not me. The same could be said about a lot of other dialogue throughout this film.

We can’t get through a sentence in any scene with a Russian without being reminded about the Cold War being over. We also have a fair share of double entendres. Now, there isn’t much different there but these are not very good. For example, the scene with Bond and Onatopp in the casino. It is really sophomoric and not very good. I love a good double entendre but I always get the feeling they are trying too hard in this film.
I remember sitting in the theatre on premiere night. I was grabbing onto my theatre seat pretty tightly listening to people’s reaction to the film. I wanted people to like it so much, I didn’t want Bond not to be relevant in the 1990s. I don’t know why I didn’t just try to enjoy it on my own. Unfortunately it is a classic trait of an obsessive fan. I remember people mocking the bit at the beginning where Bond is free-falling to catch a plane. Apart from the stilted dialogue, especially scenes where Alec is constantly summing up Bond by using clich├ęs such as “I might as well ask you if all those vodka martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you've killed... or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” Or “Did you ever ask why? Why we toppled all those dictators, undermined all those regimes, only to come home: "Well done, good job, but sorry, old boy, everything you risked your life and limb for has changed." Goldeneye is a fairly enjoyable film. I am a big, big fan of the 2006 release of Casino Royale which is also directed by Martin Campbell same as this film. I personally believe Casino Royale is the film that Goldeneye wanted to be. It’s a fresh start to a new era, something I think Goldeneye wanted to be yet being faithful to the Bond franchise, which I will be honest to say that Casino Royale isn’t. The problem with Goldeneye in this respect is that it is mired by things it feels it needs to accomplish. In fact I would say this is an issue with all of the Brosnan-era films. These set-pieces are in every film throughout the franchise up to this point but they feel more prominent in these films. The obligatory Moneypenny sequence, the obligatory Q sequence and even the M sequence. Like I said, I know they are in every film but they always seem to be a hurdle to telling the stories in these films. This is why when neither Q nor Moneypenny came back in Casino Royale, I was happy.

One of the things that changed drastically when Goldeneye was released was how far CG technology advanced since Licence to Kill. This is seen in the Gun barrel sequence as it is computer-generated. The gun barrel is no longer flat. It has more texture to it and is 3-dimensional. It looks great. Since Licence to Kill, Maurice Binder passed away. He did all but two of the opening credits to the Bond films to that point. Daniel Kleinman took up the mantle and created a sequence that was in the same vein as Maurice Binder’s style but doing more to echo parts of the story within the sequence. It looks great and is a triumph. I have always liked his work.
One thing I have been talking about is the different ways that Bond gets introduced in the films when a new actor takes over.  In Goldeneye, we know it’s Bond from the beginning of the film as he is running to enter a base and does this amazing bungee jump from a dam. The whole time his face is in shadows. It isn’t until a Russian soldier is sitting on the toilet reading a paper do we see an upside down James Bond punch this soldier in the face. The Brosnan era begins!

There are a lot of great actors in this film. I already mentioned Judi Dench, Sean Bean, and Samantha Bond. This film also has Famke Janssen as Onatopp who is the “Oddjob” of the film. She is the henchman who has some special skill used as a weapon. She can suffocate people by putting her legs around them and squeezing. Izabella Scorupco is Natalya Simonova; Bond’s love interest. She survives Goldeneye destroying the command center that she was working in. Another survivor is Boris (who is invincible!) played by Alan Cumming. I really like Alan in everything he does yet I am not a big fan of the character Boris. We get Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade. He’s sort of a poor man’s Felix Leiter. I like the character but I think the casting is strange since Baker appeared as Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights just two films before. It’s a lot like Charles Gray appearing as Henderson in You Only Live Twice and Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. We even get Minnie Driver and Michael Kitchen! My favourite though is Robbie Coltrane appearing for the first time as Valentin Zukovsky. I adore Robbie Coltrane and love everything he is in. I think he is a wonderful inclusion to the cast and his scenes are among my favourite in this film.
The action is pretty cool. The tank chase in St Petersburg is awesome! It’s a great scene with a lot of destruction and fun to it. What I thought was lazy was the amount of machine gun battles took place in the film. It’s not the first time Bond used a machine gun but when he does I feel he degrades himself to the realm of any other “action hero” and I feel the character is so much better than that. The end of the film takes place in an underground complex with a huge satellite dish that is hidden under a gigantic lake. This whole sequence is a great Bond-villain hideout as it harks back to the days of big spacious Ken Adam sets and hideout masquerading as pieces of nature such as the volcano in You Only Live Twice. This is the final film that Derek Meddings worked on. He had been doing model effects for Bond films for many years. All of the satellite sequences looked real but they were model effects. That was the work of Derek Meddings. I have a tremendous soft spot for Derek as he did all the models for the 1960s Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series such as Thunderbirds or The Secret Service. He passed away in 1995. It was a tremendous loss.

The film ends with Alec falling from the tower on the gigantic satellite to the saucer. After a ridiculous high fall that only the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who could survive but at the end as the tower on the satellite blows up and is falling down on Alec, he is still alive as it comes down on him. I am sure every bone was broken but the fact he was conscious at all is a bit silly to me.
Goldeneye is nowhere near my favourite Bond film. This is mainly for the reasons I cited above but it may also be because I have seen it so many times. It felt like it was on all the cable movie channels very often and I saw it a lot. It also felt like none of the other films were shown on television that much at the time but that may also have been me not catching them. Granted the old films were still mainly cropping up at an irregular basis on ABC. Also the music is not very strong at all. The music was composed by Eric Serra after John Barry turned down the offer to return. The music is weak and odd. I personally feel that Bond needs a full orchestra score and that isn’t what we got. This is an OK start to the Brosnan era but if I am going to pick a Brosnan Bond film to watch I will pick Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough or even Die Another Day over Goldeneye any day.

Finally, can I just say, I love all the new DVD/Blu Ray covers for the Bond films? Goldeneye is at the top of this article but they are not overly produced and very simple. I love this approach!

Next week: The next Bond film I am going to look at is the first Daniel Craig film Casino Royale. I love this film! For DVD reviews I am still going through Blu Ray bliss as I am watching the first 6 series of Poirot. I am also going to review Series 2 of the new Upstairs Downstairs. As usual, a ton is going on!

Have a great week!

Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at FTA13867@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 22, 2012

DVD Review: The Duchess of Duke Street

The Duchess of Duke Street: The Complete Series 10-Discs (27 hours)
Released by Acorn Media on October 23rd 2012. SRP $79.99 (DVD)

If you ever come to this site and skim through my reviews rather than read them, then just read this: I loved this series! That being said, I have never seen it before until I needed to for this review. I have a friend who reads this site quite a bit who has been suggesting this series to me for years. I just had other things I wanted to watch and I knew I would get to it at some point. Of course that point never happened so when this title came up for review from Acorn Media, I thought this would be as good of opportunity as any to check it out. Not only did it not disappoint but what a ride!

The Duchess of Duke Street is a BBC series that aired between 1976 and 1977. It was just two series but it covers a ton of ground. The series was created by John Hawkesworth. As I mentioned in other places, when I see his name attached to something I take notice. He produced Upstairs Downstairs and these two series cover roughly the same ground in terms of when these series take place. The Duchess of Duke Street is based roughly on the career of Rosa Lewis who was known as the Duchess of Jermyn Street. There are striking similarities between the main character of The Duchess of Duke Street, Louisa Trotter and Rosa Lewis.  

If you are coming to this series cold, then you are in for a treat. When you put Disc #1 into the DVD player, you have no idea where this series is going to take you. It starts off simple enough. Louisa Leyton joins service into a house where she wants to be a cook to Lord Henry Norton. Louisa is quite independent and also quite outspoken. Even to her superiors she has a lot to say and it is clearly difficult to keep her mouth shut. I almost dismissed the series out of hand at this point. It was nice but it started to feel like Upstairs Downstairs in the way that someone who is super independent is trying to gain a place in a manor home such as Sarah at the beginning of Upstairs Downstairs. Plus as an aside note, I never really cared for the character of Sarah. The difference between Louisa and Sarah is that Louisa is fair and she means well. Through all the jobs she ever had, she made sure that her parents were looked after and she also looked after Mary who was a welsh maid in the household. Louisa has spirit and is invigorating to watch.
After being the apprentice to Monsieur Alex, Louisa gets the shot of a lifetime and cooks a last minute dinner. Little does she realize that one of the guests at the dinner is the Prince of Wales himself, Albert Edward. After meeting her, Edward is not only taken by her cooking but by her looks. She is pressured into becoming Edward’s mistress and is forced to marry a nice butler by the name of Augustus “Gus” to keep up the air of respectability and not to cause a royal scandal. The marriage between Gus and Louisa is strained from the start. They are no longer in the service of Lord Norton but the Prince has looked after her well. He bought a house for Gus and Louisa to live in and Louisa has started to make a name for herself by being a chef; she is hired out to cook meals for prestigious clients. Her reputation as an amazing chef in London continues to grow. Gus, on the other hand, refuses to do anything. He wants Louisa to love her and she does not. She isn’t even attracted to him but she tries to put up with the situation the best she can. Everything changes once the Prince becomes the King.

Queen Victoria dies in 1901. Prince Edward becomes King Edward and he has no other choice but to cut off his relationship with Louisa. I found it interesting from the entire time that Louisa was Edward’s mistress how much she respected him and cared for him. This relationship is believed to have happened in real life between the Prince of Wales and Rosa Lewis. Things start to get really dicey between Gus and Louisa. Gus drinks more and more while Louisa tries her best to keep things afloat. What Louisa begins to understand is that Gus wants to be his own person and not live in the shadow of Louisa. Her solution is for Gus and Louisa to pool the money they have left, sell the house and buy the Bentinck Hotel located on Duke Street and Gus can manage it. On their way to the hotel, Gus jokingly anoints Louisa as The Duchess of Duke Street.
The sad thing about Gus is that when the series starts out, he is respectable and kind. It is very sad that things didn’t work out for him but eventually his demons take over. He drinks heavily and spends all the profits from the hotel on entertaining friends that he wants to look important to for his own social endeavors. Louisa finally has enough as she returns from a 3 week working trip to find that the hotel is in horrible debt with no one staying in it. Louisa loses it and literally (and I mean literally) kicks him and his meddling sister out of the hotel for good. That is one problem solved but what about the Bentinck? The series had been really good up to this point but now is where it is truly kick-ass!

The story turns from a woman who has a ton of potential and is held back by her drunken-husband to a series of rebuilding her life and creating a reputation that was known all throughout not only the United Kingdom but Europe. Upon doing her best to pay the debt that has been built up by Gus, she works herself to exhaustion. She collapses after she runs into Charlie Tyrrell. We actually meet Charlie in the very first episode of the series as he propositions her but as someone in service, she declines. Even though Charlie appears to be a bit of a playboy, it is impossible not to like him. Once he finds out what is going on in Louisa’s life, he pays her debts and buys part of the hotel to become partners with Louisa. He doesn’t want to run it but he hands that duty to Louisa. Charlie just wants his own suite he can stay in when he is in town.
If this wasn’t a serious drama, The Bentinck could be confused for Fawtly Towers in the sense that Louisa is a bit of a snob. The hotel isn’t one that just accepts anyone. It only accepts people of high standing and who are rich. After Louisa spends a considerable amount of time and money to redecorate the hotel; it looks great. Louisa then needs to hire staff. She already brought over with her Mary from Lord Norton’s house and they inherited the hotel butler Merriman who is old but still does his job well. Louisa hires a porter by the name of Starr who was in the military but there is some mystery behind him but he always has his dog Fred with him at all times. Eventually they get one of their first customers Major Toby Smith-Barton.

Everything I have written so far only covers up to episode 5, A Bed of Roses. This is where I become a little more coy as the fun of the series really begins and if I ruin this beautiful series, I would never forgive myself. One thing I find funny is that when I started to watch the series, I assumed that these characters from the start would be with us for the entire run such as Gus or even Lord Norton. Now into episode 5 the series settles down. People who I didn’t expect to see for the long run stay with the series until the end such as Starr, Merriman or the Major. For me, very quickly, I have grown to love these characters. Each one of them brings a smile to my face when I see them. Merriman is old but he has a fascination with Sherlock Holmes. Whenever there is some kind of mystery in the hotel, Merriman is always the one to look into it. He relies on his long-time career in service as a butler plus the knowledge he has built over a lifetime. Mary is a simple and honest Welsh girl. She was mistreated by the other staff members at Lord Norton’s house but Louisa has given her a chance to be someone which is more than a chance she would have ever had at her previous employer. Starr (and Fred) and the Major are my favorites. At first I didn’t know what to make of Starr since he was awfully coy in the interview to be Porter but I soon learned to really enjoy him as a character. He is a gentle person with a serious past. He sits and talks to his dog Fred as if he was a real person and the two are quite a couple. The two of them are great. Has anyone who has ever seen this series before ever noticed that Starr’s shoes squeak every time he walks, at least one of them. No one ever does anything about it! I thought that would be fixed for Series 2 and it wasn’t! The Major is an amazing character. He was someone who I just thought would be a resident at the Bentinck but turns out to be one of the real pillars of the hotel. The Major ends up being a confidant not only to Louisa and Charlie too. There are times in the series that Louisa would not have made it without the Major. He is one of the greatest supporting characters I have ever seen.
In the series, they make references to past events. For example, in the episode A Test of Love, King Edward VII dies. This prompts a visit from Major Farjeon. As they speak of old times, I think back to all that has happened in previous series….wait, this is still only Series 1! So much has happened in this series yet it doesn’t feel rushed at all.

There are some really great moments in this series such as A Lady of Virtue where we get a guest cast that includes Robert Hardy and John Horsley. Robert Hardy’s character of politician George Duggan tries to seduce a married woman. Starr’s past comes to plague him in the episode Trouble and Strife. This episode has a guest appearance by Maureen O’Brien and she is simply excellent in this episode as is John Cater who plays Starr. Easily one of the highlights of Series 1. It’s fun to see Louisa at her spikey best when she buys a summer resort next to Charlie’s private club in Plain Sailing. She is able to ruffle old feather very easily.  Throughout this series Charlie and Louisa’s relationship goes through many changes but it is clear the two are very fond of each other.
There are a series of episodes in Series 2 which I think are my favorite. Just like in Upstairs Downstairs, The Duchess of Duke Street has episodes set during World War I. In Upstairs Downstairs it takes up all of Series 4. It takes up just 5 episodes of Series 2 of The Duchess of Duke Street and they are the most pivotal episodes of the series. There are ups and downs but there are horrible losses changing the landscape of the series during these episodes. I have seen these episodes over a week ago and I still think of them. I still get emotional thinking of them and thinking of these characters. This series isn’t just good, it is beyond excellent.

This series is something so special and wonderful and clearly the industry agreed. Back in 1980, this series, as part of Masterpiece Theatre in the US, was nominated for an Emmy. It should have won. The one thing I would be careful about that if you watch as many episodes as I have in a row the theme tune by Alexander Faris never leaves you but more importantly, nor do these wonderful characters.

Extras:
On the extra front, there is nothing too amazing just simple and straightforward extras of a Biography of Rosa Lewis, Edwardian period background, photo gallery, and cast filmographies. The extras are fine to me for a release like this. These extras don’t appear to be included in the R2 PAL release from Playback.

Quality:
On the back of the set it does mention that due to the age and availability of the material it is the best that Acorn Media could get a hold of for this release. I will be honest and say I think the video quality on these episodes are quite acceptable. There are episodes that exhibit occasional video tear from the tape within the episodes but not really that often. One episode, For Love or Money, has a weird thing going on where some shots are crisp and clear like all the other episodes and some shots (within the same scene) almost look like a generation or two down from the original master tape. They become darker and almost smeary looking. What I do like is that each episode ends with a little card saying it is a co-production with Time-Life which is nice to keep on there. I am not sure if those are on the UK releases. If not it does make me wonder where these masters come from. Are they the old 2” recordings originally made for Time-Life shown on Masterpiece Theatre in the 1970s or are they new? If they are old they actually don’t look bad at all.

Packaging:
Another smart looking set from Acorn Media. The outer box holding the two amary cases (1 for each series) is nice looking and the two cases inside has a really nice photo of Gemma Jones as Louisa Trotter. It is an elegant look. Each amary case holds five discs so it is quite the substantial set and you really feel like you are getting your money’s worth before you even stick one disc in the player. The only thing that bothers me, and I think this is from being a repackaged release is that all the discs for Series 1 does not have a “Play All” function on them. It is a big pet-peeve for me as I often like to watch things as a marathon. I never understand why studios do this. The good news is that there is a “Play All” on the Series 2 discs.

In the 1970s there are a lot of series that are costume drama that take place in Victorian or Edwardian times. There are some that are good and some that are average. This is neither. This is truly a special series. As a fan of British television like me, don’t be like me by waiting so long to watch this series. It’s addictive, fun, tragic and emotional. It’s a fun ride to be on!
Disc breakdown:

Disc 1: A Present Sovereign, Honour and Obey, A Nice Class of Premises
Disc 2: The Bargain, A Bed of Roses, For Love and Money

Disc 3: A Lady of Virtue, Trouble and Strife, The Outsiders

Disc 4: Lottie’s Boy, No Letters, No Lawyers, A Matter of Honour

Disc 5: One Night’s Grace, Plain Sailing, A Test of Love
Disc 6: Family Matters, Poor Catullus, A Lesson in Manners, Winter Lament

Disc 7: The Passing Show, Your Country Needs You, The Patriots
Disc 8: The Reluctant Warrior, Tea and a Wad, Shadows

Disc 9: Where There’s a Will, The Legion of the Living, Lottie
Disc 10: Blossom Time, Poor Little Rich Girl, Ain’t We Got Fun

Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at FTA13867@gmail.com
 

I now have a regular column on DVDTalk called Brit-Streaming. Please check it out here: Brit-Streaming.
I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bond @ 50: On Her Majesty's Sercret Service

I am not very happy with Best Buy. In fact, I am almost completely put off by doing these Bond articles because of them. When I decided that I was going to write a series of articles to commemorate the 50th anniversary as well as counting down to Skyfall, I knew that I wasn’t going to have all the Bond films to watch in HD. I had collected the previous set of Blu Ray single releases but they did not contain 9 of the films. I knew a big lavish box set of all the films were coming out at the end of September but in reality, I am not a big fan of collecting box sets, I prefer to have individual releases wherever possible. I found at that October 9th would be a magical day as three separate retailers would be exclusively releasing the last 9 films I need individually. Target had 3, Walmart had 3 and Best Buy had 3. They were set for each retailer to release three of the films individually. This meant that 3 of those 9 films would not be available at more than 1 retailer. This all worked out really well for me as the timing was right and one of the films I would need to watch and don’t have in HD is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I would go out get the film, go home to watch and be happy. The day of the release of these last films I decided to go to each location and get all 9 films. What the hell; I have wanted to complete this Blu Ray collection for some time.  Due to where I was situated geographically when I decided to get the discs, I stopped at Target first, then Walmart. I picked up 6 of the 9 films and then off to Best Buy which had the last 3 films including the one I was writing about, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I get to Best Buy and there is nothing. Nothing at all. I look at all the shelves and end caps. I walk around the store thinking maybe there was some kind of display somewhere more prominent. Nothing. I talked to a person working there, who was very nice, asked me if I needed help. I explained my situation to her. She looked it up on her computer, nothing. I just left there shaking my head. I wasn’t alone. I checked online and there were a lot of people who were looking for these films at Best Buy. There is no reason given why there was any misdirection. If Walmart and Target could release the exclusives on the days they said they would, why couldn’t Best Buy? These are just movies and in the grand scheme of things make no difference what-so-ever. I know that there are people out there that would rather have a dilemma like this than the serious ones they face every day but for some reason this really annoyed me! I guess now the release date is 10/23. I am not really excited for it any more. I could pick these films up when they are no longer exclusive at some other retailer but that would hardly dent Best Buy. I just wanted to say the whole thing pissed me off.

So I have to make do with the SD DVD of this release from the Ultimate Edition releases. I have to say that the film looked pretty good on my HD set. I will be honest; my heart isn’t really into writing about this one due to not getting the Blu Ray release I wanted. I know I sound like a baby. The good news is that, for me, this film never ever disappoints. I might go as far as say the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is possibly the best James Bond film ever made. Though, after reading this article, some may doubt that I really mean that.
I was told not to like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Well, maybe not in so many words but I felt like it was insinuated to me that this wasn’t a very good film. That was always the impression I got when my parents spoke of this film. I think this was all based on the fact that this was George Lazenby’s only outing as Bond. I also think that they made reference to how he thought he was too high and mighty to play Bond and left. At least that was their impression. I am not entirely sure how they got this impression though I do not there was a lot of press about him not doing a second movie at the time which some of this information may have been gleaned from at that time. Over the years I tried to watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and never really took notice, that is because I knew it was Lazenby’s only outing and maybe it’s best that I didn’t get too attached to this Bond. Back in 2006 I started to do these “countdown viewings” to the new Bond film as I do now with 1 Bond film from each of the actors. I dreaded having to watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as it was long plus with the one-timer but I gave it go. Suddenly, everything I perceived about the film changed.

James Bond started in 1962 with Sean Connery taking the lead role. Connery was Bond. No one else in the film franchise ever played the role. The thought of him not playing it was unthinkable. During the filming of You Only Live Twice, Connery wanted out. It was decided to recast the role. I am not going into all the details of what transpired but we end up with a young Australian model by the name of George Lazenby. He had never acted before and I believe that producers Saltzman and Broccoli along with director Peter Hunt would make the mistake of not allowing anyone to forget this fact.
Right away from the start of the film it feels different. For some reason that I have no idea about, the gun barrel sequence is different. When the dots go across the screen, the producer’s names appear at the very start of the film. The only other time it did that was in Dr. No. We never saw that again until On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then after that, we never saw it again. From the start, the John Barry score is wonderful. Easily for me, the best Bond score of all time. The music throughout the whole film has a very atmospheric and distinctive feel to it. There is action from the very start. Cars are driving quickly with one driven by an exotic woman and the other by a man in shadows. As with Dr. No, the introduction of James Bond in this film is handled with some mystery. It’s a nice touch that has been repeated in all the introductory Bond films with the exception of Live and Let Die. It doesn’t take long for Bond to get into a fight with some thugs that ends with the woman driving away. At this point Bond looks at the camera and says, “This never happened to the other fellow!”

No it didn’t. In The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, director Peter Hunt says that this was a nice line that breaks the tension of having a new Bond. That may be but I also think that it undermines George Lazenby as Bond. Yes, I am probably taking this too seriously but this is just one example of this happening. The opening credits are a montage of all the past Bond films and villains. When Bond is being brought back to Draco’s office, the janitor is whistling the theme to Goldfinger, and after Bond “resigns” he is seen going through his desk looking at artifacts of his past adventures which in fact are items from the previous films along with the appropriate audio cues. OK, I get it! This is still the same James Bond! I think those sequences are overkill. I think they could have kept the opening credits as they appear but drop all the other references. Yes, I know that audience members at the time were unaccustomed to Bond being played by a different actor but audiences would have coped.
Bond wants Blofeld. It has been his mission for the past two years to find him and apprehend or kill him. Bond has no luck in tracking him down but because of a chance meeting of the daughter of a crime syndicate named Marc-Ange Draco, he may have a clue as to where to find him but at a price. Draco’s daughter, is to say the least, difficult. Because her father is rich, she can basically do whatever she wants. We meet Countess Tracy di Vicenzo at the beginning of the film. She is driving the car that Bond is pursuing. Even before Bond knows that this is Draco’s daughter, he has to help her out of a difficult situation at the casino. It ends with a thug (turns out to be one of Draco’s men) and Bond having an incredible fight sequence in Tracy’s hotel room. The scene is fast and brutal. I think this is why having a film editor is a great choice for a director. Peter Hunt edited the Bond films up this point before given the opportunity to direct. Of course Bond sleeps with Tracy after all the fighting stopped. At one point in this scene, to get the information Bond needs from Tracy, he hits her. I am not a big fan of that though I know they are trying to convey Bond as having the ability to be suave or brutal at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately Tracy doesn’t have any luck in this film as she is slapped by Bond and later in the film is punched out by her own father. I suppose not as bad as her ultimate fate. There is a wonderful shot of day turning into night from Bond’s terrace as we look over the terrace to a shot of the pool with people having fun out there but as it turns to night, all the people are gone and there is just the reflection of the “casino” sign from the roof overlaid on the pool. It’s very effective and smart looking.

For Bond to find out where Blofeld is based on Draco’s information, he promises to marry Draco’s daughter. She is a bit of a prickly pear. Bond eventually gets the information he needs to track down Blofeld. It includes an awesome scene of Bond breaking into the law offices of Gumbold in Switzerland. There he finds out that Blofeld is in touch with the London College of Arms where Blofeld is attempting to claim the title 'Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp'. Bond knows where Blofeld is and offers to go to his hideout, the Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps disguised as the genealogist Sir Hilary Bray who could confirm Blofeld’s claim. This is when the film gets really interesting. Piz Gloria is such a cool and interesting building that it is a perfect hideout for a Bond villain. It is high on top a mountain with very cool architecture. Bond finds out the Blofeld is trying to cure some women of all sorts of allergies, among them is Joanna Lumley. In fact, in this film we get 3 girls from the Avengers. Obviously Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley and Honor Blackman in the opening credits. Poor Linda Thorsen didn’t have a chance. Of course up on Piz Gloria, Bond starts having his way with the women, as he often does. Going through them one by one. OK only 2.  One of the truly most frightening moments in any Bond film is when Bond is sneaking into the room of one of the girls, Ruby,  and sneak up to her in bed only for us to see it is not Ruby but Irma Bunt waiting for him. Seeing her lying in bed still gives me nightmares.

After Blofeld finds out Sir Hilary Bray is James Bond, the fun kind of ends. Bond is captured, and then escapes in a very cool sequence dangling from tram lines with the village way off the distance under him. Bond meets up with Tracy in the village which I always thought was rather fortuitous if not very coincidental. I know she is looking for Bond but the way she finds him was always weird to me. They escape in Tracy’s car and hideout at some farm. This is where the James Bond film take a strange turn. Bond asks for Tracy’s hand in marriage which she of course agrees. I’m sorry; I really don’t think the casting of Diana Rigg is right for this film. She seems too old in the role and there is nothing really friendly about her. I know she warms up throughout the film but it is just not enough for me. Perhaps I am the only person on the planet Earth that feels this way? In fact, with all the message boards I have read that are Bond related I have never seen anyone have this thought before. Am I the only one? The weird thing about the marriage is that it is originally a marriage requested by Draco of Bond in which Bond would receive a million dollar dowry. Something very puzzling happens, once Draco finds out that Bond and Tracy are getting married, he is almost against it. He keeps telling Tracy that it is too soon for them to get married.
Blofeld is defeated. He is caught by a low hanging branch while tobogganing/fighting with Bond. We’ll never see him again. Bond and Tracy get married and the drive off amongst a wall of flowers. The end. Well, it could have been if Lazenby stayed on for another film. Lazenby didn’t want to do another one. The sequence with Bond and Tracy driving after being married with Tracy being killed by Blofeld and Irma Bunt could have been held over to become the pre-title sequence for Diamonds are Forever. I wonder what that film would have been like if Lazenby stayed on for one more film?

I think George Lazenby did an amazing job of being Bond. It wasn’t a rip-off of Sean Connery. I know that Lazenby went out to get a Connery haircut from Connery’s barber as well as a suit that Connery didn’t want prior to getting role but I think that’s where the similarities end. Lazenby had his own way of playing Bond and was actually pretty menacing. I don’t think it is an understatement when Albert Broccoli told Lazenby that if he stuck with it, he could have been the best Bond. I could have easily seen that. Telly Savalas is quite understated as Blofeld but he was mesmerizing to me. He was a fantastic villain that should have been back. We even get a really nice performance by one of my favourite character actors, Bernard Horsfall as Shaun Campbell. Ilse Steppat was Irma Bunt and it was an excellent piece of casting. It was to be her last film and she died 4 days after the film premiere.
This film is also interesting as a chunk of it takes place over Christmas and New Year’s. Being set up in the Swiss Alps, the Christmas setting adds a great feeling of holiday spirit to the film regardless of its menacing undertones. There are a ton of nice moments in this film, just the wedding itself is full of them such as Bond throwing his hat to Moneypenny as he would throw his hat to the hat stand in her office. The lighting, colours, feel, actors, everything comes together for this film and Peter Hunt does a glorious job of pulling it all together. Sadly this was the only Bond film he directed. I think On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was considered somewhat the nadir of the franchise. I know that I am not the only who was able to see it for what it really is. It is one of the best films of the franchise and sticks out not because of how bad it was but how exceptional it was. It’s one of my favourite films to watch.

Next week: I should do an article of the Roger Moore introductory film, Live and Let Die but I don’t know if I will. I have reviews coming up for The Duchess of Duke Street and the Blu Ray for Poirot Series 1-6. I will also be getting an article together for another favourite Bond film of mine, The Living Daylights, introducing Timothy Dalton as James Bond 007.
Have a great week!
 
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at FTA13867@gmail.com
 


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Saturday, October 13, 2012

DVD Review: Doctor Who - The Ambassadors of Death

Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death DVD 2-Discs (170 min)
Released by BBC Video on October 9th 2012. SRP $34.98 (DVD)

Receiving this DVD in the mail completes a journey that started for me in 1988. As I have mentioned in a previous article found here, missing Doctor Who episodes have always been an interest for me and although The Ambassadors of Death was not technically missing, all the episodes were always present, it had been missing it’s color with the exception of Episode 1. This story has always been a favorite of mine and I will explain why but the release of this story on DVD is something I have been waiting for a long time to see.


Content/Quality:

If you were a fan living in the UK in 1970 when this story was originally broadcast, it may have been a shock. As a Doctor Who fan in those years perhaps you were already being tested by the dramatic format change. Jon Pertwee just took over the role of Doctor Who, the series was now being made in color and the series was now set on Earth. The Doctor was now working in an unofficial capacity as a scientific advisor to UNIT which was introduced in the previous season with the story, The Invasion. There is a lot of change to take in. I have to admit, between 2006-2011 I watched every single story in broadcast order and when I got to the Jon Pertwee era it threw me for a loop. The funny thing is I have watched these stories so many times that it shouldn’t have made any difference but the format change was actually pretty shocking when I went from the Patrick Troughton episodes to the Jon Pertwee episodes. Thinking about it in those terms, The Ambassadors of Death must have been really shocking.
The story itself is pretty simple. Mars Probe 7 and its crew have been stranded in space. Another vessel has been sent up to rescue them, if they are still alive. No one knows for sure. When Astronaut Van Lyden in his vessel reaches Mars Probe 7 everything goes haywire. There is some loud noise that is resonated back to Earth. Everyone thinks it’s feedback but the Doctor knows it is a message. I don’t know of any other story that starts out so confidently. In fact the whole production is like nothing I had seen before in Doctor Who. Right from the start, the title sequence fades out and gives us a teaser before we are smacked with the title of the story. The Space Agency’s control room is a brilliant design. It looks like it is made of metal with various computer and work stations. It is a multi-level set that even has a small lift in it. To me, nothing on that set looks like 1970s. It’s futuristic and bold. The set is not overly lit and conveys a tense work area for the agency. It is simply a triumph. Episode 1 is probably my favorite of the lot and it is mainly due to all of the different sets. There are a lot of dark and gloomy rooms where unknown things are happening. Shadows are casted on people sometimes to obscure their faces. It is very cloak & dagger.

As some of those scenes are very claustrophobic, suddenly the story bursts wide open. One of the capsules in space returns to Earth and UNIT needs to go pick it up. Things get more mysterious as there are other people who want that capsule. UNIT sets up a convoy to pick up the capsule in some English countryside but they are attacked. Other soldiers come out of nowhere with motorbikes and even a helicopter! They are all wearing these strangely cool goggles and are firing on the UNIT men with futuristic guns while UNIT themselves are defending themselves in a more traditional way. In the past in this series, we have seen the contemporary military fight against War Machines and the Yeti. After UNIT was formed, we saw them fight against Cybermen and then Autons but we had not seen them fight other humans. What was happening to our series?
This is why I think this story is so good. This is a wonderful fusion of espionage and monsters. It’s about one part of the government misdirecting the other. It’s about secret meetings in government offices, strange scientific experiments taking place in secret underground locations, sabotage and murder. This isn’t William Hartnell’s Doctor Who and that is OK. Season 7 had proven that Doctor Who is about change. When William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton it showed the series could survive a lead actor change. When Doctor Who came back for Season 7, it showed that it could handle anything. Based on some of the comments from the DVD extra called Tomorrow’s Times: The Third Doctor, critics were excited about the new lease on life that a new Doctor and format brought to the series. It was thought for a while that Doctor Who was going to end when Season 6 came to a close. Patrick Troughton was ready to move on and it seemed like a natural end to the series. Other series were looked at to replace Doctor Who. This included reaching out to Nigel Kneale to create a regular series based on his famous creation Quatermass. Nigel Kneale wanted nothing to do with that and it was decided to return Doctor Who for another year. Producer Derrick Sherwin certainly “stole” aspects of the Quatermass story when coming up with the new format. Clearly, the new Doctor working with UNIT is sort of a Quatermass-like relationship.

As I mentioned above, I think the story on a whole succeeds in every way. I know a lot of people think stories that are 6 episodes or longer can have padding but I don’t mind it here. Sure, there is a ton of going back and forth and escapes and being re-caught but it’s fascinating to me. The locations are tremendous from English countryside to gushing river rapids. The entrance to the Space Agency is just super cool. The only effect that is a letdown for me is the rocket launch when the Doctor is trying to rendezvous with the capsule still in space. That model shot of the rocking flying off  is pretty crap but everything else, to me, is sublime. Along with the regular cast, all the supporting cast is great which obviously adds a lot to this story. Ronald Allen as Ralph Cornish is perfect for the role he is playing. It took me years to realize he was Rago in The Dominators. I guess that’s why they are called actors. Robert Cawdron as Taltalian is enjoyable. Sure his accent changes throughout the story but the character is a fool anyway and gets what he deserves. Highlight performances include John Abineri as General Carrington.  He may look like it on the surface but he is not a one dimensional character. His character is one of the great rewards of watching this story all the way through. William Dysart as Reegan is a charming yet thuggish villain. He plays it cool and calm; he is very memorable. Finally, there is Michael Wisher who gets his first role on Doctor Who. He plays a very calm news correspondent John Wakefield who speaks to us, the viewers, to help move some of the narrative along. He later becomes the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation in Genesi….oops I mean Davros in Genesis of the Daleks.
Now, why did I mention 1988 at the beginning of this article? Watching Doctor Who in the Twin Cities in the 1980s was great. Our local PBS station, KTCA, would get the new episodes generally when available and when the Jon Pertwee package of episodes became available they bought it. Up to that point, KTCA only ran the Tom Baker and Peter Davison stories. When I found out that KTCA picked up the Jon Pertwee stories, I assumed at 11 years old that this is as far back as I will ever see of Doctor Who. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever see the earlier two Doctors. Anyway, the first story shown was Spearhead from Space which was in color followed up by Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Amabassdors of Death shown in black & white. When those two stories ran, there was a little caption at the bottom of the screen added by KTCA basically saying (and I’m paraphrasing) “Ain’t our fault it’s in Black and White! It came to us this way.” Being a curious Greg I immediately wondered why they made these in black and white. 1988 was a big year for me. One of the highlights was finding the underground network of fans that had rare recordings of stuff not readily available. I plan on writing a column about this world in November but it was at that point I learned that the Jon Pertwee episodes I saw on TV in black and white were actually made in color. Even more shocking to me was that I could have color copies of episode that were only shown on TV in black and white. The Ambassadors of Death was one of them but at a price.

These color copies came from people who recorded these episodes in the 1970s in the US. To learn more of the why color episodes were shown in the US in the 1970s but not 1980s, please go here where I go into more detail. Suffice to say, the only color copy in existence was recorded off of WNED in Buffalo in the late 1970s. There is a problem though. Somehow when the story was recorded, something happened when it was recorded or with the transmission but over many of these episodes there was some kind of bizarre rainbow patterning. This made a full color version of The Ambassadors of Death nearly impossible. In the 1990s, the NTSC signal of these color recordings were combined with the black & white film to create really incredible looking color versions of the episodes. Once again, when it came around to the VHS release of this particular story, some of it was only presented as black & white as there was no way to get rid of this rainbow garbage. Technology would soon prevail….

Through the art of black magic this story has been restored. OK, so it’s not black magic but it is just as complicated but truly amazing. Through chroma dot recovery, depending on how a color episode was telerecorded to black & white film in the 1970s, the color may lay dormant in the film itself. Richard Russell wrote the software that made it possible to do this. The color is stored in small dots on the film. This would only work when the episode was telerecorded to black & white and if the notch filter was left off. Out of all the black & white telerecorded Jon Pertwee episodes, only one episode had the notch filter left on (The Mind of Evil Episode One) but with this technology results may vary. If chroma dots are present, it doesn’t automatically mean that we get full color. A ton of work goes into this process but only because there was any color information on the film can we now get a full color version of this story without any rainbow patterning. Success!
The overall results are good. I am quite honestly surprised that there is no disclaimer on the packaging explaining that these are vintage recordings and that quality may vary throughout the episodes. On the flip side of that, I am also surprised that there is nothing to proclaim that this story is in full color for the first time! The quality really does vary a lot in the story but there is good reason for that. Episode 1 is the first episode in the Doctor Who archival library to exist on its original 2” master videotape. Everything before that exists only as telerecordings or straight up film recordings. The quality on Episode 1 is stunning. Moving on to Episode 2 and onwards there becomes a mix of grabbing the color from the domestic recording from WNED or chroma dots or possibly both. Episode 5 is quite excellent. The others are just good. I know it sounds like I being critical but in fact, I am honest. I think the best was done with the material. I rather have it this way than in black & white. It’s actually an amazing achievement and everyone involved should be proud. When I was younger, there were a lot of technical things I wanted to see happen with Doctor Who episodes. I always wondered what the original black & white episodes would look like with their original videotape fluid look, VIDfire has shown me. I also wondered what it would be like to be able to watch all the Jon Pertwee episodes in color from start to finish. By the end of next year, I think I will know. That’s down to people who commission and put these DVDs together and a very big thanks to the unofficial Doctor Who Restoration Team who has given this series so much love over the years.

Extras:
As usual with a Doctor Who release, there is a great deal of extras in fact making this a two disc release. I personally prefer extras on these releases that are more archival in nature and I get some of that plus some newly made ones too.

Mars Probe 7: Making the Ambassadors of Death: This documentary gives some background on the making of this story but features heavily on Havoc. Havoc is the team of stuntmen who did much of the stunt work for Doctor Who during the UNIT years. It was nice to see some people I have not seen in these documentaries before such as Margaret Hayhoe. It was also interesting to hear about the motorbike accident that happened on location when an ambitious stunt scene was shot. The bike got out of control of one of the stuntmen and went into the camera crew hitting the Director’s Assistant Pauline Silcock. I suppose the producers, editors, and directors of these “making of” features do everything in their power to keep these fresh but I sometimes wish these programs were a little more straightforward and simple. I think the link during this program between the broadcast of The Ambassadors of Death and what was going on with Apollo 13 was tenuous at best. I know these were happening simultaneously. I get what is trying to be done here but it just didn’t work for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the work on this extra. I just prefer simple in presentation.
Tomorrow’s Time: The Third Doctor: This ongoing feature is quite good and gives a nice, albeit brief, overview of how a Doctor was perceived by the press at the time. Peter Purves always does a nice job with whatever he is requested to do on these releases and it’s a nice contextual piece for that era though at times it does seem a bit rushed.

Trailer: This is a specially made trailer that aired at the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians Episode 7. It was specially made with Jon Pertwee on camera informing the viewers with what is this story is about through him speaking plot points. I have seen this trailer in various forms throughout the years and in variable quality. Originally made in color, only a black & white version exists but just like the story itself, it has been re-colorized. With no color version of the Pertwee on camera bits existing a lot of work has gone into this one extra and I really appreciate it. This trailer is just as cool as the story it is for.
Photo Gallery: There is a great collection of photos from this story including some great behind the scenes pictures. The greedy-Greg in me would prefer these as high quality stills that are DVD-ROM material but now I’m being picky. Once again, a ton of work went into this as Mark Ayres re-created music composed by Dudley Simpson for this story to accompany this photo gallery; the original music tapes for this story are long gone.

PDF Materials: Radio Times listings. Keep them coming. I wish we would get the Annuals back on these discs too.
Production Subtitles: A wealth of material. In fact amazing.

Commentaries: On this are Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney, Peter Halliday, Geoffrey Beevers, Michael Ferguson, Terrance Dicks, Derek Ware, Roy Scammell, and Derek Martin. Don’t worry; they don’t all talk at once. In fact, they all come and go throughout the story. For example, Episode 2 is just the stunt folks. This was recorded a while ago as so many of these wonderful people are no longer with us, it is nice to hear them on here. It’s actually really nice. These commentaries are moderated by Toby Hadoke.
What I think is missing on this release is some kind of short video about the restoration. On the VHS release back in 2000, there was a very short and sweet look at the various stages this story went through for that release. I think a no-frills short video would have not gone a-miss here. As much as I love the restoration of these stories, I don’t think it is necessary for every release to have one but when one is special like this, it would be nice to have. Maybe it is being saved for the release of The Mind of Evil which is using a lot of similar processes to this story. It just seems so weird that so much went into restoring this story but so little is said about it.

Packaging:
This story is released in a standard 2-disc Amary case.  The case is a “flipper” meaning that one of the discs are on an hinge inside the case. The cover is one of Lee Binding’s better offerings. It’s straightforward and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.  It sells the story pretty well and is not overcrowded. Ever since the US releases started to use the UK covers, they look great. My only minor quibble (which wouldn’t make one difference in sales or anything else) is that I think the logo and title are a little too low on the front cover.  There seems to be too much space at the top of the cover. On the back cover its lists extras but only gives durations to the trailer and to the photo gallery. It’s interesting it doesn’t for the other two features.

UK DVD Cover
I have waited so long for this story to be out on DVD in full color and I have not been disappointed. I have watched this story from this disc at least 3 times. The only thing I would have liked them to consider was breaking up the episodes across two discs to get a better bit rate. I know people were up in arms when Doctor Who and the Silurians episodes were broken up between 2 discs but I don’t want something for the ease of watching it all on one disc IF it compromises quality. I want these in the best quality possible. Regardless, I love this release and with it we are one more step from having the complete run of Jon Pertwee Doctor Who episodes in color!
Disc Breakdown:

Disc 1: The Ambassadors of Death Episodes 1-7. Commentary & Production Subtitles.
Disc 2: Mars Probe 7: The Making of The Ambassadors of Death, Tomorrow’s Times: The Third Doctor, Story Trailer, PDF content.
Next week: I have fallen behind with my hugely unpopular series of Bond articles. Maybe I will cut my losses on that. Upcoming reviews include: The Duchess of Duke Street – The Complete Series and Poirot Series 1-6 Blu Ray. Both series are being released by Acorn Media.

Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at FTA13867@gmail.com
 

I now have a regular column on DVDTalk called Brit-Streaming. Please check it out here: Brit-Streaming.
I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.