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DVDs, Books, Broadcast TV and Merchandise all come under the gaze of our expert reviewers.

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Blu-Ray (228)

The latest winner in the format wars, we look at both television and movies that are hitting the shelves in this pristine new technology.

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Books (11)

Essential reading materials reviewed so that you can assemble the library most suited to your interests.

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Broadcast (2)

The latest transmissions on terrestrial and digital television channels across the panet, and what we think of them.

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Cult Movies on DVD (292)

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

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Events (21)

Places to go and people to see, and here we find out whether it was worth it or not!

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Handbags Before Dawn (8)

Contentious opinions on all matters television - from schedulers to the programmes themselves, the continuity errors to the highs and lows of what actually makes it to the screen.

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Interviews (10)

Interviews with stars and programme makers from various CULT TV universes.

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Merchandise (8)

Collectables of all shapes and sizes reviewed and rated

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Star Profiles (153)

Background information and career history of cult celebrities from in front of and behind the camera.

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TV DVDs (280)

The latest titles from TV series and TV specials range to hit the shelves and online stores

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Friday, 15 November 2013

An Adventure In Space and Time - Coming to BBC2 on 21 November 2013"An Adventure in Space and Time’" got itself a special premiere BFI screening in London on 12 November 2013. This is perhaps the second most anticipated Doctor Who 50th Anniversary programme.  For me, Steven Moffat ‘s "The Day of the Doctor" will have to be exceptional to beat Mark Gattis’ love story about the creation of Doctor Who.

This biographical movie was the last drama to be shot at the old Television Centre on Wood Lane, with the fifth floor refitted to look like it did in the 1960s. Look out for cameos by a number of old cast members to thrill even the most hard-hearted fan. This review will remain 'spoiler free', but then most of you will be familiar with the story.

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

8 And A Half - On DVD and Blu-rayFederico Fellini's “8½” is a dizzying piece about Guido Anselmi, a famous movie maker who is rendered creatively impotent during the production of his latest film thanks to director's block. Guido (Marcello Mastroianni – “La Dolce Vita”, “City of Women”) is sent to a luxurious health spa by his doctor to help him regain his muse, but on his arrival Guido discovers that what seems like the entire Italian version of Hollywood has also decamped there.

The stifled director is surrounded by vain, egotistical actors desperate for a role, studio executives panicking about the financial risks associated with the director's latest opus, not to mention his own wife who (rightly) suspects him of infidelity. In these desperate circumstances, Guido finds himself reminiscing about key events in his life, in a dream-like state where the past and the present start to blend into one.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Snitch comes to Blu-ray and DVDInspired by real events, “Snitch” is the story of a father who goes to extreme lengths after his son is incarcerated for possession of drugs with intent to sell. John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson – “Fast & Furious 6”, “G I Joe Retaliation”) is the owner of a construction haulage firm who makes a risky deal with the DEA in order to commute his son’s 10-year sentence. John goes undercover and agrees to transport drugs to get closer to the local cartel boss.

Matthews’ son, Jason (Rafi Gavron – “Breaking and Entering”) is set up by his best mate and effectively tricked into harbouring drugs that land him in such hot water. To get him out, John approaches Daniel (John Bernthal – The Walking Dead), an ex-con on his workforce to help make contact with the cartel. Once they are in, the more trafficking jobs they do and the higher up the tree they go, the greater the risks, especially as Jason is struggling to keep his head above water in prison.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Red River comes to Blu-ray“Red River” is the work of legendary director Howard Hawks (“Rio Bravo”, “The Big Sleep”). It stars Western icon John Wayne as intrepid rancher Thomas Dunson. Following the Civil War, Dunson (Wayne – “The Searchers”, “True Grit”) vows to establish a successful ranch on the Texan border of the Red River. 14 years later, in 1865, he is forced embark on a long and dangerous cattle drive to Missouri to sell his livestock.

Helping to steer the 10,000 head of cattle are Matt Garth, an eager youngster adopted by Dunson (Montgomery Clift in his movie debut – “From Here to Eternity”), Nadine Groot (Walter Brenan – “To Have and Have Not”), a life-long friend of Thomas’, and gunman Cherry Valance (John Ireland – “Spartacus”). Dunson strikes a hard bargain with his men and as the trek unfolds, the true cost of their venture threatens to be their undoing.

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Halloween 35th Anniversary DVD and Blu-ray“This isn’t a man!” says an exasperated Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence – “The Great Escape”, “Escape from New York”) of Michael Myers, an emotionless, diabolical serial killer on a rampage in Haddonfield, Illinois. Amidst the pleasantries of Halloween’s trick or treat celebration, the masked murder and asylum-escapee stalks a teenage girl, Laurie Strode (debutant Jamie Lee Curtis – “True Lies”, “A Fish Called Wanda”).

This 35th Anniversary Edition reissues director John Carpenter’s classic slasher in its sharpest, most terrifying format ever. It features a brand new high-def transfer along with 7.1 audio and fresh bonus content including a new commentary track by Carpenter (“The Thing”, “They Live”) and Curtis, making this a package fans and new-comers to the movie will not be able to resist. Lock all your doors and close all your windows, because tonight is ‘The night he came home’… Again!

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Wonderfalls comes to UK DVDQuirky, kookie and very surreal describes Wonderfalls perfectly. This is a series that will confuse some, bore other and bring laughter to the rest. I can easily see some people watching the first episode and just not getting it. But really you should stick with this slow burner, once it gets under your skin you will be eager to watch the next episode and follow Jaye and her friends and family going from one impossible situation to the next.

Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas – Hannibal) is a store clerk at a Niagara Falls gift shop. She drifts about with seemingly no idea where she wants her life to take her. When a wax lion begins talking to her she does not know if she is going insane or has become picked by some divine power to do their bidding. The wax lion tells Jaye to help a customer who has had her handbag stolen. Against her better judgement and to hopefully shut the lion up she does as it suggests. There follows a series of events that seem unconnected but all come together by the end of the episode to see Jayes sister Sharon (Katie Finneran) meet a women who becomes her girlfriend.

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Andromeda - Season 2 on Blu-ray and DVDSeason 2 of Andromeda kicks off in style; Season 1’s action-packed cliff-hanger saw the starship Andromeda Ascendant crippled by a massive fleet of Magog swarm ships. The crew were incapacitated, and Harper and Tyr were captured to become hosts for Magog larvae. Things could not get much more desperate until the new season opener introduces the Magog World Ship, a Borg-like array of hollowed-out planets filled with millions of ravenous Magog.

To top it all, the mysterious demon-like being ruling the feral Magog is back and intent on spreading chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Captain Dylan Hunt (Kevin Sorbo - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) rally his crew in the face of these overwhelming odds? Assuming he can, he then has the further challenge of revisiting his mission to form a new alliance of worlds, in a universe of warring factions and isolationist civilisations.

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Network Distributing is imminently launching a range of vinyl soundtracks, in gatefold sleeves, of some of British television’s most iconic programmes from 1960s and 1970s. Working with Ray Staff, the renowned vinyl cutting engineer whose credits include David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll”, Man in a Suitcase and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) will be available from 28 October 2013. The recommended retail price will be £25.00 a pop, and will be available exclusively from the website www.networkonair.com  

Man in a Suitase and Randall & Hopkirk - Vinyl LP Releases imminentAdditional vinyl releases are planned for 2014, and these are expected to include The Saint, Department ‘S’, The Prisoner, The Champions, Strange Report and The Protectors. The roll-out of retro-product of this nature, designed for the discerning audiophile and television fandom alike, was gauged by the release of a limited edition EP called Themes for Action! on Record Store Day in April this year. This was available exclusively in those participating record stores who had got their orders in quick (as they realised the value of such a release), and contained the opening titles from Man in a Suitcase, The Saint (1966 and 1968 themes), The Prisoner, and Danger Man (1960 and 1964 main titles).

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Wicker Man - The Final Cut comes to Blu-ray and DVDStudioCanal have produced what they and director Robin Hardy consider to be the definitive version of “The Wicker Man”. This so-called ‘Final Cut’ also represents the 40th anniversary of the movie’s original cinematic release, in a multi-disc limited edition that delivers everything fans of the cult British shocker could desire. Prepare to join Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) on his doomed journey to Summerisle one last time…

Howie, a devout Christian, receives a letter from a mother asking for help in tracking down her missing daughter. He flies to a remote and beautiful island, only to receive a frosty welcome. Having established his police credentials, the locals mysteriously become both hospitable and yet frustratingly evasive when questioned. Bewildered and disgusted by their Pagan rituals, the Sergeant is determined to uncover the truth despite warnings about leaving before the arrival of May Day.

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman on Blu-ray and DVD“Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman” (or MGM for brevity’s sake) is a loving homage to those 1970s grindhouse/exploitation flicks that Quentin Tarantino is so obsessed with. Made by Chilean director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza (“The ABCs of Death”), the movie stars Fernanda Urrejola as the titular, weapon-heavy lady and Matías Oviedo as Santiago, a kind of Chilean version of Chuck, a geeky DJ who gets into very hot water after overhearing some gangsters putting a hit out on someone.

Santiago is given an ultimatum by his unsavoury boss, the absurdly-named Che Sausage (Jorge Alis): kill the Machine Gun Woman within 24 hours or suffer the dire consequences. Fortunately the seemingly useless club employee is more resourceful and observant than he is given credit for, and manages to track the hit woman down. Thereafter the movie descends into a sequence of tense and bloody encounters with a variety of mercenaries keen to put an end to the Machine Gun Woman’s personal bounty hunt.

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Monday, 07 October 2013

The Witches - out as dual format DVD and Blu-ray releaseOriginally released in 1966, “The Witches” is a portrait of a disarmingly quaint ‘Little England’ for its first couple of reels, before revealing its credentials as a legitimate entry into the Hammer horror film canon. Based on the novel “The Devil’s Own” by Peter Curtis, you know things are going to take a very dark turn when you see its screenplay came from the pen of Nigel Kneale, the creator of “Quatermass”. And here it comes, digitally restored on a dual Blu-ray/DVD release.

The pre-credit sequence sees our protagonist Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine), an English schoolteacher, working as a missionary in Africa. The cliffhanger leaves her being attacked by a tribe of local witch doctors (look out for a young Rudolph Walker as Mark, one of her assistants). All we know for sure is she has been exposed to the occult, but it is only later in the movie that we find out exactly how deeply she has been left traumatised.

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Sunday, 06 October 2013

Malcolm in the Middle - Season 7 is the final in the seriesAs we enter this final season of Malcolm in the Middle, first screened in 2005, it is worth reflecting on how is all began back in 2000 when 12 year old Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) was just discovering that he was a genius. Reece (Justin Berfield) was 13 and the then youngest brother Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) was eight. Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) was 16 and at military school.

The years have changed the brothers and their parents Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) and Hal (Bryan Cranston). All have grown, except perhaps Hal who is just as childlike. Malcolm is now 17 and Reece is 18 but has been held back a year and is in the same class at school as Malcolm. Dewey is just starting to get interested in girls and Francis is unemployed and looking for work.

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Sunday, 06 October 2013

The Kick - out now on DVDJackie Chan may be taking it relatively easy these days, but others in the world of martial arts cinema are certainly not. “The Kick” is a fun-filled, action spectacular from Prachya Pinkaew, Thai director of “Ong-bak” and “Chocolate”. The story focuses on the theft of the mystical ‘Kris of Kings’, a blade said to reward the holder with the power to rule the world. The thieves do not count on the intervention of a brave and gifted family of taekwondo experts, however.

Suck Doo (Kwan-hun Lee), the smartly-dressed leader of a gang of scowling, hoody-wearing criminals desperately wants the sword, but it seems like the family are always one step ahead of him. Queue a string of innovative, high-energy action sequences set in zoos, exhibition halls and dingy warehouses. Those seeking deep characterisation should look elsewhere but if you fancy an exhilarating and entertaining 90 minutes, this movie is worthy of your consideration.

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Sunday, 06 October 2013

What Remains - out now on DVDWhat Remains is a four-part murder mystery from the BBC, starring Shameless actor David Threlfall. The heavily decomposed corpse of a young woman is discovered in the attic of a small tenement building. DI Len Harper (Threlfall) suspects foul play despite a lack of evidence. He retires soon afterwards but refuses to let the case go cold, in the process stirring up some very unpleasant secrets amongst the remaining inhabitants.

The serial also stars Russell Tovey (Being Human) and Amber Rose Revah (The Bible) as Michael and Vidya, a young, expectant couple who have just moved in, Steven Mackintosh (Luther) and Claudie Blakley (Lark Rise to Candleford) as Kieron, a recent divorcé with a dysfunctional son and Kieron’s new girlfriend Patricia, David Bamber (“Valkyrie”) as Joe, a callous teacher, and Denise Gough as Liz Fletcher, an ex-pupil he keeps secreted away in his ground-floor flat.

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Monday, 30 September 2013

Frankenstein's Army comes to DVDSet towards the end of World War II, “Frankenstein’s Army” features a small band of Russian soldiers on a reconnaissance mission in Eastern Germany. Expecting to encounter little more than harsh wintry conditions and the last remnants of the German resistance, the men are stunned when they unearth a secret facility producing freakish, undead killing machines. The creatures are the work of a descendent of the infamous Doctor Frankenstein.

Shot in Czechoslovakia by Dutch director Richard Raaphorst, this movie features some of the most astounding and hideous monster creations ever conceived. Designed primarily by Raaphorst himself with some excellent additional work by special effects crew Unreal, they are unquestionably the film’s main selling point. Imagine a steampunk combination of Big Daddy from the video game Bioshock, the squirming, fleshy beasts from “Silent Hill” and the mutants from “Hellraiser” and you will be somewhere in the ballpark.

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Monday, 19 August 2013

LA LAW - Season 5 out on DVD nowAs LA Law enters the second half of its celebrated eight-year run, Season 5 injects more new blood into the show and keeps the regulars on their toes. Amanda Donohue Natasha Wylde in Emmerdale) is welcomed onboard as CJ (full name Cara Jean Lamb), a mischievous English lawyer who gets offered a job by McKenzie Brackman after humbling them, and John Spencer (Leo McGarry in The West Wing) plays Tommy Mullaney, a working-class attorney who occasionally uses unconventional but equally effective methods to win his cases.

The Emmy award-winning legal drama picks up from last season: prickly Rosalind (Diana Muldaur – Dr Pulaski in Star Trek: The Next Generation) has been ousted as senior partner but then takes the firm to court for wrongful dismissal. The repercussions of that law suit ripple through this season, as do decisions on who becomes a new partner,  the faithfulness of Arnie (Corbin Bernsen) to his new wife and renewed friction between Stuart (Michael Tucker) and Ann (Jill Eikenberry) over Stuart’s ability to work following a dramatic health scare.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines - out on Blu-ray and DVDRyan Gosling and Bradley Cooper star in this thriller about a drifter who resorts to robbing banks after discovering that he has a newborn son he wants to support. His trajectory puts him into the path of an up-and-coming cop (Cooper) who is trying to remain on the level in a police force peppered with corruption. The film then jumps forwards 15 years to see how the two characters’ sons have coped with the repercussions of their fathers’ choices.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”), the film also stars Eva Mendes (“Hitch”, “2 Fast 2 Furious”) as Gosling’s old flame, Rose Byrne (“Insidious”, Damages) as Cooper’s wife, Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”, “Hannibal”) as a bent cop and Bruce Greenwood (“Star Trek: Into Darkness”, “I, Robot”) as a district attorney. It is a riveting study of guilt, revenge and the male struggle to find and establish one’s place in the world.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Evil Dead - a new version out on Blu-ray and DVD“Evil Dead” is a reboot of the hugely popular, trend-setting and enormously controversial (at the time of release) horror classic. It is produced by three key figures associated with the original: Sam Raimi, Robert G Tapert and Bruce Campbell, who of course played Ash in the original trilogy. Five young adults take a trip to a cabin in the woods and fatefully uncover a book that unleashes an all-out assault by an evil spirit.

Mia (Jane Levy – Suburgatory) hopes to take advantage of the remote location to shake off a drug addiction with the help of her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez – “Red Riding Hood”), and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci – “Carriers”), Olivia (Jessica Lucas – “Cloverfield”) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore – Legend of the Seeker). When Mia starts to behave erratically the others assume it is a bad case of cold turkey…Until the bloodletting starts!

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Tuesday, 06 August 2013

Blancanieves comes to DVDRelatively hot on the heels of Oscar-winning silent movie “The Artist” comes “Blancanieves”, a silent, warped Spanish take on the classic tale of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. In this striking, black and white production, set in 1920s Seville, Carmen (aka Snow White) is the daughter of a famous bullfighter who joins a travelling band of dwarves and develops into a fearless toreador in her own right, much to the chagrin of her evil stepmother.

Tragically, Carmen’s mother dies in childbirth and her father (Daniel Giménez Cacho – “Bad Education”) is crippled following a nasty goring in the bullring. His nurse, Encarna (Maribel Verdú – “Pan’s Labyrinth”) spies an opportunity to become the new object of his affections and in the process takes advantage of his status and wealth. Poor Carmen is shunned and left in the care of her grandmather (Ángela Molina – “Live Flesh”).

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Tuesday, 06 August 2013

Dark Skies - the movie - out on Blu-ray and DVDThe phrase ‘from the producers of “Sinister” and “Insidious”’ tells you all you need to know about “Dark Skies” (not at all related to the TV series co-created  by Bryce Zabel). If you enjoyed those movies and found yourself creeped-out by them, then this film is guaranteed to deliver. This time around it is not ghosts or demons lurking in the shadows, but rather some extremely spooky aliens in the ‘grey’ mould. The extraterrestrials have latched on to a suburban family and are intent on making their lives a living hell.

The Barrett family consists of mum Lacy (Keri Russell – The Americans, “Mission: Impossible III”), dad Daniel (Josh Hamilton – “The Bourne Identity”, “J. Edgar”), teenage son Jesse (Dakota Goyo – “Real Steel”, “Rise of the Guardians”) and his younger brother Sam (Kadan Rockett). With Dan desperately looking for work and Jesse getting up to no good with his friends, the last thing the family needs is an alien invasion!

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Monday, 22 July 2013

Spitting Image - Series 9 out on DVD nowThe close of 1990 was not only a turning point for the UK, it was also a turning point for Spitting Image.  The Sunday night satire had started out in February 1984, and as a consequence had never been produced at a time when a certain Margaret Thatcher was NOT the Prime Minister of the country. In fact, she was well into her second term when the show began. With the timing of this series being what it was, screened from 11 November to 16 December 1990, the show was witness to Thatcher being overthrown, and a certain John Major taking over the reins.

Spitting Image briefly touches on why Thatcher was removed from office, by the shadow people who control such agendas, in a single sketch in this ninth series. She had realised what the European Economic Community was really all about, a little late in the day, admittedly. However, one has to raise questions about anyone’s judgement of whom would have Jimmy Savile as a ‘house guest’ for 11 Christmases in a row.

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Tuesday, 09 July 2013

The The Invisible Man - The McCallum version out on DVDBased loosely on the novel by HG Wells, this take on The Invisible Man stars David McCallum (NCIS, Sapphire & Steel, The Man from UNCLE) as Dr Daniel Westin, a scientist working on top secret laser technology. Dan stumbles on a way to make objects become invisible for a short period of time, and – under pressure to deliver results before his funding dries up – subjects himself to the process, only to discover he turns invisible indefinitely.

Along with his co-worker and wife Kate (Melinda Fee – “A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”), Dan is forced to come to an agreement with his employer, The KLAE Corporation. In return for not turning the technology over to the military, he will engage in missions that utilise his unique new ability, with Kate acting as a partner. If all other avenues have failed and stealth is required, Daniel Westin is your man.

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Monday, 08 July 2013

Parks and Recreation - Season 3 out on DVDIn Parks and Recreation Season 3, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler – “Blades of Glory”) and her zany local government colleagues get into plenty of new and utterly absurd situations in and around the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. This box set features another 16 quality episodes of the hit fly-on-the-wall comedy series, as well as some excellent special features. Laughter is not optional, it is inevitable!

The focus this season is much less on the infamous pit-cum-park from the first two years, and more about the wider work and relationships of the team. The topical, cost-cutting measures brought in by City Manager Chris (Rob Lowe – The West Wing) force Leslie and co to be more creative than ever in their efforts to provide quality services and fun experiences for their customers, the people of Pawnee. Needless to say, more often than not they get as much wrong as they get right.

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Wednesday, 03 July 2013

Doctor Who - Regeneration in a DVD premium setThis is going to be an expensive year for Doctor Who fans.  In this, the occasion of its 50th anniversary, merchandise of all descriptions, and in particular at the premium end of the market, is going to cascade into every outlet possible. In terms of the releases so far this year, we have seen episodes that don’t exist in colour restored from B&W (check out "The Ambassadors of Death" and “The Mind of Evil”), second bites at restorations (“Inferno”), and now, in the spirit of the 2006 release of Troughton’s “The Invasion”, we have a set which includes the most prized of missing episodes, “The Tenth Planet – Part Four” in an animated form next to the existing soundtrack.

“Regeneration” is exactly what it says it is. Every Doctor Who story that includes a regeneration scene (made a little incongruous by the troubled metamorphosis between Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy). While some fans of a less profligate disposition will probably wait for “The Tenth Planet” to be released individually, there is no doubt that the presentation of this set will prove very tempting to the majority of hardcore fans.

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Tuesday, 02 July 2013

Whicker's World - a third volume of episodes out now from NetworkAlan Whicker's death on 12 July 2013 makes this release even more poignant. A cultural icon, consummate interviewer and guiding light behind some of the most popular documentaries ever made, Alan Whicker's quiet brand of incisive, insightful television journalism enthralled audiences for the best part of six decades. This third DVD release from Network presents a diverse and memorable selection of films made between 1968 and 1980.

It is only when you see Whicker at work that you can truly comprehend the magnitude of his skills.  His was a disarming, casual approach, a light touch which disguised some very insightful and hard-hitting questions, all of which link together to squeeze answers from his subjects that are not guarded, and strike you as incredibly truthful.

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