The latest iteration of sophisticated Tragical History Tour technology has opened up a whole new frontier in our perpetual effort to perfect Tour offerings.
The advent of classic Doctor Who in blu-ray makes it possible to significantly upgrade some of the cap collections for those stories which have so far been rolled out in that format. The critical question underlying this additional effort is how well does the old-style studio-based video scale up to blu-ray resolution. The filmed inserts which are part of the curiously delightful mix of style that denote this era of BBC (and by extension British) drama production will almost always look good because film inherently carries more information than 605-line standard-definition video.
The good news is that the upscale processing for the most part works pretty well, perhaps even remarkably well. For screen capping purposes you have to be slightly more selective in keeping to key-frames for best results but our first foray into the new category of ‘HD Re-classic-ation’ will not be our last.
Although we already have two stories which have technically undergone this treatment, Spearhead From Space and The Enemy Within which were written about here and here the Tour honchos, coming off the Cybermen-heavy conclusion to Series 12 the choice about which story to try first was an easy one, and one not without historical precedent.
Those with long memories will remember that the BBCs first forays into Doctor Who home video often alighted on one of two stories to gauge interest in the format. Most often The Five Doctors would be that guinea pig but a close second would often be Revenge of the Cybermen from Tom Baker’s first season. It even appeared as the first VHS release in a deservedly-maligned 60-minute cut-down omnibus edit back in October 1983.
Back when we did our initial ‘Classic Capitology’ run at Revenge of the Cybermen back in November 2012 we noted that Revenge is something of a curious beast, mirrored with The Ark in Space to save money on set design, and set amongst a monster-y season to provide a cushioned fallback for viewers by the production team (Letts, Holmes, and Dicks) before they had cast the Doctor, this story had a somewhat off-kilter feeling about it all, not fitting into the Pertwee style of storytelling and not at all like the Holmes/Hinchcliffe masters of the two seasons to come. But it is the only Cybermen story between Troughton’s The Invasion in 1968 and Davison’s Earthshock in 1982, a gap which seems almost surreal in length (and ‘no’ the apparitions of a Cyberman from Pertwee’s fevered state in The Mind of Evil does not count as an appearance).
Still there are moments from the story that linger, including a certain exasperated exclamation by the Doctor about Harry. And it’s odd in retrospect to see the iconic symbol of Gallifrey all over the interiors on Voga. Clearly a design so good it had to be re-used again.