Remembrance of the Daleks - DVD

Kicking off the releases for 2001 is Sylvester McCoy's meeting with the Daleks, in the fan-favourite 'Remembrance of the Daleks'. Quite a lot of production material still exists in the Archive for this story, so the potential for extras was good.

All location recordings still exist as broadcast-quality recordings, as do most of the studio recordings as VHS copies. The '71s (first edits) still exist in broadcast quality, providing a major source of deleted and extended scenes. Sadly, not all the original studio and location recordings exist in a broadcast format. However, the current owner of the timecoded VHS copies that were used during production kindly loaned them to us, so we effectively had access to just about all the surviving recorded material.

Preliminary work on this release began in June 2000. All four transmitted episodes were dubbed off from the D3 safety copies onto Digital Betacam videotape, via Snell & Wilcox's excellent 'Golden Gate' digital PAL decoder and a Philips VS4 digital noise reducer to provide MPEG-ready master tapes. During recording of the commentary track, it was noticed that Sophie Aldred's caption being prepared for the end title sequence could be seen breaking through into vision during the opening scenes of the transmission version of episode three. Luckily, this breakthrough was not there on the earlier '71 edit version, so these scenes were dubbed across from there. Each episode has had at least thirty one-inch tape dropouts repaired, although past experience tells us that there will doubtless be others that we didn't spot. However, we hope that we managed to find all the major ones!

It would be practical to present the viewer with a choice of watching the transmitted version or an extended version based on the '71s, by utilising seamless branching on the DVD. However, we felt that some of the scenes in the earlier edit totally change the mood of the show and should not be viewed in the context of the overall story. In particular, several scene extensions were removed, giving the story a darker feel in line with script editor Andrew Cartmel's vision of the show. In our opinion it is best to present all the extras out of context in a separate menu. Seamless branching also causes a few technical headaches in respect to commentaries, sound mixes and compatibility with some players, so at the moment we feel that it is best to   adopt a 'play it safe' policy.

It was initially hoped that it might be possible to remix the soundtrack into Dolby Digital 5.1. Unfortunately, for several reasons this did not be happen. The release date had originally been brought forward from March to the middle of January, severely limiting the available time to carry out the work. We were  unable to locate the clean music tracks that should have been in the library and although the eight-track SYPHER dubbing tapes still exist, there are several missing sections of 'wild' dialogue that were recorded in studio to replace noisy location recordings. 

The copyright holders refused permission to clear two pieces of music by 'The Beatles' used in episodes one and three. The first, "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" has been replaced by the Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas version. The second piece has been replaced by generic production music in a 'Mersey Beat' style.

Thirteen deleted or extended scenes from the '71s were compiled onto an 'extras' tape, which was augmented by a series of bloopers and outtakes from the recording sessions, which runs for four minutes. Due to a misunderstanding during the authoring process, caption cards intended to preface each of the clips to provide explanatory notes have not been included. The original document that accompanied the 'Extras' tape includes these notes and can be downloaded as a Word document by clicking here.

Two  original BBC1 trails for the first two parts of the story were located. The second one was found intact in the BBC library, but the first one was missing. However, we were loaned an off-air VHS recording of this trail, so were able to reconstruct the vision by using the broadcast tapes of part one. The audio was cleaned up by Mark Ayres from the off-air Hi-Fi recording and  laid back with the vision to reconstruct the trail.

Two multi-angle sequences were constructed, featuring Ace's baseball attack on a Dalek and subsequent escape through from the science lab window, and the impressive gate explosion sequence. These two sequences were intended as stand-alone extras, each with two camera angles which could be switched between using the 'Angle' button on the viewer's remote. However, the disc producer has not implemented the feature in this way, as the offical DVD specifications appear to place restrictions on the use of multi-angle sequences presented outside the main feature. Instead, the two sequences have each been presented as three independent views, comprising the two camera views plus the sequence as it appeared in the final programme.

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred  recorded a very entertaining commentary track for us at the end of July. An extensive photo gallery has been included, featuring both official and unofficial photographs taken during the location shoot.

Keff McCulloch gave us access his own personal copy of his music, so the entirety of the specially composed soundtrack has been presented as an isolated soundtrack in sync with the pictures. This added feature was agreed at virtually the last minute - another addition to an already feature-packed disc! Mark Ayres was responsible for taking the music from Keff's only surviving copy - on MiniDisc - and producing sync soundtracks on an individual DAT cassette for each episode. As a bonus, a couple of unused music cues that were originally written to accompany certain sequences have also been included on the isolated track.

Richard Molesworth has once again  provided a 'text commentary' subtitle track,  compiled from the BBC's production files.

'Remembrance of the Daleks' was released on 26th February 2001. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the disc hit the shops that a remastering error was discovered, which had caused the loss of some video effects in episode one and two. Right back at the start of the project, we had experimented with dropping in shots from the earlier edits where possible, in order to try to save one tape generation. This technique had been applied to all of episode one and the beginning of episode two before we decided that most of the improvement (ie decrease in video noise) would not be terribly noticeable after the episodes had been noise-reduced anyway. Regrettably, some of the shots that had been replaced were not exactly identical in the two versions, as some additional video effects work had been carried out and we just didn't notice them. The most obvious and important one is in episode one, the famous shot where the soldier is exterminated and his skeleton is visible briefly. The DVD is missing the actual ray that hits the soldier, although the skeleton effect is intact. Another ray blast is missing from slightly later and an overlay of smoke rising from a blown up Dalek casing is missing from episode two. We can only apologise for our error - we're only human and we do make mistakes. The master tapes will be recalled and the shots reinstated as they should be, which will mean that the forthcoming US releases will have them intact. It is possible that BBC Video may be able to correct the DVD master so that subsequent UK pressings will be correct, but this may prove to be prohibitively expensive.

Copyright  Steve Roberts, 4 March 2001