As fans of Doctor Who we are somewhat spoilt nowadays, with at least thirteen new episodes a year on television, numerous Big Finish releases, books, toys, etc. Amongst all this it is all too easy to forget the little pleasures such as DVD sketches. Before Doctor Who returned to our screens these things would have kept people talking for months.
Although they all have their fans, the favourite of these sketches has surely got to be Oh Mummy, Sutekh’s Story. It is certainly the funniest and benefits hugely by Gabriel Woolf returning to voice Sutekh. There are some hilarious visual gags – Sutekh scratching his mask, or crossing his legs to reveal a pair of fluffy slippers; his interest in art, including a work titled ‘Childish Stratagems’. This is an example of something the sketch does so well – takes Sutekh’s original dialogue and has fun with it. So now he brings ‘Sutekh’s gift of milk to all human life’ and when he says ‘you are nothing but an ant’ he really is talking to an ant. Best of all is his pet rabbit, Neil: ‘Neil before the might of Sutekh’. And the final punchline – the infamous hand on the seat – of course, you have to really know the original to fully appreciate sketches like this.
Oh Mummy was the brainchild of Robert Hammond and Matt West, who later created Eye on … Blatchford for the release of City of Death. A longer sketch, it does not quite offer the wall-to-wall laughs of Oh Mummy, but is still very funny indeed. It also benefits from the talents of Gabriel Woolf, this time playing the hilarious Dr Amadeus Gowel, a specialist who discusses the case of Sardoth, the second-to-last of the Jagaroth. You have got to admire the attention to detail in this sketch – pause the disk when Gowel removes a book from his shelves and read some of the titles.
Also included on the same disk are three wonderful Easter Eggs, one of which is a sales pitch for a Jagaroth Battlecruiser, also created by Matt West and Robert Hammond. Once again you will need your finger on the pause button to fully appreciate their work.
Perhaps the most ambitious DVD sketch was Global Conspiracy? which reunited many of the original cast of The Green Death. It is as inspired a work as one would expect from Mark Gatiss, who wrote it, produced it and starred in it as presenter Terry Scanlon, investigating what went on in Llanfairfach. The highlight is a wonderful flashback sequence, complete with exaggerated 70s hair. Clifford Jones is now the chairman of Nuthatch Foods, and his marriage to Jo is no more – something always came between them, ‘this big blue crystal’. Jocelyn Stevens is now Director General of the BBC, but he is not the real Boss…
A couple of smaller efforts from System Enterprises can be found on The Aztecs and Earthshock. I fondly remember Making Cocoa from its first showing at Panopticon and it is nice to hear the very talented John Ringham and Walter Randall reprising their roles. Earthshock Part Five is a joke at Adric’s expense, a combination of claymation and CGI. The scenario is pretty obvious but the punch line with the cyber head is a treat.
So there we have it – some great additions to the world of Doctor Who. With the DVD range apparently at an end, let’s hope they are never forgotten. RP