The Awakening

Region 1

Region 2
Box Set
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 132, starring Peter Davison)
  • written by Eric Pringle
  • directed by Michael Owen Morris
  • produced by John Nathan-Turner
  • music by Peter Howell
  • 2 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Hoping to visit with Tegan's grandfather in 1984, the Doctor and friends discover the village of Little Hodcombe in the midst of recreating their civil war battle of 1643. What is causing the war games' instigator Sir George to encourage excessive over-zealousness in the townsfolk? What is the meaning of the many bizarre haunting apparitions appearing all over the village? And who or what is about to be re-awakened from within the church walls?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by director Michael Owen Morris, script editor Eric Saward, and moderator Toby Hadoke.
  • "Return to Little Hodcombe" on-location retrospective making-of featurette (19 min.),
    adding Janet Fielding (Tegan), Keith Jayne (Will Chandler), and the locals...
  • "Making the Malus" prop featurette (7 min.) with visual effects designer Tony Harding and modelmaker Richard Gregory.
  • Peter Davison (The Doctor) receives a Golden Egg Award for the story's spectacular news-making blooper (2 min.)
  • Now & Then location featurette (7 min.)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (9 min.)
  • Isolated music score by Peter Howell
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Nestled cosily up near the beginning of season 21, this is one of Peter Davison's more obscure adventures. Featuring some of the year's best production values, and a fast pace that rivals the new millennium version of the show, the story still doesn't quite make its way into the highest ranks, and may indeed leave its audiences wondering after the fact just what it was really all about.

Sadly, the story suffers a number of holes in character motivation, the biggest of which drains almost all believability out of the premise itself. However most of the story still works well while holding the premise back as part of the mystery that needs to be solved, therefore we will save our lengthy discussions of the premise for the in-depth analysis version of this review. The civil war recreation aspects of the story are really upstaged by the extremely successful creepy atmosphere surrounding the story's many scenes featuring bizarrely different apparitions and inexplicable phenomena.

The Doctor is kept very busy as a lead investigator in this tale, amongst the other good quality story beats he is engaged in. Guest character Jane Hampden often "fills in" as a pseudo companion, fulfilling the typical function of pulling answers out of the Doctor to help the audience understand what's going on. Many of the connections between this story and "The Visitation" (story no. 120) turn out to be a really nice touch.

The Jane Hampden character also gets a few nice pseudo-companion bits of business concerning the function of the new red handle on the new TARDIS console, making definitive the idea that it operates the main door, just as Nyssa had done for the old console in "Castrovalva" (story no. 117). Nice, and very hard to miss. The TARDIS isn't otherwise presented in an absolutely ideal way for new viewers, but they may well get the hang of it before the end of the story, and/or decide they want to stick around for more of it in the next one.

The Doctor also becomes busily engaged in problem-solving mode in the story's final scenes, which is great. Unfortunately, a lot of the final moves and confrontations are a bit of a mess, undermining the obvious thematic point that the story should have been aiming for, and substituting a silly bit of passive-aggressive syndrome instead.

But so much of the rest of this story works, and it proceeds with a pace and energy that covers over most of the other holes. Director Michael Owen Morris is on form, and the story features lots of enjoyable location shooting in good weather. And with such a fast pace and so much movement on screen, it is difficult to memorize and get bored of during repeat viewing. Indeed, had some of these action beats made their way into "Snakedance" (story no. 125), perhaps that story would be more widely and easily acknowledged as Davison's best.

Daves Chapman and Jervis work together to do video effects on this story, and achieve a lot of really neat stuff for the various apparitions. Perhaps this work is helped by the fact that their effects are usually presented as mysteries when they appear, meaning that the audience isn't dragging expectations into the experience that aren't being met.....
After having done both of the previous Mara stories, composer Peter Howell should be on familiar footing tackling this story's subject matter, yet he manages to create a very unique haunting sound for this story, and plays a lot of little tunes that should be familiar and bright, but are just "off" enough to creep one out instead. Very cool. Music is a really effective element giving this story its superb atmosphere.
Music by Peter Howell
A suite of 3:26 duration is available on:
Audio CD
Doctor Who - The Five Doctors
Silva Screen FILMCD 710

More info & buying options

Turlough seems to be better dealt with here than Mark Strickson's memory may suggest. It's a far better showing for him than back in "The King's Demons" (story no. 129). Interestingly, Kamelion was originally written into a small scene in the beginning, and videotaped as well, but this was trimmed for time. Thanks to the DVD, we can now check out this and many other deleted & extended scenes & sequences.

I almost suspect that, had the character motivations been brought up to work with this story's premise, it might have been the gem of the season. However, this is much too important a thing to miss, particularly during the concluding moves, and "The Awakening" probably won't be able to climb too high in the rankings as it stands. It remains highly enjoyable however, and speaks loudly of the generally exciting quality of season 21.

This story is available on DVD and VHS video:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
Box Set
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A for North America
NTSC B for North America
PAL in the U.K.

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