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Doctor Who: Snakedance

William Hartnell , Patrick Troughton , Fiona Cumming    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Doctor Who: Snakedance + Doctor Who: Kinda + Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity
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Doctor Who: Snakedance.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snakedance is worthy sequel to Kinda Feb. 17 2004
Format:VHS Tape
"Where the winds of restlessness blow, where the fires of greed burn, where hatred chills the blood, here in the Great Mind's Eye, here in the depths of the human heart, here is the Mara." --from the diary of Dojjen.
Much like the later Season 25, Season 20 of Doctor Who had the Doctor confronting villains from his past. This time, it's a creature that only appeared in the previous season.
Tegan has given the Doctor the coordinates to Manussa, a planet of the Earth Federation that used to be part of the Manussan Empire and the Sumaran Empire--Su-Mara, in other words, empire of the Mara, the serpentine embodiment of evil that possessed Tegan in the Kinda story. The Doctor's fears that the Mara is back is confirmed, but he fits a device that prevents dreams from occurring in her subconscious. However, once on Manussa, she gets separated from the Doctor and Nyssa, result being that the Mara gains full control over her.
On Manussa, Lon, the young son of the Federator, is bored with affairs of state and spends his time idling on a sofa or behaving childishly, to the chagrin of his indulgent mother Tanha, who wishes he'd take an interest in his own planet's culture. Ambril, the Director of Historical Research, a pompous academic type who is enthusiastic about archaeology and history, is respectful to Lon nevertheless. He isn't bored much longer, as he is summoned by the owner of a hall of mirrors stall sent to fetch him. There, he meets Tegan, who sports a distinctive snake tattoo on her arm, which he acquires once he makes physical contact with her. She enlists him to get the Great Crystal, under the custodianship of Ambril.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Examination Sept. 28 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Snakedance is a tremendously strong outing for the Doctor and is highly recommended.The guest cast is superb, Martin Clunes is first class and the absence of Adric gives the Doctor and the companions more to do. Tegan takes center stage and Peter Davison as the Doctor is at his breatlessly, urgent best. The story is a simple exploration of the power of myths in society and how they can be easily exploited, good Dr. Who territory and with a 'monster' thrown in to boot. A sequel to Kinda but less demanding on the viewer.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great episode; so-so DVD June 15 2011
By Little Roy Blue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Snakedance is one of the most cerebral - and consequently one of the best - Doctor Who stories ever produced. Curiously, fans of the show have a tendency to under-value stories like this one, favoring "action-packed" or "scary" stuff like Earthshock and When a Good Man Goes to War. But, for me, Doctor Who is always at its best when it's being aggressively intelligent. Even now, the BBC can't match Hollywood in terms of action and spectacle; but they can produce good, thoughtful drama like Snakedance, which stands the test of time in every area except production values.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this story is that the main antagonist, Lon, is not totally evil as most Doctor Who villains are; he's merely bored and amoral, and so he is easily corrupted by the real villain of the piece, a malevolent psychic entity called the Mara. The Doctor, who is used to fighting more belligerent opponents, has a hard time convincing people that Lon is truly dangerous. Indeed, for most of this story, the Doctor comes across as some ranting doom merchant who is alternatively ignored and locked up by the very people he's trying to help. This makes an interesting - and surprisingly realistic - change of pace from the show's usual formula of making the Doctor powerful and very much in charge.

Christopher Bailey's script is interesting in many other ways, as it touches lightly but intelligently on issues such as religion, family, and our common failure to learn the appropriate lessons from history. Unfortunately, Bailey did not enjoy his experience of writing for Doctor Who (as he explains on one of the DVD special features), and he quit writing both for the show and for television in general; this is a shame, as he is clearly one of the best and smartest writers to take a crack at the series.

Speaking of the DVD, I must reluctantly report that it falls into the "merely competent" category. In the UK, Snakedance was released in a combo pack with Bailey's other Doctor Who story, Kinda; and it seems to me that most of the budget for the UK release was lavished on Kinda, which got a more extensive package of special features, and new CGI effects for the snake-like physical manifestation of the Mara. Snakedance, alas, gets saddled with fewer special features and the same old rubbery version of the Mara. I think it's pretty stupid that they put new Mara effects in one story but not the other, but I guess money was a concern. It's just my tough luck that I've always liked Snakedance more than Kinda!

On another slightly disheartening note, the audio commentary by actors Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Sarah Sutton is too caustic and negative for my tastes, and also very repetitive of Davison's past commentaries. I know that many fans like his commentaries precisely because they're critical and "honest," but at this point I'm tired of listening to him constantly complain that Doctor Who needed darker lighting and faster pacing. Yeah, yeah, I noticed that the lighting on old BBC productions is bad when I was five years old - talk about something else already! I much prefer the more thoughtful analysis provided on this DVD by Doctor Who fan/writer Robert Shearman, who actually understands the story (unlike Davison and Fielding) and is capable of deconstructing it in a way that interests me. Bizarrely, the best feature on the DVD - a fairly long chat between Shearman and Bailey, covering a range of cool topics - is buried in an Easter Egg, which is well worth hunting down if you actually like the story and want to hear a cogent analysis of it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Where is the Great Crystal?!?" May 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Not exactly a sequel, but a decent follow-up to "Kinda", has the Doctor trying to stop the return of the Mara through Tegan. Janet Fielding makes a great vilianess. The design is wonderful. Davison is a tour de force trying to convince people of worldwide destruction. Love the archealogical spin on this story. And Lon is a great character. Another of one of the charming 5th Doctor Stories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Mara Returns... Feb. 13 2009
By Jero Briggs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Just like the first Mara story, "Kinda", this has a very good plot in it. Unfortunately, like "Kinda", the story suffers badly from lack of action. Apart from the cliffhanger, part one wasn't that good at all, and part four has a confusing and mediocre ending. Apart from the regulars, the acting was terrible. And the costumes were hideous looking like the ones in "The Horns of Nimon". On the plus side, like "Kinda", the plot was excellent. There were some eerie and scary parts in this one, all the cliffhangers were great, and Janet Fielding's acting was breath-taking. She does a very good job playing the part of a possessed Tegan. She made my hair stand up. But in all, I would not recommend this one.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snakedance is worthy sequel to Kinda Feb. 17 2004
By Daniel J. Hamlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
"Where the winds of restlessness blow, where the fires of greed burn, where hatred chills the blood, here in the Great Mind's Eye, here in the depths of the human heart, here is the Mara." --from the diary of Dojjen.
Much like the later Season 25, Season 20 of Doctor Who had the Doctor confronting villains from his past. This time, it's a creature that only appeared in the previous season.
Tegan has given the Doctor the coordinates to Manussa, a planet of the Earth Federation that used to be part of the Manussan Empire and the Sumaran Empire--Su-Mara, in other words, empire of the Mara, the serpentine embodiment of evil that possessed Tegan in the Kinda story. The Doctor's fears that the Mara is back is confirmed, but he fits a device that prevents dreams from occurring in her subconscious. However, once on Manussa, she gets separated from the Doctor and Nyssa, result being that the Mara gains full control over her.
On Manussa, Lon, the young son of the Federator, is bored with affairs of state and spends his time idling on a sofa or behaving childishly, to the chagrin of his indulgent mother Tanha, who wishes he'd take an interest in his own planet's culture. Ambril, the Director of Historical Research, a pompous academic type who is enthusiastic about archaeology and history, is respectful to Lon nevertheless. He isn't bored much longer, as he is summoned by the owner of a hall of mirrors stall sent to fetch him. There, he meets Tegan, who sports a distinctive snake tattoo on her arm, which he acquires once he makes physical contact with her. She enlists him to get the Great Crystal, under the custodianship of Ambril.
There is a legend on Manussa, that the Mara was not destroyed but driven to the dark places within, and that it will return in a dream and regain power over humans when the minds meet in the Great Crystal. Ambril dismisses the legend with contempt. To him, the Mara was destroyed by the Federation, end of story. His assistant Chela, isn't as skeptical, and he helps out the Doctor under the nose of his boss. And the Doctor's suspicions are stirred further when he learns that there is an upcoming ceremony commemorating the quinquecentennial of the Mara's destruction.
Like its predecessor Kinda, Snakedance is studio-bound, but the lively atmosphere of the bazaar and the sight of costumed Manussans serves to fill the screen with movement and colour.
Of the guest stars, John Carson as the pompous scholar Ambril and Colette O'Neil (Tanha) stand out. Preston Lockwood (Dojjen) doesn't say a word onscreen, but his importance is felt when he is mentioned and his characterization is a credible one as a mystical shaman.
Nyssa's new outfit is alas only seen in this story, as she wears a drab white blouse and blue skirt in her final two stories, but here, the seersucker blouse with a striped multicoloured dress ia a welcome change from her fairy princess-like maroon velvet outfit.
Janet Fielding (Tegan) has more fun being possessed than other companions have in previous stories. Her harsh grating voice is used to great effect, and her laughter when possessed is a far cry from the Doctor's familiar grumpy sorehead of a companion. She plays someone divided within herself, pleading for help one moment, the next moment speaking harshly. One of her better moments.
Lots of Buddhist and Native American religion come into play in this sequel to Kinda, and while not reaching the heights of its predecessor, Snakedance succeeds in presenting the material inspired by it in a more easily understood fashion than Kinda.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Am I free of the Mara, Doctor? April 30 2000
By John S. Drew - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
The evil Mara from the previous season returns to haunt Tegan's dreams and then take control of her once again. This time, it manipulates her into steering the TARDIS to a world where it was banished centuries ago. Now, on the anniversary, the Mara plans to gain control of the world once again. A very good sequel to one of the best stories in Davison's time, Kinda.
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