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Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol

Sylvester McCoy , Sophie Aldred    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
List Price: CDN$ 30.98
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Doctor Who: The  Happiness Patrol + Doctor Who: Dragonfire + Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
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Doctor Who: Happiness Patrol, The

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Oct. 22 2014
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool serial, nice DVD package May 7 2012
By Little Roy Blue - Published on Amazon.com
"The Happiness Patrol" comes from an unpopular and often-neglected era of Doctor Who -- the end of the original series, when ratings were poor and internal BBC support for the show was practically nonexistent. But in spite of all that, this is a pretty cool serial that deserves a charitable reassessment.

The basic premise is that the Doctor and his companion Ace arrive on a planet where sadness has been banned, and is punishable by death. The planet is ruled by the insane dictator Helen A, who is an obvious parody of Margaret Thatcher. (Amusingly, British journalists didn't notice the Thatcher parallel until 2010, when "The Happiness Patrol" was exhumed and re-examined by the media, and became briefly controversial.) Helen A's chief henchman is a robot, made of candy, who kills dissidents by drowning them in syrup.

Does all this sound a bit grotesque, perhaps even ridiculous? Well, it is ridiculous, of course. But for those who agree with the left-wing politics of this serial, and can enjoy its peculiar brand of dark humor, there is much to appreciate here. Indeed, I quite like the gutsy social commentary in the script, and I think it's still very relevant. Meanwhile, some of the serial's perceived weaknesses -- false-looking sets, over-the-top acting, and a general campy atmosphere -- become more acceptable, and perhaps even appropriate, when you view them through the lens of political satire.

As for the DVD itself, it's one of the best single-disc Doctor Who editions to come along in a while. It includes a making-of special that intelligently examines the serial's politics and production strengths/weaknesses, as well as an extensive collection of extended and deleted scenes (the highlight of which is a much better introduction scene for the character Susan Q). The DVD also includes a fairly long featurette on the politics of Doctor Who, which covers the show's entire decades-long history, touching upon all of the obviously political stories. This is a really interesting, substantive special feature of the sort that I particularly enjoy, since it goes beyond surface analysis of stuff like sets and special effects in order to unpack what Doctor Who is actually about. Good times.

So, in the end, I recommend both this serial and the DVD. This isn't exactly classic Doctor Who -- other serials have better writing and better production -- but still, this is an intelligent and underrated story, not a goofy camp-fest that deserves to be written off. The Kandyman alone makes this worth watching again; his costume is so demented that it must be seen to be disbelieved.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor and Ace must stop the leader of a colony in the future with a smile on thier faces July 20 2012
By Jacob - Published on Amazon.com
In the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who epsidoe entitled "The Happiness Patrol" The Doctor and Ace have come to the colony of Terra Alpha a colony set in the early days of the Earth great expnasion into the stars. What the Doctor doesn't know is the leader a woman known as Helen A has institued a no saddness policy within the colony. Anyone not smiling or even being happy is sentenced to death. With her all female sqauds known as the "Happiness Patrols" they enforce her rules on the colony. However force of arms is not the only thing at her disposal she also has her candy kitchen and within is the being called "The Candy Man" a being who loves to make sweets. Sweets that kill that is and of course when all else fails Helen A has her faithful pet Fifi a creature that only Helen A could love.
Meanwhile on the planet itself the Doctor encounters Trevor Sigma a Terrian census taker is on the colony to see the numbers of those on the planet are kept up and also to ensure that proceduers are kept up to regulation. A visting medical student who enjoys the harmonica and is trapped on Terra Alpha until he can find a way to escape and get back to Earth. Ace also meets a young happiness patrol memebr who wants nothing more then to be sad, but fears what would happen if the rest of her sqaud ever finds out the truth. Also strange beings seem to be watching from the shadows and seem to be waiting for something to happen.
Can the Doctor stop Helen A, her spies, the happiness patrols, The Candy Man and even Fifi and try to sort out the colony so no one has to keep smiling forever? Or will those that are on Terra Alpha live in the grip of fear if they show anything but happiness? So check out "The Happiness Patrol" to find out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality writing will prevail. Jan. 24 2013
By Patrick Correa - Published on Amazon.com
Having fallen in love with the Seventh Doctor during Remembrance of the Daleks, I got his next story, and it's another excellent episode. It's very strange too; if it weren't for all the bright colors, I could've sworn that Tim Burton had worked on this one. Still, this has some memorable characters like the Kandy Man, Helen A, and my favorite the blues player Earl (SPOILER I can't tell you how glad I am he didn't die); awesome moments (the Doctor overthrowing a regime in one night is already cool, but with scenes like him talking the sniper into dropping his gun and tricking a Happiness Patrol squad into being arrested, this is just gold), and great music, this is one of the more memorable Doctor Who adventures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What makes The Happiness Patrol 'Special' are the Features!!!! Feb. 21 2014
By Ferris Bueller - Published on Amazon.com
The Happiness Patrol is an OK serial, I haven't seen so many classic Doctor Who stories in years and years but because
of the 50th Anniversary I am making up for lost time and collecting my fav episodes and also renting them from my local library system to see if my memory jives with the story...
Everyone seems to think The Happiness Patrol was one of the best Sylvester McCoy stories, but having just watched it last night
it's not the story that is worth getting the DVD for it's the Extras, in particular the documentary about how political and anti-establishment Doctor Who really has been all this time. The writers were ingenious because instead of blatant stories about racism or class structure that Star Trek was famous for they were just trying to tell a good story and often enough political views and social commentary made its way into the fabric of the story. The Happiness Patrol is one of those more overt and as the then head writer notes it wasn't just about Thatcher who was Prim Minister then, it was also about what was going on in South Africa and raids on townships and the "disappearances" of non conformists. It's an intriguing episode, but if you get it really, seriously watch the documentary first or last, but do watch it because that's what makes this DVD worth the money!

Other than that I do admit that this is a great episode featuring Ace, Sophie Aldred. It showcases her acting talents nicely and seems to me more about her than the Doctor here. Also, as it's been said the Kandy Man... that's K A N D Y not Candy Man is probably one of the best monsters DW ever had had. And it really is much too bad he isn't in the show a lot more and you really don't get to see how he is defeated (they kind of skip that part) and just show him done in rather than exactly what happens between him running through the tunnels and turning out at the end of the shoot. The style and costumes and painting the TARDIS pink is a nice touch. I know many had said or think that the last season of the McCoy era is the best and darker but frankly I thought it was pretty boring. The Curse of Fenric is a big bore and not worth the $100.00 price tag currently on Amazon by 3rd party sellers. $16.00 for The Happiness Patrol is perfect, it should never go above that.

My personal feeling is that the BEST Sylvester McCoy stories were mainly at his beginning: Time and the Rani, Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, Dragonfire and Remembrence of the Daleks to me were the top of the crop. Of course The Brig shows up in Battlefield and I have yet to watch that one again... stay tuned.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Creepy and Excellent! Oct. 5 2013
By Fuzzy Tomato - Published on Amazon.com
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This specific Doctor Who story was produced at a very difficult time for the show. The years in between the 1985 hiatus in the sixth doctor era to the cancellation of the show at the end of 1989.

After a mediocre 1st season for the seventh doctor, and the enirety of the sixth doctor era (although he is very underrated), the show started to find its path again in season 25. Remembrance of the Daleks, the premiere episode, was probably better than anything we had seen in 2 seasons. Silver Nemesis, the third story of the season, wasn't very good though. But it was better than anything in season 24. The final story, the Greatest Show in the Galaxy, was a pretty excellent story. And then there was The Happiness Patrol. And let me just say... it is the (second) most underrated serial in the history of the show!

The story has a dark, eerie feel to it. The plot itself is dark. If you aren't happy, you get killed quickly by the happiness patrol. Or get mauled by the leader of the happiness patrol, Helen A's, pet Fifi. Or, of course, there is the Kandy Kitchen where Helen A's psychotic henchman deals with you - The Kandy Man.

Many people hate the Kandy Man. And not just "oh, i don't like that villian" or "man, that villian is kind of stupid", I mean "$@!/, that was the worst thing to ever happen to Doctor Who!" And i just don't get it. I LOVE the Kandyman. So why all the hate for him? And why all the hate for this brilliant story?

Anyway, here's the list of the special features:

1. Audio Commentary by actors Sophie Aldred (Ace), writer Greame Curry, composer Dominic Glynn and director Chris Clough, moderated by Toby Hadoke.
2. Happiness Will Prevail (23 minutes) - Making of with Cast and Crew.
3. Deleted and Extended Scenes (23 minutes)
4. When Worlds Collide (46 minutes) - Analyizing the stories political ideologies.
5. Photo Gallery (5 minutes)
6. Isolated Music

Overall pretty good special features for a pretty excellent story!
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