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Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: May 8 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B007AAF1FW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,354 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Doctor Who: Happiness Patrol, The

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Most helpful customer reviews

By P. Bradford on Oct. 22 2014
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 30 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Cool serial, nice DVD package May 7 2012
By Little Roy Blue - Published on
"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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Another frustrating story from Sylvester McCoy era Nov. 25 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I struggled with the rating for this. The DVD is up to the standards of the usual Doctor Who offerings, and the included extras were interesting.

I confess that I dislike this time in Doctor Who -- I thought Sylvester McCoy had the potential to be a great Doctor... but the writing was, frankly, awful, and the stories didn't make a lot of sense.

The extras helped reveal why this was so... they new brood of writers (and script editors) brought on-board by JNT wanted to tell their views on things, and just used the vehicle of Doctor Who to do so.

When I first saw the show on PBS many years ago, I did not immediately think it was a satire of the Thatcher government; I just thought it was another disappointing show that didn't make sense. The Kandy Man!?! What kind of rubbish monster is this? You squirt lemonade at it, and it can't move?

Even the entire premise seems a little flawed... the Doctor tells Ace that he has been hearing reports of the planet not being run well, so he's going to look into it. How does he hear these kind of things, and aren't there more important matters to "look into"?

And then there's the blues harmonica player... what's he in the story for again? He seems to be just a rebel type that no one can catch.

A disappointing, disjointed story... Story itself is 1-2 stars; DVD extras 3-4 stars; gave this a three overall.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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
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 4 people found the following review helpful
Quality writing will prevail. Jan. 24 2013
By Patrick Correa - Published on
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
Not the Best Seventh Doctor Story Sept. 8 2013
By Keitheaux - Published on
Verified Purchase
Aside from all the no-longer relevant political speculation, I found that I actually liked the portrayal of the character of Hellen A. The girls of the Happiness Patrol were also pretty nicely done. However, the lame troglodytes, the not-dog Fi Fi, and the ridiculous and completely nonsensical Kandyman made this episode one of the worst of the Seventh Doctor's run. The basic premise and the set designs were OK, and the attempt to show the Doctor's darker side worked out pretty well. However, these limited successes just couldn't overcome the downside of the scenes that occurred in the Candy Kitchen.