Cold Blood, Warm Heart, and Phase Four reviews
Cold Blood, Warm Heart & Phase Four reviews
FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 10, Number 1 Summer 1998
"Cold Blood, Warm Heart" and "Phase Four"
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
The 35th anniversary is coral or jade, so, lacking either, I'll settle for a repeat of the twenty-fifth anniversary and review two UK fan videos featuring Cybermen. It's only a coincidence that the silver beings are also in this issue's forum question.
"Cold Blood, Warm Heart" is a two-part, 44-minute video written and directed by Simon Wellings and edited by Paul Shields. It begins on a spaceship, where Cybermen are inserting something into a captive's forehead. The man later manages to break free and, using the Cybermen's equipment, teleports to a nearby planet–Earth.
The Cybermen follow him down and attempt to track him through a forest. Meanwhile, friends Jenny and Chris decide to take a short cut on a drive and literally run into him. They believe his story about escaping from giant android/robots (Chris has a relative who oddly seems to have forgotten about the Official Secrets Act) and attempt to help him. But all is not what it seems.
"Cold Blood, Warm Heart" is a nicely paced, good action story. The production makes good use of a pretty location and has put together some nice special effects (some parts of the guidance/teleport scanner are cleverly done, and the space ships aren't bad at all). The Cybermen are a slightly different design and I'm still trying to decide if the markings on one upper arm was the equivalent of a Cyberman tattoo or just the model number. The story is well written–I'm assuming it was either done before some revelations in the New Adventures/Missing Adventures/a particular Bill Baggs' video or the writer didn't follow that series–with sly touches of humor and an interesting plot twist. The dialog is a mix. Chris (played by Chris Hoyle) is a rather wordy person, but he has a job as a comics writer, which supposedly explains the problem. Richard Cale as Thrilador Fabian does well projecting slyness behind the request for help–the viewer knows that there are quite a few things the man is not telling but has no idea what is being left out. Fabian absorbed the English language by brain scanning Chris, so his wordiness is excused, and I guess that also applies when the Cyberman acquires the language. Jenny (Lynn Grant) thankfully isn't wordy but she should never be allowed to scream. She was a strong believable character up until that point.
There's several parts that could, in other hands, been 'talking heads' scenes, but director Simon Wellings (who is also the writer as well as the talking Cyberman) wisely decided to use flashback scenes and voiceovers. The music is a mixture of actual (or close to actual) DW/B7 music and some very nice original pieces. The opening theme is especially good.
The tone of the video was let down for me by the slightly unrealistic fannish ending, but since this is a fan video that's not a crime and actually indicates how good the rest of the video is. Recommended.
Main website is at Paul Shield's page:
http://www.korova.demon.co.uk/cbwh.htm . The Telesnaps Reconstructions dub sites are handling the distribution of NTSC copies, and the website for ordering NTSC copies is linked off the Telesnaps Reconstruction site at
Or use the mailing address given in the article on the Telesnaps Reconstructions in the last issue.
"Phase Four" is Timebase Productions' newest fan video and and is by far the best of their four. Although the events take place after their first video "Regenesis", I for one am glad they waited to finish "Phase Four" until now. The story is well worth the wait.
"Phase Four" opens with a man (Steven Palace) phoning his wife Marie and getting no answer. The camera switches to the ringing phone and the viewer suddenly sees why there's no answer–all the inhabitants of the town are stretched out on the ground, as if they all suddenly had been struck down. A jogger out on the roadway crosses an invisible boundary–and suddenly staggers and collapses while the viewer hears a strangely familiar (for those who have seen the Doctor Who episode "Invasion") electronic warble. Meanwhile, the TARDIS materializes in a sunny field. Those who felt that the Doctor kidnapped Lesley at the end of "Regenesis" will hear a bit more on that topic, since Lesley feels that way, too. While Lesley decides to walk into the town (and straight into trouble) the Doctor decides to sit in the sun and relax–and soon finds himself surrounded by Cybermats.
The story is well-written and moves along at a good clip. And, since it's a four-parter, there's time for both events and the supporting cast to develop. I was glad to see Lisa Gledhill again; her Marie is caught in events but is strong-willed enough to make a difference. Chris Bevis as Royston provides the humor as he tries to take frightening things in his stride and help the Doctor. Ian Patterson (co-director)'s Miles is a reminder that not everyone can be heroic. Christine Potter gives her best performance to date as Lesley. And Rupert Booth is again fantastic as the Doctor, cheerful one moment, frantically calculating the next.
The video has obviously taken a few years to finish–hair lengths change suddenly from scene to scene, even from one shot to the next–and how Timebase Production used that time is obvious on screen. They have recreated the Cybermen costumes from "Tomb of the Cybermen" and made enough to outfit several extras. They have constructed a console with working lights and a moving time rotor and a console room set. The CGI effects are terrific. The incidental music is original and highly effective.
But the element that benefited the most is the story, written by Rupert Booth, which depicts the Cybermen as a Serious Threat. This is a powerful video, true to the classic Who stories and grabbing the viewer at unexpected moments. Just when you think things are safe, the tension gets ratcheted up another notch. Co-directors Rupert Booth and Ian Patterson are to be congratulated on a terrific story. Highly recommended. (There is also a blooper segment at the end.)
Although both "Cold Blood, Warm Heart" and "Phase Four" feature Cybermen, each takes a uniquely different direction and adds another level of richness to the Doctor Who universe.
The Timebase Productions' webpage is at http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~helical/timebase.html
with news about upcoming stories. NTSC copies at the moment can still be obtained by contacting Scott Woodard at Ogma01@aol.com