The Visitation, starring Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor, is a rather sedate affair that manages one or two good sequences and one important mythology moment in what is essentially a Sunday afternoon of a Doctor Who story.
While attempting to take the fed-up Tegan (Janet Fielding) back to Heathrow, the Doctor lands the TARDIS in the right place but the wrong time; about 300 years too soon. They learn that a comet recently passed overhead, causing paranoia and fear in the locals, but the Doctor realises that it was in fact a ship containing a Terileptil fleeing its prison.
Can the Doctor stop the alien’s fiendish plan?
After a great opening, in which a country estate is attacked by an unseen force packing serious firepower, The Visitation settles down to move at a fairly sedate pace.
There’s nothing too challenging or exciting going on here. The Doctor gets annoyed at Adric’s precociousness and Teagan’s endless complaining, there’s an alien creature who’s interested in the TARDIS, and there’s a lot of running back and forth through the woods.
However, writer Eric Saward gets some good mileage out of linking to the Black Death and the Great Fire, there’s one very good cliffhanger, and there’s the bold step of destroying the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. The Terileptil isn’t the most memorable of the Doctor’s foes, but Michael Robbins is good fun as the boozy thesp Richard Mace.
In terms of extras, this special edition is packed with mostly fans-only stuff.
There’s a commentary from the cast, an interview with director Peter Moffatt that spans his Who career, a half-hour doc about the BBC Television Centre with Davison, Fielding and Mark Strickson (Vislor Turlough). There’s a documentary which finds Davison, Fielding, Strickson and Janet Sutton visiting the locations of The Visitation and talking about the episode itself.
Best of the lot is a doc on the Big Finish audios, as key figures including Nicholas Briggs, Paul Cornell, Mark Gatiss, Russell T Davies and Colin Baker frankly discuss the project’s origins, casting, writing and fan feedback.