Review by Michael Lee
The Reign Of Turner
Well, if it can take eight years to make, I can take four months to review. :)
During the mid to late 1980s, the Federation was one of the more influential fan groups in the midwestern US Doctor Who scene. With a group of enthusaistic fans and a video camera, they wer probably one of the first fan organizations to make fan videos. (They were certainly the first ones I saw) I remember fondly both "S-A-V-E W-H-O", a parody of public broadcasting pledge drives set during the 1986 hiatus, and "Doctor Who and The Holy Grail" a shameless mix of "Monty Python and The Holy Grail" and Doctor Who (and probably the prequel to Battlefield). Their convention appearances were guarenteed to be the best at any convention -- the sixth Doctor's singing the Cure's "Why Can't I Be You" to the fifth and all seven Doctors dropping their pants to reveal question mark boxers are both amongst my fondest fan memories.
"The Reign of Turner" is their last production, which started life in 1987 and 1988, but was only finished recently. It, like other fan videos of the mid to late 80s (most notably MUM's Two Companions trilogy and S-A-V-E W-H-O), mixes the politics at the BBC with parodies of the series and other programs. It can't be forgotten that this story was written and set in 1987 and 1998; in real life Colin had been sacked and the show had gone off on a drastic course change with Season 24, one of the more difficult seasons in the shows history. This is the time period when american fans would pick up issues of the tabloid-like "Doctor Who Bulletin", and there were large american conventions somewhere every week.
Production wise, this is obviously a ten year old amateur production -- the audio is often muddy, the curse of many fan videos. There's been an attempt to clean this up, and this sometimes works, but other times it is difficult to understand a scene. The soundtrack is delightful to listen to; both effective and moody.
The video has clearly been tightened up once (from 135 minutes to 83) -- but I think that it could have been tightened up more, or perhaps put into an episodic form like the TV Series. (And apparently, that was the original intent)
There's an attempt to parody almost every story from Season 16 to Season 24, and while each individual parody has its joke, it doesn't quite gel together if you sit all the way through it. Who was the Watcher? Why is Colin watching these videos? The confrontation with JN-T at the end of the film is also rather dissatisfying. (The epilogue after that is funny)
There are lots of nice touches -- the production starts with just the "police call box" panel, sitting in front of the VCR waiing for Colin Bayker(sic). Steve Hill's performance of Colin Baker is amazingly good; he has the accent down perfectly, the best impersonation of a Doctor I've seen in a fan video. He's also John Naythan-Turner, which is an interesting dual role since they are (roughly) the opposing forces in the story.
The most important part of a fan parody video is the jokes -- and there are good ones here -- the "Heart to Heart to Heart to Heart" parody of the Tom & Lalla show is good, and the mix of "The Young Ones" into "Mindwarp" is also an obvious target. Placing Jennifer Adams Kelley as almost all of the female companions -- with one hysterical exception -- turned a regular casting problem into its own joke.
The Federation's costuming ability was always one of their strengths, with the costumes for the fifth through seventh Doctors being quite good. And the entire series of companion's costumes is impressive just in the sheer quanity of costumes.
Fandom is the sum of its memories, Doctor Who fandom even more so . Where a "serious" fan video reflects what someone thinks Doctor Who should be, the fan parody video can -- and "The Reign of Turner" does -- is provide a commentary on the series; and in a form that might have a greater legacy than a ten year old review column would. You can get more information about the Federation at http://www.shillpages.com/feds.htm
© 1998 Steven W Hill and The Federation. The Federation is a not-for-profit organization. "Doctor Who Fan Club" logo created by Steven W Hill © 1987.
"Doctor Who" is a trademark of the British Broadcasting Corporation © 1996. No attempt is made by the Federation to profit from the use of BBC trademarks.