Review by Matt Slavin
On the 29th of November at 10:45am in Video Room 2 at HME/Visions '98, I and a number of others viewed the premier of Realitywarp, the long awaited return of the Federation (in association with Faded Flowers Productions) to arena of Doctor Who fan video.
If you are familiar with fan produced videos, you've more than likely become accustomed to the plague of problems that usually surround a production, earning it's moniker "fan-vid".
Unstable camera work, variable sound quality, dodgy sets and effects-work are just some of the more common afflictions, come to think of it, a tradition with Doctor Who. But being the loyal and media starved fans of the good Doctor, we do our utmost to look beyond these limitations, and focus our attention on the more important elements, the story and it's characters.
With more affordable equipment, improvements in video technology and general experience gained by fan film makers, some of the more recent releases available have shown remarkable improvements in combating many of the aforementioned symptoms, and I am happy to inform that Reality Warp is one such production.
From the chillingly sublime mood of Robert Warnock's title theme, you immediately feel a higher level of professionalism. As the opening shots follow the journey of the character Nicola Bryant (Jennifer Adams Kelley), the viewer is aware of the transatlantic setting of the story, as she arrives at the offices of the BBC for an audition (much of the action takes place in both the US and UK).
From the outset her audition is not typical. As Nicola waits to be called, she notices a shadowy figure siting across from her, hiding behind a newspaper as its chair hovers inches above the floor. Following a series of strange apparitions where she is addressed as Peri and instructed to obtain the Doctors multicolored coat, a nightmare leads her to contact Colin Baker (Steve Hill). It seems he also has had an unusual and related dream. So begins their quest to resolve the truth of this warped reality.
There are some very enjoyable scenes as the actor's transform into their television characters. High marks go to Steve Hill for his astonishing portrayal of Colin Baker and the 6th Doctor. He successfully combines the mannerisms of Colin's Doctor with solid acting, resulting in a believable portrayal. Jennifer Adams Kelley's character improves during the video, as she becomes Peri. This results in a number of successful scenes where the mismatched duo regains their acerbic chemistry. Erin Tumilty gives a fine performance as Stacey Aldrich, an employee of the "Beeb" whose curiosity results in her compulsory involvement in the mystery.
A wise decision was made to allow certain actors to avoid the pitfall of assumed accents in the interest of dialogue clarity. However, sound quality was a factor, as variations were noticeable at certain points of the film, resulting in muffled conversation.
Apart from some rushed dialogue and a couple of unresolved plot elements (i.e. the relevance of the cat pin), Realitywarp's story is solid. Some clever video effects and costuming also add a layer of detail often lacking in fan videos.
Overall Realitywarp succeeds where many have failed and should make a nice addition too the serious Doctor Who fan's video library.
© 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.