Review by Michael Lee
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (Chicago in the 1980s) the Federation were one of the first fan groups to do a video. The state of the art has changed since those days - Doctor Who has been long off the air since The Reign of Turner, their last video, was written, even though it was only completed recently.
Because of Doctor Who's absence from the air, the parody video is perhaps not as successful an idea as it once was - there isn't the new who to parody on screen. This video, coming from one of the pioneers of parody videos, is their first video written since Doctor Who went off the air - their last video The Reign of Turner being written in the late 1980s, and it is also their first more serious production. Even with this shift from where they first started, Realitywarp manages to follow a Federation tradition from S-A-V-E-W-H-O and The Reign of Turner, doing something that looks at both sides of the camera, frequently blurring the lines between the two.
The production values are quite strong, and are one of the highlights of the video. By having a few shots of the BBC studios, it establishes it pretty well, even if the odd American license plate let it down a bit. The vortex guardian works exceptionally well, and the effects on various other characters also go well. It's really quite impressive -- the special effects in almost all of the fan productions I've seen recently are of the equal or better than many things Doctor Who did in its prime. The TARDIS console isn't the best imitation, but it isn't a complete disaster either.
Without going into spoilers, the story is good, and enjoyable. There are a couple nods to continuity I could have done without. It isn't as indulgent with continuity as Time Rift, but the continuity felt more forced. In the plus column, there are a number of unique ideas in it that I haven't seen done with Who before, in particular the appearance of Colin and Nicola. The pacing felt a little slow at times, and perhaps could have gone a little faster.
They wisely don't try to hard to do the "real" Colin and Nicola - I can't imagine the Colin I saw this year shaving his head to play a military general (and with the new BBC logo, we know that it is a fairly contemporary story.)
The cast all do a good job - not the easiest of parts for this story. I didn't notice lots of really bad British accents here - that may be part of the fun for a parody, it runs a real risk in a serious one.
Steve Hill does an excellent job as Colin/The Doctor, he does one of the best versions of a Doctor's voice I've heard. If you close your eyes, you could be convinced that it is Colin. As neither Steve nor Jennifer really look like Colin or Peri, this makes it a lot easier to accept the story and get into it.
Jennifer's Nicola/Peri isn't quite as spectacular as Steve's channelling of Colin's voice, but she still does a good job. Her work on the various costumes is as good as I've always expected Federation costumes to be. She's also to slowly make the shift between Nicola and Peri a lot more subtle -- it perhaps could have been a little bit more extreme -- but she does a enjoyable job with the character.
Erin Tumilty, as Stacy Aldrich, has the major role that isn't based off an actor or someone from the TV series in as Stacy Aldrich. Like most of the other characters, she has a dual role in many ways, and she is able to make a clear distinction between the two. This is her first appearance in a Federation -- or any other fan video -- but will hopefully not be the last. (I had the realization recently that she would make a fantastic Romana II.)
Robert Warnock and the other supporting actors also do a good job - there are no painfully bad performances in this one, a curse that tends to follow most amateur productions. The look of all the characters - especially Rob's to the Vortex Guardian - is very effective for an amateur video.
Rob also was responsible for the excellent soundtrack, a true joy to listen to - definitely get the companion soundtrack CD. It also contains songs from The Reign of Turner, the last track being a hysterical classic.
I wouldn't place Realitywarp as one of the all time classic fan videos, but it has a lot going for it, has some neat ideas and strong production. I recommend checking it out and supporting it. I hope that this isn't the last of the Federation's video projects, or their only attempt at a serious video.
© 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.