Imagine a world where William Shakespeare is being controlled by creatures akin to witches, a place where Santa is a deadly menace, and a rather eccentric fellow travels about in a police call box with a rather deceptively spacious interior. To Dr. Who fans of all ages, this is all very familiar territory. I fell in love with Dr. Who as played by Tom Baker from 1974 – 1981. He was the fourth actor to portray the Doctor and arguably the most popular. With a pocket full of jelly babies and a trusty sonic screwdriver, The Doctor rather muddled his way about with a massive wool scarf around his neck, all the while solving the mysteries of the universe. It was through PBS stations in the late 70’s that Americans were first introduced to these adventures on a regular basis. Before long The Doctor would develop a cult following of sorts, particularly at college campuses. The Doctor was an alien from the planet Gallefrey. A time lord, he traveled through space and time in his TARDIS, disguised as a police call box by a chameleon device. He was accompanied by a line of companions that would serve as the representative of the audience. These women provided a place for The Doctor to bounce his ideas off of, and from time to time they would more often than not require a bit of rescuing. The show was noted for its low budget f/x and over the top villains. The cardboard sets often appeared as if they would collapse at any moment. All of this created more than a little bit of campy cheese. But for some reason there was a charm to the entire play that was oddly compelling. To ensure longevity, the character was able to regenerate when faced with death. The new Doctor would not only look different, but he would sport an entire new range of mannerisms. This way the series would continue through several changes in the actor playing him. It all worked, and Dr. Who became the longest running scripted science fiction show ever in the world. Of course all good things do come to an end, and so did Dr. Who, in spite of an American television film attempt to bring the character back. But what started with Peter Cushing in a couple of films finally ended for good…
…But not so fast.
In 2005 the BBC decided to bring back the gone but never forgotten character. Christopher Eccleston would become the 9th Doctor, and a brand new series was started. The Doctor was revived in a more traditional hour long episodic format. Gone were the cheap f/x, and now with the use of CGI and a more respectable budget, Dr. Who could be given the high end treatment it deserved. But would all this new slick production be able to retain the magic of the original? As it turns out, much of that charm remains, and a brand new generation has gained access to Dr. Who. Sadly Eccleston would retain the part for only a year. In the second season David Tennant would take over the role. It is this 10th Doctor that you’ll find in this third season (or series as the British like to call them). The old theme is back but far more modernized and performed by the National Orchestra Of Wales.
Tennant certainly has the quirks and odd style that has been a trademark of the best actors in the part. His eyes appear amazingly large, and he uses them to his advantage, giving the most remarkably silly yet commanding stare. In this season the Doctor is attempting to deal with the loss of his most recent companion, Rose. As all Who fans know by now, it won’t take him long to recruit a new companion, and this time it is Martha Jones played by Freema Agyeman. It takes a while for this combination to click, to be honest, but they do seem to have a decent rapport going forward. Two of the show’s greatest enemies appear this season: The Daleks and The Master. The Daleks look pretty much the way they were originally designed. Even that computerized voice sounds eerily the same. John Simm plays The Master, and I have to say, I find him a bit of a disappointment overall. He just doesn’t have the commanding presence of that evil time lord gone bad that I expected. This is The Doctor’s Moriarity, his arch nemesis. The best episodes in this set add tremendously to the mythology of the Daleks. Daleks In
Each episode of Dr. Who is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio consistent with its original broadcasts. Dr. Who certainly never looked better. The print is clean and razor sharp. Black levels are solid, albeit you will encounter some minor compression artifact here. The overall tone is rather dark, so colors don’t necessarily jump from the screen, but the good detail and strong contrast allow these darker hues to retain wonderful definition throughout. Some of the cheesy monster make-ups look a bit worse with such clarity, but this is Dr. Who after all.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also pretty strong. The sound is sharp and often quite dynamic. Explosions and music cues do tend to overpower the dialog at times. The show retains the obvious stage sound that the original was known for, so words can get lost in the mix. Sometimes the music gets a bit annoying.
This set is loaded with some very nice features. Many can be found on each of the 5 episode discs, which include:
Every episode comes with an audio commentary featuring the likes of: David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, Freema Agyman, and many more
Disc 1 contains the following features:
Deleted Scenes And Outtakes: The usual assortment of things not found in the episode and usually cut for good reason.
Disc 6 contains the rather extensive Dr. Who Confidential narrated by Buffy The Vampire Slayer alum Anthony Stewart Head. This is an almost 2 hours and 30 minutes long and involves anyone and everyone connected to the show. It is the most remarkable collection of behind the scenes looks of any show I’ve reviewed, with the possible exception of Stargate. The piece gives you tons of information and pays respect to the origins of the series. Russell T. Davies has a passion for this show and character rare in the business today.
This is not the Dr. Who I remember in so many ways I won’t even attempt to list them here. Yet in some ways it is everything Dr. Who was for me. Davies has a connection to the original show, so he certainly injects a lot of that into this series. You have to blink your eyes a few times to get orientated properly, but eventually this show takes you where you were hoping to go. I don’t like Tennant as much as I did Eccleston, but he’s growing on me. Like most of you I came to the new show via Sci-Fi Channels rebroadcasts and not the BBC original airings. Here in