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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > British TV > Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series (2007/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series (2007/BBC DVD)


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: B†††† Episodes: A+



When the BBC announced that Dr. Who was returning in 2005 it was met with equal parts exultation and trepidation by many long-time fans of the classic sci-fi show that had spanned three decades and seven different "Doctors". Since then the wonderful talents at BBC have proven themselves with three seasons of absolutely dynamic science fiction television. Season Three of Dr. Who again features David Tennant as The Doctor, pairing him this time with the effervescent Freema Agyeman in the role of Matha Jones, his latest companion. The six-disc boxed set does begin with the 2006 Christmas Special ("The Bride"), co-starring British Comedian Catherine Tate as the Doctor's first companion after losing Rose (Billie Piper) at the end of the Second Series. Although Tate's character does not stay, she is ably replaced by Agyeman's "Martha Jones", whose unique blend of sexiness, spirit, and smarts make her a most capable companion for the universe's last remaining Time Lord.


All of the episodes in this season meet the high standards set by series one and two, but some shine more brightly than others. The two-part story told in "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" is simply breathtaking in both its sadness and in its embodiment of the many themes that make up the overall landscape of Dr. Who over the past five decades. Set in 1913 on the eve of the start of WWI, the Doctor and Martha arrive very much on the run from a group of blood-thirsty aliens bent on stealing the Time Lord's immortality. To effectively hide from them and allow their alien energies to burn themselves out, the Doctor transforms himself into a human and takes on the role of a school master at military academy in the English countryside. His memories suppressed by the transformation, Martha remains the Doctor's only link to who he really is. As his human life unfolds the alien brood closes in, and the now human Doctor is forced to make a terrible choice, and an incredible personal sacrifice to save the residents of the tiny town from further harm. The end result will surely move most watching to tears.


The return of Jack Harkness and his role in the new Torchwood operation play heavily into the last handful of episodes for this season. In the end the Doctor seems to find himself alone again, but what other fate could an immortal Time Lord expect? Tennant's Dr. Who is frenetic and indefatigable, but also played with a touch more sadness than Christopher Eccleston's eighth incarnation of the Doctor from Season One. Commentaries from Tennant, Agyeman, and others provide tremendous insight into the show, and numerous deleted scenes and outtakes show the principles' tremendous at their craft of making this series happen.


Audio and visual quality on this set is high for a TV show. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 widescreen presentation of the episodes only helps to add a movie-quality to the caliber production values already realized the show's creators and crew.The BBC knew they had to put money into the show after so many decades of the originalís run.The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is one of the healthier for a TV production, though not stunning, still more effective than most.The show always did have interesting sound.†† Dialogue is also well recorded, but you may still have issues with the accents depending on your hearing and a given section of words.


The frenetic manner in which Tennant plays the Doctor sometimes causes him to run lines together, and the numerous British actors can create problems for the American viewer with an untrained ear for the Queen's English. Simply turning on the English subtitles alleviates this problem.



Extras include the following audio commentary tracks on the following episodes: David Tennant on The Runaway Bride, Russell T. Davies & Tennant on Smith and Jones + Utopia, Tennant & Christina Cole on The Shakespeare Code, Julie Gardner, Travis Oliver & Marie Jones on Gridlock, Helen Raynor, Miranda Raison & Louise Page on Daleks in Manhattan, Tennant & Mark Gatliss on The Lazarus Experiment, Davies & Chris Chibnall on 42, Charles Palmer, Paul Cornell & Murray Gold on Human Nature, Susie Liggat, Tracie Simpson & Arwel Wyn-Jones on The Family of Blood, Steven Moffat & Murray Gold on Blink, Gardner & Phil Collinson on The Sound of Drums and Freema Agyeman & John Barrowman on Last of the Time Lords.You also get Doctor Who Confidential, Music and Monsters, Freema's tour of the studio, Tennant's Video Diaries, deleted scenes and outtakes.Talk about loaded.


In the end a lonely Doctor runs afoul of the Titanic, providing a perfect lead-in for the 2007 Christmas special, recently aired on BBC1, and currently unavailable in the United States. As with last year's special, this one will likely wind up on boxed set for Season Four. Both for new and old fans alike, Dr. Who provides an unbeatable combination of sci-fi camp and pathos backed up by brilliantly written stories and wonderful performances that encompass the briefest extra to Tennant and Agyeman themselves. For fans of Dr. Who, Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series is quite simply mandatory viewing.



-†† Scott R. Pyle


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