Doctor Who – The Complete Specials (BBC Blu-ray)
C+ Sound: B- Extras: B Episodes (collectively): B-
Doctor Who has fascinated television
audiences for years and years and slowly but surely the series is arriving on
Blu-ray. With just one single episode (special)
of the series released to date on Blu-ray, this four episode box set of TV
specials was a pleasant surprise. I have
never spent too much time with Doctor
Who as I could not afford the numerous box sets that are available, nor did
I have the opportunity to catch it on TV.
After viewing this box set, however, I completely understand the
fascination with this classic science fiction series. The Doctor may have changed over time, but
has always maintained a supreme quality throughout time (no pun
4 episodes or specials available in this set [The Next Doctor; Planet of
the Dead; Waters of Mars; End of Time (Part 1 & 2)]. It is generally agreed that Water of Mars is the best special,
quickly followed by The Next Doctor,
then End of Time and finally Planet of the Dead. I think each special had its merits, but as
mentioned above some rise above the rest.
The Next Doctor allows even the most casual
viewer to jump into the series with ease. The year is 1851 and the Doctor has
arrived into London,
only to discover that another Doctor already exists (David Morrissey) or at
least claims to be the Doctor. The story
takes off as the Doctor hides his identity, while trying to discover what is
going on around him. With sudden memory
loss and the evils of the Cyberman and Miss Mercy (Dervla Kirwan) encompassing
his every move the Doctor must think on his feet and be ready for
anything. The story is intelligent and
quickly jumps into action, but there is still a degree of campiness throughout
that I just can’t get over. I loved the
science fiction aspect, but other elements remain distracting.
Planet of the Dead was pure awful in this reviewer’s
opinion. A bus containing The Doctor and
a cat burglar (among other passengers) suddenly falls into a wormhole,
transporting the crew to a desert planet called San Helios. San Helios has no direct route back to their
planet and in turn The Doctor and his fellow bus riders must band together to
return home. In a silly turn of events
earth is being attacked by Aliens (shiny stingray people); and it is up to the
passengers to return home to save the day.
The acting is abysmal and the costumes are heinous. Tennant flounders around as The Doctor and
consistently makes me ask, what is going on here? If it wasn’t in this set with the rest I
would have skipped this special all together.
Waters of Mars is by far the best special in the
set. Going from the horrors of Planet of the Dead to this epic,
emotional and powerful Doctor Who special was quite a leap. Waters
of Mars features The Doctor arriving on Mars in the year 2059, meeting up
with the planets first settlers. The
Doctor is quickly taken into custody by the settlers, but after the confusion
dissipates The Doctor discovers the odd happenings of the planet. It seems that the settlers are beginning to
transform into hideous creatures with water powers. Of course The Doctor sets out to save the
day, but is he too late? The special
plays out brilliantly from beginning to end as each sci-fi element is executed
seamlessly as horror, time travel and an emotional twist that gives the episode
that extra something.
we have The End of Time (Part 1 & 2);
I would call this a middle-quality episode.
This is the end for the ‘10th Doctor’ and nightmares are
afoot for people all over the world, but oddly enough they can’t remember them. The whole episode gets off to an epic start
as many old faces return in the form of The Master, Harold Saxon (John Simm) and
old friends like that of Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and Wilfred Mott (Bernard
Cribbins) show their faces. Part 1 seems to add a lot of elements
to the plot, but does little in terms of development; also throwing in odd
occurrences that contribute little to the flow.
Part 2 focuses more on
revealing the oddities set up in Part 1,
but does seem a tad rushed as there are many loose ends to tie up. I would say the end is fairly emotional, even
though I have never been fully immersed in the Doctor Who universe. The end
seemed inevitable from the beginning, but from what friends tell me it did the
series justice and gave a few nods to past story lines.
technical features are the same as those found on the previous Blu-ray single
release of Planet of the Dead. The picture is a 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High
Definition image with minimal motion blur here and there and has a overall nice
quality, but far from being a good Blu-ray.
The color is blah, the contrast stinks and is all too apparent that this
is merely an upconvert image. The sound is a tad better in its DTS-HD
Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix having a somewhat rich and full quality throughout,
but for some odd reason the mostly pristine dialogue is all too often drowned
out by the musical scores. The directionality is also weak, though there
is a good use of all the speakers. The
technical features aren’t the worst, but far from the best Blu-ray out there.
the 5 discs there a ton of extras to view….too much for my taste. The
Next Doctor includes two featurettes; Confidential a behind the scenes look
at the special that is all encompassing; and ‘Doctor Who’ Proms 2009, which is
an hour long special that mindlessly combines the music of Doctor Who performed
at Royal Albert Hall with past Doctor Who creations romping around. Planet
of the Dead and Water of Mars
both feature a similar behind the scenes featurette as The Next Doctor did, both entitled Confidential and giving approximately an hour look backstage of the
The End of Time (Part 1 and 2) feature the most bonus features in
the set as they each include (on separate discs) an Audio Commentary and a
Confidential Featurette for each part. Part 1 also includes a David Tennant
Video Diary: The Final Days, as well as some commercials entitled Christmas Idents. Part 2
houses a Doctor Who at Comic-Con featurette and some Deleted Scenes that
neither add nor detract from the series.
it is an adequate set that fans will enjoy, but this may be the last time stop
for this Doctor Who reviewer.
on The Next Doctor, try this link:
- Michael P. Dougherty II