February 12, 2007

DVD Review: Doctor Who - The Complete Second Series

Doctor Who is a character that I know little about. So, to all of you Who diehards, I apologize. Then again, it is better late than never to get to the party, right? I have memories of seeing episodes on PBS, or some such channel, when I was young. I remember enjoying them, but I cannot say that I was ever entralled by them. Then there was that TV movie back in 1996 with Paul McGann as the Doctor, and we all know how that turned out. Still when I heard of a new Doctor Who series that was going to run on the Sci-Fi Channel in the US, I was curious. That was the Christopher Eccleston starring series, and it was absolutely wonderful. Then there was the announcement that Eccleston was leaving the show and David Tennant was going to take over. I was hesitant, but still interested. That brings me to this DVD release of the excellent second series.

This season is excellent. There is comedy, action, the return of old characters I know nothing about, and a new Doctor that more than holds his own against the prior mantle bearer. I loved how David Tennant stepped into the role and delivered a new take that was not merely a continuation of what Christopher Eccleston did. This Doctor seems a little less goofy, and a little more edgy, while retaining a distinct comedic edge.

Season two, or rather series two, features the return of a villain from the first series, and the return of the Daleks, not to mention the Cybermen. But topping them all has to be the Clockwork men, their appearance is genuinely creepy and their need to do what they are doing is downright disturbing.

The Doctor and Rose are on a grand adventure. Throughout the season they visit wonderful worlds and different times and always manage to have fun while saving the world. David Tennant and Billie Piper have wonderful chemistry, and Noel Clarke adds another dimension as Mickey, who has an intriguing arc of his own throughout the season.

Doctor Who is a show that is easy to fall in love with. This season has a great blend of comedy, adventure, drama, action, and just the right dose of quirkiness. It stands apart from most of the other shows on the tube. Now that is is on DVD I can relive the best episodes of the season, particularly "The Girl in the Fireplace," "School Reunion," and the fantastic season finale two parter "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday."

Do you want to know what really makes this set a steal? The extras. There are a number of commentary tracks that I haven't even samnpled yet, I am mainly speaking of the contents on the sixth disk. This disk contains no episodes, yet is packed with content.

The first portion of the disk is Doctor Who Confidential. This feature runs nearly two and a half hours and is broken into smaller segments, each one covering an episode from the season. From the performers, to the effects, to the sets, to the story genesis, no stone is left unturned and it is just as entertaining as the show proper. It doesn't stop there, there is another our and a half dedicated to David Tennant's video diaries which give an intimate look at being on the set, and how he felt coming into the role.

The audio/video quality is also quite good. Sharp colors and depp blacks punctuate the episodes which look much better than the broadcast episodes that I had witnessed.

Overall, this is definitely a keeper. Great technical presentation, well produced extras, and to top it off, and highly entertaining show that has replay value. If there is one criticism, it is the packaging. The six disks come housed in a fold out digipak with a snazzy lenticular cover, but that is set inside a plastic outer cover that is just a little too snug, this makes it a genuine pain to put back together. Minor quibble for such excellent entertainment.

Highly Recommended.


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