2013 is the 50th Anniversary of "Doctor Who". This set of 50th Anniversary Specials covers the 5th through the 8th Doctors. The Specials for the first four doctors were issued July 2013, in a set titled:
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited 1-4.
In December 2013, the last set will be released:
Doctor Who: Doctors Revisited - Ninth to Eleventh
"Revisted 5-8" has 4 discs. Each Doctor has a celebratory documentary/Special looking back on his tenure. There are interviews, photos and clips from various series. For Doctors 5-7, each special is followed by a favorite series for that Doctor. Doctor #8 had only one show. The Colin Baker selection, "Vengeance on Varos", is one of my top 10 Classic Doctor Who stories. In addition to being a good science fiction story, it comments on the human condition - Are we are no different from the Roman mob gleefully giving thumbs down to a gladiator as our afternoon entertainment?
5th DOCTOR - PETER DAVISON (1982 -1984)
The Special commentators include Peter Davison, Steven Moffat, Hugh Bonneville (appears in 2 episodes in the modern series), Sarah Sutton (plays Nyssa), Mark Strickson (plays Turlough), David Tennant (plays the 10th Doctor), Nicola Bryant (plays Peri), Janet Fielding (plays Tegan), Marcus Wilson (series producer), Matthew Waterhouse (plays Adric) and Noel Clarke (plays Mickey Smith).
Fielding compares Davison's Doctor to the previous Doctors: "There was clearly a decision to show him as much more emotionally engaged, and therefore he was bound to be more vulnerable."
This special is followed by the series, "Earthshock" (1982).
It's the year 2526 on planet Earth. Eight scientists went down to survey a set of caves, and Professor Kyle is the only one who made it out alive. She returns to the caverns accompanied by soldiers, to collect her colleagues' bodies and find the murderers.
Nearby, the TARDIS lands in the caverns. The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa exit to find that the walls contain fossilized dinosaur bones. Nyssa, not from Earth, asks, "How could such a successful species die out so quickly?"
The Doctor: "Initially, hypothermia, then starvation."
Nyssa: "Caused by what? An ice age?"
Doctor: "The Earth collided with something from space."
Tegan: "An asteroid?"
Doctor: "I don't know. I've always meant to slip back and find out."
The science lesson is interrupted when the soldiers arrive and assume the Doctor is the murderer. They realize differently when two faceless androids start shooting at all of them. It's not until the very last minute of episode 1 that we see the culprits - it's the Cybermen! The Doctor needs to save his favorite planet, and maybe he'll find out what killed the dinosaurs.
6th DOCTOR - COLIN BAKER (1984 -1986)
The Special commentators include Marcus Wilson, Colin Baker, Steven Moffat, Nicholas Briggs (voice of the Daleks), Bonnie Langford (plays companion Mel) and Nicola Bryant. I thought this was the best Doctor Revisited Special yet, made more interesting because this Doctor could be brash and unlikeable. He may be the only Doctor who tried to strangle a companion, and he IS the only one to fix the TARDIS' Chameleon Circuit. Finally, the TARDIS could appear as something other than a blue Police Box!
This special is followed by the series, "Vengeance on Varos" (1985).
Once again, the TARDIS has problems and stalls, just like a car, in the middle of deep space. In the meanwhile, there's disturbing happenings on the planet Varos. The Varos Governor is in negotiations with Sil, the Galatron Mining Corporation representative. The Corporation mines the metal Zeiton-7 on Varos. It's an almost worthless ore, Sil reminds the Governor, and the corporation does Varos a favor to even bother at all. But the Governor holds out for a higher price.
Unfortunately for the Governor, his boss, the Chief Officer, is in cahoots with Sil. The end result is that the stoic Governor loses a vote of confidence, and the whole planet watches a live broadcast of his torture.
Back to the Doctor, who tells fellow traveler, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown, that he's figured out what's wrong with the TARDIS. It needs Zeiton-7, an exceptionally rare metal that is found on only one planet. Exceptionally rare and valuable? The TARDIS limps over to Varos, lands near the torture entertainment stage, and the fun begins.
This episode is so well done. Sil, played with sibilant arrogance by Nabil Shaban, is a perfect bad guy. Eeeew, you just want to pour salt on him!
7TH DOCTOR - SYLVESTER MCCOY (1987 - 1988)
The Special commentators are Sylvester McCoy, Marcus Wilson, Sophie Aldred (plays Ace), Bonnie Langford, Tom MacRae (writer "The Girl Who Waited"), Nicholas Briggs and Steven Moffat.
Ace is a great companion. I tend to forget that she was just a teenager. Moffat says, "Traditionally, ... the girls were for screaming. But not with the Doctor and Ace. She provides the muscle.... She blows stuff up, she doesn't scream and she clobbers people."
This special is followed by the action-packed series, "Remembrance of the Daleks" (1988). The series starts with a brilliant, subtle intro. We view Earth from space and can hear snippets of historic 1963 radio broadcasts, such as John F. Kennedy, "We all inhabit this small planet" and Martin Luther King, "I have a dream". And then, as we pull back from further from the planet, we see a giant spaceship approaching Earth. An invasion in 1963?
The Doctor and Ace land in 1963, too, near 76 Totter's Lane, where the very first Doctor Who episode "An Unearthly Child" took place. It was on that 1st visit that the Doctor hid a powerful Time Lord relic. He's come back to retrieve it, and somebody else is trying to get it, too.
The Doctor invites himself into a black surveillance van, and Professor Rachel Jensen is impressed enough with his knowledge that she takes Ace and the Doctor along when she races to a 2nd source of trouble. It's a junkyard where the military, under Group Captain Gilmore, is trying to smoke out "a hostile" hiding in a shed. The Doctor tries to warn them that their weapons won't work against this adversary: "You're not dealing with human beings here."
Group Captain: "What am I dealing with? Little green men?"
Doctor: "No. Little green blobs in bonded polycarbite armor."
It's a Dalek! What is one Dalek doing hiding in a shed by itself? Now the plot gets convoluted. It turns out there are Imperial Daleks and Renegade Daleks and they don't like each other one bit. Can the Doctor use that antagonism? And don't forget that creepy little girl we saw back at the school. She'll be baaaack.
8TH DOCTOR - PAUL MCGANN (1996)
The Special commentators are Daphne Ashbrook (plays Grace Holloway), Steven Moffat, Marcus Wilson, Yee Jee Tso (plays Chang Lee), Sylvester McCoy and Nicholas Briggs. The Narrator says, "It was the 1990's. TV was ruled by Mulder and Skully. But for one night only, Doctor Who came back."
This special is followed by the 90 minute American made-for-TV movie, "Doctor Who: The Movie" (1996). The DVD will include the movie in two formats: widescreen & feature-length, and in its episodic original format.
In the introductory sequence, we learn that the Master was tried and executed on Skaro for his crimes. His last request was that the Doctor take his remains back to Gallifrey. "It was a request they should never have granted." But that's hindsight. The 7th Doctor (played once again by Sylvester McCoy) is en route to Gallifrey, when something goes wrong and the TARDIS performs an emergency landing. It's San Francisco, Earth, New Year's Eve, 1999.
The Doctor exits the TARDIS, unaware that a slithery creature leaves its hiding place and follows him. Fortuitously, the TARDIS landing saves a young man, Chang Lee, from a gangland execution. Un-fortuitously, the rival gang shoots the Doctor instead.
The Doctor is rushed to the hospital. It's not the bullets that kill him. It's the renowned heart surgeon, Grace Holloway, because she doesn't realize he has two hearts. In the morgue drawer (conveniently upsized), the Doctor regenerates.
Meanwhile, the snakey creature hitches a ride home with the ambulance driver. Poor man, he'll never snore again. The snake goes in through his mouth and takes over his body. It's the Master, and his borrowed body won't hold up for long. He's used up all of his Time Lord regenerations. His only option is to steal the Doctor's remaining lives.
The Doctor doesn't have to just save himself. As he tells Grace, "The Eye of Harmony has opened. If I don't close it, get my TARDIS and the Master off this planet, this planet will no longer exist."
For all that I like Paul McGann's Doctor, I can see why this movie didn't fireball-ignite a Doctor Who comeback. It doesn't have the charm of the Classic Doctors and suffers from American excess substituting for better dialogue. Why the Master's demonic eyes? He never needed them before. [Added later: See Comment added to review by Grady Glover. I was wrong, there is a reason for the demonic eyes!]
If you are a newbie to Classic Doctor Who, you might be puzzled by a line where the Doctor says he is half human. This has never come up again, and most fans explain it away as hyperbole or figurative.
But though it's not my favorite, McMann's movie is still a 4-star Doctor Who for me. And there is good humor, such as a sequence with the poor morgue attendant, trying to explain to Grace how her very dead 2-hearted John Doe busted out.
NOTE: In promotional blurbs, the documentaries of each Doctor are described as being 40 minutes each. When I've timed them on my cable's OnDemand, though, they've been of varying shorter lengths. Give or take a minute, the Specials for the four Doctors in this set, including commercials and Moffat's special introduction, range from 25 to 31 minutes each.