54 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Another season of improvement,
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This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 3 Box Set - Limited Edition Lenticular Master Sleeve (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] (DVD)
New series, new companion, new (and old) beasties and new adventures, the 3rd series of the revitalised juggernaut that is Doctor Who rumbles into view. And, generally speaking, it's another success, and maybe the best of the all the new series'. Series 3 was mainly concerned with the following themes: a new companion, Martha Jones, and her feelings towards the Doctor, a cryptic message from The Face of Boe, and the enigmatic Harold Saxon. Martha's character, and her introduction in `Smith & Jones' (maybe the best of all the new series' openers), is generally handled well and Freema Agyeman does reasonably well in her first major role, and I was pleased to see that she will be back for series 4, along with Catherine Tate (oh dear..).
Ultimately, any series of Doctor Who will be judged on its episodes and series 3 is generally rollicking entertainment. As usual the filler episodes vary in quality, whereas the arcs almost define the long-lasting memories of the season. The Daleks returned again in `Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks', and once again the writers showed an inclination to try something different with the Doctor's most enduring foes, without detracting from the Daleks' original concept, this time creating a Dalek in human form in 1930's Manhattan. The mid-series arc `Human Nature / The Family of Blood' dealt with the Doctor's decision to become a human being in order to escape a malevolent alien family who are out destroy him in order to further their own life span. I remember this story best for David Tennant's excellent, and touching, performance as John Smith, the Doctor's human alter-ego. Strange how his best performance in his tenure was when he wasn't actually playing the Doctor! A great story set in England just before World War 1, with other notable performances from Agyeman, Jessica Hynes and a very creepy Harold Lloyd. The final arc was the series-closing, three-parter, `Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords', which re-introduced another of the Doctor's greatest enemies, the Master, played briefly by the excellent Derek Jacobi, and then regenerating into the wonderful John Simm. The story mainly deals with the Master's domination of both the Doctor and the whole human race and is memorable for Simm's absolutely brilliant performance as the Master, and the return of Captain Jack Harkness to the Tardis crew. While this arc didn't close the season as well as series 2's `Army of Ghosts / Doomsday', it certainly didn't lack in excitement and even managed to draw on a moment from the golden age of Doctor Who in one of its final scenes.
The filler episodes range from being solid to superb. While episodes such as `Gridlock' and `The Lazarus Experiment' fall into the former category, they manage to attain some level of importance in the series with their connections to the series end. `The Shakespeare Code' once again showed the writers' willingness to involve some of Britain's greatest historical figures, this time in a tale of witchcraft, while the absolutely superb `Blink' not only showed Steven Moffat's ability as one of the show's very best, and most original writers (he also wrote `The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances' and `The Girl in the Fireplace'), but also that a successful episode can be made that isn't told from the Doctor's viewpoint. After last season's utterly abysmal `Love & Monsters' I was a little surprised that a similar episode was tried again, but this time we were offered a true `behind the sofa' experience.
Series 3 is not without its niggles though. I still have some quibbles with David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor. Tennant still has the annoying propensity to grossly overact when displaying bouts of intense emotion or when trying to convey Time Lord eccentricity. Capturing the Doctor's quirkiness is one thing but unnecessary shouting, teeth-gritting and stomping around in a circle while verbally rambling and grasping your hair is another. Barring those points, Tennant's looks, natural charm and sense of style carry him through well enough, always making him extremely watchable, but without him capturing the Doctor's quirks as well as Tom Baker or Christopher Ecclestone. There's also still too much sycophantic babble from the Doctor about the accomplishments of the human race. If the series actually dealt with other races as potential victims a little more this could be reduced, or even avoided. Freema Agyeman's performances plateaued a little after `The Family of Blood', also coinciding with her character appearing a little under-written too. Finally, the re-introduction of Captain Jack seemed almost unnecessary as he added next to nil to the finale; maybe a cameo from the Doctor in Torchwood may have served better.
But, as I mentioned earlier, series 3 is possibly the best of all the new series and seeing as it doesn't have any really weak episodes then I can't help but recommend it heartily (still not looking forward to Catherine Tate though...)
A brief footnote: I must say that this 'exclusive' box-set from Amazon represents very poor value for money. A lenticular sheet stuck onto the front of the high-street box-set hardly seems worth an extra £8 after last year's Cyberman box and exclusive postcards. More effort for the season 4 packaging please.