- Actors: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Noel Clarke, John Barrowman, David Tennant
- Format: PAL
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 23
- Studio: 2entertain
- DVD Release Date: 26 Oct. 2009
- Run Time: 2661 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 354 customer reviews
- ASIN: B002KSA41U
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,306 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Doctor Who: Series 1 - 4 Collection [DVD]
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This collection brings together the first four series of the BBC's re-imagined Doctor Who, which was first transmitted in 2005, starring Christopher Eccleston (Elizabeth, Shallow Grave) as the crusading timelord, ably assisted by the gorgeous Rose (Billie Piper – Secret Diary of a Call Girl).
Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is wise and funny, cheeky and brave. An alien and a loner (it's difficult keeping up with friends when your day job involves flitting through time and space), his detached logic gives him a vital edge when the world's in danger. But when it comes to human relationships, he can be found wanting. That's why he needs new assistant Rose.
Rose (Billie Piper) is a shop-girl from the present day. From the moment they meet, the Doctor and Rose are soulmates. They understand and complement each other. As they travel together through time, encountering new adversaries, the Doctor shows her things beyond imagination. She starts out as an innocent, unfettered by worldly concerns. But she ends up an adventurer who, by the end of the series, can never go home again...
The complete second series featuring David Tennant as the tenth 'regenerated' Doctor Who. In 'The Christmas Invasion' Christmas trees and seasonal Santa Claus impersonators begin wreaking havoc on the residents of London. Meanwhile the TARDIS lands on Earth with a new Doctor aboard. The Doctor is not yet fully recovered from regeneration. An invasion of the planet threatens mankind and there's only the Prime Minister to battle it out.
The third series of Doctor Who is full of new thrills, new laughs, new heartbreak and some terrifying new monsters. From the moment the Doctor walks into the life of medical student Martha Jones he changes it forever.
David Tennant is back in his role as the Doctor in the fourth series of the hit sci-fi show! Award-winning comedienne Catherine Tate returns as the Doctor's new companion, reviving her role as Donna Noble. Also on hand to help the Doctor are some familiar faces as he has the New Dalek Empire to stop!
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After a seventeen year break, the series restarted in 2005 with new writers, Doctors and companions and it has gone from strength to strength since.
Series 1 ***
Christopher Ecclestone as the tenth Doctor, Billie Piper as his travelling companion Rose and Russell T Davies behind the typewriter to carry the Series 1 through 13 episodes, to wit:
- "The End of the World"
- "The Unquiet Dead"
- "Aliens of London"
- "World War Three"
- "The Long Game"
- "Father's Day"
- "The Empty Child"
- "The Doctor Dances"
- "Boom Town"
- "Bad Wolf"
- "The Parting of the Ways"
The first of the "reimagined" series has some strong themes, largely based around the Doctor's admiration for the terribly backward, parochial yet still wonderful people of Earth and his developing (but of course, chaste) relationship with Rose Tyler. It does struggle however, oh yes. The monsters are still mostly rubber suits (human-inhabited or not), most of the scrapes are solved (or at least mitigated) by means of the ubiquitous sonic screwdriver, and the elephant in the room is that all of those scrapes /could/ simply be sorted by the Doctor popping forward (or backward) in time a few more years. Also, while Ecclestone clearly wanted to develop an unique persona - slightly unhinged but terminally optimistic - his mad, bouncy grin simply annoys.
I suppose one can forgive, however. After nearly two decades away, some time would be needed to bed in and find feet. And there ARE some outstanding episodes, in particular "Dalek" and "The Empty Child"/"Doctor Dances". Also, several new and subsequently recurring characters make their entrances; Harriet Jones and Jack Harkness, to name but two, and there are some sweet cameos to spot as well. Interestingly, there is also the genesis of several recurring references and story arcs that make themselves felt in subsequent series, such as "Bad Wolf" and The Time War. Finally, we are also introduced to Mark Gatiss who is a huge asset to the franchise in his recurring and intermittent role as screenwriter ("The Unquiet Dead").
In the end, however, I felt that S1 was a bit of a letdown - not half as good as I remembered it to have been when I watched it with my (then) pre-teen daughter. It is nevertheless good entertainment and essential viewing if for no other reason (and it's NOT the only reason) than to provide continuity into the next series.
The five discs come with a short "making of" documentary for each episode, plus various trailers commentaries and video diaries.
Series 2 ****
The second season of the series' renaissance, with David Tennant taking up the Tardis' helm, featured 14 episodes, penned (for the most part) by the usual suspects - namely Moffat, Davies and Gatiss:
- "The Christmas Invasion"
- "New Earth"
- "Tooth and Claw"
- "School Reunion"
- "The Girl in the Fireplace"
- "Rise of the Cybermen"
- "The Age of Steel"
- "The Idiot's Lantern"
- "The Impossible Planet"
- "The Satan Pit"
- "Love & Monsters"
- "Fear Her"
- "Army of Ghosts"
Why is it that The Doctor, who can travel anywhere in the universe, always ends up fighting off aliens who want to wreak havoc in London? It strikes me that the writers were either under some strange obligation to stick to Earth, or they lacked a lot in the way of imagination. Well, the second series, /does/ actually represent a huge improvement on the first. The stories seem a lot more exciting and inventive and there is an enjoyable self-awareness to it all. The aliens (even if they ARE still just blokes in rubber suits) look better - scarier, cooler, more imaginative. Even the earthly locations have a more sci-fi, less lo-budget feel to them, so things are definitely looking up.
Tennant, the new Doctor, is a big improvement on Christopher Ecclestone. Still worryingly manic, still rather patronising to "his" pet earthlings, but not quite so put-on loony. Billie Piper continues to chav it up, poor old Mickey tags along for the ride for a few eps and we even meet Sarah Jane Smith and K9. There are some real beezers too, not least The Rise of the Cybermen two-parter (god bless Roger Lloyd Pack), The Girl in the Fireplace and another two-parter " "Impossible Planet/Satan Pit". If only the Tardis could work up enough whizz to get out of Sol system a little more often...
Oh, and I really enjoyed the controversial Love and Monsters. A welcome break from the Doctor, some great acting from Mark Warren - poignant and gently comic by turns - and a plot that plays subtle tunes on your emotions. A five star episode, in my opinion.
The Ood: The Beast and his armies will rise from the pit to make war against God.
Rose: I'm sorry?
The Ood: (shakes translator) I apologise. I said: I hope you enjoy your meal
The third series of the new run of Doctor Who is a patchy affair, veering wildly between good and (sorry about this) terrible, even within individual episodes. The episode listing is:
- "Smith and Jones"
- "The Shakespeare Code"
- "Daleks in Manhattan"
- "Evolution of the Daleks"
- "The Lazarus Experiment"
- "Human Nature"
- "The Family of Blood"
- "The Sound of Drums"
- "Last of the Time Lords"
The rather lovely Martha (Freema Agyeman) makes her debut as The Doctor's new companion and her nose is immediately put out of joint by the Doc who is on the rebound from losing Rose. Sadly, too much is made of this - it persists as a minor theme through the entire season and it undermines Martha as a character and Ms Agyeman as a performer. Neither recover from the slight and it's no surprise that they depart at the end of the season.
As I said, there is good and bad to the episode listing, but yet again, the large part of the action takes place on the exotic and exciting planet of... earth. To be honest, the teasers at the end of each episode are becoming a bit of a disappointment when it becomes clear that, yes, it's bloody Earth yet again. That said, one of the best episodes - "Blink" is firmly rooted on our home planet, and in the current timeframe at that. It's a very well scripted and plotted story, poignant and exciting by turns. Quite apart from the genuinely scary baddies (not, I'm afraid, a given in the series), putting the incredibly winsome Carey Mulligan front and centre was clearly a masterstroke. That The Doctor barely features is (ahem) no bad thing.
Contrast this with The Lazarus Experiment. Now, I do appreciate Mark Gatis' points as a dramatic actor - he makes a grand, old school baddie - but he's catastrophically let down by a plot that doesn't so much borrow from The Fly as pillage it shamelessly (and for neither the first nor last time, I'm sad to say) and by a CGI monster that deserves a Golden Raspberry with Oak Leaves and Crossed Spoons.
The Daleks make their obligatory reappearance in a 2-parter. The plot here takes a moderately interesting turn by stripping the head pepperpot of his armour and putting him in - of all things - a pinstripe suit. Unfortunately I struggled to get past the bit where black characters are made out to be respected members - even leaders - of a happy multiracial community. I despise historical revisionism of this sort. It's no less egregious in a programme that is aimed at younger viewers who may not know any better.
"Human Nature/Family of Blood" is another 2-parter and not a bad 'un, either. Possibly my favourite part was Harry Lloyd's Flashman impression. I had NO idea until I Googled him that he went on to play GoT's Viserys Targaryen (I KNEW I recognised him!). The episodes have some real tension built in and even a bit of romance and it's only let down by the (yawn) rather prosaic location and (yawn yawn) the scarecrow monsters. Don't waste bullets! Chuck lit matches at 'em, for heavens' sake!
The final 3 part series introduces us to a new-old baddie (I shan't spoil the surprise). Again, the balance sheet is finely... balanced. Apparently, earth in the year six-squillion is populated by humans who /still/ haven't evolved. There are still internal combustion engined vehicles and Kalashnikov rifles. However, the universe is dying - a jolly decent premise which is gaily chucked out of the Tardis' window when our heroes simply pop back to 21st century earth to complete the story.
I'm afraid I can only give this season three stars - "It's OK". The bad points are many and lamentable but at least they are saved by a few outstanding positives.
Series 4 ****
This, the fourth series of Doctor Who continues Tennant's Tardis tenancy. It begins with another Christmas Special in which none other than Kylie Minogue steps in as the Doc's companion. Subsequently, however, the mantle is taken on by Catherine Tate as the inimitable Donna Noble. Kylie, I am afraid, isn't given the chance to develop her character much and is little more than throw-away eyecandy. Catherine, on the other hand, is... annoying. It's hard to say who is more annoying - Donna or the Doctor - but I would put my money on Donna. That said, she is a darn sight more interesting than poor old Martha, who looked good but never really recovered from being Rose's successor. Tate certainly stamps her mark on the series, giving a lusty, red-blooded, full-lunged performance that threaten's to upstage Tennant's Doctor.
The series comprises:
- Voyage of the Damned
- Partners in Crime
- The Fires of Pompeii
- Planet of the Ood
- The Sontaran Stratagem
- The Poison Sky
- The Doctor's Daughter
- The Unicorn and the Wasp
- Silence in the Library
- Forest of the Dead
- Turn Left
- The Stolen Earth
- Journey's End
I've moaned at some length about the series' inability to achieve escape velocity and actually leave 20th/21st Century earth and this one is no different. Even when it /does/ (e.g. Library and Ood) it may as well not have bothered. I've also noted that each season generally includes a couple of stinkers and a couple of jewels and again, S4 is the same.
The Library/Forest 2-parter is a good 'un by any standards with a creepy premise, plenty of peril and some mind bending concepts. Despite the apparently mundane location, the idea of a library the size of a planet is pretty cool and the head librarian nicely recalls Resident Evil's Red Queen. By contrast, Partners in Crime, with its insufferably cute fat-gremlins is just terrible and I felt compelled to skip forward to the next ep after an excruciating 30 minutes. The Sontaran 2-parter (Stratagem/Poison) is a bit 50-50, with great (and familiar to us old gits) aliens but again a rather mundane setting. And so it goes. Nevertheless the series is probably the best of the four to date.
One of the real joys of watching Doctor Who all these years after it aired is spotting the cameos - both established actors and new faces that have subsequently established themselves. So, keep a lookout for Colin (Merlin) Morgan, Chris (The Young Ones) Ryan, Tim (ASIN:B00005NGUA Thank you Darling]]) McInnery and Peter (the twelfth Doctor) Capaldi.
The only thing i would say though is if you have young children or older sensitive children please be aware that some of the episodes are scary and will end up giving them nightmares. Episodes such as The Weeping Angels, Slience in the Libary, The Dead Forest, The Satan Pit and Midnight are more intense and can implant some very frightening thoughts into a young mind, so please keep this in mind.
Apart from that all in all top marks.
I can't praise this revitalised continuation of an old fan-favorite too much.
Russel T. Davies and crew has managed to reintroduce The Doctor for a new generation, a fresh take that nevertheless acknowledges the previous series, or "seasons" as we say these days.
That means Doctors 1 to 8 still happened, and are (more than) hinted at from time to time (ho ho, li'l pun there).
Eccelston is instantly likable as the ninth incarnation, different enough to be his own, yet clearly the same man, 'scuse me, timelord he always was. Quirky, clever, inventive and dangerous.
Rose, her mum, Mickey and other assorted characters that help flesh out the series are all well written and well chosen, you instantly see why Rose was chosen as a companion... yes, she's cute and pretty, but that's not the reason.
Resourceful, that's what she is, and she inspires her on/off/on/off boyfriend to become a proper hero, and her mum to show real bravery.
I recall the regeneration and all the hoolabaloo that followed (hasn't that always happened when the doctor changed?) and then the joy at discovering Doctor Number Ten holding his own to the ninth, and then push beyond.
The unforgettable Harriet Jones, the suffering but smart Martha Jones (no relation), the surprising return of Sarah Jane Smith (and K9!) and the sheer delight of Donna Noble - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Four series of sheer mad fun in one box, what more could you want?
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