Doctor Who – The Complete Third Series came out this week on DVD. We get a new companion, a new Christmas special, all new special features…more than enough to keep the Who fans busy while waiting for Series 4. Read More for the review – and for those who are waiting for the spinoff, Torchwood – Series 1 comes out on DVD in the U.S. in January.
First off, the packaging. BBC Video continues to improve and impress. The outer slipcase is a cool gold and black, with completely embossed and textured image of the Doctor and Martha. And the characters aren’t simply raised from the base of the package, but the embossing includes the layers of clothes – even the wrinkles and the tread of the Doctor’s shoe. A lot of work was done on this.
Inside, like the previous releases is a roll-up cardboard folder with three double-disc clear plastic holders. The front of the folder bears a promotional image of the Doctor and a certain nemesis (don’t want to spoil anything), and the back and two inner faces have various pictures from the episodes. The inner surface where the discs are have a panoramic image from the episode “Last of the Time Lords”.
The one problem with the package? Its hard to slide the folder into the slipcase because it bumps in to the tongue of the closed end. I’ve had to open the closed end several times to slide it back in.
The discs each bear a different image of a character or creatures, but are not a complete screen printing – it leaves some of the reflective silver surface which actually provides a slight 3D effect to the image.
The DVD menus are a bit less animated. The main menu zooms in to a rotating view of the TARDIS console viewed from directly above, but the other menus all appear static.
Also included in the package: a “super card” for the Doctor Who Top Trumps card game. I don’t know what Top Trumps is like, but I’m seeing it everywhere now and with different themed packs.
For special features, how about for a start that every episode features an audio commentary? Gone are the “in-vision” commentaries, which I found too distracting on the screen, although I wish they still employed the “angle” feature that no one uses on DVDs. There is all 13 Confidential episodes (called “Cutdowns” this series), outtakes, deleted scenes, David’s video diaries, teaser trailers, and Freyma’s behind the scenes peek similar to what Billie Piper did previously. She even sneaks in the production offices of Doctor Who/Sarah Jane and Torchwood, and gives a couple looks at the inside/outside of the TARDIS set, and the back of the Torchwood Hub set (which disappointingly is NOT an abandoned Tube station…).
A special bonus feature appears as an “episode” on the first disc, called “Music and Monsters”. This was apparently in some form the “Children in Need” special before the Christmas episode “The Runaway Bride” aired, which features an orchestra and chorus performing music from the series, hosted by David Tennant and featuring Daleks and Cybermen along with scenes from all the series. The music was incredible – I’d like to have seen the whole concert uncut, but it already clocked in at a full hour – longer than the actual episodes!
For episodes, ones of particular note include: “The Runaway Bride” (Christmas episode featuring Catherine Tate, who will return as a regular companion in Series 4); “Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks” (yes, they are still around, but they are a bit different now…); “42” (a “real-time” episode); “Human Nature” (the Doctor is not himself); “Blink” (this series’ frightening episode – really); and the last three episodes which link together, “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums”, and “Last of the Time Lords”, where we find one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies – and what drives him. And pay close attention to the end – I don’t think things end as they seem…
I wish more shows provided more specials like the BBC does for Doctor Who.
The only thing I’m left wanting after this set is Series 4… 🙂