Doctor Who – The Complete Third Series DVD

Yes, I’m really late with this one, but at least I’m getting it in before the next series starts. I’ve already muttered at some length about the individual episodes, so this is more about the extras and the presentation than the main content.

There are six discs packed in two folders which fit into a tidy slipcase – no big boxes this time, but I believe there were several versions of the slipcase. Mine has a lenticular picture of John Simm as the Master, which is quite nice. Apart from some cool pictures on the folders and the discs, there’s a fairly basic booklet listing the contents.

In addition to the thirteen episodes of the main series, there’s the Christmas Special The Runaway Bride,which stands up well to repeated viewing, and is of course much better in DVD quality and surround sound. It was good to see Catherine Tate again before she joins the Doctor next week. Seeing how her character developed as the show went on suggests that she’s going to be interesting.

Sharing the first disc with that is the special edition of Doctor Who Confidential about the Children in Need concert held at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. Good stuff, with lots of Murray Gold’s music, David Tennant presenting the show in his native Scottish accent (and being quite wonderful at it), and guest appearances from assorted monsters, including a lovely Dalek voiced by a madly ad-libbing Nick Briggs.

Extras on the first disk include a tour of the studio presented by Freema Agyeman, out-takes and deleted scenes, plus some trailers. Scattered over four of the discs are David Tenant’s video diaries. These are great. You get a real feeling of just how much David is enjoying the role, and what people go through to make the show (The early starts!! The rain!!! The cold!!!).

And of course, every episode has a commentary. These are a mixed bag – some seem to be quite unfocussed chats that hardly notice what’s happening on screen, which seems a bit pointless. But the ones with Russell T Davies and David Tennant are quite lovely. And that quiet, shy and retiring chap John Barrowman was persuaded to make a rare public appearance[1] and joins David and Freema for the final episode commentary, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, a hoot.

Watching all the episodes again in quite rapid succession has reminded me of just how bloody good David Tennant is as the Doctor. They way he can switch from the apparently inane babbling to moral outrage in the blink of an eye is a joy to behold, and he really gets across the feeling of his immense power. Or to put it another way

He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the Universe and – he’s wonderful.

And what a joy it was to see Sir[2] Derek Jacobi as Professor Yana – a quite wonderful performance from one of our finest actors, who was delighted to be there. He’s actually said that it’s been an ambition to be in Doctor who since the 60s.

Freema was quite wonderful as Martha – we’ve seen her since in Torchwood[3], and she’ll be back for several episodes this year. I hope we’ll see a lot more of her in future.

John Barrowman brought a different angle to Captain Jack, and John Simm did some of the best scenery-eating Master madness ever seen. It’s all quite excellent stuff, and well worth having on DVD.

Wrapping up the set is a disc of cut-down versions of the full series of Doctor Who Confidential – only about ten minutes each, but they do contain some good interviews and background information. Not essential, but nice to have.

[1] Standard John Barrowman gag #1
[2] But don’t call him “Sir”, he doesn’t like it, apparently
[3] You may have noticed that I haven’t been babbling about Torchwood this year. Stay tuned for that.