Those semi-mythical regular readers may have been wondering when I was going to get around to talking about the latest Doctor Who box set. In previous years, I’ve tended to watch the set almost as soon as it came out, but this time it’s been different. Being aware of how little new Doctor Who material there’s going to be this year, I rationed this out to make it last longer. But now I’ve watched every episode, heard every commentary and seen every extra, just in time for next Saturday’s new episode.
This box is much the same as the last couple – nice shiny outer sleeve (The Doctor and Donna on one side, Davros on the other), which contains a slipcase which in turn contains two folders, each holding three DVDs with a single booklet. It’s all very nicely presented, with lots of pictures from the series on the packaging and the discs. Also as in previous years, unlike the basic discs issued earlier last year, on the set you get a Dolby 5.1 channel sound mix. Contents are Voyage of the Damned and all thirteen episodes from the 2008 series.
This was the first “new” Doctor Who I’ve seen played on an upscaling DVD player connected to a full HD 1080p TV. And. Oh. Good. Grief. It looks quite simply stunning. Remember, this material wasn’t actually made in HD, but it is of decent quality. Played through the magic new toys, the images are clearer, sharper and just better than I was expecting. Woooooooooooooo! The surround sound has been nicely done – there is something really cool about Dalek voices coming from behind you, but they’ve also taken care to make voices in general come from the most likely directions. And the music comes across superbly.
I won’t go over the individual episodes again, but I will admit to getting a wee bit emotional over the final scenes of the finale. Yes, towing the Earth home was quite ridiculous, but it was also quite beautiful. Seeing the Doctor working with his friends, combined with Murray Gold’s soaring music really was affecting. It’s one of those things where you know your emotions are being manipulated (the music is a major factor in this), but you just let it happen, and enjoy the ride. And it was much better being upscaled and HDed and surround sounded.
That’s enough about the main content, which you’re more than likely familiar with already if you’re reading this, what about the extras?
Well, every episode has a commentary track, featuring such people as Russell T Davies, David Tennant, Murray Gold, Catherine Tate, and many more. Some are relatively sensible, others are completely bonkers, and therefore much better. No John Barrowman contributions this time.
A good one, this:
- Time Crash, that lovely little piece for Children in Need
- David’s Video Diary, Blackpool – very silly trip to Blackpool to turn on the Illuminations. Julie Gardner giggles a lot and phones everyone in the universe, a police escort appears
- Deleted scenes – this time round, RTD introudces them and explains why they were deleted. Nice.
- Howard Attfield – Deleted Scenes. The original plan was for Howard to reprise his role as Donna’s father from The Runaway Bride. Unfortunately, after filming started, he became too ill to continue, and died not long afterwards. His place was taken by Bernard Cribbins, playing Donna’s grandfather, but some scenes were kept and are shown here.
- More deleted scenes
- Yet more deleted scenes. Four episodes on this disc, so not much room for more
- The last batch of deleted scenes
- The Journey (So Far) – a look at the first four years of the revived series, with lots of clips. Not huge, but very well put together
- David’s Video Diary (End of Season) – more from that nice Mr Tennant
One big pile of extras, really – this disc contains the cut down versions of the Doctor Who Confidential episodes associated with Voyage of the Damned and the whole fourth series. All good fun, with lots to enjoy.