Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray

This is another much-delayed review. This set of four Blu-rays has been sitting on my pile of things to watch for, err, quite a while now. Well, probably since September, when it was released. It was a “limited edition” thingy, so if you want to buy one now, you’ll probably have to pay very silly money to get it. But never mind, I’m here to tell you all about it.

Inside the cardboard outer box you’ll find four separate Blu-ray boxes, each with a nicely created image of one of the Doctors involved in the 50th anniversary fun and games.

Extras are plentiful, and include some bits that weren’t on the original releases, so I’ll be mentioning some of those.

Disc 1: The Name of the Doctor

This was, of course, the final episode of the seventh series, in which we finally learned why the Doctor kept running into different versions of Clara, and were introduced to an unexpected extra incarnation of the Time Lord in the glorious form of John Hurt. Good stuff all round, and it makes sense to have it with the other episodes in this set.

Extras include a behind the scenes piece, a quite long documentary called Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, which looks like it was made for the US audience, judging by some of the talking heads involved. It won’t tell you much you didn’t already know, but it’s nicely put together.

But the highlight is The Night of the Doctor,  that unexpected mini-episode released online. In this, we get the return of Eighth Doctor Paul McGann, who gets the excellent line

I’m a doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting

before turning into  John Hurt. It’s short, but very sweet.

Disc 2: The Day of the Doctor

This is, of course, the Big One. I’ve talked at moderate length about the original Blu-ray release, so I’ll just mention the extras included on this version. In addition to the behind the scenes bits and some trailers, the fun comes from some cinema intros, which those of us who saw the episode at home will have missed. Strax does a very fine Sontaran piece which is suitably silly.

Disc 3: The Time of the Doctor

Once again, I’ve covered this in detail previously, so just a quick mention for the extras. This includes one of the peripheral shows that appeared around the anniversary – A Night With the Stars: The Science of Doctor Who, in which the ubiquitous Professor Brian Cox has a lot of fun with some science stuff which sort of vaguely relates to time travel. Sort of. Good fun, and it does include Matt Smith. And there’s a Farewell to Matt Smith piece, which does what it says on the tin.

Disc 4: An Adventure in Time and Space

I don’t think I mentioned this at the time, so I’ll rectify that now. For quite some time, Mark Gatiss had been wanting to make a drama about the early days of Doctor Who, and as the fiftieth anniversary came around, he was able to persuade the BBC that it would be a good idea. And that’s what we have here – a nicely presented, more or less accurate story of the creation of the series, concentrating on producer Verity Lambert (first female producer at the BBC), director Waris Hussein (first Indian director at the BBC), Head of Drama Sydney Hewman and the first actor to play the Doctor, William Hartnell. Sets are recreated, events are compressed, some people are omitted, in the usual way of drama, but it’s all here. As William Hartnell’s failing health threw the future of the series into doubt, an brilliant and unprecedented plan was created, and a new Doctor appeared. Which is why we’re still talking about Doctor Who now.

It’s all very nicely done, and well worth watching if you haven’t done so already.

Extras on this disc are particularly good. In addition to the expected behind the scenes bits, there are closer looks at how some of the classic scenes were recreated (Daleks on Westminster Bridge, for instance) , a tribute to William Hartnell and some deleted scenes. All good stuff, but there’s more. There’s Doctor Who at the Proms 2013, a nicely entertaining concert featuring music from the series with added monsters, the Doctor, Clara and some silliness from Strax. Not to mention a Dalek threatening to exterminate the conductor for overacting…

And finally, there’s the delightfully silly The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, which was good fun when it was released online, and looks a lot better on TV.  In this, you’ll see Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy trying to get themselves parts in the 5oth anniversary special, not to mention Steven Moffat being silly, Russell T Davies being Russell T Davies, and learn the shocking truth[1] about John Barrowman. It’s a lovely bit of work which deserves its place in this anniversary set.

So there it is. A nice collection. If you’ve got the separate discs and the seventh series set, it’s distinctly non-essential, but it is a nice thing to have.

[1] Or not