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“Doctor Who: The Specials” {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: BBC/Time-Warner
TV Series
Release Date:
Special Features:

“Doctor Who Confidential”, “deleted scenes, promos, commentary tracks


You could tell the end was near for David Tennant’s tenure as Doctor Who was at an end; the writing by producer/show runner Russell T. Davies was less than inspired falling into the hackneyed and clichéd. The Xmas special was up to the high quality of the best episodes of teh show and so was the third film. By the end it was time for a change. In particular the very last two part special “The End of Time” had a great premise that falls apart by the second part of the show. The saving grace for the two part episode are David Tennant’s performance and John Simm (“Life on Mars”) who plays the Doctor’s most famous foil outside of the Dalek’s and the only surviving Time Lord aside from the Doctor, the Master. ***

In “The End of Time” the Master has regenerated and plans on transforming the residents of Earth to serve him. He also has “super” powers that enable him to fly and shoot energy bolts out of his hands (the use of super powers smacks of desperation on the part of Davies). The Doctor must stop him. They both must contend with the return of the Time Lords as they reach across time from a protected “time bubble” to try and use Earth to bring back their world. We do get a brief glimpse of the new 10th incarnation of the Doctor (Matt Smith)and based on the BBC previews I’ve seen, it looks as if Moffat (who wrote many of the best episodes of the last three seasons)plans on recreating the Doctor in his image as a bit more of a hands-on action hero compared to previous incarnations. ***

Michelle Ryan (“The Bionic Woman”) appears in “Planet of the Dead” where a London bus is transported to an alien desert planet where the only living creatures appear to be refugees from “Pitch Black”. It demonstrates the paucity of Davies’ imagination towards the end of his tenure as executive producer and primary writer for the series. While Davies did a memorable job during the first three years by the fourth the best scripts were coming from other writers such as Stephen Moffat (the current executive producer and head writer for the fifth season of the “new” Doctor). ***

“The Waters of Mars” and “The Next Doctor” are probably the two strongest ones TV specials included here and that isn’t saying much because these would be very mediocre episodes of the second and third season when the series was at its prime. ---

Image & Sound:

The original series was shot in standard definition video so the Blu-ray presentation here is a bit of a step up as the specials were all shot in high def. Images are crisper, colors quite good although blacks aren’t quite as solid as I would have liked. Detail is good without too much digital over processing with a nice light grain added to the digital presentation making it look like film. ***

Audio sounds equally as good. One of the issues that dogged the early season sets were a 5.1 mix that had the surround channels mix often dominating the dialogue (I suspect that this was to make the show “play” better on stereo TV’s). ---

Special Features:

We get similar special features to the season sets including the following: Doctor Who Confidential-These are specials that usually ran on the BBC after “Doctor Who” episodes were shown (usually the Saturday after) giving us a nice behind-the-scenes glimpse into the production process for each episode. - Doctor Who at the Proms - Deleted Scenes with Introduction from Russell T Davies-Davies explains why the shots were often cut giving us background on some of the editorial choices for the show. - David Tennant Video Diaries – The Final Days-This gives us Tennant’s on parting with a character he has made very much his own. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the mark his predecessors made when they stepped into the Doctor’s shoes. - Doctor Who BBC Christmas Idents - Audio Commentaries-These appear on all of the TV specials with those involving principal cast members (particularly Tennant) the most delightful. It’s fun to hear Tennant with his natural accent. - Doctor Who at Comic-Con ---

Final Words:

Actor David Tennant and writer/producer Russell T. Davies close out their tenure on “Doctor Who” with a mixed bag of TV specials. Two of the specials are quite good and while the concluding two parter “The End of Time” promised more than it could possibly deliver, it was a delight seeing John Simms again essaying his role as The Master. Should The Master return I’m hoping that they’ll bring Simms back initially (we know he’s not REALLY dead folks—nothing is on Doctor Who) as his delightful enthusiasm is every bit the equal of Tennant’s.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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