“Doctor Who” – Ten for 10

Galloping hot on the heels of Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary (well, relatively given the programme’s history), Doctor Who celebrated another anniversary.  On 26th March 2005 at 7:00 pm, a beloved British classic returned to the television with a new Doctor along with an independent and go-getting companion and his iconic TARDIS disguised as a London Metropolitan Police Box.

I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as that new realisation of Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire’s magical hit the screen, I sat forwards in my chair and the hair stood up on the back of my neck as I was transported back to the programme I loved as a child.

To celebrate “New Who’s” tenth birthday, I decided to do a “Ten for 10” – my ten personal favourite moments since the programme came back in 2005.  Now, they’re not a definitive top ten, but a run down of ten moments which made me fall in love with the programme again and continues to get me tuning in.  (Oh, and get some tissues ready as there could be tears).

 

Right from the off, this version of Doctor Who was going to be pacey and full of action and this scene from the first episode sums this attitude up perfectly as the Doctor grabs Rose, and in some respects the viewer, by the hand into his universe of adventures.

Billie Piper manages to embody Rose’s, and the viewers’, disorientation as she is rescued from the Nestene Consciousness’ Auton footsoldiers, whilst Christopher Eccleston moves the Doctor away from anything we’ve seen before by delivering a Doctor full of attitude and swagger.

9. “School Reunion” (2006) – “Hello Sarah Jane”

The year is 2006 and nearly thirty years after his last regular adventure, the Tenth Doctor meets an old friend in the form of Sarah Jane Smith, wonderfully portrayed by the great Elisabeth Sladen.

As a fan of the original series, Sarah Jane was one of the first companions I remember regularly watching and like the Tenth Doctor himself, you can’t help but feel a comfy glow of familiarity when Lis returns in the role which delighted children not only in the 70s, but in the 21st century thanks to return appearances on Doctor Who and through her own highly successful spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures.  Alongside this, you get the the Doctor still showing some of the trauma over the loss of the Time Lords which reverberates into the story’s conclusion with Sarah Jane’s wise counsel that the Doctor has to deal with loss like everyone else has to, Sarah Jane and Rose being bitchy to one another and Mickey playfully giving the Doctor hell with the “Mrs and the Ex” remark.

8. “The Empty Child” (2005) – “Are You My Mummy?”

Steven Moffat is the master of making the ordinary scary – the Weeping Angels that can only move when you’re not looking at them, the creatures from “Listen” that hide underneath your bed or the Vashta Nerada who exist in the shadows and eat you alive, but this is the “monster” that was the most terrifying of his creations for me – a young boy killed on a bomb site and resurrected thanks to alien technology who has only one thought – to find his mummy and be reunited with her.

On the one hand, you get the emotional pull of this boy wanting to find his mummy whilst the plague that he is “Patient Zero” of is turning people into creatures just like him.  And then, you get the cliffhanger.

After the disappointing cliffhanger in the Slitheen two-parter, this story really shows how to do a Doctor Who cliffhanger with the Doctor, Rose and Jack surrounded by the “Gas Mask zombies” and seemingly no way out.

With the prospect of more two part stories with cliffhangers in Series Nine, I hope the production team can get back to edge of the seat cliffhangers like this story.

7. “Utopia” (2007) – “I… Am… The Master”/”The Master Reborn”

It had been teased, it had been “spoiled”, but one thing was certain – you can’t keep a bad Time Lord down.  Eleven years earlier, Eric Roberts was the Master in the BBC/Fox/Universal television movie and was seen disappearing into the Eye of Harmony.  At the end of Series Three, the clues that had been peppered during Series Two and Three came to fruition on the planet Malcassairo with the Doctor, Martha Jones and a hitch-hiking Captain Jack meeting the seemingly sweet natured Professor Yana – only to find out that he is, in truth, the Doctor’s former childhood friend and nemesis.

Sir Derek Jacobi was delightful and, for want of a better phrase, sweet in his role of Yana, but once he changes from Yana to the Master, Jacobi perfectly embodies the villainy and malevolence the embodies all the actors who have previously portrayed the role… only to be shot be his assistant Chantho which led to his regeneration to the wonderfully hyperactive and villainous portrayal by John Simm leading to the “Year of Hell” arc of the last two episodes of Series Three, “The Sound Of Drums” and “Last Of The Time Lords”.

6. “Dalek” (2005) – Nine meets the “Metaltron”

Whilst the new series was being prepared, there were rumours that the Daleks weren’t going to be a part of the return due to rights issues and the Toclafane, who appeared in “The Sound Of Drums”/”Last Of The Time Lords”, were going to be the big bads for Series One.

Thank goodness that the BBC and the estate of Terry Nation managed to work things out as we got a new chapter in the Doctor’s mythos which pitched him against his most formidable foe… and a fantastic episode which re-introduced a single Dalek facing a scared Doctor in a scene reminiscent of “Silence Of The Lambs”.  Who would have thought that a monster created in 1963 could inspire so much fear thanks to the performances by Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Nicholas Briggs and his voice modulator wizardry as the last Dalek… who wasn’t, as we found out later in the series, really the last Dalek?

5. “The End Of Time – Part Two” (2010) – “I Don’t Want To Go”

If you’re a Whovian and your heart, or hearts, isn’t moved by this scene, then you must be a Dalek.

David well and truly wore his fanboy heart on his sleeve in his portrayal of the Doctor over four years and this scene summed his love for the show perfectly as he seemingly speaks to the audience to say that not only does the Tenth Doctor not want to go (something that’s touched upon in Matt Smith’s final episode), but that David didn’t want to leave the role he loved so much.

4. “An Adventure In Space And Time” (2013) – Matt Smith’s cameo

Yes, I cheated with this one, but I wanted to include this as one of my ten moments as Mark Gatiss scripts this surprise at the end of the anniversary docudrama with Matt Smith acknowledging David Bradley in the role of his real-life predecessor, William Hartnell.

After the emotional scene between Bradley and Lesley Manville as Hartnell’s wife, Heather, where he admits that he doesn’t want to leave the part, it’s good to see this brief coda to show not only Hartnell handing over to Troughton, but the legacy that both men left to Matt and beyond.

3. “The Day Of The Doctor” (2013) – “No Sir, ALL THIRTEEN!”

I was fortunate enough to see “The Day Of The Doctor” at the cinema along with a studio full of Whovians.  The episode enough is special enough bringing together Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt, but this scene manages not only to tie up the “Time War” arc of “New Who”‘s history, but then tops it off with twelve… wait, THIRTEEN Doctors banding together to save not only Gallifrey, but the Doctor’s very soul by hiding his home planet away rather than burning it.

2. “Flatline” (2014) – “The Man Who Stops The Monsters”

A surprising choice, perhaps, but this is THE moment that cemented Peter Capaldi into my mind as the Doctor… and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

From my childhood, the Doctor has always represented safety and the man you can rely on when the monsters came, but Capaldi’s Doctor felt a little unreliable for the majority of Series Eight and somebody who was almost scary as the monsters he fought.  This speech, however, signified everything that the Doctor should be – a man reluctant to take arms against the enemy unless absolutely necessary, but who is willing to draw a line in the sand and defend his adopted home, but the words alone don’t sell it.  Peter Capaldi’s fierce delivery more than effectively sells the script and, in my eyes, the twelfth Doctor is truly born.

1. “Vincent And The Doctor” (2010) – Vincent visits the Musee D’Orsay

It’s no surprise that I picked this as my favourite moment as it’s probably my favourite regular episode since 2005.  A perfect combination of fantastic writing by Richard Curtis, the right song (“Chances” by Athlete) and pitch perfect performances by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Tony Curran and an uncredited cameo by Bill Nighy.

Given what we know about happened to the real Vincent Van Gogh, it was both delightful and heart-breaking to witness Amy’s attempts to help Vincent realise that his work is beloved and lives on into the 21st century and a lovely touch by Curran when he apologises about his beard after kissing Nighy’s Dr Black.

 

So, those are my personal 10 for Ten.  Do you agree with any of them or do you have any moments or memories that embody “New Who” since it came back in 2005?

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Doctor Who Review – “Last Christmas” (Writer: Steven Moffat)

Do you ever remember the Christmas jumper that you got from your maiden aunt on Christmas Day?  The one that you can’t fail to show disappointment on when you first receive it.  And then time goes on and, actually, it’s not too bad and it eventually becomes something that’s nice and comfy to wear.

“Why am I waffling about jumpers?” you may be asking.  Well, I have to admit that these are my feelings on the latest Christmas offering from Steven Moffat.  In fact, on the evening itself, I was left slack jawed in disappointment with the episode.  However, time has a way of putting things into perspective and I’m glad that my busy schedule over the Festive period prevented me from putting my immediate thoughts on the internet as after a second viewing, I found that it actually wasn’t as bad as originally thought.

 

As with the previous specials, certainly the ones written by Steven Moffat, the story is firmly couched in the trappings of the Christmas celebration – this time with a visit from good old Santa Claus himself, although he isn’t quite as jolly as the ones you see in the department store.  But as we know from previous specials, it wouldn’t be “Doctor Who” if there wasn’t some form of peril involved and Moffat brings this in with that classic staple, the “Base Under Siege” type story, something that’s rather appropriate given one of the guest stars for this particular special.

Unlike previous specials (apart from “The End Of Time”), this story had a firm continuity thread running through it as, beyond the Christmas aspects, the main theme of this particular special was the part that lies play in the Doctor’s adventures.  It’s been a rule since Matt Smith had the key to the TARDIS was that the Doctor lies and this comes to bite him on the bum in this special as both he and Clara have to resolve the lies that they told each other at the end of “Death In Heaven”.

The lies told by the Doctor and Clara aren’t the only ones involved in this episode as the viewer is conducted into a story where the core theme is lies, in so much as the way that we lie to ourselves when we dream – both when we believe that we’re awake and lying to ourselves when we’re dreaming and the way we try to control our dreams.  In fact, it’s reminiscent of the plot of the 2010 Christopher Nolan film, “Inception”.

Speaking of films, one of the issues that I originally had with the episode was that the premise was basically built on a viewing list.  Now I understand, though, that I was wrong to dismiss it as not only does this mean that I missed the central joke of the episode, but takes away that extra layer of Christmas – that point in the holiday when we’re sick of what’s on the telly and being filled with food and drink that we decide to retreat into what makes us comfortable, a comfy couch and our favourite films.

The Christmas overload in this episode hides one of the most scary creations in Steven Moffat’s tenure, both as a writer and as showrunner, the Dream Crabs.  Where on earth have you been keeping these creations been in your arsenal, Steven?  Not only do they look scary, but the whole idea of a creature that keeps you de-sensitised and dreaming whilst it has lunch on your brain is genuinely frightening.  Yes, the on-screen representation of the crabs screamed “Alien rip off” and their M.O. was reminiscent of the Dream Lord from “Amy’s Choice” – especially when Clara is trapped into her fantasy Christmas with Danny returned to life following his sacrifice at the end of “Death In Heaven”, but I’d love to see a rematch between the Doctor and the Dream Crabs at some point in the future.

 

The guest casting of this episode was note perfect.  The crew of the base was reminiscent of a story from the Second Doctor’s era.  You had the hard-nosed and in charge base leader in Ashley Carter, portrayed by Natalie Gumede (soon to be joining the regulars in offbeat BBC crime series “Death In Paradise”), the sceptical scientists, Fiona Bellows (Maureen Beattie) and the turkey leg munching Professor Albert Smithe (portrayed by the real-life son of the Second Doctor, Michael Troughton) and Slade dancing junior staff member Shona McCullough (Faye Marsay).  Their roles in the base not only provides a dynamic which enables the team to band together from the off, but you also get the additional terror that, in the dream world, it is they themselves who they are observing in the medical bay, plus you get the poignant ending where upon being returned into the real world, you get a far too brief snapshot of the real lives for Ashley, Fiona and, most significantly, Shona, who provided the main focus for the dream construct.

For Santa’s entourage of elves, you get the cool Wolf (Nathan McMullen), the one who’s allowed to use child’s rifle but also the one who’s in awe of his boss, and for a third successive Christmas special Dan Starkey who is out of the Sontaran make up to portray Ian who shares some traits with Strax (which I can only attribute to the fact that the Doctor contributes some of his persona into the dream) with his mannerisms (such as greeting Clara with a “Hello Human” and referring to the fact that she’s of elf height, which must also be a joke based on the Doctor confusing Clara and Strax at the start of the Season Eight opener “Deep Breath”).

Nick Frost is the main guest star for this episode in the role of Santa and provides a clever counterpoint to the Doctor himself in that he mirrors him.  Whilst he’s the creation of the gestalt subconscious of the other “real life” characters, it’s the Doctor who provides Santa’s character – grumpy, trying to be cool and using references like “Beardy Wierdy”and stealing the Doctor’s limelight and knowledge to make himself look clever.  Frost manages to give us the reassuring face of Santa, by virtue of having a good slice of the Doctor within him, but he also manages to lock horns with the Doctor himself by mirroring him.

 

The three regulars manage to balance the need to progress the plot of the immediate story whilst building on their respective story arcs.

Samuel Anderson makes a poignant return in the role of Danny Pink.  In his early scenes, he’s the goofy romantic from earlier in Season Eight, the one before he meets the Doctor.  Once the Doctor arrives in Clara’s dream, he becomes the stronger, brave Danny – the one who, albeit in dream form, manages to stand up to the Doctor by calling him “Sir” and stating that the Earth was only saved as a by-product of his love for Clara.  And then he finally makes the ultimate sacrifice, again, whilst reminding her that she needs to move on with her life.

Peter Capaldi gets to add further layers to his interpretation of the Doctor in this special.  Yes, you still get the darkness and the “gallows humour” that has become the hallmark of his Doctor, but he manages to infuse lighter comedy (such as the scene where he is insulted about the Professor’s reference to “Alien”) and a childlike sense of wonder in the scene where he gets the opportunity to pilot Santa’s sleigh.  The Doctor is also starting to open up on a human level to Clara and there is a sense that the two characters are developing a deep bond with each other.

“Last Christmas” is very much Jenna Coleman’s episode and, for me, would have been an episode to end her run on the show.  Jenna manages to portray the addiction that Clara has for travelling with the Doctor with a wide eyed wonder that has been missing for some of Season 8 whilst demonstrating that the Doctor has an increasing influence upon her that has been threatening since “Flatline” (for example the character’s vocal mannerisms at the start of the story when she tells Santa to shut up).  Whilst I like Jenna as an actress, I really felt that the ending was a bit of a wasted opportunity for her as I believe that the Old Clara ending would have been the perfect departure point for her – not only because the Christmas Cracker motif echoes the conclusion from “The Time Of The Doctor”, but it was also reminiscent of the scene in “Hook” where the young Peter meets the older Wendy.

At the risk of a backlash, I have to admit that Jenna’s return for Season 9 is a double-edged sword.  Yes, you get an increasingly comfortable partnership both between Peter and Jenna and The Doctor and Clara, but I have to wonder if there’s anywhere else for the character of Clara to develop beyond being the enigma of “The Impossible Girl” and the part-time time traveller plus we have now been robbed of a fantastic conclusion of her time on the TARDIS.

Given this bone of contention, “Last Christmas” ticks the box of being a festive warmer, despite being all glitzy and overly filling on the first viewing.

 

And now, we have nine months to wait for Season 9 and I hope that some changes are made in the structure to the programme for the forthcoming year including a change to the Team TARDIS dynamic with an additional person, more of a focus pm stand-alone stories rather than an overall arc (possibly going back to the RTD seasons where the arc bubbles away in the background) and, despite my hope that the programme goes back to being one for the family rather than being too sophisticated, a really scary episode for Hallowe’en (given that it’s on a Saturday for 2015).

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Dark Water” (Writer: Steven Moffat)

I had every intention of writing reviews for episodes 7 through to 10 of the current series of “Doctor Who”, but given the impact that certain revelations… well, one revelation… has made on the online Whovian fandom buzz, I’ve decided to ditch that plan and go straight to reviewing last night’s episode (at the time of writing) “Dark Water”.

This episode is built upon two main storylines – both of which tap into basic human needs or fears. The first premise is one previously explored in the Series One story “Father’s Day” – whether to keep looking back at the loss of a loved one or to move forward with your life – something that Clara’s gran comments upon when she says that we all have to let go of a loved one at some point in our lives.

The parallel with “Father’s Day” comes right from the off withvClara deciding to use the Doctor’s TARDIS to time travel so that he can save Danny’s life, much in the same way that Rose did when she pushed her father out of the way of the car that was going to hit him, which is understandable given Clara and Danny’s love for each other. However, I have to admit that the execution of this plot strand left a little to be desired. Firstly, Clara’s motivation is that the Doctor “owes” her. Even in grief, this doesn’t ring true with the selfless Clara that we have witnessed over the last season and a half. Yes, she would more thsn likely ask him for help, but to think about hijacking the TARDIS is too far a leap to remain credible. Secondly, would the Doctor really be as careless as to leave all seven keys to the TARDIS in obvious hiding places for Clara to find along with the dream state patches. This, along with Clara’s wish to travel to a volcano for no apparent reason, should have set alarm bells the size of the Cloister Bell ringing.

That said, it does set up a couple of great scenes between the Doctor and Clara. Firstly, the dream state conversation shows how far Clara is willing to push the Doctor and how far he is willing to push back for the sake of their friendship. It also harks back to her recollections in the series opener “Deep Breath” where she realises that you can’t start a negotiation at the end game, in this case the destruction of the Doctor’s access to the TARDIS. Even in a dream, the Doctor realises this and calls her bluff. But it begs the question, would the Doctor have pushed her as far had it not been a dream.

The following scene within the TARDIS shows how much the Doctor has been humanised by Clara. His respect for her friendship is demonstrated by his willingness to help her, despite her actions. Although we as the audience, along with Clara, believes that he is telling her to go to hell, rather than it being simply a comment on the destination, it is the first real moment where the twelfth Doctor is emotionally vulnerable. He is genuinely hurt by her betrayal of who he is and not having the faith in his ability to create a solution for her. However, once he agrees to help her, his emotional armour comes back on because he can only act decisively with a strong Clara beside him.

The second main strand of this story was the more intriguing as it keys into the human fear of what happens when we die and this is seen from two perspectives. For Danny, it’s the bewilderment of being trapped in the Nethersphere along with being reminded of the darkest day which prompted him to leave the Army – the accidental death of a boy whilst on a mission, something the Seb and Missy can use in their plan as a vulnerability. For the Doctor and Clara, it’s the piecing together of what the W3 Institute represents for the human race. It’s not the bodies in thr Dark Water tanks that are frightening or that humans have been earmarked to become Cybermen, it’s the lone voice of a frightened person begging not to be cremated that’s the most disturbing because even with the sci-fi trappings, the one thing we are all afraid of is that our lives will end at some point.

But the plot point that really has set the internet alight is the revelation of who Missy really is. There were lots of theories out there – Was she a distorted splinter of Clara scattered along the Doctor’s timeline? Was she a warped TARDIS matrix, similar to Idris? My own theory was that she was a representation of Death in reference to Clive’s speech in “Rose” of Death being the Doctor’s constant companion. But it was the simplest explanation that finally eventuated – Missy is the latest incarnation of The Master. Now, I don’t have a problem with Time Lords/Ladies changing gender as a precedent was set in “The Doctor’s Wife” when the Doctor explained that thr Corsair had changed between male and female, and I believe that Michelle Gomez is a cracking choice for this new interpretation of the character as she portrays the Master/Missy’s penchant for being evil in an operatic way perfectly along with providing a new twist on the Doctor/Master dynamic.

However, again, there are holes and inconsistencies with this revelation when you look back at them. How did she escape the time locked Gallifrey? Why has she returned to the Master’s default evil setting after his noble sacrifice at the conclusion of “The End Of Time”? Why start off with a needless pretense of being an administration droid only to reveal her true nature at the end of the episode? And finally, is the Doctor really THAT stupid not to notice that she’s a Gallifreyan? Hopefully, some of these inconsistencies are ironed out in next week’s episode “Death In Heaven”.

The cliffhanger of this story also ended up not being as strong as previous season ending multi-parters. The reason for this, in my opinion, is that you’re overloaded with cliffhangers – the reveal of the Cybermen, the reveal as to who Missy is and Danny’s desperate choice to retain or delete his emotions. This leads to a bit of an anti-climax and my personal preference would have been for a braver edit, either at the scripting or post production stages, by picking one strand and running with it.

Despite the episode’s flaws, the acting is top notch with Peter Capaldi taking the Doctor’s character development forward in becoming the Doctor that we know and love more – a far cry from the unlikeable, aloof version in “Kill The Moon”. This episode affords the character the chance to be Clara’s truest friend and fiercest advocate whilst still giving Capaldi the chance to challenge the friendship between the Doctor and Clara in the early stages of the story. I loved the sly gag when the Doctor’s psychic paper ended up showing swear words to Doctor Chan as he attempts to convince thast he’s a government official – surely a reference to Malcolm Tucker. His interaction with Michelle Gomez crackles as we travel from the flirting on Missy’s part at their first meeting (if only because she’s wrong footing him) to the Doctor’s horror at her revelation as to who she is.

Jenna Coleman delivers a great performance as Clara as we are guided alongside the character’s grief. However, as i said earlier, no matter the reason the character’s actions aren’t consistent with what we expect of Clara and I wouldn’t believe that she could have gone through with her plan. This is tempered though with great partnerships with Peter Capaldi and Samuel Anderson.

Samuel Anderson has really grown in the role of Danny Pink. From the early episodes to now, you can really see character development taking place, most notably in his flashback scenes which recount the accidental killing of a boy and his gesture to prevent Clara going forwards in her aim to go into the Nethersphere to save him, whilst his cliffhanger of deciding whether to retain or delete his emotions was played out to heart breaking effect and really should have been the final cliffhanger with no others to compete.

But it’s Michelle Gomez who steals the show as Missy. Who would have thought that the delightfully deranged Mary Poppins-alike would actually be the Doctor’s best enemy? Ms Gomez really plays the Master/Missy in the only way the role can be – over the top with a twisted showmanlike quality and I hope that she continues in the role beyond this story.

This episode is a bit of a curate’s egg with great ideas and concepts being brought together in a haphazard fashion. So, whilst I welcome a new and interesting take on an old favourite, it’s with an eye on the fact that the episode structure could have been executed a lot better and with a hope that there are more answers than questions in next week’s episode.

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “The Caretaker” (Writers: Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat)

Last year saw the fiftieth anniversary story for “Doctor Who” start with Clara having a teaching job at the place where the “legend” began, Coal Hill School. Somewhat belatedly, the Doctor made his return to the school following his previous adventure at this school (more on this later) as he took on the role of John Smith, the new caretaker.

The Doctor pretending to be human is nothing new. After all, Gareth Roberts has done this take on the lead character twice before with “The Lodger” and “Closing Time”. However, despite the threats of a Silent time craft or the Cybermen, these two stories were, for want of a better phrase, cute and fluffy – and this is not a criticism of those stories. They suited the more comedically alien incarnation that Matt Smith portrayed. But with a new Doctor comes a fresh take on the “Doctor pretends to be human” story which whilst still maintaining the humorous tone of the previous two stories is as spiky as the lead.

The main story follows the Doctor as he goes undercover on a “thing” to track down and stop a one robot artillery called a Skovox Blitzer. Apparently, the Blitzer has been attracted to Artron energy, which the Doctor admits (in a roundabout way) could be down to the Doctor’s previous travels to this location (in “An Unearthly Child” (1963) and “Remembrance Of The Daleks” (1988)). Amongst this, the Doctor must impersonate a human, whilst preventing Clara and fellow teacher, and her boyfriend, Danny Pink from getting in the way of his plan. However, I have to admit that the Doctor chasing around an alien war machine wasn’t the most interesting aspect – firstly, because… well, I have to admit that the Blitzer looked a bit naff as an adversary. It looked like something from the classic series rather than what we’ve been used to since 2005. The second was that the sub-plots were more interesting as a storyline.

There are two sub-stories which bounce in and out of this plot. The first is Clara’s trouble with keeping her “Coal Hill Life” and “Doctor Life” separate due to her controlling behaviour, which is harder for her than the Ponds, for example, who unashamedly revelled in the “Doctor Life” whilst he popped in and out of their lives. The second is that a new person has pushed her way in to the Doctor’s life in Courtney Woods – the school’s disruptive, formerly very disruptive influence.

The humour from this script comes from the fact that the very fact that right from the outset, the Doctor can’t impersonate a human. Yes, he looks like one and sounds like one, but from the moment he greets himself as “John Smith”, you can see through Peter Capaldi’s performance that the Doctor can’t be a human for the same reason that he can’t be a caretaker (even though he has taken on this role in “The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe) – “Twelve” is a great big show off.

Why do I say a “show off“? Well, this comes through in both the humourous and serious sides of this script. An example of the humourous nature of his showing off is when he gatecrashes Clara’s lesson on “Pride and Prejudice” and tells her in front of the class that she’s wrong because he’s read the notes to the book. An example of the more serious showing off is in the scene when Danny uses the invisibility watch to hide on the TARDIS. The Doctor shows off that he can detect an invisibility field due to his nature as a Time Lord. However, this attempt at showing off backfires on the Doctor once Danny uses his past as a soldier to serve as an uncomfortable reminder of his actions as the “War Doctor”, in particular that Danny is the type of person to rescue people whilst the Doctor is the person who causes the problem in the first place – an uncomfortable to parallel to the War Doctor’s message that great men are forged in fire whilst lesser men serve to light the flame. How many “Danny’s” were there in the Time War to make the Doctor this uncomfortable?

In fact, whilst Clara is the hub of this particular sub-plot in the story, it’s the Doctor’s encounter with Danny that makes it interesting. Danny is, understandably, a little out of depth with the Doctor and Clara’s relationship. Of course, he’s going to be suspicious of the Doctor’s use of alien tech (the Chronodyne Generators) to defend the school and it’s natural that Danny would want to protect the school both from the Blitzer and from the Doctor, but whilst he’s out of his depth, you can see that Danny genuinely cares about Clara. Whilst the shock that Samuel Anderson portrays in the scene when he first meets the Doctor attract comparisons with Mickey’s behaviour at the end of “Rose”, Danny’s protective nature throughout is more in tune with Rory than Mickey along with his “Alpha Male” attitude as far as where Clara’s concerned.

The Doctor also displays an “Alpha Male” attitude where Clara is concerned and this brings out some qualities that, I have to admit, I’m uncomfortable with. Yes, he’s vain enough to think that Adrian is Clara’s boyfriend rather than Danny and there is a sweet smile of recollection as though he thinking to himself “That was was Clara and I at one time”, but it brings out an ugly side to his character. You get the high handed arrogance of the Time Lord within the Doctor, something that has been pretty well hidden in the modern era of Who, except for “The Time Lord Victorious”. He protests that he doesn’t want to be saluted or spoken of as “Sir” by Danny, but he treats Danny as somebody who requires his approval to be Clara’s boyfriend and as a bit stupid and, with that, he condemns humans as being stupid and boring with an element of contempt, which reminded me of Christopher Eccleston‘s interpretation of the Doctor.

But Danny is far from stupid or simply the former soldier that the Doctor despises. It’s Danny’s bravery that saves Clara and the Doctor when the plan to use her as bait to lure the Blitzer goes wrong, and it’s his emotional intelligence that works out that the Doctor is angry because he’s testing Danny to ensure that Clara is safe with him. Danny also parallels Rory significantly when he says that the Doctor behaves like an officer in the army by pushing his companion to please him, something that Rory accuses the Doctor of in “Vampires of Venice” when he states that the companions want to go through danger just to please the Doctor.

The only person, in this story, that the Doctor does seem impressed with is Courtney and that’s because she openly says that she’s a disruptive influence. Who better to impress the Doctor, the universe’s biggest disruptive influence? She has a curiosity that matches that of the Doctor, she challenges authority and she displays little fear when she realises the Doctor’s true nature as an alien being. Okay, she may end up with a little time sickness on her journey into space at the end of the episode, but even if it’s not Courtney who joins him at some point as a permanent fixture, you can see the start of the Doctor thinking of “life after Clara”.

At the end of the story, we have the coda to the Nethersphere/Promised Land as the PCSO who was killed by the Blitzer at the start of the story meets Missy’s assistant, with Missy herself in the background. I have heard one theory as to Missy’s true nature and it’ll be interesting to see if this pans out at the end of the story.
Casting wise, this, like most of the stories for Series 8, have been pretty intimate affairs with Ellis George being the guest star of note in the role of Courtney.

At the start of the story, Ellis gives Courtney a gobby and cheeky attitude with all her “Love to the Squaddie” references to Clara. As the story progresses, it’s her scenes with Peter Capaldi which really shine through with her verbal sparring making her worthy of the “Potential Companion” tag.
The regulars are also on form in this episode.

Peter Capaldi himself is definitely hitting his stride in the role of the Doctor. Granted, his Doctor is a bit of a shock to the system in comparison to the more “companion friendly” Doctors as of late. There is a sense in Capaldi’s portrayal that, on the one hand he’s steeling himself for letting go of Clara – something that’s been building as far back as “Deep Breath”, but on the other, he is reluctant to let her go and behaves in a possessive manner – such as in the scene when they first encounter the Blitzer when he says that Clara needs to explain her relationship with Danny to him. He also gives the Doctor an air of behaving in a morally superior way which borders on pompous, more alien and wanting a “hands off” relationship to people other than Clara. Bringing these things together and you end up with a character that is an uncomfortable and unsettling shift from the Doctor that people may be aware of since 2005. However, there are light touches in his portrayal which acts as a counterbalance including his bursting in on Clara’s English lesson, his bantering Courtney and I loved the reference to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” when Clara told the boys off for playing football on the outdoor chess area.

Jenna Coleman turns in another great performance in the role of Clara. The character likes to be in control of the two worlds in which she exists, so it’s great to see how the Doctor’s world pushes into her day to day existence and how she, unsuccessfully, tries to minimise the damage of this intrusion which includes trying to the put the Doctor in his place when he interferes in her English lesson and coming up with an unconvincing cover story when Danny first meets the Doctor as he truly is.

Samuel Anderson is also excellent in this episode as Danny. He informs the audience more of who Danny truly is. Yes, on the surface the character, Danny could be your typical male companion-figure, given the chance, with Clara treating him as a bit of an idiot in the aforementioned scene when she tries to explain the Skovox Blitzer as a Summer Fair play. Underneath though, Danny is a man who believes in honesty – whether it’s him sticking it to the Doctor in the TARDIS when he challenges him on his attitude or making a request to Clara for a relationship built upon honesty. There are still layers in the character to be explored, specifically his reasons for leaving the Army, and I hope these layers pulled away by the time Series 8 ends.
Messrs. Roberts and Moffat have served up and episode which works on two levels. It serves as a part-comedic/part-serious examination of the leading man and how his actions impact upon his companion and the people who his adventures encounter (something that Steven Moffat promised prior to the series commencing). It also serves as an ominous portent that as the series continues, we may be seeing a change occurring in the Doctor/Clara friendship – whether it be a parting of the ways or a change of emphasis.

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Time Heist” (Writers: Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat)

It’s strange experience when you have an expectation of an episode of a television programme only for it to be something totally different.  “Time Heist” is one of those episodes as the pre-publicity sold it as “Doctor Who meets Ocean’s 11″… or in this case “Doctor’s 4”.  What we got instead was a fascinating episode which uses the time travel premise of Doctor Who’s remit and a reminder of who the Doctor actually is, and I don’t just mean the grumpy old man of Time and Space.

 

The episode starts unusually with an apparent domestic beginning with the Doctor and Clara bantering about her latest date, only for it to cut to the story proper thanks with our heroes, along with two apparent criminals – Psi and Saibra, being informed that they have had their minds wiped (Psi – an augmented human who can download information directly into his brain wiping it – through the use of technology, whilst Saibra – a woman who has the ability to change her form to match other organic lifeforms, the Doctor and Clara uses Memory Worms (last seen in the 2012 Christmas Special “The Snowmen”) to wipe their respective memories.

Under threat of having their mind wiped by the mysterious Teller, a being who can sense guilt, the foursome break into the Bank of Karabraxos on the instructions of the mysterious “Architect” for items that the Architect knows that they all want.

Whilst the “Heist” itself is a clever plot as we, along with the Doctor and his team, are guided along by the Architect’s plan using their abilities such as Saibra’s genetic morphing condition, Psi’s ability to download information and personalities into his brain, Clara’s humanity and the Doctor’s ability to use information and build plans “on the hoof”, until we find out why they all volunteered to rob the bank, who the mysterious Director Karabraxos is and whether they will all survive unscathed, this is a deceptively cleverer story than the “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” premise than even the Doctor realises as he breaks into the vault.

As we see the Architect’s plan play out – and through the episode as a whole, we are treated to a character study of who the Doctor is – both on the surface and underneath.  Some of it is very much the Doctor that we know – the man who champions the underdog (when he realises why he has been given this bank job, thanks to his memory being restored by the Teller), the man who wants days where “everybody lives” (through his use of the “Shredders” that are actually teleporters) and, despite apparent evidence to the contrary (namely Psi’s reaction), that the Doctor gives a damn about people – especially his reaction to Saibra’s apparent death by “Shredder” once the Teller locks on to her guilt.  He also carries some of the Doctor’s flirty nature where Clara is concerned at the end of the episode when he challenges Clara to top robbing a bank for a date.

He also shows the darker aspects of his character – not only as the Doctor, but when it is finally revealed that he is the “Architect”.  He is a clever tactician, very much in the mould of the Seventh Doctor portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, maneuvering himself and his team (unwittingly due to his mindwipe) to succeed in the mission by laying breadcrumbs along the way.  “Twelve” definitely has a Game Face which makes him unreadable and cold not only to the opposition but to his friends as well.  This comes to the fore when Psi confronts the Doctor on the selection of his title.  Rather than the man who makes people better, this is a man who has his armour on show.  None of the touchy-feely stuff for this Doctor.  Doctors Nine, Ten and Eleven have all been accused of being the man who can’t look back because of the damage he does.  Messrs. Thompson, Moffat and Capaldi bring together a Doctor where you can genuinely believe that he has to keep his emotions buttoned up and bulletproof.

But the most telling aspect of this Doctor is that even though he has to be this darker, more confrontational and more strategic persona, he hates it.  Why?  It comes in two passages – the first when Saibra tells the Doctor about the fact that she can tell that the Doctor is lying because she can see it in the way he behaves due to her knowledge of people and the second when he states that he hates the game playing, controlling, callous and ego-maniacal behaviour displayed  the Architect.  He’s guessed that it’s he who has set all this up the plan, but he waits for the evidence of the Teller’s mind scan to confirm it – but even so, he knows that he hates the Architect who came up with this plan and it’ll be interesting to see how this progresses as the series moves on.

 

The direction by Douglas Mackinnon is, yet again, top notch with jump cuts and scene changes moving at a rapid pace appropriate to the script.

 

For such a grandiose plot, the main cast is very small and intimate, making for a great character study.

Keeley Hawes creates a clever “villain” in the twin roles of Ms. Delphox and Director Karabraxos.  Delphox/Karabraxos counterpoints the Doctor’s deceptive nature with a character who has to be totally truthful because Delphox can’t lie to Karabraxos – the very reason that she uses clones.  But, it’s wrong to call Delphox and Karabraxos as true villain.  They both simply wish to maintain the security of the bank, whilst Karabraxos has some level of decency within her by, in effect, arranging for the Doctor to plan a robbery so that he can release the Teller’s mate along with the Neophyte Circuit to restore Psi’s memory and the Gene Suppressant for Saibra.  It’s to Ms. Hawes’ credit that, despite these revelations, she can still make the characters cold hearted enough to make them both unlikeable.

Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner are great in the roles of Psi and Saibra respectively.  It’s a mark of their acting ability, along with the script, that they make these two thieves sympathetic to the audience.  Both characters carry some level of damage in their wake with Psi losing the memories of his loved ones whilst Saibra cannot make physical contact.  It’s little wonder that the Doctor wants to include them in his band of robbers as they are reflections of him.  On the inside, he is Psi, a man who has to make the choice to forget loved ones whilst, on the outside, he is Saibra in that he knows that he can’t allow emotional contact because of the damage that follows in his wake.  I really enjoyed Psi and Saibra with both becoming potential companion material if the time was right.

Jenna Coleman continues to challenge in the role of Clara as she continues to be the Doctor’s “carer”, not only being the Doctor’s emotional buffer to people for his actions but his fiercest advocate, even though he appears callous to the point of being ruthless.  Clara believes that she knows the Doctor’s methods, after all, she’s seen multiple aspects of him, but he really throws a curve ball by openly displaying a disregard to Saibra’s apparent death by Shredder even though we as the viewer see him agonise with this decision.  Jenna really sells the emotion that although the Doctor is apparently cold and detached, she knows what he’s really like and defends him to the hilt.

But it’s Peter Capaldi who has the best character progression in this story.  He has to sell multiple and conflicting attitudes within the Doctor’s portrayal in this story.  On the one hand, the Doctor is ice cold – callous, gameplaying and detached to the point of being unlikeable and I’m talking pre “The Edge of Destruction” First Doctor nasty.  On the other, this cold and callous nature is done for a purpose – to protect his friends in the process of a robbery that isn’t for gold or money, but for the altruistic reasons of returning a person’s treasured memories, or allowing contact for the first time or saving the last two members of a race – something that surely serves as a parallel to his own predicament as the Not Quite Last of the Timelords.

In the hands of a less skilled actor, this portrayal of the Doctor could come across as unlikeable, but Capaldi manages to balance the light and dark of this incarnation so that he manages to shock and surprise without coming across as a Doctor who you wouldn’t want to travel with, but the synopses from the rest of the series makes that as something to be seen.

 

“Time Heist” is a story that works on multiple levels.  On the face of it, it’s a crime caper that moves at a rate of knots.  Underneath, you get a great character study of the leading man in this series.  It’ll be interesting to see how “Twelve” progresses going forward given the apparently darker path he is looking to tread later in the series.

Doctor Who Series 8 Reviews – “Robot Of Sherwood” (Writer: Mark Gatiss) and “Listen” (Writer: Steven Moffat)

After some time off to recharge my batteries on holiday, I’m back after playing catch up with a couple of “Doctor Who” episodes.

 

‘Why is he deciding to write a joint review of “Robot Of Sherwood” and “Listen” on the same post?’ you may ask.  Well, despite the differing tone of the stories – one, a pseudo-historical comedy, and the other, a story that plays upon one of our primal fears , they both deceptively leave the over-arching reason for the whole adventure until the very end of the story.

 

“Robot Of Sherwood” sees Mark Gatiss play upon the idea of two legendary champions of the underdog meeting to take down tyranny in their own inimitable style.  Gatiss uses our modern day viewpoint of the too good to be true Robin Hood legend – the laughing hero with his band of Merry Men who resides in the evergreen Sherwood Forest and who opposes the Sheriff of Nottingham – to wrong foot not only our leading man, but the audience as well.

Like Clara, who starts this whole adventure, we want to believe in the hero who will ride to our aide, so it’s easy why a man who wants to run away from this role, in the Doctor, would find a man like Robin difficult to beldoubting The fact that we are carried into an adventure with the familiar, such as the contest for the Golden Arrow, and the Who-inspired devices such as time travelling spacecraft and robots designed to look like knights make the audience associate more with the Doctor’s stance of the whole situation being too good to be true – something that is thrown back in the Doctor’s face twice. (By Clara when she refers to the fact that the Doctor is an impossible hero and Robin when he recounts the Doctor’s own legendary status).

 

“Listen” sees Steven Moffat return to using our childhood fears as the catalyst for this story.  The man who has given us the ultimate “Grandma’s footsteps” in the Weeping Angels or monsters in the shadows in the Vashta Nerada  now returns to a fear that was previously touched upon briefly in “The Girl In The Fireplace” – that something exists underneath your bed.

You never think of the Doctor being afraid of something of this nature.  After all, he has faced down a lot of big, bad monsters in his 2000 years, but the story shows, but his behaviour in the opening when he has a debate with himself about creatures who can perfectly hide as a defense mechanism borders on the disturbing and sets the tone for the “A-story” of the Doctor obsessively looking for an answer to his theory by attempting to search through Clara’s timeline and, instead, accidentally interfering in Danny Pink’s past which creates ripples in Clara’s “date from hell” with Danny and creating a potential future timeline for the Pink dynasty with the future Colonel Orson Pink – his face looks familiar – taking family stories of time travel as the inspiration behind his accidental time shot to the end of the universe.

The “B-story” for this episode is the aforementioned first date between Clara and Danny which manages to be a screw up before the Doctor’s apparent intervention. However, as we should know by now from Steven Moffat’s stories, time is wibbly-wobbly and timey-wimey with the Doctor and Clara’s actions in the past by visiting the young Danny in the children’s home inspiring the older Danny to join the Army, which in turn provides his mysterious back story and his attitude to Clara’s earlier teasing.

Whilst it may seem like Steven Moffat has simply used “Blink” as his template – mixing childhood fears and time travel – he cleverly uses the tale to not only act as one of the planks for a potential companion’s back story but to add another layer of mystery to the Doctor’s own mythos.

The over-arching theme of both stories though is the Doctor himself.  In “Robot of Sherwood”, the Doctor is eventually described as a hero who ran away to fight tyranny whilst “Listen” uses Clara’s reminder of the “Doctor’s Promise” as a means to inspire the young Doctor to become that hero.  There is a second example of the Doctor being inspired by Clara’s actions in his early timestream between the two stories. “Robots” also shows the Doctor bringing a spoon to a swordfight as his non-violent method to subdue Robin, whilst “Listen” uses Clara’s knowledge of the Doctor’s methods to inspire that non-violent methodology by her giving him the gift of Orson’s and Danny’s toy, ‘Dan Dan The Soldier Man’, a soldier without a gun for a man who becomes the ultimate soldier without a gun.

 

The direction for both of the stories very much suits the style of the tale that is being told.  Paul Murphy transports us to the Robin Hood myth with rich colours and an “evergreen” feel to the story to match the light-hearted setting in “Robot” (complimented with what is, in my opinion, Murray Gold’s best score for Series 8), whilst  Douglas MacKinnon marks his return to the series after resurrecting the Sontarans, the Ice Warriors and the latest incarnation of UNIT by giving us a story that genuinely unnerves the viewer with a darker colour pallet predominant throughout the episode – even to the point of setting Clara and Danny’s date at night.

 

The casting is also markedly different between the two stories with “Robot” having a large ensemble whilst “Listen” is, appropriately, smaller and more intimate given the nature of the story.

 

In the former story, Tom Riley plays upon our idea of the idea of Robin Hood to present us with a character who owes more to the likes of Errol Flynn than more recent incarnations such as Russell Crowe or Jonas Armstrong.  It’s easy to understand why the Doctor can be more than a tad annoyed with his constant laughing and showing off.  After all, despite his attitude to the contrary, is this not the Doctor from the last couple of personas – all brash and full of youthful swagger?  As a result, it could be uncomfortable for a less accessible version of the Doctor to be confronted with what he’s lost.

Of course where there’s a Robin, there has to be his Merry Men and the gang’s all here with Will Scarlett, Alan A Dale, Friar Tuck (portrayed by Trevor Cooper who previously appeared in the 1985 story “Revelation Of The Daleks”) and Little John.  There is also a surprise as part of the story involves the loss of Robin’s one true love, Marian… only to find that she has been helping the Doctor in Nottingham Castle with the Doctor and Clara repaying Robin’s heroism by returning her to him.  Who says that “Twelve” doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body?

Ben Miller makes a great appearance in the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham.  There has to be license for a touch of the over dramatic with this role – after all, he has to compete against the likes of Alan Rickman, Keith Allen and Nickolas Grace who have all given fantastic interpretations of one of England’s legendary bad guys.  Miller ensures that he is menacing, whilst being menacing enough to be a threat to the Doctor, Clara and Robin.  It’s almost as if the Sheriff took his inspiration from the Master in the 1983 story “The King’s Demons”.

However, where Riley and Miller really score is in maintaining the mystery throughout the story as to whether they are flesh and blood or constructs of the spacecraft – wrong footing the audience throughout.

In “Listen”, the only guest cast member is Remi Gooding in the role of Rupert (aka Young Danny) Pink. Remi holds his own alongside Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as the trio seek to confront Rupert’s fear of the monster under the bed. Remi’s performance is very natural selling Rupert’s fear whilst not being the child version of a screamer and allowing the character to have fun at the Doctor’s expense, alongside Clara, especially when he points out the Wally doesn’t appear in every book in existence.

All three leads get their chance to shine in the course of both episodes.

Peter Capaldi shows that his grumpy incarnation of the Doctor is adaptable to the story in which he appears – as the Doctor should. He gets the chance to use the grumpiness and aggression to have the mickey affectionately taken out of him in “Robot” as he competes against Robin in the hero stakes with Lord Locksley laughing in the face of danger whilst Mr Attack Eyebrows glowers at the opposition, whilst the Doctor uses his grumpiness as a bravado to appear brave in “Listen” so he doesn’t have to face his own fears.

Alongside this, Capaldi adds a layer to the Twelfth Doctor that we haven’t seen since the episode “Twilight” – the Doctor showing fear (in this case, fear enough to drive him to obsession to vanquish it and his own personal demons).

It will be interesting to see where he takes the character forward in the future – whether the Doctor remains the angry old man of the universe or becomes humanised by his adventures.

Samuel Anderson only appears in “Listen”, but he uses his screen time well to add to the mystery of Danny’s back story. Whilst Series 7B was devoted the mystery of the “Impossible Girl”, Series 8 has a more homebound mystery of Danny’s experiences in the Army and how they shape the person he is now. Anderson sells the mystery by making the character of Danny spiky when it comes to his military past and uncomfortable in relating to Clara.

Alongside this, he portrays Orson equally as well selling the fact that the character has been trapped at the end of the universe with only his personal bogeyman to accompany him, parallelling the Doctor’s own fears.

But it’s Jenna Coleman that really gets her story..e to shine in both episodes as Clara. In “Robot”, she manages to make Clara an effective comedic foil showing her exasperation to the Doctor and Robin’s squabbling, whilst using her initiative to extract details of the Sheriff’s plot and using her knowledge of the Doctor to get Robin to help him at the end of the story.

In “Listen”, Jenna builds upon Clara’s character by using her abilities as a schoolteacher to act as a caring figure for Rupert and the young Doctor whilst accepting no truck for the Doctor’s irrational behaviour to the point of calling him an idiot. Jenna also manages to show the potential damage that Clara’s controlling nature can do by not hearing out Danny’s experiences in the restaurant scenes.

However, I have to admit that, in some ways, the character of Clara is becoming at risk of the same complaint that has been levelled to the sonic screwdriver of being too closely bound to the resolution of the story. Granted, this may be plot driven throughout the series as hints regarding the challenges to Clara’s and the Doctor’s friendship build pace – especially when real life and “Doctor Life” collide in the forthcoming episode “The Caretaker”.

Whilst there are also links to the “Missy” and “Promised Land” arc (certainly in “Robot”), it’s good to see two adventures that compliment each other in giving us an examination of our hero.  That said, I’d be daft not to think that the writers and Peter Capaldi himself will have some surprises in store before the end of Series 8.

Review – “Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”

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Cast your minds back a year ago, Dear Whovians and Geeky Folk.  Matt Smith had recently announced that he was leaving the role of the Doctor and his successor, Peter Capaldi, had been announced live on international television.  The fans were rapt in anticipation of what the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary celebrations were going to bring and the less said about “Trailergate”, the better.

A year on and with a new incarnation of the Doctor at the helm, the BBC have decided to give us one last treat from the fiftieth anniversary in the form of a Collector’s Box Set packaging together the celebration into one glorious bundle in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats.  (The latter of which I bought).

So, what do you get for your hard-earned currency?

Disc One brings together the final episode of Series 7, “The Name Of The Doctor”, with the Behind The Scenes material released as part of the Series 7 Box Set, “The Time Of The Doctor” red button episode starring Paul McGann and the fiftieth anniversary retrospective “Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide” which was originally shown on BBC3.

Disc Two features the fiftieth anniversary episode itself, “The Day Of The Doctor” starring Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt.  Alongside this is the “Behind The Lens” material, “The Last Day” red button episode, two trailers for the fiftieth anniversary and the “Tales From The TARDIS” material which featured on the single disc release from last year and two new special features.  “Script To Screen” gives an insight to the script readthrough sessions for “The Day Of The Doctor” whilst the humorous cinema introductions presented by Strax and The Doctors make their home entertainment debuts.

Disc Three contains Matt Smith’s final episode “The Time Of The Doctor” plus the “Behind The Lens” material, a Deleted Scene and the “Farewell To Matt Smith” feature hosted by Alex Kingston which featured on “The Time Of The Doctor”‘s solo release earlier this year and “A Night With The Stars: The Science Of Doctor Who” hosted by Professor Brian Cox with some… ahem… assistance from the Doctor.

But, it’s fourth disc that made me really happy as it featured the UK debut release on Blu Ray of Mark Gattiss’s wonderful docudrama “An Adventure In Space And Drama” along with the mini documentary “William Hartnell: The Original” which was transmitted straight after “Adventure” and the special features which were presented on the DVD release, “Behind The Scenes”, “The Making Of An Adventure”, “Reconstructions”, “Title Sequences” and a collection of Deleted Scenes. Alongside those special features, “Doctor Who At The Proms 2013” and the hilarious “The Five(ish) Doctors Rebbot” are presented on Disc Four.

Whilst there have been, understandably, some cries of foul play and rip off due to the amount of material that has previously been released to buy, the additions of the previously unreleased material, alongside the fact that this package brings together all of the anniversary material into one beautiful little bundle, made this Collector’s Edition a worthwhile purchase.

However, if you want to get this box set, you will need to be quick as this collection is a limited edition.

A worthy collection for the Whovian.

Blu Ray version:
Amazon (UK)

DVD version:

Amazon (UK)

BBC Shop