lieu of a full season of Doctor Who
episodes, fans will have to make do with these five 'specials', which is a
pity as a fifth season of new Who would have been very welcome.
The 'specials' nomenclature might lead one to expect them
to be of feature film length, but they mostly clock in at the 60 minute
mark each, which is more or less the running time of an average episode.
(The longest 'special' is The End of Time, Part Two at 70 minutes.)
One supposes it feels longer when padded with ads during your typical TV
The first special, The Next Doctor, isn't, that, um,
special at all. It seems to be running on autopilot as the enigmatic time
traveller known simply as 'The Doctor' prevents Cybermen in Victorian
England from taking over the world. Things pick up in the next special,
Planet of the Dead, which introduces a story arc of sorts that will be
carried forward into the next three specials. The episode stars Michelle
Ryan of the ill-fated Bionic Woman rehash as a sassy jewel thief.
The third Doctor Who special,
The Waters of Mars, is however excellent and is a perfect showcase of
what it is that made this updated Doctor Who such a smash. It's not just
the snazzy production values, but also a willingness to play Who very
seriously that makes the show work. In Waters of Mars the Doctor
must decide whether he has to intervene and change historical events
regarding the first Earth base on Mars in the year 2059. This particular
special is pitch perfect and only let down by some dodgy CGI exteriors of
the Martian landscape.
The final two specials, The End of Time Parts One
and Two, should (obviously - duh!) be seen together and do actually
run at feature film length. It is a fond farewell to both actor David
Tennant, who played the character for three seasons, and writer Russell T.
Davies, who is generally credited as being the brains behind this new Who
The End of Time Part Two resembles
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in
the way it has multiple endings. The special in question can however be as
self-indulgent as it likes as the 2000s
Doctor Who has been a spectacular success. Like the new
Battlestar Galactica it managed to
outgrow its roots (those dodgy costumes! the stone quarries!) and become
something altogether unexpected and surprisingly good.
From hereon a new actor (Matt Smith) and new writers will
take the series further, but it is rather disconcerting just how young
Smith is - emo Who aimed at the yoof market? (At 26 Smith is three
years younger than Peter Davison who played the fifth Doctor back in
THE DISCS: The five specials are spread over five
discs - one per disc. Each special is bundled with various extras such as
the making-of Doctor Who Confidential featurettes along with
deleted and all kinds of other scenes. To be honest we would have skipped
all the extras altogether and have made this a simple two disc set, but
that's just us.
WORTH IT? A must for
Who fans. Newbies should give this
a skip and start right at the beginning otherwise they'll simply be lost.
RECOMMENDATION: Buy it if you're a long-time fan!