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Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (Blu-ray Review)

30 Jan, 2010 By: John Latchem

Doctor Who Specials

Street 2/2/10
BBC Video
$49.98 five-DVD set, $59.99 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars David Tennant, John Simm, Timothy Dalton, Catherine Tate, Bernard Cribbins, Lindsay Duncan.

One of the quirks of British television involves how productions are planned by the creative teams involved. Very often it means shorter episode runs than in America, or even standalone specials, as is the case with “Doctor Who.”

After three seasons playing the tenth incarnation of the time-traveling Doctor on the long-running British sci-fi staple, David Tennant decided to pursue other roles, delaying production of a new season. Instead, the popular Tennant, whose Doctor is one of the better ones, agreed to make a string of hour-long episodes to pave the way for Matt Smith to take his place.

Two of the five episodes in this boxed set, the 2008 Christmas special The Next Doctor and last year’s Planet of the Dead, already have been released separately on disc  (though this set offers the Blu-ray debut of The Next Doctor, and it looks pretty good in HD).

The newly released specials are The Waters of Mars, which is one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” since its revival in 2005, and the two-parter The End of Time, which serves as Tennant’s farewell and the introduction of Smith.

Producers pulled out all the stops for End of Time, bringing back not only The Doctor’s longtime nemesis, The Master (John Simm), but also Timothy Dalton in a welcome surprise as the scheming leader of the Time Lords from The Doctor’s homeworld.

Each episode includes an hour-long making-of featurette, while End of Time is loaded with good extras, including a commentary track, a Tennant “greatest hits” reel, Tennant’s video diaries, highlights from the 2009 “Doctor Who” Comic-Con panel, and deleted scenes from all five specials.

The specials are all available separately as well, with Waters of Mars at $14.98 on DVD and $19.98 on Blu-ray, and the two-disc End of Time at $24.98 on DVD and $29.98 on Blu-ray.

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