Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: New Doctor Who 5th Series DVD Set

The New Doctor Who 5th Series DVD offers the best you'll ever see for a TV show. The episodes carry a cinematic quality to them. The plots won't insult your intelligence; only once was a key plot aspect predictible (which is a pretty darn good record). These intriguing stories have brought something very special to the UK: a time for everyone to sit together on a Saturday afternoon and watch as a family.

Despite the merit of these episodes, I am quite disappointed with the boxed set. Having collected Series 1 through 4 plus The Complete Specials for backstory throughout the year, I really expected continuity with regard to packaging and content.

Video Quality - You mean I'll have to buy a Blu Ray player to expect the clean quality I have with my iTunes download of Eleventh Hour?  (I bought this when the first Doctor Who Confidential BBC America released on their site showed scenes they themselves cut for broadcast. Think I mentioned last spring their taking a 25% bite out of character and integral continuity from this launch episode)

Cut? They cut the Next Time sequences. Never did before. Sure they're not part of the story but it's still cutting.

Whose bright idea was it to put Time of Angels and Heart of Stone on separate discs?  Common Sense Alert: Extras with Eleventh Hour, then move Beast Below to Disc 2 which ultimately pushes Time of Angels to the next disc.

Why was the BBC Proms show omitted? Two prior musical events have been included in sets. Will it be included with Series 6?

No deleted scenes? There are always deleted scenes. One from Hungry Earth leaked out during the summer, which launched a thousand irrational slash fictions.

Outtakes - not many. An official teaser video covered most of them; there weren't too many more. Some of them weren't even outtakes.  Granted one of the previous sets thought Cybermen prancing around in a park was an outtake too, but we'd have hoped they grew up by then.

Video Diaries - If you blink you'll miss them. Seriously, David Tennant's were far superior, particularly in the Series 2 set, where he took you through genuine impressions and a fascinating view of how a series is constructed. Wasn't it about 90 minutes of content? I think the camera they gave him to use was better as well. The interesting thing I found from this year's video diaries is that the set for the previous TARDIS resides near the new one - with the frames rebuilt. But that's it really.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS - exclusive skits. Well, they're not exclusive. The two sequences circulating on the Internet are the only two they have to offer. All the hype about adventures in and seeing more areas of the TARDIS was BS.  They were clearly shot later and at the same time.  One generates a gaping continuity glitch (Amy's revelation that The  Doctor is an alien and not human occurs AFTER this in the next episode). 

The Doctor Who Confidentials are a bit of a letdown. The Internet clearly reveals that DWC often had more content. A great example was the one for Big Bang. While we got some footage of them shooting the wedding, most of that minisode was devoted not to the making of the an epic production but following Smith, Gillam and Moffat to The East Village to host a screening of Eleventh Hour. Meanwhile a viral video reveals that the UK covered shooting the fez-blasting sequence. Which would YOU rather see on a making-of show? Just how much HAS been kept from us in America with the average Confidential piece taking 10-16 minutes? BBC was a big fail here, giving us nothing more than the teasers available on their site in inferior quality.

What should they have included beside the Proms? Content exclusive to the BBC UK site; you'd think it was exclusive because they were going to release it to us. This would include games, which are not unusual as DVD extras (the one regret of Tennant Era sets was they didn't include Attack of the Graske).

Karen Interviews Matt / Matt Interviews Karen - notable content from BBC UK which I saved off YouTube. Entertaining and insightful sessions with Smith and Gillam. The first thing you'll say to yourself is "She's very Amy." Would have liked these in high quality and included.  Well, I'm including one of them here:

Would anybody else have liked to see the entire readthrough for Eleventh Hour?  A short sequence in the first DWC was very intriguing.

A major letdown were the commentaries.  First of all, the packaging and DVD menu give no information on who is commenting on which episode - have you ever heard of such a thing? A bit insulting; gives us an idea of exactly what the BBC thinks of us.  Second, the two times I set to commentary and started an episode, there was no episode.  There was audio of it in the background and a shot of Moffat, Wenger, and Willis sitting uncomfortably side by side against a wall.  No actors included in comentaries?  Also: why would they use in-vision if these didn't feature Smith and Gillam?  Use audio for behind-the-scenes people. And as much as I am a fan of Steven Moffat's work, he IS a behind-the-scenes person.  Common sense here if not common courtesy with fair warning and an indicia on or in the packaging.  The only time in-vision was utilized previously was for Series 2 Doomsday with Billie Piper and David Tennant.  These were the people you WANTED to watch during Rose's final episode. That and Tennant's video diary entry of Rose's farewell shoot were priceless accounts.  Ditto for audio commentary with End of Time pt 2 featuring David Tennant, John Simm (the Master) and director Eros Lyn.  In fact, for most audio commentaries in series sets 2-4+S, some notable performer was present.

Ultimately? Yes, for the episodes, this is a fantastic set to own.  If you bought all the episodes on iTunes and just want it for the extras, then it's very eh; if you like scraps, go for it. If you're a completist fanatic then no one can stop you and a review may be irrelevent for you to read.

If you've got the UK version, I'd really like to know what was different about what you got in your package.  Were your Confidentials the length of full episodes?  Did the BBC forget we had 1 hour versions on the Complete Specials set?  I'd love take out a moment of nitpicking and compare durations of DWC episodes.  Let's bust those suckers for restricting content on their site not for any international regulations but to cover up what they intentionally deprive USA - and Canadian fans (aren't they region 1 too?) of.

1 comment:

  1. I think the quality of the "Confidentials" has been declining since Tennat's first year - I don't think I even watched any of Smith's first year at all.

    As for Karen/Amy... my god she is pretty but she really struggles in public appearances and just doesn't come over well at all. Still, she's only a kid and next to the intelligent energy of Smith most folks would pale into the background.