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"Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series"
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video/BBC
Genre: TV-Series
Special Features: Doctor Who Confidential, Audio and Video Commentary tracks, deleted scenes, "David's Video Diaries", "Billie Piper's Video Diaries", outtakes

The Good Doctor faces a change during the second season of the new, revived and CGI driven "Doctor Who". At the conclusion of the first season the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston in the first season) must periodically be renewed which results in a different face and slightly different personality (David Tennant in the second season). It was a convenient out for the BBC as actors came and went throughout the entire run of the series during the 60's, 70's and even the 80's (with a brief visit from a new Doctor for an Americanized TV movie during the 1990's). During the first episode of the new season the Doctor is all but immobilized because he absorbed the energy from the Tardas in order to save his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). ***

Fans of Doctor Who will be delighted with the second season of the "new" series. While the series could be a bit inconsistent in the writing department even the weaker episodes benefit from the delightful performance of the "new" Doctor played by David Tennant ("Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire"). During the second season the Doctor and Rose Tyler his companion (Billie Piper) travel to an alternate universe where the Cybermen come into being, see the return of the Daleks (yet again), meet the Devil on a planet circling a black hole and help Queen Victoria fight off a werewolf. All in a days work with the Doctor using his wits and sonic screwdriver to save the day.

Image & Sound:

The second season of "Doctor Who" looks pretty good overall. The blacks tend to blue more than black and occasionally look crushed but otherwise the colors are vibrant. Image clarity and sharpness are extremely good although in a couple of visual effects shots (most notably during "The Satan Pit") are a tad soft with detail less than optimal. Audio is a marked improvement over the first season where the dialogue track was mixed too low in the 5.1 mix. Here dialogue is much more prominent in the mix with excellent clarity although I felt it should have been punched up a bit. It's particularly noticable if you listen to the film in 2.0 mode vs. 5.1. Otherwise, the audio sounds extremely crisp and clear.

Special Features:

The fifteen episodes included here are augmented by a special mini-episode produced for the British Children in Need telethon as well as deleted scenes, audio commentary tracks and the behind-the-scenes TV shows "Doctor Who Confidential" on the second season. Fans of the series will be delighted by everything but the price tag which seems steep for only 15 episodes of a TV program. Still, overall, this is a delightful season that parents can watch with their children without worry about them getting too scared. The show benefits from the latest CGI technology using it to expand the stories in ways that the original series could only imagine. ***

We also get audio "InVision" commentary tracks on "The Christmas Invasion" by writer/producer Russell T. Davies, producer Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson, "The Girl in the Fire Place" by star David Tennant, Sophia Myles and Phil Collison, The Age of Steel by director Graeme Harper, visual effects artists Nick Briggs and Paul Kasey, "The Impossible Planet" with Tennant again and with Billie Piper joining him on the season finale "Doomsday". ***

Audio commentary tracks include Tennant, Davies, Gardner joined by various other writers/directors/actors on them. Every episode has a commentary track of one sort or another which is a bit plus and, perhaps, off-sets the cost of this set and explains it somewhat. ***

I should also mention the packaging. The discs in the set are two to a holder overlapping slightly and we also get a booklet with an introduction by Julie Gardner, credits for each episode (and the commentary tracks) as well as behind-the-scenes photos. The cover is a linticular 3-D image with the Tardis revolving as you turn the box. The slipcase is clear plastic and, as with the last one, the series stars David Tennant and Billie Piper appears on the cover. It's a nice package altogether. ***

Tennant provides fans with a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the show with his own video diaries. This feature runs a combined time of 85 minutes. We also get "Billie Piper's Video Diaries" included on disc one as well as some humorous outtakes, the "Children in Need" short prequel shown on the Telethon in the UK. ***

The menu is slightly more user friendly than the first season as well with a bit easier access to special features, etc. The menu design is quite nice as well.

Final Words:

A solid second season from producer/writer Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner and the rest of the "Doctor Who" production staff, the best episodes from the second season easily hold their own with some of the classic episodes that featured Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker and other previous Doctors. While the price for the set is steep every episode comes with a commentary track, we get a nice booklet as part of the package and a solid disc of extras for fans of the show.


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