Dr Who Season 1 Volume 4 DVD Review - www.impuslegamer.com -

Feature 9.0
Video 6.0
Audio 6.0
Special Features   0.0
Total 7.0
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time:
135 minutes
Classification:
PG
Reviewer:
Mike Bourke

7.0


Dr Who Season 1 Volume 4

It may come as something of a shock to those who don't follow the genre, but Science Fiction fans are far less unified in their tastes than is popularly considered. Over the years, there have been numerous, sometimes heated, disagreements: Star Trek vs Star Wars, for example. Another of those contraversial areas sure to engage passionate debate is Dr Who, specifically which actor's portrayal of the Doctor was "best". Until recently, the most popular camps seemed to be Jon Pertwee vs Tom Baker, he of the long scarf, while more recent incarnations received little favour.

When the BBC revived their long-standing TV serial with Christopher Ecclestone, fans either loved or hated it. The choice of companion, played by Billie Piper, was another bone of contention. Personally, I was a big fan of Piper's music, and considered her one of the more underrated performers of the 80s and 90s, so I had another bias to sort through. Ecclestone only lasted one season before being replaced by the current Doctor, David Tennant, who seems to be winning fans over.

This DVD contains the final three episodes of the Ecclestone season: "Boom Town", "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting Of The Ways", none of which I had seen when they aired here on the ABC. There were a lot of things to like about this season; for the first time, there was an exploration of the social and personal impact of being the Doctor's companion on the family and friends left behind, for example, and many of the plotlines were clearly more contemporary than those of the past; the problems and their solutions are not always black and white. But there were also things to annoy and distract, not least of which was the pacing forced on the new series by the decision to do 1-hour complete episodes instead of the traditional 3-5 half-hour episodes. Instead of forcing plot twists and cliffhangers and a consistant pacing, the hour long format sometimes seems to drag and sometimes to rush.

In this DVD, that format proves to be less inflexible; the first episode is a sequel to an earlier one, and the other two are a two-parter that is not only a sequel to two previous episodes but resolves a sub-plot that was running throughout the first season. At the same time, they tell you everything you need to know about those previous episodes, so there is no danger of finding yourself lost in terms of the plot. I have to say, I enjoyed these episodes immensely! The pacing throughout works well, the undercurrent of humour is used effectively to contrast the darker moments, and the spirit of the show - one which has always been at the heart of it, through every incarnation - is layed bare. That's not to say that it's without fault; some of the sillyness of earlier episodes still manifests, and the bad habit picked up from B-grade American SF, polysyllable technobabble persists. One of the things that I always liked about the old series was the way they could use milder technobabble with profound implications - "Chameleon Circuit", "Time Stabaliser", and the like, are self-explanatory without sounding overly pretentious.

There was nothing exceptional in terms of vision and sound, except for the annoying brevity, and consequent rapid repetition, of the soundtrack over the menu, which was extremely annoying. But that's a minor quibble at worst. There are no extras, another dissappointment. I would have liked to have at least an interview with the principle characters, writers, and producers, at the very least. Their absence means that the DVD has to live and die by the main feature; fortunately, for this DVD, the main feature is good enough to do that. Some episodes of the Ecclestone series would not be as successful.

If you like Doctor Who, or well-written Science Fiction in general, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, this DVD is an excellent way of getting into the Dr Who story. Solidly entertaining! - Mike Bourke

Feature: 9/10
Sound: 6/10
Picture: 6/10
Extras: 0/10
Overall: 7/10






 
 



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