Blu-ray review: Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series

Blu-ray review: Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series
Blu-ray review: Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series

Blu-ray review: Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series

(BBC/Roadshow Entertainment, PG)

Reviewed by Chris Gardner

Yay. Gallifrey is back for the first time in new Who.

From the Doctor's (David Tennant) perspective in the third series it had been destroyed in The Last Great Time War but we now know, from the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, that the Doctor had in fact hidden it from the universe and forgotten where he put it!

However, it is not until the third series episode Gridlock where the Doctor even talks about his home planet in detail with his new companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).

"It's beautiful, yeah," a damaged Docter iterates. "The sky's a burnt orange, with a citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that the mountains go on forever. Slopes of deep red grass capped in snow."

Later, in the episode, he explains it is no more over a choir singing the hymn Abide With Me. This is the brilliance of Russell T. Davies' bombastic take on Doctor Who.

Some love it, others don't.

I think it had its time, but I'm equally keen on current show runner Steven Moffatt's more intelligent approach to the show.

"Just for a bit I could imagine they were still alive underneath a burnt orange sky. I'm not just a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords . . . there's no one else. There was a war. A time war. The Last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation, and they lost, they lost, everyone lost.

"They're all gone now. My family. My friends. Even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet, the second sun would rise in the south, the mountains would shine, the leaves were silver and when they caught the light every morning it looked like the forest was on fire . . ."

This is truly great writing.

It's not until the Doctor goes up against his arch nemesis the Master (John Simm), in the penultimate episode of the series The Sound of Drums, that his home world is named and we finally get to see it (again if you watched the classic series).

"They used to call it the shining world of the seven systems. On the continent of Wild Endeavour, on the Mountains of Solace and Solitude, there stood the Citadel of the Time Lords. The oldest and the most mighty race in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below, sworn never to interfere, only to watch," the Doctor emotes to the epic strains of Murray Gold's score orchestrated by Ben Foster who is in Wellington  this weekend conducting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular.

 "Children of Gallifrey, taken from their families at the age of eight, went to the academy. Some say that's where it all began. When he was a child . . . that's when the Master saw eternity. As a novice he was taken for initiation. He stood in front of the Untempered Schism, it's a gap in the fabric of reality through which can be seen the whole of the vortex.  He stood there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired, some would run away, and some would go mad."

Apart from being the series that bought Gallifrey back, good and proper, Series 3 is remembered as the one that replaced Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) with Martha Jones.

Rose, having appeared alongside two Doctors in Series 1 and 2, was a tough act to follow and there are those who have a problem with Martha's character. Sure she pined after the Doctor in the same way Rose did, but he never responded to Martha and she was forced to suffer in silence. Whatever happened to the old days when someone hopped into the TARDIS because it sounded fun?

But Martha proved to be every bit as reliable and resourceful as Rose.

It's Martha that stands by the Doctor's side in the two parter Human Nature and The Family of Blood.

This story, based on a seventh Doctor book by Paul Cornell, might just be one of my favourite episodes to date. Pursued by ravenous aliens who want to consume the Doctor's Time Lord life force he hides his very essence inside a fob watch leaving a human shell. John Smith, as he becomes, is a teacher at a public school in England as the First World War brews. Not even Smith knows he was once the Doctor, only Martha does as she seeks to protect him from the Family of Blood.

And she comes up trumps, again, in the season finale Last of the Time Lords when she saves the Doctor, and thus the universe, from the Master.

It's not one quick act, but a year long trek across the globe in which she spreads the good news of the Doctor's selfless acts. This script, from Russell T Davies, is also one of my favourites.

Not to mention the Steven Moffat classic Blink, which appears at the tale end of this series. It introduces the chilling Weeping Angels who would go on to plague the next Doctor Matt Smith several times and be the downfall of Amy Pond.