TV & Radio
REVIEW: Blu-ray review: Doctor Who - Series 1
(BBC/Roadshow Entertainment, PG)
Doctor Who: The Complete First Series has arrived on high definition Blu-ray for the first time. Not first Doctor William Hartnell's first series, in black and white from 1963, but Christopher Eccleston's one and only series as the Doctor from 2005.
If show runner Russell T Davies hadn't been bang on the money by hiring Eccleston, and Billie Piper as the Doctor's travelling companion Rose Tyler, it's possible that neither David Tennant or Matt Smith would have gotten the chance to play the part.
When Davies bought Doctor Who back in 2005 it has been off air since 1989, and suffered one false restart with a television movie starring Paul McGann.
All 13 of these episodes are great Doctor Who, from the series opener Rose, which pits the Doctor against an old enemy introduced in the 1970 Jon Pertwee story Spearhead from Space, to the finale The Parting of the Ways, in which Eccleston regenerates into Tennant.
Eccleston is a leather jacket wearing hard man of the north, damaged from the cataclysm he is running from.
In the extras he reveals he yearned to play the role because Davies had written it, and he wanted to stretch his acting to prove that he could play funny and charming.
The first series treads a fine line of being both for the diehard fan, and the new viewer who doesn't know an Auton from a Zygon.
After the inevitable introductions the Doctor takes Rose to the end of the world, to Victorian Cardiff where they meet Charles Dickens and back home to contemporary London. After a little soap opera, meeting with Rose's worried mum and boyfriend, it's a short trip to the near future where an American collector is hoarding alien junk. The episode, written by Robert Shearman, is called Dalek and much of modern Doctor Who owes its existence to this show.
Here we learn about the Doctor's desperate act which led to the destruction of his home planet of Gallifrey and the annihilation of the evil Daleks. The back story of the Last Great Time War, against which this episode is set, was revisited for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.
Father's Day, by Paul Cornell, is a personal favourite with echoes of Star Trek's City on the Edge of Forever. Rose begs the Doctor to take her back in time to just before her father's death. They both have to deal with the consequences.
Eccleston and Piper won the show legions of new fans, but there are also many people who have never seen Eccleston's, or for that matter, Tennant's Doctors since it has been a while since they were on screen.
Like all other modern Doctor Who this series includes an arc. Who or what is ''Bad Wolf''. You have to wait until the last couple of episodes for it to make sense.
This is compelling viewing, and of course looks wonderful in high definition.
But if you're looking for new special features on top of what appeared on the DVD release you'll be disappointed.
''Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic, absolutely fantastic,'' Eccleston's Doctor says before he regenerates. ''And do you know what? So was I.'' Of course he's right.
Matt Smith will make his final appearance as the Doctor on Prime at 8.30pm on Boxing Day.
Series 2, 3 and 4 have also been released on Blu-ray.
- © Fairfax NZ News