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Doctor Who: Complete Third Season [DVD] [Import]
Doctor Who fans concerned that the departure of popular companion Rose (Billie Piper) at the end of the second season might spell an end to the venerable UK science fiction series' revival were soon reassured by the program's third series, which is compiled in its entirety in this six-disc set. Not only did Freema Agyeman (as Earth doctor Martha Jones) prove to be more than a worthwhile replacement for Rose, but the quality of the series' 14 episodes maintained--and in many cases surpassed--the blend of wit, excitement and drama brought by head writer Russell T. Jones when he revived the program in 2003. Highlights from the third series include the Christmas special "The Runaway Bride" (starring comedian Catherine Tate as a temporary companion to the Doctor as he mourns the loss of Rose), "Gridlock" (the Face of Boe summons the Doctor and Martha to a future New York City to stop an invasion by his old enemy the Macra), "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" (a two-part serial in which the Doctor changes his biological form to escape the clutches of an alien brood who seek his immortality), and the three-part "Utopia," "The Sound of Drums" and "The Last of the Time Lords," which not only revives the Doctor's greatest adversary, The Master (played by Derek Jacobi in "Utopia" and John Simm in "Drums" and "Time Lords") but also revives Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and introduces his new position with the Torchwood team. Supplemental features are included on each of the six discs in the set; chief among them are commentary by Jones, Tennant, Agyeman, producer Phil Collinson, and members of the writing and production team (in various permutations) on each of the 14 episodes. The Doctor Who Confidential series, which aired on BBC Three and offered behind-the-scenes looks at elements from each episode, is included in its 15-minute "cut down" version (as well as an hour-long episode that covered a live performance of music from the show by the National Orchestra of Wales and hosted by Tennant), as are several video diaries shot by Tennant, who proves as engaging behind the camera as he is on the show. A smattering of deleted scenes, outtakes (mostly featuring Tennant reacting good-naturedly to his own blown lines), BBC promos for all 13 episodes (including the amusing "Vote Saxon" spot, which offers Sharon Osbourne and UK pop stars McFly throwing their support behind the Master's disguise as a human MP in the series' final two episodes), and trailers for other BBC series like Jekyll, Torchwood, and MI-5, round out this terrific set. -- Paul Gaita
But why has Doctor Who series 3 not been shown on NHK? This programme is seriously difficult to get hold of in Japan. It's 1000% better than most of the US and UK garbage they have on the shelves of most retail and rental stores, but in general the DVDs are only available online. What's going on?
Back in the classic days of Doctor Who, after one year of colour stories and episodes, the show began its eight season with an action-packed story called "Terror of the Autons". After a season of invasion of Earth stories, producers decided that the Doctor needed a mortal enemy. That enemy would be a Time Lord like the Doctor who called himself The Master. Roger Delgado's intensity in the role made him a foil for the doctor for that entire season. The Master returned in the 9th & 10th Seasons. While filming a movie in Turkey, Roger Delgado was killed in a car crash. They did not see another actor playing the role.
In the story "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor encountered a decomposing "Master" on his home planet of Gallifrey played by Peter Pratt. The story set down as gospel that a Time Lord could only regenerate 12 times. The Master had run out of regenerations. As Tom Baker's reign as the Doctor was drawing to a close, The Master absorbed the body of a good man named Tremas. Anthony Ainley played the new version of the Master who would go on to cause Baker to change into Doctor number five, Peter Davison. Ainley's Master would plague Doctor's Five, Six and Seven as the show ended its run in 1989 with a Master story called "Survival". As a side note, at a Doctor Who convention, Ainley asked me who I thought was the best actor I could think of. I answered "Derek Jacobi". Ainley has long since died.
In the 1996 FOX movie "Doctor Who", the essence of the Master, post-execution, possessed a paramedic played by Eric Roberts. The Master apparently perished in that movie.
In the Doctor Who story "Army of Ghosts", actress Freema Agyeman, played Adeola, an ill-fated member of Torchwood at Canary Wharf. The powers-that-be like her so much that she was brought into to be the new companion Martha Jones. For many fans that missed Billie Piper's Martha Jones, people had to come to like the new character.
Smith and Jones - This story introduces Martha as well as the alien storm-troopers the Judoon, that resemble humanoid rhinos. This was a very action-packed introduction to a new companion mostly set on the moon. The Judoon have shown up on Doctor Who again as well as its spin-off "The Sarah Jane Adventures".
The Shakespeare Code - The Doctor and Martha meet William Shakespeare and find out about a lost-to-history Shakespeare play.
Gridlock - The Doctor takes Martha to Earth 2 where she is abducted by people stuck in a two decade plus traffic jam of flying cars. The Doctor is summoned to meet with the dying Face of Boe who needs to pass on vital information. This story also features a monster called the Macra from a story that has been wiped from existence.
Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks is a two-parter where the Daleks have a hand or sucker arm in the completion of the Empire State Building. Former Spiderman star Andrew Garfield has a guest role in the story.
The Lazarus Experiment - Doctor Who writer and also Mycroft Holmes from "Sherlock", Mark Gatiss, is a scientist who has found a nasty way of retrieving his youth. Harold Saxon makes his first play against the Doctor. Martha continues her travels with the Doctor once his obligation to her is over.
42 - After commercials, most Doctor Who stories run now about 42 minutes long. The Doctor and Martha land on a spaceship that will crash into a sun in 42 minutes if the Doctor does not fix things. This story is set in real time and also involves Saxon.
When Doctor Who ended in 1989, as series of books continuing the adventures of the 7th Doctor were published called "Doctor Who - The New Adventures". One of the novels was called "Human Nature" where the Doctor made himself human to escape an alien family that wanted his regenerations. The novel was beautiful. The writer, Paul Cornell, adapted his novel to the talents of David Tennant and Freema Agyeman.
Human Nature / The Family of Blood is a two-parter bearing major resemblances to the source novel. What would happen if the Doctor became human, fell in love and raised a family? The fury the Doctor unleashes at the end of the story is amazing. A Time Lord Pendant has special qualities.
Blink - Just as Love and Monsters was a respite for Billie Piper and David Tennant, Blink is a respite vacation for Tennant & Freema. Actress Carey Mulligan steps in as the story's heroine, Sally Sparrow, doing battle with statues that come to life called "The Weeping Angels". This story is horrifying and scary. Mulligan was nominated for Best Actress for the movie "An Education". She told me at a screening of the movie that she would gladly return to play Sally if ever asked to. This story will scare you.
Torchwood ended its first season with Captain Jack Harkness hearing the TARDIS and disappearing.
Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords has Captain Jack's presence forcing the TARDIS to the ends of time itself where they encounter the remnants of the human race searching for a way to get to a mythical place called Utopia. If a kindly scientist named Professor Yana, played by Derek Jacobi, can get a rocket to work, mankind could be saved. To watch Jacobi, Tennant, Freema and John Barrowman working together is magical. Things turn sinister when Harold Saxon makes his sudden appearance threatening the existence of the human race in ways that are beyond the Doctor's ability to do anything. By the last few minutes of the finale of the three-parter, Captain Jack imparts information that will have you saying "Did he just say what I think I just heard him say?" John Simm plays Harold Saxon.
There are two different versions of how the season ends. One is the end of "Last of the Time Lords" and the other is a short Doctor Who story called "Time Crash". The short is not part of the Season 3 package as of yet.
Time Crash - Two versions of the TARDIS crash together and Tennant's Doctor finds himself interacting with the 5th Doctor played by Peter Davison. They must work together to separate their ships. The short is available on YouTube. Both versions end the same with a ship crashing into the TARDIS. What ship?
Namely, the episodes tend to stick - as poorly made DVDs frequently do. In Series 2 it was only one episode that stuck. Now, in Series 3, I've already encountered two episodes that stuck.
If I'd known then what I do now, I never would have bought the DVDs. I would, instead, have opted to pay Amazon Prime or some such to watch it on my computer.
As an aside, I would caution against buying ANY Doctor Who Series set of DVDs used.
A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.