Doctor Who Series 1: Volume 1 (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 28, 2011  | 
Roadshow | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 133 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Keith Boak, Euros Lyn
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
Screenplay: Russell T. Davies, Mark Gatiss
Country: UK
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For those who have lived in a cave that has a fierce looking 'No Geeks Allowed' sign out the front, I will give you a quick rundown on exactly what Doctor Who is. Doctor Who is a science fiction TV show that has existed since 5.15 pm on 23 November 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

It is the world's longest running sci-fi TV series (though technically not continuous if one counts various cancellations and hiatus'). It is the continuing tale of a mysterious being known as 'The Doctor' who travels the galaxy in his time/space ship, known as the TARDIS, with a variety of companions righting wrongs and interfering in people's lives where ever he sees fit. He is also an alien who is able to regenerate whenever one of his bodies wears out, which is a great plot device to change the actor portraying him whenever an actor gets bored, or is deemed unworthy by the powers that be at the BBC.

This disc is the first of a 'new' series of Doctor Who, which had previously finished with the 8th Doctor played by Paul McGann in 1996, in a horribly Americanised 90 odd minute movie which, from my recollections, basically sucked arse.

The series was revitalised in 2005 with Christopher Eccelston, from 28 Days Later, as the 9th incarnation of the Doctor and 90s pop princess Billie Piper (if you can remember the song Honey to the B, you have my pity) as his companion Rose. The series was streamlined, modernised and given a budget boost, the major criticism of 'classic' Who (the 1st through 8th Doctors) being the deplorable (mostly) special effects, and so here the series was made slicker and, for want of a better word, cooler.

On this disc we have the first three episodes of the 9th Doctor's adventures.

Episode 1 is Rose. Being the first episode, these 45 minutes have a lot to do. It has to introduce new viewers to the world of Doctor Who without pissing of legions of fans (like me) who are obsessed with their favourite time traveller, while being entertaining enough to appeal to both. It reintroduces the Doctor, who had been demystified in his previous 2 incarnations, and uses new companion Rose's questions to answer any queries new watchers may have. It effectively tells the tale of the Doctor concisely and throws him in battle against a foe not seen for 30 years - the plastic animating Autons - so the old fans feel a familiarity towards it. It does what it has to do, but the villainy of the villains is easily dispatched by Rose and the story feels quite superficial.

Episode 2 is The End of the World, which sees Rose's first 'proper' trip in the TARDIS, and the Doctor takes her five billion years into the future, so they can watch our sun expand, and finally destroy the Earth that we have tried for so long to destroy. The destruction is watched from a space station known as 'Platform 1' and a Star Wars cantina load of creatures visit to watch the destruction, including the last 'pure bred' human alive, but trouble is afoot, and someone is attempting to sabotage proceedings... who could it be?

Episode 3, The Unquiet Dead, sees the Doctor take Rose to Cardiff, in 1869... by accident. Whilst they have a look around, they are unaware of the goings on at a local funeral parlour. Gabriel Sneed, the funerary director and his clairvoyant maid Gwyneth, are in hot pursuit of a corpse that has been reanimated by a blue mist. They find the corpse in the audience of a live reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, being read by Dickens himself, and so begins a rollicking tale where the dead are coming back to life. But are they spirits possessing the dead, or are they something much, much worse? The Doctor suspects something more is afoot than the supernaturally apparent, and so he and Rose investigate.

So there finishes the first three episodes of the new Doctor Who. Initially my problem with this was that classic Who told a story over usually four twenty-two minute episodes, which gave a far more involved tales than these Star Trek-ish 44 minute styled episodes; though the entire series does make one whole story with a small element added in each show. For example, in The Unquiet Dead, Gwyneth sees a 'Bad Wolf' in Rose's future, which has to do with the last few episodes of this season.

The effects and look of the show are generally an improvement from the pantomime horses and endless samey corridors, though occasionally the CGI doesn't quite fit in with the natural look of a scene, which is really the problem with most CGI anyway. The redesign of the TARDIS interior is shocking but looks great, and overall fits perfectly in the aesthetic of the entire show.

The new cast are likeable enough, with Eccelston making for a cracking Doctor, and Billie Tyler's role as Rose is a great companion, but as I stated earlier, these three episodes needed to reintroduce the Doctor, so the stories at times hold your hand and walk you slowly through an abridged version of many years of sci-fi history. To a newcomer, this is fine, but seasoned Who fans may feel slightly belittled.
Being a newer TV show, this disc is presented in 16x9 widescreen rather than the old TV format of 4:3. The image is quite extraordinary considering this isn't a Blu-ray: pimples, razor burn; all immediately apparent.
The disc is presented in Dolby 2.0 and is an adequate TV soundtrack.
Extra Features
We have a tale of an eternal being, flying a bottomless spaceship through infinite space, and they couldn't find a single extra. Bastards.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Doctor Who is back!! After an all too long hiatus, the BEST show ever made for television (this is a confirmed scientific fact) has rushed back onto our screens, ready to caress our minds with monster-ish mayhem, sci-fi silliness and time travelling tomfoolery. Tragically these three episodes aren't in any way genius examples of Who. Better to return with a fizzle than not at all, I guess.

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