Doctor Who: Series 1 - Volume 2 (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 9, 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, Joe Ahearne
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, Corey Johnson
Screenplay: Russell T. Davies, Robert Shearman
Country: UK
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Doctor Who is a TV series which first aired in November 1963. It tells of a human looking alien traveller known as the Doctor, who travels not just through space, but through time as well in his vehicle known as the TARDIS, which looks like a mid-20th century English police box. Whenever the Doctor's body get worn or old (or the actor playing goes on to do a sequel to a St. Trinians film) the Doctor can regenrate, and with his regeneration takes on a new face and personality. Throughout his travels the Doctor has encountered and defeated many alien races, thwarting their evil plans to take over the planet/ dimension/ galaxy/ corner shop, and he always takes on assistants, usually in the form of cute young earthgirls (or Bonnie Langford) to help him. The Doctor on this disc is the ninth and is played by Christopher Eccelston, and his companion played by ex-pop princess Billie Piper.

This disc contains 3 episodes of Doctor Who. The first two are parts 1 and 2 of a single story, while the third is a single stand alone tale. 

The first two episodes, 'Aliens of London' and 'World War Three' start with the Doctor returning Rose to her time to visit her mother, Jackie (Camile Conduri) and her boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke). What they find though is that instead of only being away for a day or so, the Doctor has performed a typical old-school screw-up and has returned them a year after Rose first took flight in the TARDIS. Jackie is pleased to see Rose back as she believed that she may have been dead, and Mickey is relieved as he was the chief suspect in Rose's disappearance. The Doctor leaves the family to be reunited, when an alien spacecraft crashes into the Thames. Of course, mankind is overwhelmed by the idea that aliens actually exist, and parliament goes into overdrive to deal with the situation. What everybody, including the Doctor, doesn't realise is that aliens have already invaded and have taken positions in government, giving them eventual control of the countries nuclear weapons system. Typically, the Doctor and Rose get involved, and along with Mickey and MP for Flydale North Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton, Shaun of the Dead's mother, Barbara) they must defeat the aliens and their... well, ridiculous... plans for the planet Earth. 

I must say that I absolutely hate these two episodes with a passion. First, the Doctor is mainly seen as some kind of interplanetary buffoon, and the survival of three of the main characters is by luck rather than a clever plan devised by the Doctor. The aliens, a family of Raxacoricofallapatorian's with the surname Slitheen, are quite possibly some of the worst aliens ever devised for Doctor Who. Baby faced, camel toed beings who can adopt human skins as suits, though the pressure causes them to fart. Yes viewers, these episodes of Who contain more farting than anything Rik Mayall or Adrian Edmondson have ever done together, and it doesn't sit well with this Who fan. It also uses the boring old stereotype of the bumbling male companion, Mickey, who is really one of the worst of its types, and is quite possibly the template for the disastrously underused Arthur Darvill's Rory of Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor. The only positive I can give these episodes are their insight into what happens to the families of companions when the Doctor spirits their family members away on adventures. These two episodes are best described as a space clown in a three ring circus. Actually with all the farting, its probably more than three rings! 

The next episode, 'Dalek', for me is where the new series of Doctor Who really took off good and proper, and it's possibly the first time we really start to get some connection to the 'classic series'. 

The Doctor and Rose land the TARDIS in an underground bunker full of alien artifacts, but not packed in crates and hidden away, they are displayed more like a museum owned by millionaire Henry Van Statton (Corey Johnson from The Mummy).The Doctor and Rose are swiftly apprehended by Van Statton's guards, and in typical Who fashion, Rose is sent one way and the Doctor in another. Once Van Statton realises that the Doctor is an alien, he starts a series of pretty cruel experiments on him to find out what makes him tick. Rose in the meantime, is left with fellow English-person Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley), who is Van Statton's researcher and purchaser of alien artifacts.

Van Statten eventually stops his experiments on the Doctor and instead takes him further into the bunker to show him his only living exhibit: a creature in a metal case that he has named 'the Metaltron'. What the Doctor finds though, is that Van Statton has a live Dalek, his greatest enemy, chained and powerless. The Dalek, which has never spoken to Van Statton, speaks to the Doctor and they discuss the Time War, what is hinted at being the final big battle that destroyed both the Daleks and the Doctor's race, the Time Lords. The Doctor figures the Dalek must have slipped out of space and time and accidentally crash landed on Earth, and with its weapons systems destroyed, it is helpless. Unfortunately, Adam takes Rose to see the Dalek after the Doctor and Van Statton leave. Rose being Rose, she pities the trapped creature and touches it. The essence of her DNA and time travel energy leaks off Rose and re-activates the Dalek to full working order, and now the bunker has to be shut down before the unstoppable monster escapes and obliterates mankind. What can stop it? 

This is not just a great episode of 'new' Who, it is a great episode of Doctor Who period! To me this is a real turn around for the new series, even though Van Statton feels like a Pierce Brosnan era James Bond baddie. After the previous two episodes gave us nothing but a series of fart jokes and badly designed aliens, this one takes off in a completely alternate direction with a rarely seen cruel and vicious Doctor, who clearly is suffering from a pretty major case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing the atrocities of the Time War, and seeing his race wiped out. It is also hinted that perhaps some of the atrocities were caused by the Doctor. The Dalek isn't the only old villain seen in this episode either, Van Statton has another Who enemies head in a case that will cause fans of the classic series to shout 'Woohooooo!' 

This new series of Doctor Who finally takes off properly with this disc, but it is an extraordinarily uneven one with the first two episodes being an absolute travesty, but the Dalek episode cleans up the mess perfectly. For a TV show this has some really good CGI effects, particularly when the alien spacecraft hits Big Ben in 'Aliens of London', and in general, the performances of all the actors are pretty good. There is also an underlying hint of something greater going on as the term 'Bad Wolf' pops up on several occasions, so keep watching the skies (or the rest of the series) to find out what that is all about.
All 3 episodes look fabulous, presented in 16:9 enhanced glory.
A broadcast quality Dolby 2.0 track is the only audio options but still sounds OK.
Extra Features
I can only imagine the people at the BBC and at Roadshow Entertainment thought,' Let's reward all those geeks and nerds who followed Doctor Who through an extended hiatus by giving them absolutely nothing as an extra on this disc'. Bastards.  
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The two parter on this disc is a true example of why Doctor Who lost so much of its fan base during Sylvester McCoy's take on the Doctor in the late eighties. Stupid storytelling and daft aliens with no menace, and motivations that would embarrass the Ferengi from Star Trek make for a shite viewing experience. Thankfully, 'Dalek' is white-hot Doctor Who and finally, six episodes in, it really feels like the Doctor is back. My final score for this disc really only reflects the quality of this episode.

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