(BBC, M) – by Chris Gardner (@chrisgardnernz)
That was quick.
The first half of Doctor Who Series 9 arrived on DVD just over a week after the last of the episodes was broadcast. But I can’t, for the lives of the Doctor, figure out why this series is being released in two parts as there was no break in broadcast between them.
This two DVD set contains the three two-parters broadcast on Prime over late September and October starring the brilliant Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.
Series opener The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar are, by far, the strongest of the stories taking the series back to its roots. They do something new with Davros and the Daleks, the Doctor’s greatest adversaries first introduced a month into the show’s original run in 1963. And they show off just what a great guitarist Capaldi is. Yes, really.
Capaldi’s so great it appears to be him riffing the Doctor Who theme in the open titles to the second part of the second story, Under The Lake and Before The Flood, which also owes much to the show’s roots. It’s a base under siege story, made popular in second Doctor Patrick Troughton’s era, with a twist. The siege is carried out by ghosts, headed by the tallest man in Britain!
Game of Thrones fans will get more from the last two episodes, The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived, starring Maisie Williams from that other fantasy show. The second part of this story was disappointing on first viewing, not quite delivering on the promise of the first episode, but it was much better on second viewing with all that expectation blown away. It turns out to be a bit of a tone poem to near immortality, seen here as a curse.
While this set is far from a vanilla release – there’s three “exclusive” Doctor Who Extras about behind the scenes – it’s also far from Neapolitan. It’s not that long ago that Doctor Who DVD releases contained hours of behind the scenes extras, but this release has just under 25 minutes worth. Hopefully Series 9 Part 2 will include something spectacular in the extras line.