Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series (DVD) (WS)
The third installment of Doctor Who is full of new thrills, new laughs, new heartbreak and some terrifying new monsters. From the moment the Doctor walks into the life of medical student Martha Jones he changes it forever. In Elizabethan London, they meet William Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre while back in present day London, 76-year-old Professor Lazarus recaptures his youth with consequences that threaten Martha's entire family. And, the Doctor's sworn enemies, the Daleks, who have been hiding in 1930's New York, return with a terrifying plan for humanity.
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