New on DVD
DVD Review: 'Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series' 6 -Disc Set
Hours of quality bonus features help time pass till season three
The latest season currently out on a bonus-packed six-disc set also had the particular challenge of introducing David Tennant as the new Doctor and saying farewell to Billie Piper as his first beloved companion Rose Tyler.
As the latest embodiment of the Doctor, Tennant adds a youthful energy, nimble verbosity and heartbreaking loneliness to the iconic character. He also displayed far more vulnerability than his predecessors (mourning the Time Lord curse of having to watch his human friends such as Sarah Jane Smith age and move on) and questioned his core beliefs about the limits of empirical science when faced with something that preceded the birth of the universe.
For us Yanks who are impatiently awaiting a glimpse of the new companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman, who first appeared in the "Army of Ghosts" episode as another character), at least there's plenty of quality, bonus material on the second season DVD to hold us over until the third season reaches these shores.
First off is the "Doctor Who" segment that was exclusively shown on the "Children in Need" special that demonstrated the Doctor's transition/regeneration from Christopher Eccleston to Tennant. It's a must-watch for fans of the series that can identify with Rose's distrust of this new face who claims to be someone we've known and loved.
The "Doctor Who Confidential" Cut Downs are the companion featurettes made for each of the season's episodes (with the exception of "The Christmas Invasion," which, as a Christmas special, isn't considered part of the 13-episode series proper). What sets these apart from the usual behind-the-scenes featurettes that just document the shooting progress, is that each "Confidential" revolves around a theme. For example, the companion to "The Age of Steel" focuses on the evolution of Mickey's (Noel Clarke) character from a buffoon to a hero, while the companion piece to "Love and Monsters" includes how the digital age and new characters have changed the face of "Doctor Who" fans -- such as allowing kids to download the show or drawing in tween girls who identify with Rose.
Audio commentaries are available for all episodes, and five in particular have a picture-in-picture commentary featuring various cast and crew members. While this is more of the usual behind-the-scenes stuff, it's moving to see Tennant and Piper watching and reliving their last on-screen moments together in the season finale. Gossip-minded fans will be curious about the commentary for "Girl in the Fireplace," although neither Tennant nor guest star Sophia Myles give any hint of their real-life romance during the session.
Tennant's video diaries are extremely plentiful and detailed, often with clips of the actual episodes to illustrate comments he makes. They're well produced and should be taken in over several viewings. It's interesting to see his evolution from tired and apprehensive in the beginning to more relaxed and in control by the end of production. Piper's video diaries are much briefer and friendlier in a chatty, shaky-camera way.
Generally, deleted scenes and outtakes are a disappointing waste of time, but happily this was not the case for "Doctor Who." Many of the excised scenes could easily have been used in the series, but are just as good for stand-alone viewing. The outtakes are inherently charming because they're British (for all the Anglophiles out there) but also because several of the science-fiction elements are hilariously justaposed with our real world, such as when the silver-suited Cybermen caper around a real-life park asking directions to the BBC or dancing the Cabbage Patch. A personal favorite is the skull-helmeted Sycorax standing in a stacked formation in front of a black backdrop singing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
EXTRAS: Audio commentary on all episodes; Picture-in-picture commentary on "The Christmas Invasion," "The Girl in the Fireplace," "The Age of Steel," "The Impossible Planet," and "Doomsday"; outtakes; deleted scenes; Billie Piper's video diaries; "Children in Need" special; David Tennant video diary; 13 Confidential Cut Downs