Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 (aka S7a) is released today on DVD and Blu-ray, right in time for Christmas! But should you buy it? Should you jot it down at the top of your Christmas list (or second, just behind that full-scale Dalek replica)?
Well, yes. Yes you should.
The fact is, this is a collection of episodes that gives a glimpse of what Doctor Who would look like on the big screen (regardless of the size of your TV set), offering a scale not seen in the series since Waters of Mars.
Matt Smith stars as the Eleventh Doctor, effortlessly treading that fine line between madman in a box and man-you-wouldn’t-want-to-cross, while Karen Gillan is breathtaking in her final few episodes as Amy Pond. Take The Girl Who Waited, mix it with We’ll Take Manhattan and throw in some Vincent and the Doctor and you’ll get the mature, older take on the Pond. Criminally prone to be overlooked in some reviews is Arthur Darvill, whose Rory has delivered a dose of grounded humanity to the series since The Eleventh Hour.
Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 is of course the story of Amy and Rory’s departure, through five big, blockbuster-movie, standalone episodes featuring everything from Daleks to Dinosaurs, Cowboys to Angels and an alien with a grudge. An impressive array of guest stars has been assembled, including Mark Williams, David Bradley, Rupert Graves, Stephen Berkoff, Mike McShane, Ben Browder, Adrian Scarbourgh and Anamaria Marinca.
Collected together on disc 1, you’ll find Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and A Town Called Mercy, presented with optional subtitles. The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan follow on disc 2, along with the extras, which we’ll get to below.
It’s interesting how these episodes sit together as a single unit. A five hour viewing will bring you closer to the story than the weekly viewings can afford, and the various ups and downs of the episodes and their individual emotional hooks could quite easily leave you with your head buried in a pillow/box of tissues by the time the Doctor reads the final page of the Melody Malone book in The Angels Take Manhattan.
One wonders what effect Chris Chibnall’s missing prologue P.S. would have had if included…
All in all, these are episodes that any fan of nuWho needs to own. Their presence in half a boxset (scheduled in time for the Christmas market), however, suggests a similar half-a-series release next year, as in 2011, alongside a full box of the run. If you’re keen to avoid duplication, you may prefer to avoid these DVDs for a few months.
On disc 2 come the extras. Both editions feature the following:
Pond Life – an Ood for breakfast and various other surprises for Amy and Rory occur in this series of shorts, released online before Series 7 was broadcast. They’re fun, quirky, and set the scene for the Pond’s domestic harmony falling into tatters.
Asylum of the Daleks Prequel - the mysterious Darla von Karlsen lures the Doctor to Skaro. Released online by BBC America (to the chagrin of British fans) this is a great teaser for the main event (and of course, is misnamed: it’s a preface or prologue if anything).
The Making of The Gunslinger – voiced by Adrian Scarborough (Kahler Jex) this short extra provides a video guide to the cybernisation of the Gunslinger and is directed by Neill Gorton.
Meanwhile the limited edition (that’s the one with the Weeping Angels cover sleeve, and a poster, kids) also features a special extra.
The Science of Doctor Who – running to almost 45 minutes, this is the real special feature, including footage from the series to illustrate how science is used. Attempting to ground the show’s science to anything currently possible or under research, it’s an entertaining show featuring plenty of talking heads (including Steven Moffat). The Science of Doctor Who first aired on BBC America in the run up to Series 7a airing, and is presented here for the first time for British audiences.
Released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 29th, the Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 boxset comes in two editions, the standard box and the Weeping Angels sleeve, which includes the extra detailed above.
All versions can be found on Amazon, with the DVD versions both priced at £17.99 and the Blu-ray editions priced at £20.99 and £24.70 for the special edition.