Part two of our two-part review focuses on the technical aspects of the classic collection.
Video and Audio
As established with the previous two boxsets, classic Doctor Who in HD was never going to look massively impressive due to the limitations of the technology at the time, yet the team working on these sets have worked to prove that the material can not only look better but sound better as well. When comparing the footage here to my DVD copies of each story it is clear that improved encoding that the Blu Ray format offers can make even the most basic of studio shots look and sound better than they had prior. There is also an optional 5:1 mix for Warrior’s Gate and newly created SFX for Logopolis to give Tom Baker’s farewell a fresh cinematic flare.
The Season 18 boxset is the same size as 19 owing to the number of discs included. It is also consistent with 19 and 12, sporting the grey book design that folds out to reveal a concealed booklet and Blu Rays. Unlike with my copy of Season 19, I found the disc stack easier to navigate but still chose to remove them all and keep them in a different case for the purposes of this review.
Lee Binding’s artwork once again left me very impressed and imagery with the doorway from Warrior’s Gate on the back of the box, and The Doctor sat musing from Logopolis on the booklet were inspired choices of artwork. I really like the design of The Collection range, especially how they condense five to seven DVD cases into the space of roughly three or four. It’s ideal for collector’s who want to save space but also have uniformity. The booklet, once again written by Pete McTighe, is chock full of details and tidbits and makes for a worthy companion to the boxset.
The Special Features
As is expected with these boxsets it plays host to a plethora of special features new and archival with most of the content from the original DVDs being included alongside newly filmed documentaries and never-released material such as a Panopticon appearance by Tom Baker and even a Pickwick edition of State of Decay read by Baker himself. There is also a new hour-long documentary for Logopolis, and two new commentaries moderated by Matthew Sweet who talks to Tom Baker on The Leisure Hive and Lalla Ward and Rachel Davies on ‘State of Decay’. My personal favourite new addition to the set is the Toby Hadoke documentary “A Weekend with Waterhouse” wherein he spends a weekend with Adric actor Matthew Waterhouse and learns more about his life and acting history. It’s quite moving at times and gave an appreciation for the actor I didn’t have before.
Below is a listing of all the special features included in the set.
As was the case with the previous boxsets Behind the Sofa segments have been included for all seven stories and there’s even one for K9 and Company on the bonus disc. This time we have Tom Baker, June Hudson and John Leeson on one sofa and Wendy Padbury, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton on the other. The first three, Hudson in particular, offer some real insights into the production for Season 18 and are a genuine delight to watch. The latter three, meanwhile, offer less insight and more playful banter and observations. It’s a mixed bag for the latter but I’d love Baker and Leeson on the sofa again whenever Seasons 15 and 16 are released.
The bonus disc this time around features the one-off failed spin-off K9 and company and all the special features originally made for it, alongside the aforementioned Panopticon Baker appearance and a new documentary The Writer’s Room which has several writers for Season 18 including Christopher H Bidmead, Stephen Gallagher, John Flanagan and Andrew Smith sitting down over a drink to discuss their work. There is also some more archival material from the 50th anniversary such as a Matthew Waterhouse interview and a documentary about the Fourth Doctor “The Fourth Doctor Revisited.”
For future releases we will apparently be getting Seasons 10 (apparently listed by HMV as a June release), 23, 26 and 17 at some point, and if these guesses are accurate and announcements are made then we’ll be sure to report it!
Doctor Who Season 18 is another wonderful Blu Ray release that continues the trend of giving us Classic Who looking and sounding better than it ever has before. Season 18 is a unique part of Doctor Who’s legacy, boasting some brilliant concepts and well-written stories that ushered in a new era for fans. This release is limited so it is recommended to order a copy sooner rather than later.
Writers note: Forum users over at Gallifrey Base have noted several problems with the discs which I will list here. When/if these problems are verified by BBC Worldwide then we will dedicate an article to any sort of announcement.
The Mono audio is apparently missing from episode one of Leisure Hive.
Name in the opening credits for writer Andrew McCulloch is misspelled on all four episodes of Meglos to McCullogh.
End credits for the new effects on episode four of Logopolis has names in the credits that show up more than once.
( US release only) PDF for Logopolis is the pdf for Earthshock instead.
5/5 – A must buy for Who fans!
Look back at part 1 of the review for more detail on the stories included.
By HW Reynolds
Images provided by the BBC