Part two focuses on the technical aspects of this classic collection…
Video and Audio
It’s hard to believe that we’re five sets into The Collection line-up. The BBC Restoration Team have done a great job with the series and bringing a consistent set of transfers that support the argument for bringing SD material to the Blu Ray format. Though the DVDs offered marked improvements and a great package the improvements here, again though subtle, offer the best visual and audio that the classic series can receive. Season 23 is a season that has less immediate visual appeal than others, though it does have some standout moments.
The video here is solid overall, and reflective of the quality of the studio and on-location material. The audio, however, offers a bigger upgrade as the ever-talented Mark Ayres has produced a new optional 5.1 Mix for every episode, extended included, which allows for a new way to experience these stories.
Though the packaging for The Collection range remains divisive I have grown fonder of their design and contents over the last year or so. Season 23 comes in the same grey book design with an unfolding layout that seasons 10, 12, 18 and 19 had and is roughly the same size as 10 and 12 due to having six discs. I didn’t have any issues accessing the discs and the interior artwork was also fitting for the season. The boxset also contains a booklet penned by Pete McTighe which is insightful and a wonderful read and the actual artwork on the box, designed by Lee Binding, has the iconic imagery of the space station alongside a solemn Sixth Doctor.
The Special features
Season 23 had already been spoiled with a DVD boxset that had a generous amount of VAM (value-added material), but the team behind these releases have repeatedly provided us Who fans with some marvellous new features and this boxset is no different. Alongside the existing special features like cast and crew commentaries and documentaries, we have a sizable selection of new content too. Asides from the aforementioned extended edits and trial-less edit of Vervoids highlights include “The Doctor’s Table” which sees Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Michael Jayston and Bonnie Langford having lunch and answering questions as they reminisce and recollect. The “Behind the Sofa” segments return with Baker, Bryant and Langford on one sofa whilst Frazer Hines, Matthew Waterhouse and Mark Strickson fill the other. These have been hit and miss in the past but I very much enjoyed these matchings and would love to see them on future season releases.
Matthew Sweet provides another one-on-one interview, this time with Bonnie Langford who had previously rarely contributed to the DVD range so it was wonderful to get some of her insights into playing Mel and being a part of Doctor Who. There’s a new entry into the Writer’s Room series as Christopher H Bidmead, Wally K Daly, Phillip Martin and Eric Saward discuss the stories that would have been featured in the originally planned Season 23 had Doctor Who not been put on hiatus. The Panopticon Archive gets another entry featuring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, and finally there’s “The Doctor Who Cookbook Revisited”, a truly bizarre yet fun featurette which sees Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Janet Fielding, Frazer Hines and Terry Molloy attempt to replicate recipes from a 1985 Doctor Who-themed cookbook with the always likeable Toby Hadoke.
As far as future releases go, Season 26 is due for a December release whilst Season 14 is currently rumoured for a February release. Any confirmations will be reported if and when they’re announced!
Season 23 is a part of Doctor Who that I was able to re-evaluate and find some new appreciation for. It has segments that are stronger than others but there’ some great content to be had in places, especially considering the difficult production and hiatus which had left some fans anticipating and others resigned with the programme. I do hope that season 22 isn’t far off as I love the Sixth Doctor and Baker’s performance and especially his and Bryant’s presence on the VAM.
4/5 – Recommended for fans of the season and those who may want to give it a re-evaluation.
Look back at Part 1 of the review for more detail on the stories included.
By HW Reynolds
Images provided by BBC