Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series Is the Pick of the Week

I watched Doctor Who periodically as a kid. It wasn’t a show I loved, or made sure I was home to watch, but if it was on and nothing else was, I’d sit still for it. This was during the Tom Baker years and honestly I have very few memories of the show except for his long scarf and one episode that I caught late at night that spooked me enough to wake up my parents though I was probably 13 or 14 years old. I was late catching on to the new series as well. My wife used to watch it periodically and I usually caught up on some chore while she did. Now and again I’d sit with her and was always turned off by the cheesiness of it.

Then we got an Apple TV with its seamless streaming of Netflix and got hooked. At first I let the wife watch it as a favor while I thumbed through a magazine or played a game with the show in the background but after a few episodes I was completely into it. That’s the thing about Doctor Who I think – it is cheesy and silly and not all that brilliant in a critical sort of way, but it’s also loads of fun, charming, and full of a certain kind of good feeling, of hopefulness. It grows on you. We fell in love with the Christopher Eccleston and I stuck up my nose at David Tennant, until I didn’t and fell in love all over again. Then it was the same when Matt Smith came on board. Ditto for the companions. That’s the Doctor for you, always changing and always the same. Even when the episodes are sub-par, I don’t mind so much because taken as a whole its just all so wonderful.

I’ve since gone back and watched many of the old Doctors and I love them too. They are different of course – not as slick and with a much smaller budget. Yet, they tell fuller stories, battling one foe or another over multiple episodes. I love it all, every bit.

Of course the Complete Seventh Series is going to be my Pick of the Week. How could it not be? When the first part of the season came to DVD I denied it such an honor, knowing that they’d eventually put the full season together in one set and that’s the one I wanted. Looking back it might have been better to have chosen Part 1 as my pick as, to tell the truth – even from a diehard fan – the second half was not all that good. There was a new companion, The Impossible Girl, and the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with her. She grew on me, as they all do, and the episodes weren’t bad, and I still love them like I love all Doctor Who, but they just weren’t as spectacular as the best of episodes can be. Still, I look forward to seeing what they can do with her in the next season, especially since we now know who she really is and there is the coming of the new Doctor Who, too.

But I’m gushing. The Complete Seventh Series does indeed contain both halves, plus the Christmas episode. There are behind-the-scenes featurettes for every episode, plus interviews with some of the cast, additional featurettes on various episodes, Doctor Who Specials, prequels to some episodes, and audio commentary on three episodes. I’m excited to dive back into the Doctor. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

3 Films by Roberto Rossllini Starring Ingrid Bergman (Criterion Blu-ray): After watching Rossellini’s Rome Open City, the great film star sent the director a letter offering her talents. The pair made a number of movies together then famously fell in love causing both stars to leave their spouses and marry. The three films presented here (Stromboli, Europe ’51, Journey to Italy) all all given the full Criterion treatment.

Room 237: Thirty years after Stanley Kubrick made The Shining, people are still puzzling over its meaning, symbolism and hidden pieces. Room 237 finds some of those people and discusses many of the theories, from the interesting to the insane. Read Gordon S. Miller’s review.

The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition: Love it or hate it The Dark Knight Trilogy was a hugely successful adaptation of the Batman mythology and, in my book, one of the greatest “comic book turned film” series ever. Which is why Warner keeps releasing them individually and collectively over and over again. This is a pretty impressive version though. It would probably be my pick of the week had I not already purchased one of the previous editions. Here we’ve got all three films on Blu-ray (though these are the same transfers as in other releases). Both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises get second disks of bonus features (though again these are available on other releases). Then there is an additional (which puts us up to six disks) of all new special features.

The new special features include The Fire Rises a documentary about the trilogy, a conversation between Christopher Nolan and Richard Donner plus the scenes shot for IMAX theaters in the original IMAX aspect ratio. Plus, there is some new memorabilia including Hot Wheels vehicles, art cards, and a 48-page hardcover book.

Halloween (35th Anniversary Blu-ray): One of the earliest and best slasher movies, John Carpenter’s 1978 classic gets a new high-def transfer, and lots of new special features. Extras include a new commentary with Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, a hour-long documentary starring Curtis, a ten-minute feature that revisits the South Pasadena neighborhood the film was shot in, a collection of scenes that played in the film’s television cut, radio spots, TV spots, and the trailer.

Iron Man 3: I’m not much for comic book movies, though I did really like Iron Man and The Avengers and Robert Downey, Jr. in the role. The sequels to Iron Man have been pretty average though with the third one being just slightly better than the second. My opinion of course, there are obviously lots of folks who will disagree. As per usual with the big releases this one comes in a variety of formats, the biggest being a Blu-ray 3-D combo with lesser formats all the way down to a digital copy. Strangely enough, there doesn’t seem to be any special features on any of them, but one suspects those will come later, perhaps in a big box set containing the Iron Man trilogy or in a bigger box featuring the second part of the Avengers Assembled. Read Gordon S. Miller’s review.

Nirvana: Live and Loud: The seminal Seattle band’s last studio album, In Utero, is 20 years old this week and it’s getting a big deluxe treatment. If for some reason you don’t want the music box set, but are interested in the DVD that comes with it, then this is for you. Featuring the full concert from Seattle on December 13, 1993 plus several extra songs recorded in Europe, and some rehearsals and the video to “Heart-Shaped Box”.

Psycho II/Psycho III (Individually sold Collector’s Editions): I’ve never seen any of the Psycho sequels and frankly, I’ve never really wanted to. The reviews on Amazon are surprisingly good for both of these. They both come with new features including audio commentaries. Psycho II includes some vintage interviews with cast and crew but III has brand new interviews with some of the actors including Jeff Fahey and Katt Shea.

Bates Motel: Season One: No doubt the reason for the new editions to the Psycho sequels, this show focuses on a young Norman Bates and a very much alive mother. The reviews have been very good and I’m very much anxious to watch it.

An Unfinished Life: Normally I’d pay little attention to a film like this that sounds like another by-the-books drama, but with Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford starring and Lasse Hallström directing I’m now interested.

V/H/S 2 andI Spit on Your Grave 2: Halloween is just a little over a month away so we’ll be seeing lots more horror movies coming out, no doubt. Here’s a couple of sequels to films I’ve never seen, but that are on my list.

Hannibal: Season One: Hollywood squeezed the Hannibal Lector well pretty much completely dry, but television decided the character had a little more left in him. All the reviews I’ve read have been good so I guess they were right. The show is a prequel to Red Dragon (or Manhunter if you prefer) finding Hannibal Lecter during his original killing spree and being hunted by Will Graham.

Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season: I’ve only seen episodes here and there of this show over the last couple of seasons and while they don’t seem to be nearly as good as the first two seasons, they still deliver good laughs.

China Beach Season 1: I was too young to be interested in this Vietnam war drama when it first aired and yet I still understood how well received it was. It’s nice to see it finally getting a proper DVD release.

Mat Brewster

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