Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars / The End of Time Parts 1 and 2)

Actors: David Tennant, David Morrissey, Michelle Ryan, Lindsay Duncan, Bernard Cribbins
AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs: 5
BBC Warner
DVD Release Date:
February 2, 2010
Run Time:
311 minutes

Special Features

  • Disc 1: The Next Doctor
  • Disc 2: Planet of the Dead
  • Disc 3: The Waters of Mars
  • Discs 4-5: The End of Time, Parts One and Two
  • Doctor Who Confidential
  • Doctor Who at the Proms
  • Deleted scenes with introduction from Russell T. Davies
  • David Tennant Video Diaries: The Final Days
  • Doctor Who BBC Christmas idents
  • Audio commentaries
  • Doctor Who at Comic-Con



In lieu of a full season of Doctor Who episodes, fans will have to make do with these five 'specials', which is a pity as a fifth season of new Who would have been very welcome.

The 'specials' nomenclature might lead one to expect them to be of feature film length, but they mostly clock in at the 60 minute mark each, which is more or less the running time of an average episode. (The longest 'special' is The End of Time, Part Two at 70 minutes.) One supposes it feels longer when padded with ads during your typical TV broadcast.

The first special, The Next Doctor, isn't, that, um, special at all. It seems to be running on autopilot as the enigmatic time traveller known simply as 'The Doctor' prevents Cybermen in Victorian England from taking over the world. Things pick up in the next special, Planet of the Dead, which introduces a story arc of sorts that will be carried forward into the next three specials. The episode stars Michelle Ryan of the ill-fated Bionic Woman rehash as a sassy jewel thief.

The third Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars, is however excellent and is a perfect showcase of what it is that made this updated Doctor Who such a smash. It's not just the snazzy production values, but also a willingness to play Who very seriously that makes the show work. In Waters of Mars the Doctor must decide whether he has to intervene and change historical events regarding the first Earth base on Mars in the year 2059. This particular special is pitch perfect and only let down by some dodgy CGI exteriors of the Martian landscape.

The final two specials, The End of Time Parts One and Two, should (obviously - duh!) be seen together and do actually run at feature film length. It is a fond farewell to both actor David Tennant, who played the character for three seasons, and writer Russell T. Davies, who is generally credited as being the brains behind this new Who revival.

The End of Time Part Two resembles Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in the way it has multiple endings. The special in question can however be as self-indulgent as it likes as the 2000s Doctor Who has been a spectacular success. Like the new Battlestar Galactica it managed to outgrow its roots (those dodgy costumes! the stone quarries!) and become something altogether unexpected and surprisingly good.

From hereon a new actor (Matt Smith) and new writers will take the series further, but it is rather disconcerting just how young Smith is - emo Who aimed at the yoof market? (At 26 Smith is three years younger than Peter Davison who played the fifth Doctor back in 1981.)

THE DISCS: The five specials are spread over five discs - one per disc. Each special is bundled with various extras such as the making-of Doctor Who Confidential featurettes along with deleted and all kinds of other scenes. To be honest we would have skipped all the extras altogether and have made this a simple two disc set, but that's just us.

WORTH IT? A must for Who fans. Newbies should give this a skip and start right at the beginning otherwise they'll simply be lost.

RECOMMENDATION: Buy it if you're a long-time fan!



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).