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Blu Ray Review: Doctor Who Season 8 (UK Collector’s Edition)

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For me, Season 8 of Doctor Who (or season 34, plus the TV movie if you want to be picky) was a huge return to form for the show. With that, the UK Collector’s Edition of the box set on Blu Ray heralds a step up in quality, too.

There’s little new here for viewers who watched the BBC’s “Doctor Who Extra” (10 minute making-of specials that proceeded each episode in the UK, and could be found online for US viewers), or for those that were glued to the clips slowly released on the official website and the BBC’s YouTube channel. The box set does offer a comprehensive collection of all these carefully drip-fed promotional materials that helped to keep us all excited prior to and during the new season.

A major triumph however, is Doctor Who: Earth Conquest, A 46 minute documentary chronicling the 12 day World Tour that took place shortly before Season 8 premiered on TV. Spanning Cardiff and London in the UK, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, the documentary is a great opportunity to watch Peter Capaldi grow from an actor well-known in the UK, to a speech-making rockstar.

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While some of this documentary is constructed from clips that could be found on the official Doctor Who site during the tour, it also manages to convey just how big a part fans play in shaping the show. In particular, season 8’s terrific new title sequence was created by a fan (and professional title designer) on YouTube who was approached and asked to collaborate with the BBC for the real thing. Capaldi himself cites some of the online work he’s admired most, proving he is still the active fan he’s been since childhood. Earth Conquest is extremely affectionate towards the people who have made the show the hit it is today and, as such makes for a warm, entertaining watch.

Elsewhere on the five discs that make up this set, discs one and two offer four commentaries for “Into the Dalek”, “Robot of Sherwood”, “The Caretaker” and “Kill the Moon”. Sadly, these are of varying quality and it seems a shame that the commentaries stop before the season gets even more interesting and discussion-worthy.

Disc three holds the 43 minute documentary: Doctor Who: The Ultimate Timelord. Fifth Doctor Peter Davison meets with his son-in-law Tennant, and Doctors 6, 7 and 8 to discuss which ingredients are essential for the optimal configuration of The Doctor. His conclusion is predictable but it makes for an entertaining, if shallow documentary on the character’s origins and defining traits.

Disc four offers an extremely similarly structured documentary: The Ultimate Companion. At 45 mins, Davison returns to examine what makes a number of the show’s companions tick. Three of Davison’s own cohorts, Tennant, Jenna Coleman and another entertaining interview with Capaldi wrap up this equally flimsy yet enjoyable extra. Noel Clarke and John Barrowman also pop up for particularly light-hearted conversation. The companion is, unsurprisingly boiled down to the Everyman, the audience, our way into the fantastical stories told each week. Davison is a professional host, bringing the same charm that held The Five(ish) Doctors together so well during last year’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.

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This disc also gives us a brief look inside the new TARDIS, a full-length music video by UK artist Foxes (as featured in “Mummy on the Orient Express”) as well as a collection of short videos exploring casting, writing and the season as a whole.

As well as the aforementioned World Tour documentary and ten episodes of Doctor Who Extra, disc five offers a fun Q&A session filmed after the “Deep Breath” premiere in London.

Overall this is a very solid set, complete with exclusive Collector’s Edition Art Cards (fans of terrible photographs, see above) and a slip-case that sports an attractive Dalek schematic and a push button for annoying your friends with the wheezing sound of the TARDIS! Picture quality is terrific, even adding detail to some scenes that appeared a little muddied during broadcast. This set sits alongside my other blu rays from “New Who”, boasting a few more extras than usual and my favourite season of the show in some years.

Find my thoughts on each episode of this season here.

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A Brit who doesn’t drink tea. A software engineer that doesn’t like coffee. Shunned by my peers I retreat to the cinema, or the TARDIS, to surround myself with all things nerdy! My teenage years were George Romero and Anime obsessed, while these days my walls are covered in screen prints and bookcases full of blu ray.