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Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series - Blu-ray Review

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Doctor Who: The Eighth Series - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

Adios, Matt Smith.  Hullo, Peter Capaldi!  Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series (but, really, 34th) starts and ends with a celebrated bang involving a dinosaur in London and the return of The Master (or should that be The Mistress?).  The character of Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) FINALLY becomes a subject and not a mere object.  And the grand Doctor gets his wings again under Capaldi’s commanding guide.  If anything, Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series is about showrunner Steven Moffat fixing the errors of the previous two seasons.

Deep Breath, the 8th season opener, sees the good Doctor and Clara arriving in Victorian era England along with a slightly confused Tyrannosaurus Rex.  It seems that the now frightened T-rex swallowed the TARDIS and was transported to England with it.  Just when the citizens acknowledge that life along the Thames couldn’t get any more bizarre, clockwork robots harvesting human organs for spare parts make their presence known.  The Doctor must deal with them (and the T-rex situation, though this resolves itself) once he recovers from the affects of his regeneration. 

Full of hilarious visuals (the “Flatline” episode), not so Merry men (the “Robots in Sherwood”, and the return of the spooky Moffat (the “Listen” episode), the writers – especially Jamie Matheson – of these 12 episodes simply amped up what had been missing in the series with a nice and cranky attitude.  While the whole companion piece of Clara’s arc got a bit wonky with the on-and-off situation between herself, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), and The Doctor, things – in my opinion – never got too terribly silly and, ended up, bringing the season to a close with a nice lump in the throat.

The pros of this season include the unhinged performance of Michelle Gomez who absolutely nails her performance as the great Gallifreyan antagonizer  - even if she does kiss Capaldi and hand over her Cyberman army – made up, rather intriguingly, dead people – to him, all for the power of love.  Science Fiction and the clichéd storyline; nothing new there.  Okay, it sounds worse than it actually is.  This season – all of its ups and downs - was a very close return to form for Doctor Who.

But the final episode brings the season around to works: the unhealthy relationship between Clara and The Doctor.  They both lie to each other.  Danny is dead. Gallifrey is gone.  Clara lies to the Doctor about the former, and the Doctor lies to her about the latter.  This relationship has to end.  The Christmas episode (unfortunately, not included in the season set) should bring the lying to its necessary end.

“I’m The Doctor. I’ve lived for over 2,000 years, I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time that I did something about that,” explains Capaldi.  This is the season that begins to right itself.  Along the way in the journey, Muffat adjusts the themes to reflect the new Doctor.  There are one-liners but they are darker and wittier.  Gone are the boyish aspects of the last two Doctors.  Capaldi is the veritable elder statesman returned and, complete with furrowed brow, tackles a very serious issue involving old foes and a new team-up. 

Capaldi’s first season as The Doctor was easily the best and most anticipated of the television premieres this year.  The good news is that he delivers the character in bold new ways and it is my hope that he soldiers on in the role for a long time to come.

Doctor Who: The Eighth Series - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 9, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (4 BDs)
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The 1.78:1 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation seriously flexes its muscles on this blu-ray presentation.  Colors are crisp and bold and blacks never falter.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't disappoint either.  While it never looks cinematic, the presentation on this set is remarkably solid.  Now having said that, there are some spots where the bit rate drops and when this happens, attentive viewers may notice that things don't look quite as sharp.  This isn't a constant, but there are scenes where this happens and the picture quality does drop a bit.  By and large, however, the good outweighs the bad and the transfers are solid.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Four commentaries are available: "Into the Dalek" with co-writer Phil Ford and director Ben Wheatley, "Robot of Sherwood" with director Paul Murphy, "The Caretaker" with Murphy, prosthetic effects producer Kate Walsh and animatronic engineer Peter Hawkins, and "Kill the Moon" with director Paul Wilmshurst and first assistant director Scott Bates.

Special Features:

Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series features all 12 episodes.  The extras include exclusive footage from the London premiere Q&A with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, episode commentaries for four shows (“Into the Dalek,” “Robot of Sherwood,” “The Caretaker,” and “Kill the Moon”) behind-the-scenes footage, a documentary following Capaldi and Coleman’s recent world tour, and a music video featuring “Mummy on the Orient Express” guest star, Foxes.

  • Behind the Scenes (140 min)
  • Earth Conquest: The World Tour (49 min)
  • The Ultimate Time Lord (45 min)
  • The Ultimate Companion (48 min)
  • Deep Breath Live Pre-Show & After Who Live (55 min)
  • Post-Premiere Q&A (30 min)
  • Doctor Who Exclusive (9 min)
  • Mummy on the Orient Express Music Video (3 min)

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