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By: Dexter L. Luke

There was a time that if you wanted to see Doctor Who on television you
might have found it on a PBS station or from an obscure video tape sold at
comic book conventions. Its popularity today is the largest it has ever
been, not only in Britain but also the United States (currently showing on
BBC America). Doctor Who: The Complete Specials contains the final episodes
of David Tennant’s run as the iconic Doctor, and along with Russell T.
Davies (Executive Producer and Head Writer), he has brought new audiences to
the series as well as satisfied many longtime Doctor Who fans.

For those who are not familiar with the series, Doctor Who tells the story
of a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who travels through time and space
with various companions to explore the wonders of the universe, but often finds himself in the center of a conflict where the fate of an entire civilization (or the universe) hangs in the balance. Different actors have played the title role of the Doctor over the years, because of the plot device of allowing Time Lords the ability to extend
their lives through a process called regeneration. David Tennant was the tenth Doctor in the series. With the start of the 2010-11 season, Matt Smith will take over the role as the eleventh Doctor.

The Doctor had seen better times. With the series reboot in 2005 , the Doctor returns to earth as a broken man. His home planet was destroyed in the Time War against the Daleks. He finds a new companion, falls in love
with her and loses her twice. He has been shown by one of his fiercest enemies his own personal shame and failings. The desire to keep going is still strong, but he has grown tired of it all. To make matters worse, the Doctor’s death had been prophesied. The Specials begin with The Next Doctor, where the Doctor faces his old enemies the Cybermen and is joined by a man who claims to be the Doctor. Planet of the Dead finds the Doctor on a double-decker bus that has been transported from London to a desert planet. The Waters of Mars to be the strongest of the three stand-alone episodes.
He arrives on Mars at a moment that will have profound effect for the human race, yet at the same time he faces an ethical dilemma that has enormous consequences, not only for himself but the people of Earth. The two-part finale, The End of Time, has strong performances by John Simm (The Master) who starred in the series Life on Mars, and former James Bond Timothy Dalton (Lord President) and Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott). But it’s David
Tennant, who hooks the audience and reminds us why he is considered one of the best actors who played the role of the Doctor and whose absence will be felt by many. The episodes in this set are the edited versions that were seen originally
on BBC America. Special features include Doctor who confidential, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of each episode, David Tennant’svideo diary of his final days on the set, audio commentary for The End of Time, Deleted Scenes, and Doctor Who at Comic-Con.

All said, the stories are not the strongest in the series, but they are still entertaining. I enjoyed the finale, The End of Time, but others I know did not, mainly because Davies’ scripts can be hit or miss. Also, I had watched the British airing of the specials initially and although I didn’t see a difference, those who caught this version may notice the editing for BBC
America. For some the better choice would be to buy the special that they like and ignore the others, because none of these stories, in my opinion are close to being among the best of Tennant and Davies.

Verdict: Good, but not great.

Doctor Who: The Complete Specials
Box Set: 5 Discs
Specials Include: The Next Doctor. Planet of the Dead. The Waters of
Mars. The End of Time; Parts One and Two.
Runtime: 311 minutes.

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