Sixteen years after its original run ended, The BBC recommissioned Doctor Who back onto the airwaves. The series, which deals with the adventures of a time traveler known as The Doctor, was reborn through the vision of Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies. For the most part, his version of the series works when his scripts aren’t used and the other writers are able to focus on their stories.
This box set contains all 13 episodes of Series 1 and the subsequent Doctor Who Confidential programs that followed. Included on each disc are a series of mini-features detailing the making of the new Who and some of the ways the special effects were achieved. Considering many might not be familiar with the show in, I would avoid these until you become familiar with the new series. The Doctor Who Confidentals would be a good start for people interested in the classic series and how it’s tied to the latest version. Unfortunately, due to legal issues, the classic series footage was removed and a “cut-down” version of the Confidential series was included instead. There’s also a behind-the-scenes special for the “Christmas Invasion” episode, which takes place after Series 1 – avoid this one as well.
The show boasted its newness by casting a well-known actor in the role of The Doctor with Christopher Eccleston, who was known for playing edgy roles in such shows as Cracker and The Second Coming (also created by Russell T. Davies). Along for the ride is former pop singer Billie Piper, who plays companion Rose Tyler. To give a better earth-feel to the series, Rose’s family is featured throughout in the form of her mother Jackie (Camile Coduri) and her boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke). While everyone else stuck around for another season, Eccleston was signed on for only one year – that’s bound to jar people when they see his Doctor suddenly regenerate into David Tennant in the last episode of Series 1.
In general, a lot of the episodes still carry some of the same problems the original series had. Sometimes the scripts try to do too much and change genres midstory. That must have been frustrating for Eccleston, considering he was used to a tighter style of writing, not to mention he couldn’t really seal the character of The Doctor due to lack of focus. Eccleston wanted a more dramatic Doctor, which was often canceled out by the wild nature of the scripts – one part comedy, one part drama. I suspect it would have turned off families if it had been tailored to Eccleston’s previous works. His performance improved in “Father’s Day,” “The Unquiet Dead,” and “The Parting Of The Ways,” which makes this set of episodes not a complete wash.
In my opinion, it would be good idea to rent some of the classic series episodes before viewing the new series. You can familiarize yourself with the character of The Doctor, his many lives, and his often very strange adventures with his companions. If you don’t care for a show’s history, then forgo the classic series and watch this instead. Just be prepared for an unusual ride when you do.