This DVD collection includes the 14 episodes of Doctor Who‘s fourth series. A separate disc presents several bonus features, including “Doctor Who” confidential, a series of behind the scene featurettes on the making of the show. The set includes a smattering of commentaries, as well as deleted scenes.
This series starts off right where the third left off – with the Titanic crashing into the TARDIS. In this Christmas special we are introduced to a whole new cast of characters traveling in a space cruise ship modeled after the Titanic. But this time the earth is the iceberg. This first episode has its moments but I did not think any of the new characters are that interesting, and none of them continue past this episode.
Included on the first disc is the comedy special “Time Crash” which is only about five minutes, but if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, it is worth it. In it, the tenth and fifth Doctors’ time machines (the TARDIS) converge and they have to work together to separate them. It’s really funny, but it’s also really weird when you find out that Peter Davison’s daughter Georgia Moffett (who plays the Doctor’s daughter in “The Doctor’s Daughter”) is engaged to tenth Doctor David Tennant. Weird huh?
The series proper starts with a re-introduction of the character Dona from the third series Christmas special. She has been looking for the Doctor by investigating strange happenings for which the Doctor might show up. They finally meet up in the whimsical episode “Partners in Crime.” Surprisingly enough, Dona and the Doctor have a great chemistry with no hint of a romance at all as they continue through time and space for adventure.
If you’re not familiar with the standard format of the show, it’s is simple. The Doctor and his companion, this time Dona (although occasionally others join in), travel through time and space pursuing adventures. They usually encounter some sort of alien creature that either needs the Doctor’s help, or wants to eat him. Pretty simple monster-of-the-week formula, but it works because of the leads’ charismatic performances, and the wild creativity of the writers.
This whole series seems to be about doing everything Davies wanted to do before he left the show as the showrunner. That is certainly not bad but it defiantly jumps out, especially in the finale, which not only brings back almost every character from the past three series but also an enemy from the old Who of whom Davies is clearly very fond.
The highlights of the season are the aforementioned “Partners in Crime,” “The Doctors Daughter,” and “Silence in the Library.” “Silence in the Library” is an amazing two-part episode where River Song gets introduced, and she becomes a very important character in series five and six.
Just like in every other series in the show’s history there are a few episodes that cannot match the quality that the series as a whole offers, but I would never call them bad, or boring to watch.
Overall the fourth series is a great end to Tennant’s run in the series proper. Series four all but ties up the companions’ story threads, which have been going on since series one, although not always satisfactorily. There is really nothing like Doctor Who on TV, so if you’re a fan of fun fast-paced science fiction then this is your cup of tea.