Just a few short weeks ago, fans of Doctor Who were treated to a 50th anniversary special episode entitled “The Day of the Doctor.” The hour-plus-long special found three incarnations of The Doctor coming together to stop a Zygon invasion and face the toughest decision The Doctor ever made – committing the genocide of his own people. Now, that special has arrived in a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.
As the story begins, The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) are called to London by UNIT’s Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) to investigate destruction in a secret gallery. Glass covering paintings has been smashed from the inside, and the figures in those portraits are gone. Before The Doctor can figure anything out, a fissure in space and time opens above him.
Meanwhile, The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is fending off the advances of his would-be wife, Queen Elizabeth I (Joanna Page, Gavin & Stacey). He knows there are Zygons about, but is having trouble telling the difference between the real monarch and her imposter. The same fissure opens near this Doctor and a fez tumbles out, soon followed by The Eleventh.
Both of these are prompted by a device that appears to The War Doctor (John Hurt) in the form of Bad Wolf (Billie Piper). The machine is the one that The Doctor can use to destroy his race, but it has developed a sentient conscience and wants him to really think through his actions before he goes forward with the plan. Through the fissure, the three Doctors come together.
Any time more than one Doctor occupies a scene, it’s magical. There’s a spirit about the iconic character, no matter who plays him, that is multiplied exponentially when this occurs. Tennant and Smith have absolutely terrific chemistry, and Hurt, playing the part for the first time, feels both similar and different, he being his own unique sort of incarnation, having lived through great battle and strife.
The questions raised and the issues faced are really cool, and with appearances by other extremely familiar faces, including a surprise cameo that is nothing short of stunning, it’s a fitting tribute to the long-running show. For my in-depth review of the special, click here.
This release has a few special features that are pretty neat. Both of the webisodes that serve as prequels, one of them featuring The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) just prior to his regeneration as The War Doctor, are included. There’s a pleasing, but too-short, 13-minute “Making Of,” as well as the full forty-five minute TV special Doctor Who Explained. Also, a fun pack of twelve Doctor Who trading cards, featuring all the Doctors so far, is packaged in, too.
The only thing lacking, besides a longer behind-the-scenes piece, is The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, a hilarious half hour of the Doctors missing from special itself. To complete your celebration, I highly recommend finding a copy online somewhere and viewing it, as it has not had an official disc release at this time.
The 3D on this disc is a little weird. Both the 3D and 2D blu-ray versions are the same disc, and unlike other 3D releases, the 3D doesn’t come on automatically when popping it into the player. There is no option on the menu itself to turn it on, either, so I switched to 3D the way I would normally do a conversion of a 2D video, through my TV remote.
I admit, it could be my lack of confidence that I was watching the real 3D version, but I felt like the 3D for The Day of the Doctor was a bit weaker than other 3D releases. Parts of the 2D version looked a bit 3D when I originally watched, so well done are the special effects animation. But I can’t say I noticed a really deep, full 3D. It was certainly much better than most conversions I’ve watched, but not as good as the Pixar or Marvel 3D releases I own. I fully admit, my confusion about starting the 3D may have led to my slightly-off experience, and maybe I was trying to study it too hard, but I expect others will face the same challenge. Even if I didn’t access the 3D as intended, though, which I’m still unsure about, it’s a great viewing experience.
That aside, the overall picture is quite clear and the special effects are impressive. It has a sweeping, full score, and the soundtrack is well mixed. It’s one of the better Blu-ray qualities I’ve seen.
Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor is available now.