Following the success of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 12, BBC Studios have released the debut season of Tom Baker’s successor. Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 19 sees Peter Davison take on the role of The Fifth Doctor. Alongside companions Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, the adventure continues in one of the most eventful seasons of Doctor Who yet.
Once again the physical boxset is a joy to behold. The cover artwork follows the standard set by the previous release with Peter Davison accompanied by the villains of the series and clutching Adric’s badge. Artist Lee Binding delivers more exquisite work but annoyingly Monarch is obscured by the BBC logo on the sleeve but fortunately not on the box itself. Opening up the set reveals more artwork of the TARDIS console of that era which Gavin Rymill utilises for the sumptuous menus. Peter Crocker and SVS have again restored the pictures with Mark Ayres handling the sound. The overall product is flawless, making these releases so sort after by fans.
Season 19 features a run of solid stories with a trio of excellent adventures that sadly ends on a dud. The season kicks off with ‘Castrovalva‘ continuing straight off from the events of ‘Logopolis‘. It concludes the classic series equivalent of ‘Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords’. This saw the return of the Master, the introduction of two new companions and the regeneration from Tom Baker into Peter Davison. ‘Castrovalva‘ rounds the trilogy off nicely. New CGI effects are also available for the opening story which are a nice addition.
‘Four to Doomsday‘ is a peculiar tale and was Davison’s first in front of the cameras. Janet Fielding is however a big fan of it. There is much to like from Stratford Johns to the impressive set design. By contrast ‘Kinda‘ is fantastic. The “You can’t mend people!” line always gives me chills. Happily, the CGI version of the Mara is available once again, making the conclusion of the story far more effective. If you want classic Doctor Who ‘The Visitation‘. A trip into history. Alien creatures. An android. The Doctor impacting upon human history. It’s top notch stuff. No wonder Eric Saward was approached to be Script Editor. ‘Black Orchid‘ is the first purely historical story for over a decade. It is more of a mystery than a sci-fi story but works well.
‘Earthshock‘ remains my favourite Doctor Who story and seeing it here in high definition is a delight. It is full of atmosphere, action and ultimately emotion, everything that you could want in Doctor Who. Sadly, the less said about ‘Time Flight‘ the better. It ends the season on a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps the dramatic end of ‘Earthshock‘ would’ve been an appropriate finale? Unfortunately, high definition doesn’t hide the wobbly Concord or unconvincing Plasmatons.
In addition to the special features from the DVD releases, a series of brand new interviews and documentaries are showcased here. The Behind the Sofa setup returns once again with the Gogglebox-style format. Disappointingly the monsters in the background are images rather than full props as for Season 12. However, the comments from the cavalcade of actors are entertaining with Mark Strickson and Sophie Aldred balancing the TARDIS crew of Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse. Irritatingly the controversial subject of watching Classic Who on double speed raises it’s ugly head once again. To be fair ‘Castrovalva‘ does drag in the middle.
New High Definition documentaries are also provided for ‘Castrovalva‘, ‘Four to Doomsday‘, ‘Black Orchid‘, ‘Earthshock‘ and ‘Time Flight‘. Happily, and somewhat surprisingly, they manage to generate some new information. For instance, Matthew Waterhouse vomiting behind a tree on location for ‘Castrovalva‘ was new to me. As with the previous release Matthew Sweet again interviews the main man. Peter Davison has always been a good interviewee and is once again. Much like the Tom Baker conversation, it is a lot more personal than one might expect but is enjoyable for viewer and those involved.
Each of the 8 discs is simply stacked with bonus material, see the full list here. Interviews, studio footage, commentaries, photo galleries, For £39.99 that’s less than £5 per disc. Talk about value for money!
Perhaps the standout is the new ‘Making of’ documentary for ‘Earthshock‘. Maybe I’m biased but it is full of wonderful moments. An original Cyberman, provided by John Tobin, lurking around the ship. David Banks once again inside the Cybersuit and helmet. A replica of the Cyberman embedded in the bulkhead door constructed by Toby Chamberlain which proved the ideal background for interviews. The Cybermen storming the bridge to the music from ‘Tomb of the Cybermen‘. Richard Gregory’s revelation of how the master sculpt for the Cybermen helmets was made. Some of the reminiscences will have been heard before. The infamous back panel fitted with screws, for instance. However, there are some new insights such as Cyber-rehearsals and talk-nodding.
The DVD documentary ‘Putting the Shock into Earthshock‘, featuring Doctor Who alumni Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Gary Russell, is also included. On original release it set the standard for ‘making-of’ documentaries that followed and remains an enjoyable watch. It seems slightly ironic to hear experienced actors and others stating quite categorically, in both documentaries, that three companions is too many when we’ve just concluded a 2018 Series where a trio of companions was reused. Matthew Waterhouse discussing his time on Doctor Who in ‘The Boy with the Golden Star‘ is also a nice addition.
The second of the Doctor Who: The Collection releases is another triumph. The Season 19 set not only matches the high standard of the previous release but builds upon it. Although I’m not the biggest fan of watching the stories in 4:3 on a widescreen television, I would happily purchase the set for the special features alone. Season 19 is full of bonus interviews, documentaries and bonus features that provide hours and hours of great viewing.