Doctor Who: The Collection continues with Season 23. For the first time in The Collection an over-arching story encompasses the entire release. It also sees Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor make his debut in high definition.
Season 23 is a fascinating period of Doctor Who. Following cancellation, later downgraded to a hiatus, the show returned. Reality bled through into the fictional world as the Doctor is put on trial. It is a season which, much like the previous boxset, had been very well served by the DVD release. So what reasons are there for investing in this collated season once again?
This is a given now but the physical item is another lovely piece of merchandise. Lee Binding has delivered another strong cover with the further interior artwork being of scenes from the series. Gavin Rymill continues on DVD menu duties with additional imagery provided by Pixelogic and CGI work by Johnathan Picard and Dave Ladkin. Once again Peter Crocker and SVS handle the picture restorations, with Mark Ayres on sound. It is another great product but the most intriguing elements of this particular box set are the stories themselves.
The transmitted episodes are of course presented in the very best picture and audio quality. Excitingly however extended versions of the episodes are also available for the first time ever. These include deleted scenes and alternative takes and provide new versions of the stories never seen before. Additionally, for those who think the scenes of the trial interrupt a perfectly ripping Doctor Who story, then ‘Terror of the Vervoids‘ is also available without them. I’ve always considered this third story of the trial to be the strongest, with some extremely horrific imagery for a Doctor Who adventure. To have it presented without the momentum being interrupted by the trial sequences is a real thrill.
Whilst Season 23 suffers at times from having the Trial plot overarching everything there are lots of exciting moments. Joan Simms in Doctor Who. The introduction of Glitz. Drathro and the L1 robot are brilliantly realised. The return of Sil. Peri’s controversial departure. Anthony Ainley’s Master popping up. The Valeyard’s true identity. There is a lot to like. Admittedly it maybe doesn’t quite hang together but there are plenty of plus points and elements worthy of discussion in Season 23.
Season 23, both the stories that were and weren’t broadcast, provide plenty of scope for discussion. These have been covered in great length previously and are available here once again. However, there are also some new additions.
‘Behind the Sofa‘ returns with Colin Baker joined by companion actors Nicola Bryant and Bonnie Langford. Also watching the episodes are Frazer Hines, Matthew Waterhouse and Mark Strickson. Although a seemingly random trio of former companions, they offer some interesting insights. As relative neutrals they pick up on features such as the dreary location for the first instalment for example.
‘The Writers Room‘ also returns with writers sharing discussion over a pint or two. However, there is a twist. These are the writers, and their script editor, of what would’ve been Season 23 before it was abandoned. Unfortunately, the conversation is a bit stop-start but this is because of the use of imagined scenes. These are very well done using Big Finish audio adaptations and specially created visuals. This allows the viewer to get an idea of stories which didn’t reach their television screens. The discussion is insightful and continues to make this particular bonus feature a welcome inclusion.
Elsewhere, Matthew Sweet has a conversation with Bonnie Langford. This hour long feature makes for fascinating viewing. Although Langford may seem a little dismissive of her Doctor Who role as simply another job in her lengthy career, she acknowledges how loved the show is by so many. This attitude may also extend to her recollection that the character of Mel wasn’t really communicated to her which is extraordinary for an actor to highlight. ‘The Doctor’s Table‘ is also an enjoyable watch if slightly bizarre. As the champagne flows so does the conversation. I could however have done without the awkward ‘snog, marry, avoid’ discussions.
At time of review the opportunity to watch ‘The Doctor Who Cookbook Revisited‘ has not been possible. Photo galleries, PDF production paperwork, commentaries and more are also present.
Season 23 continues Doctor Who: The Collection range but manages to offer something new. Despite the stories behind the camera already being so well served by bonus features, it is worth the investment for the interesting new versions of the broadcast episodes. Even if the Sixth Doctor is not your preferred incarnation of choice Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 23 is well worth purchasing.