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As I stated in previous reviews, I have been a fan of DOCTOR WHO since my youth, when episodes of the Tom Baker era aired on a local New York television station. By the time I had made my initial acquaintance with the series, DOCTOR WHO had been on the air for more than a decade in Britain and Tom Baker was already the fourth actor to portray the series title role. Since Baker was my first "Doctor" he has remained my favorite for many, many years, that is, until the tenth incarnation of the character portrayed by David Tennant. Tennant displayed a lot of the quirkiness that made Baker so popular, but Tennant brought a different type of quirkiness to the role. Currently, we are in the Matt Smith era, with the youthful Smith taking over the franchise as the Eleventh Doctor, when he was only twenty six year old. With two pretty terrific series under his belt, Matt Smith is definitely shaping up to be another personal favorite.

For those unfamiliar with DOCTOR WHO, it is Britain’s (and the world’s) most long-lived science fiction series, initially running from 1963 to 1989. After a false start back in 1996, the BBC finally resurrected DOCTOR WHO in 2005. DOCTOR WHO is the story of a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who goes by the moniker "The Doctor" and has traveled through time and space with various companions from the planet Earth. Although they appear human, Time Lords are a long-lived species, which have the ability to regenerate (i.e. transform), when their current physical form becomes irreparably damaged (this usually happens when the current lead actor tires of the role). By the time DOCTOR WHO came back to the airwaves, The Doctor was believed to be the last of his race- the only survivor of a war with the Daleks, a highly xenophobic race intent on exterminating every other species in the universe.

DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES ($90) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a six-disc set that features the 2010 Christmas Special, as well as the following thirteen episodes: A Christmas Carol, The Impossible Astronaut, Day Of The Moon, The Curse Of The Black Spot, The Doctor's Wife, The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People, A Good Man Goes To War, Let's Kill Hitler, Night Terrors, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, Closing Time and The Wedding Of River Song. Under the guidance of current show runner and writer Steven Moffat, series six of DOCTOR WHO certainly delivers the goods in terms of storytelling and character development. The 2010 Christmas Special proves to be a really clever and moving reworking of the Charles Dickens’ tale, with guest star Michael Gambon offering up a terrific performance. Series six finds The Doctor surrounded by his steadfast companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and new husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). Across series six, the mysteries of the oft-reappearing Professor River Song (Alex Kingston) begin to be revealed, as The Doctor’s future begins to catch up to River Song’s past. Also during series six, The Doctor finds himself the victim of a conspiracy that turns his companions into sometimes unwitting pawns… The Doctor’s response to the conspiracy, offers up some of the best DOCTOR WHO moments of this, or any other series.

BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made all the episodes that comprise DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec, while the 2010 Christmas Special is offered in the VC-1 codec. Like the preceding series, the 1080i presentations are genuinely outstanding. Image sharpness, clarity and fine detail are very impressive, as is the level of dimensionality. Some sequences during Series Six were shot on this side of the pond, with the outdoor Utah landscapes being rendered exceedingly well. Colors are warm, fully saturated and completely stable. In addition, the flesh tones are highly attractive. Blacks are pure, while the whites appear clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail can’t be faulted. There are no noticeable defects in the source materials. Grain/noise is present in places, but never becomes bothersome.

All of the episodes that comprise DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD High-Resolution soundtracks. Again, while not quite the caliber of Master Audio, the sound is more impressive than lossier soundtrack options. Overall, the series is provided with what I would consider to be superior sound designs originating at the television production level. Directionally is generally excellent, but is definitely influenced by the individual stories and what works for a given moment. Of course, it is the action and science fiction elements that make the most of the sonic possibilities. Quiet moments have a genuine sense of acoustical space, that prevents the sonics from falling flat. The sound has a full-bodied quality that resonates quite well, plus the bass channel is quite hefty. Dialogue is clean, clear and fully understandable. No other language tracks have been included, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off are running Audio Commentaries for the following five episodes: The Impossible Astronaut, The Doctor's Wife, The Rebel Flesh, A Good Man Goes To War and The Wedding Of River Song.; various participants include writer/executive producer Stephen Moffat writer Neil Gaiman, director Jeremy Webb, director Julian Simpson, producer Marcus Wilson, line producer David Mason, actor Arthur Darvill, actor Frances Barber, actor Marshall Lancaster, actor Mark Bonnar and actor Neve McIntosh. Disc six features the next major supplement- thirteen Dr. Who Confidential episodes, which chronicle the show’s production, with the programs running two and a half hours in total. We also get A Christmas Carol Confidential, which also runs nearly an hour and chronicles the production of the 2010 Christmas Special. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Monster Files (forty three minutes), Series Six Episode Prequels (eight minutes), Comic Relief Sketches (seven minutes), Night And The Doctor Shorts (fourteen minutes), Doctor Who Confidential: The Nights' Tale (fifteen minutes) and Up All Night Short (two minutes). A couple of Series Six Trailers close out the supplements.

DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES find the Eleventh Doctor and his companions at the top of their games, offering one of the best series yet. The Blu-ray presentations are also top flight. Highly recommended!


Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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