Blu-ray Shopping Bag: Doctor Who - Time of the Doctor -

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Blu-ray Shopping Bag: Doctor Who - Time of the Doctor

Goodbye Matt

By Robert T. Trate     March 11, 2014

The “Time of the Doctor” arrived last week on DVD and Blu-ray and it is high time that I talk about it. It is probably best to go back to the beginning and where my Doctor Who fandom started. It was during my first trip to the international Toy Fair in New York. I saw all the Doctor Who toys and I was blown away by the complexity of the characters. It was like seeing all 72 original Star Wars figures for the first time. I really felt as if I missed out on something. I wanted to know all I could about Doctor Who. Thankfully, working for Mania allows one to do that on the clock. 

Over two years later, I found myself sitting next to David Tennant conducting an interview at his first ever Comic Con (read it here). It was a sad affair as Tennant was being nostalgic about moving on from his turn as the Doctor. The episodes hadn’t aired yet, but it was as if a dark cloud was hanging over each one of the Doctor Who Specials. Tennant was my Doctor and I felt as if a close friend was leaving forever. 

Was I skeptic about Matt Smith’s Doctor? You had better believe it. Who could replace that tall crazy man with the great hair? Nobody. Yet, I was willing to give Smith a chance. The writing and the very heart of the character would endure, yet it starts with Smith’s performance. Going on Smith’s journey was a different one from Tennant’s. I knew that Christopher Eccleston wasn’t going to last when I started watching and Tennant had already taken over. The stories were there and so was this great introduction to the world of Doctor Who. When Eccleston moved on, it seemed natural. That same feeling came up again when it was Matt Smith’s turn to regenerate. 

Having spent four years with Matt Smith’s Doctor, I felt that the series was really pushed to its limits. There were plenty of great stories and incredible characters introduced. When some of those characters left, like the Ponds, it was sad for the Doctor and the audience. Yet his own passing seemed short changed. Tennant’s Doctor had “he’ll knock three times” haunting us with each turn. When that prophecy came to light, it was a heartfelt and sad moment. Smith’s final episodes were teased with his demise on Trenzalore. So as the series ramped up to say goodbye to him, we were hit with casting news of the next Doctor (Peter Capadli). This was the start of the hype machine, making a death in the family not matter as much. It probably didn’t help that Tennant was returning in the 50th anniversary special, either. This made Smith’s passing the torch seem organic and not the tragedy that Tennant’s was. In fact, since the torch had been passed 3 times since I started watching, I was more upset that we only had minutes of the new Doctor until his return. 

In short, all this made the “Time of the Doctor” one of the weakest episodes since the relaunch. Sure, I could appreciate Smith’s Doctor feeling as if he was out of time; this was his last body and he found something worth fighting for. These scenes might have had more weight if we didn’t know the show was going to go on. The scenes with both old and young Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) felt as if they were tacked on. We said goodbye to her already, right? What about Clara (Jenna Coleman)? You know your “Impossible Girl” who saved you completely throughout time?

There was a lot of emphasis on this episode and the passing of the torch from Smith to Capadli. It was overshadowed by both Tennant’s return in “Day of the Doctor” and Capadli’s casting. I just hope the BBC has learned a valuable lesson when Capadli’s time comes to a close. Let us say 

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5. Inside Llewyn Davis [Blu-ray]



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Showing items 1 - 4 of 4
redhairs99 3/11/2014 7:57:14 AM

I have been meaning to rewatch Time of the Doctor (still have it on my DVR), but I felt a bit like you, Bob.  It felt off and overall a fairly weak episode story and writing-wise.  It may have been the overshadowing by Tennant and Capadli, but I'm thinking it more comes down to Steven Moffat.  Sure, under Davies tenure as show runner, Moffat had some great episodes that he wrote. And Sherlock is probably the most brilliant show on the BBC, but I'm wonderin just how much of that is more Mark Gatiss than Moffat at this point.  

I've made no secret that I disliked Amy Pond.  I was glad to see her go.  Rory I quite liked and I was sad at his passing.  I just didn't like that Moffat turned the show into a program all about Amy Pond (even changing the time-honored show-opening into her story and not The Doctor's).  Matt did great with what he had and he finally had the chance to shine this last season with solid episodes in previous years without Amy like the one where he get a flat-mate in London.

Moffat did his best, I suppose with nods to the history of the show, but this swan-song for Mr. Smith fell flat for me. 

Nexus6BT 3/11/2014 5:27:26 PM

Time of the Doctor just felt overstuffed to me. For example, I think it could have done without the business with Clara's family at the start. Still, there was a good deal of it that I enjoyed.

However, what I really don't like at all is the practice recently implemented by BBC of slowing down their shows for their Blu-ray releases (at least in the US). Before, they had a process of taking the 50i original and converting it to 60i by duplicating fields. It still yielded an interlaced picture, but it looked pretty good and ran at the correct speed. Their last several releases, however, have been slowed down to 23.976 fps. This allows a progressive presentation, but the tradeoff is that it extends the show's runtime by about 4%. It's basically the opposite of the traditional "PAL speedup," but IMO it's worse, because it makes the action and especially the music feel, for lack of a better word, groggy.

This has happened on The Day of the Doctor, Sherlock Season 3, the "remastered" Doctor Who Series 1-7 box set (meaning they went back and ruined the entire series this way), and now Time of the Doctor. What's more, at least on Day of the Doctor, the audio has been pitch-corrected in such a way that it sounds flanged when downconverted from 5.1 to stereo. It's quite difficult to make Murray Gold's music sound bad, but this accomplishes just that.

I really wish they'd go back to the other process; it was working fine.


HomestarRunner 3/12/2014 8:06:29 AM

redhairs - For what it's worth, the bit with Amy talking prior to the theme song was added by BBC America. The original UK broadcasts did not have that part. Between that and the commercial breaks, I always chose the BBC1 version when watching Who.

redhairs99 3/12/2014 9:39:57 AM

HomestarRunner, that actually makes me really happy to hear.  I had no idea that it was a BBC America only deal.  I still dislike the character overall (they ruined River Song with that arc), but maybe slightly less than I used to.  Thanks!



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