|Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series (2006)
Starring: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke
“Doctor Who,” that staple of British sci-fi, made a tremendous return to the BBC in 2005, the first time it had appeared as a regular series in 16 years. Thanks to the significant increase in special effects technology over the years, the Doctor’s adventures looked better than ever and, under the watchful eye of executive producer (and super-fan) Russell T. Davies, the scripts – many of them written by Davies himself – were creative, funny, and downright exciting.
Of course, let us not forget the fantastic performance of Christopher Eccleston as the ninth fellow to fill the Doctor’s shoes. At the end of the last episode of the new series, however, the Doctor died and, as Time Lords are wont to do, he regenerated. It was time, therefore, to say “so long” to Mr. Eccleston and “hello” to David Tennant, a.k.a. the Tenth Doctor. Whenever there’s a new Doctor, fans start to get a bit antsy, wondering what this actor will bring to the role; it’s even more disconcerting when the previous actor has, as Eccleston did, created an original, definitive take on the character. Fortunately, Tennant’s easy wit and slightly rubber-faced looks found him stepping in the Doctor’s shoes – in this case, a pair of sneakers – without incident; it takes very little time for viewers to accept him in the part.
Billie Piper returns for the second series as the Doctor’s companion, Rose Tyler, who, unlike the viewing audience, does require a bit of time to warm up to the new face of her fellow traveler. When she does, however, it results in a relationship that’s decidedly different from any the Doctor has previously had with one of his companions. Oh, sure, the ladies all love the Doc; this is borne out in “School Reunion,” when Sarah Jane, who accompanied the Doctor during his floppy hat and rainbow scarf era, makes an appearance and reveals how she felt about him at the time they were traveling together. It’s rare, however, for the Doctor to ever even come close to reciprocating…but he spends much of this season on the verge. (Seriously, the sexual tension between Rose and the Doctor is so thick that even the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver would have trouble putting a dent in it.)
As with the previous season, the scripts walk just the right line between introducing new characters and revisiting old favorites from the Doctor’s earlier incarnations, both heroes (K-9, baby!) and villains (the Cybermen). Davies even makes a point of bringing back a character he created during his first season on the show – Cassandra – in the first proper episode of the new season, in order to ease the transition into the new Doctor. Rose’s mum and ex-boyfriend also make several appearances in the various present-day exploits, but there are visits into the past (battling a werewolf whilst in the company of Her Majesty Queen Victoria), the near future (the 2012 Olympic Games), and the not-very-near-at-all future as well. (How does the year 5,000,000,023 grab you?) We’re also introduced to an organization called Torchwood, kind of the “Men in Black” for the British Empire; it’s a cool concept, and one which has resulted in a spin-off series on the BBC. (No word yet, however, on a US airing.) Given the media attention it received, it’s not really a spoiler to reveal that Billie Piper isn’t returning for the show’s upcoming third season, but it would be one to clarify how Rose departs from the Doctor’s company; suffice it to say that the performances by both Piper and Tennant during their final episode together are brilliant.
Can Series Three hold up to the standards set by these first two series? We’ll find out soon enough.
Once again, BBC Video hooks up the Doctor’s obsessive fanbase, this time with over four hours’ worth of bonus material. There are a mixture of audio and in-video commentaries throughout the various episodes, along with the video diaries of both David Tennant and Billie Piper, as well as deleted scenes and outtakes. For the non-Brits who’d like to fill in the blanks on the goings-on between the new Doctor’s arrival in the TARDIS and the TARDIS’s arrival back in London, check out the segment called “The ‘Children in Need’ Special” (the scene appeared as part of a telethon for the organization). Lastly, fans of the “Doctor Who Confidential” segments on the last set will be pleased to find another season’s worth appearing this time around as well.