DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
Something about the dialogue he gives the Doctor and Rose specifically when they banter amongst themselves, and later with Jack Harkness, doesn't quite gel though. Perhaps it is the way it's directed: they hop and skip through it too quickly, and touch on too many unrelated subjects without getting into them properly. Add to that their British idioms and colourful accents, and I find myself rewinding all too often to try to catch up with them, only to realize how unimportant the lost dialogue was MOST of the time. Better to cut those passages altogether, than rush them to squeeze it into the episode timing. Sometimes less is more.
The TARDIS interior gets its due in this story, but there is but one on-screen materialization for the police box. It seems to be becoming a fad to do this in a motion shot now, and sadly this is probably the most disappointing one yet. We miss half the effect waiting for the camera to pan down. It's almost as bad as the non-materialization of "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (story no. 91), where the tilting camera missed the entire effect (much to the relief of the effects crew, no doubt).
Once one makes one's peace with the setting we are stuck with though, Moffat masterfully layers in element after element, just as needed to craft a great story, and pulls the viewer in magnetically. Great stuff. The cast begins with just the Doctor and Rose, and basically only grows when someone we already know meets someone new. Excellent.
And if you think you know what Doctor Who stories are all about, guess again. This story is full of puzzlers, to keep you wondering what things mean, and what holds it all together. It's suspenseful, eerie, and humorous all in one. The complete package. Moffat also does a great job of leading us through each setting in the story, and building anticipation of future ones.
Christopher Eccleston is excellent in this story, possibly at his very best ever as the Doctor. Richard Wilson also gives an exceptionally enjoyable performance as Dr. Constantine, despite having a relatively small amount of screen time.
John Barrowman's Jack Harkness is about 90-95% good stuff, but manages to project that icky, insincere aura that there's a lack of substance to his style in there somewhere. Thankfully this works for his character in general, if only it wouldn't pop up in moments when he is supposed to have more heart.
Moffat enticingly keeps his audience in suspense as to the real premise of his story until the very end, at which point the motivations and mechanisms of that premise might be a bit much to believe in. But, you'll have to switch to the In-depth Analysis version of this review to hear the details of my argument on that premise.
Though the third quarter of the story seems to lag a bit, and the final explanations strain beliefs somewhat, there is a very good energy to the end of this story. If only more stories ended this well.... Nice job.
This story has become available on DVD:
Note: The 13-episode box sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The 4-episode volume only features the plain episodes.
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