June 25th sees the release of the second volume of the Doctor Who DVD vanilla release range featuring 4 episodes from the current, but soon to end, third series.
Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks sees the series go stateside (sort of) as Helen Raynor’s 2-parter brings the Doctor and Martha up against the Daleks in their now obligatory appearance.
After the massed armies of the series one and two finales this story deals with the 3-strong Cult of Skaro, seemingly the only survivors of the Battle of Canary Wharf.
Desperation, dawning realisation of their past failures and the ability to think the unthinkable lead cult leader Dalek Sec to come up with plans for a race of ‘Human Daleks’ who, when they finally appear, aren’t the most visualy inspired of creations – blank faced humans with Dalekised Tommy guns.
No wonder the other Daleks do an Alan Sugar and fire Dalek Sec!
The story features some great performances especially from Holby City star Hugh Quarshie as Solomon who displays the eternal optimism of the show – despite having seen war, poverty and social collapse he remains caring and humane.
Martha finally returns home in The Lazarus Experiment, the story which begins the build up to the long anticipated appearance of Mr Saxon later in the series and although the story of Lazarus is perfectly serviceable there’s no escaping the fact that real story here is the unseen Saxon’s machinations.
The inclusion of the Jones clan feels natural and unforced with them seemingly the deliberate targets of Saxon’s henchmen who use internal family tension to sow the seeds of distrust – a move which promises a worthy pay-off which it’s to be hoped the season finale delivers on.
On rewatching I kept finding myself lamenting the fact that Mark Gatiss wasn’t cast in another story, one which was less obviously foreshadowing later events as it would have been nice to have seen him in a bigger and more memorable role.
42‘s writer Chris Chibnall has been the unfortunate target of the usual ‘fan’ venom for his scripts for Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, here he gets to write for the parent show and a larger, prime time, audience and, despite some iffy science and, it’s a cracker.
Director Graeme Harper takes the relatively simple but effective plot and works his stylistic magic on it to produce a tension-filled episode which has some great moments Martha’s call home has a greater emotional punch than Rose’s equivalent scene in series one and feels less arbitrary.
The story also features one of David Tennant’s best performance to date; when the Doctor’s possessed the viewer can genuinely believe that this man who has battled some of the the most dangerous forces in the universe is terrified.
Doctor Who Series 3 Volume 2 is due for release on June 25th by 2|Entertain with an RRP of �17.99