Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews more Doctor Who DVDs. Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space (BBC)

The last time we saw our hero the Doctor, the Time Lords had split him apart from his companions, stranded him on planet Earth, and were forcing regeneration upon him. A regeneration we didn’t get to see (which is obviously a disappointment), but I think it’s because they hadn’t cast the Third Doctor as of yet.

This episode is as close to a Doctor Who reboot as we’ve ever gotten, and that includes “Rose” which was the episode that reintroduced the series all the way back in 2005 (and also coincidentally featured the Autons).

We’ve got a new Doctor and new companions (although, yes, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is a character we’ve met before… calm down, nerds). Instead of traveling through time and space, the Doctor is stranded on Earth with a non-functioning TARDIS. Also, this is the first title to be shown in color.

According to the documentary on the DVD (Down to Earth), Doctor Who was near cancelation after the end of Patrick Troughton’s series. The revamp worked. While the last episode of “The War Games” pulled in about five million viewers, the total for all four episodes of Spearhead from Space came in at over eight million. The documentary also includes archive interview footage with Jon Pertwee as he discusses how he got the part and how he wanted to portray him.

Probably the nicest part of this special edition is the commentary, where we get appearances from both the late Nicholas Courtney and the recently passed Caroline John. It’s always great to hear the Brig’s calm and crisp voice. The DVD also includes a commentary from producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks, a short presentation on the transition from black and white to color, a wacky UNIT Recruitment spoof, and the usual photo gallery, trailers and PDF materials.

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (BBC)

The Seventh Doctor and Ace receive “junk mail” in the TARDIS inviting them to the circus. This story first aired during the ’88-’89 season… and that clown still freaks me out.

My favorite part of the included documentary (The Show Must Go On) is the discussion of the explosion. During shooting, Sylvester McCoy was instructed to leave the circus tent; he’s told that it will explode behind him, but to keep walking forward as if everything were normal. He trusts the production team and does so. Obviously, he is alright afterward (and the shot makes him look pretty badass), but the explosion is bigger than anyone expected… and probably a lot more dangerous.

And that’s my second favorite part of the DVD! My number-one favorite is an outtake where Sylvester McCoy swears because there’s noise going on outside during a take.

An extra documentary short titled Tomorrow’s Times is quite interesting. Anneke Wills hosts this look back at the way the British press reacted to this season—starting with their less-than-impressed opinions of Sylvester McCoy taking over the role—and how it improved over time.

The main joy of the commentary track comes from Ace herself, Sophie Aldred, but also includes Jessica Martin (Mags), Christopher Guard (Bellboy), writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel, and composer Mark Ayres. And the whole thing is emceed by Toby Hadoke.

All in all, these discs are behind-the-scenes looks at two very different (but game-changing) eras of Doctor Who.

Check out Kevin’s other Doctor Who DVD reviews here and here!

Also be sure to visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!