Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products
Written By: Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks, Robert Sloman, Christopher H. Bidmead, Robert Holmes, Pip and Jane Baker, Matthew Jacobs, Russell T. Davies
Release Date: 24th June 2013
Reviewed By: Doctor Who Online
Review Posted: 18th July 2013
“The Time Lords have this little trick. It’s sort of a way of cheating death. Except, it means I’m gonna change.” - The Ninth Doctor, The Parting Of The Ways
This beautifully-packaged and limited edition coffee table book-styled collectors’ album is every Doctor Who fan’s dream possession.
Individually numbered and boasting six DVDs with over 1000 minutes of Doctor Who footage, it brings together every Doctor’s regeneration episode: from the first Doctor, exhausted from battling the Cyberman, to Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor suffering from radiation unleashed by the Great One (a giant spider); and from the spectacular transformation of the Ninth Doctor to David Tennant’s emotional farewell as the Tenth.
The album is adorned with superb photography from across the era and features detailed and informative accounts of every regeneration. And if that wasn’t enough, new to DVD is The Tenth Planet featuring the Doctor’s first regeneration – beautifully restored with the missing fourth episode now brought to life with stunning animation. Utilising the original soundtrack, off-screen photographs and a short surviving sequence of the Doctor’s regeneration the episode has been now reconstructed in animated form, incorporating the restored version of the surviving sequence.
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As a special release to celebrate Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, the Regeneration Box-set may seem something of an odd choice. While it highlights the process which has allowed the show to survive for all this time, it also means that the Doctor’s aren’t all given a fair crack of the whip. Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor bows out at the end of the 10-part epic The War Games, while Colin Baker and the Sixth Doctor are relegated to just two short scenes - hardly the best example of his Doctor - and Matt Smith only gets the final few minutes of The End of Time while we wait for his impending departure from the programme.
Six of the nine stories presented here (The War Games, Planet Of The Spiders, Logopolis, The Caves of Androzani, Time and the Rani, and The TV Movie) have previously seen release as stand-alone DVDs, each packed with a bumper crop of special features, all of which have been removed for this release, allowing the stories to be spread across fewer discs. Bad Wolf / The Parting Of The Ways and The End of Time have also seen prior release in a couple of different forms.
The versions of these stories used for the set are the same as those seen in their last DVD release, meaning that The Caves of Androzani and The TV Movie are both the higher-quality prints previously seen as part of the Revisitations box sets, as opposed to their earlier release.
For many fans whose interest has been raised by this release, though, it’s not those later regenerations that they’re keen to see again - it’s the very first one, in the form of The Tenth Planet, available here for the first time on DVD, complete with animated Episode Four, several months before it’s standalone release in November. The restoration of the three surviving episodes is up to the high standard that we’ve come to expect from the Restoration Team’s work, presenting the story in the best quality that could be hoped for.
Episode Four, newly animated to complete the story, builds on the success of the team’s earlier efforts on The Reign of Terror, and rectifies some of the complaints that the earlier release generated. Here, the shots chosen are far closer in style to the surviving episodes, and while there is still the occasional extreme close up of a character, it’s a device used far less on this occasion. The atmosphere of the story holds firm throughout this new version, and it’s a great way to experience this story as close to ‘complete’ as possible. You can see some examples from the animation in the sidebar to the right.
With all nine stories spread across just six discs, there’s some unusual choices of how to split them, meaning that picture quality on the stories can be compromised in some instances. Disc One is home to the entirety of The Tenth Planet, alongside the first half of The War Games, with that story’s remaining episodes given Disc Two all to themselves. Planet of the Spiders occupies Disc Three while Disc Four holds Logopolis and The Caves of Androzani. Time and the Rani sits alongside The TV Movie for Disc Five, with the two new series stories - Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways and The End of Time filling up Disc Six.
The discs are housed in a gorgeous presentation book, giving each of the Doctors their own double page spread, alongside information about both that specific incarnation and the story that represents them in the set. The book really is a work of art, and certainly one of the nicest pieces of 50th anniversary merchandise produced this year. It will no doubt take pride of place on many fan’s shelves before November hits. You can see some examples of pages for the First, Fourth, and Ninth Doctors throughout this review.
In all, the Regeneration Box-set achieves its aims - it provides a lovely collectable (each set is a numbered limited edition), and serves as a great introduction to the older Doctors on DVD. While many fans of the series are likely already own at least some of the stories contained within, this set would make a brilliant gift for a casual fan, or someone looking to take their first steps into the classic series.
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