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    Dr. Who: Time of the Doctor Blu-Ray Review


    Mar 30 2014 10:28 AM | mattCR in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Whovians are a unique breed. We carry with us Dalek key chains. Some of us may (or may not) keep a full size Tardis as a display piece in our living room. Doctor Who fans outside of the UK became serious about getting our fix once Moffat introduced the new series.. Fans in the US worked to find ways to watch Doctor Who at the same time as those in the UK… we’d set up a proxy in the UK with the help of other Doctor Who fans and stream the episodes our direction.. Before that, fans would mount slingboxes on the other end of the world to make sure the adventures of the good doctor would not be spoiled for those of us stateside.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: BBC
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: English
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 3 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region:
    • Release Date: 03/04/2014
    • MSRP: $19.98

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    When Matt Smith (the 11th, no make that 12th) Doctor announced he would be leaving the show near the same time the show would turn 50, the demand to watch live ramped up beyond anything I can remember as a Who fan. Fans had tuned in to watch the exit of past actors who had played the role, but Matt Smith was widely praised for bringing a different energy to Doctor Who.

    Stephen Moffat tells us in the Doctor Who 50th Special that Matt Smith will always be “my doctor”.

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    The special doesn’t just represent the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor, it marks the conclusion to the trilogy “Name of the Doctor”, “Day of the Doctor” and finally “Time of the Doctor”. Not enough pressure on Moffat? It also fills the Christmas timeslot that is normally occupied by the Doctor Who Christmas episode. It marks the regeneration of a Doctor, answering one of the longest standing questions in the Who universe of how many times the Doctor can regenerate.
    Moffat though isn’t content with just those hurdles. With the bar already set high, Moffat tacks on a virtual Who’s Who of the Whoverse. Here’s your quick rundown:

    (1) Four major villains turn up..
    (2) A Cyberman’s head becomes a sidekick
    (3) We spend time with Clara who’s cooking dinner at the beginning

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    (4) A crazed space nun is introduced as an old and new love interest
    (5) Age the doctor 300 years

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    (6) Bring in Gallifrey as a key plot point
    (7) Re-write Who history and bring about one of the more maniacal introductions of a Doctor since Tom Baker left the role.


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    There are too many moving parts, and The Time of the Doctor becomes an overdone Turducken: there is simply too much stuffing and to contain the story.

    Despite a problematic plot, Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman as Clara have a rhythm that as a Who fan I really enjoy. Becoming a companion on Doctor Who is a rough gig. Fans will immediately want to compare you to those who came before you, and Coleman joined the show after the widely loved Karen Gillan. Her experience with taking on this role will hopefully help Peter Capaldi find his home as the new Doctor when the show returns in the fall.

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    This is probably my least favorite Doctor Who special of recent years. There are too many plates spinning and the plot just can’t satisfy so many masters. But a mediocre Doctor Who special still enjoyable.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The Doctor Who staff have long used the Christmas episode to try out new technologies in promoting the show. In Day of the Doctor, Milk VFX used Alexa-M cameras to create a 3D Experience. While eschewing the 3D release for Smith’s exit, Milk VFX was brought back on board to give the show a different feel. Because of the number of green screen shots, decisions were made to bring a gritty look to the digital effects. Milk VFX largely succeeded with a Dr. Who episode that has a look that is unique.

    Whovians have a long list of known quirks that fans love, but Time of the Doctor challenged some of those perceptions, introduced new ones and played with our expectations.

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    With a 37.2Mbps bit rate (AWBR), the encode on this disc exceeds my expectations and marks a fantastic entry for any fan of Doctor Who. The BBC has made a special effort of late in making Doctor Who releases something special. The look provided gives us a deep and rich feel with strong blacks and a rich color design. The gritty feeling that Moffat was looking for in this Christmas episode really shines. The use of sand, dirt and snow challenge even the best encode, but the BBC has done a very good job of giving this title room to breathe.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    Doctor Who must present a unique challenge for audio engineers. The show quickly shifts from loud bass driven explosions to near silence as we listen to three long beeps, meant to signal the syllables of the show (Doc-Tor-Who).

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    The dialogue as normal remains clear and easy to listen to, but it is the attention to detail that make this audio track a delight.

    The soundtrack reaches back with song moments from past seasons and fan favorites by having Murray Gold, Moffat’s go to for song arrangement slightly alter or perform new renditions of some of the best of the original soundtrack from season 5, 6 and 7.

    Fans of Doctor Who will appreciate the nods to the music and sound effects of the past to remind us of the times with Matt Smith.

    Special Features: 3.5/5

    Tales From the TARDIS (1080P, MPEG4): This 50th Anniversary special documentary has been aired on TV repeatedly, but for fans new and old it's a good way to revisit the journey.

    Farewell to Matt Smith (1080P, MPEG4): A look back at Matt Smith's tenure as a Doctor, from his original reception to how he will be remembered as he departs.

    Behind the Lens (1080P, MPEG4): As I note above, the use of VFX and filming methods change again for this production and this short special provides detail in how the crew pulled off this look.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    For all of my reservations about the plot in this moment in Doctor Who history, I cannot deny that as a piece of canon this is must own material for any fan of the series. Part of the joy of being a Whovian is that we admire the camp and vision, and we embrace the zany attitude of a show that began as educational programming and became a phenomena. Sit back. Pop some popcorn. Say goodbye to Matt Smith, who will always be the Doctor my kids think of first.

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    Reviewed by: MattCR
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    7 Comments

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    Josh Steinberg
    Mar 30 2014 01:14 PM

    Thanks for posting - good review.  I think we're pretty much on the same page with this special -- so much to get done, so little time to do it in.  I think if David Tennant was able to get a two-part send-off, Matt Smith deserved the same.  Or at least not having to cram a Christmas special into a regeneration episode.  It tied up so many loose ends from Smith's years on the show, but so much of that was done in quick throwaways that didn't give those moments the full weight they deserved.

     

    Coming after the brilliant "Day of the Doctor," I was somewhat letdown by this one.  But I liked it a bit more on a second viewing, and will probably pick up the disc at some point.

    Pretty much how I feel.  On the other hand, I think Jenna Coleman is unbelievably cute in every single frame she's in.  And it shows above.

      • Josh Steinberg likes this
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    Josh Steinberg
    Mar 30 2014 01:39 PM

    She's really grown on me.  I wasn't that into her in the first appearances, but I was totally won over by the end of "Day of the Doctor" - the scene where she's with the three doctors before they're going to press the big red button, and the way she spoke to them and helped Matt change his mind, any resistence I had to her went out the window with that scene.

    Thanks for the review, Matt. I kind of feel the same way as most; there was just too much going on for an hour-long special. I don't think even the 50th Anniversary show had this many plot threads. Still there were enough good moments for me to enjoy it, and I loved Smith's final speech.

     

    On the technical side, the "24p slowdown" (as it was coined in another thread) that BBC has been using on their recent Blu-ray releases still drives me nuts, and I wish they would go back to their previous method of converting 50i to 60i. However, I guess it's a lost cause, as hardly anyone else seems to care, and at least the audio flanging that plagued "Day of the Doctor" doesn't seem to be present here.

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    Adam Lenhardt
    Apr 01 2014 02:26 PM
    Thanks for the review, Matt.

    On the technical side, the "24p slowdown" (as it was coined in another thread) that BBC has been using on their recent Blu-ray releases still drives me nuts, and I wish they would go back to their previous method of converting 50i to 60i. However, I guess it's a lost cause, as hardly anyone else seems to care, and at least the audio flanging that plagued "Day of the Doctor" doesn't seem to be present here.

    And the BBC won't get my money for this reason. I loved the 1080i60 releases for the Tennant specials and Series 5 and 6, and was let down by the 1080p24 presentations on Series 7. Now I'm just leaving my BBC America recordings on the DVR.

    The sound artifacts from the slowdown are an issue, but the main thing is that the pacing is affected. A lot of "Doctor Who" is very dependent on pacing, and Matt losing 1/25th of the zip in his step has an impact, albeit a barely perceptible one.
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    David Weicker
    Apr 01 2014 04:04 PM
    Actually, Matt slowed down is a benefit for me. :)

    Actually I haven't noticed a significant difference in the 24p episodes.

    I wonder how Day Of The Doctor was presented theatrically? 24p, 60i, 50i? Different around the world?

    Actually, Matt slowed down is a benefit for me. :)

    Actually I haven't noticed a significant difference in the 24p episodes.

    I wonder how Day Of The Doctor was presented theatrically? 24p, 60i, 50i? Different around the world?

     

    I saw it theatrically and to be honest, I actually couldn't tell if it was slowed down or not. Maybe with it being blown-up so big, and in 3D on top of that, it wasn't as noticeable. On the small screen, however, it's pretty obvious, albeit more felt than noticed.

     

    To me, it's most apparent in the music. That propulsive 7/8 rhythm sounds slightly less so when slowed, even a little. And again, the audio on the Blu-ray of "Day" has some downright awful flanging in spots (especially during the opening titles and the final battle with the Daleks). I'm really amazed this made it past QC.

     

    The audio on "Time" doesn't have these issues, but it still sounds too slow.