Blu-ray Review – Doctor Who – The Complete Eleventh Series
The naysayers are wrong.
Jodie Whittaker’s first series as the Doctor was a remarkable success.
“Overall, Jodi Whittaker’s first series averaged an impressive 7.96 million viewers per week across all platforms,” wrote Tom Spilsbury in the February 2019 issue of Doctor Who Magazine.
“This year’s run of episodes couldn’t quite achieve the highest average of any Doctor Who series this century. The 2008 run still remains the one to beat, with an average of 8.05 million per week.”
In other words new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chinbnall’s Series 11, starring Whittaker as the first female regeneration of the Doctor, almost beat Russell T Davies’ Series 4, starring David Tennant as the tenth Doctor and Catherine Tate as his companion Donna Noble.
Doctor Who The Complete Eleventh Series was the first the whole Gardner family has sat down and watched together and we a loved it.
“I think Jodie is good,” said my eight-year-old son. “She’s different to the other doctors! She is the first woman. I didn’t mind her being a woman. Series 11 is full of new monsters, not Daleks or Weeping Angels like before. We are having a year off from Doctor Who, Series 12 is coming in 2020, and that’s upsetting.”
My 11-year-old thought Jodie was “good enough” and her first series was “wacky”.
“Jodie is too good for words,” said my 13-year-old son. “She’s just amazing. She’s funny but does it in a subtle way, like when she said ‘can we have the lights and sirens on’ in The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
“Series 11 was an amazing series. All the episodes are really complex and they’re smart. Brilliantly, at the start of the first episode, Ryan is talking about the greatest woman he ever met and you think he’s talking about the Doctor but in the last few minutes it clicks that he was talking about his grandmother Grace.”
For my wife and I, it certainly felt like the Doctor Who cast and crew had ramped things up for Whittaker’s first year.
Every episode felt like a mini-movie, with stellar production values.
At the same time, it felt like Doctor Who had returned to its original, 1963, mission statement in delivering educational time travel stories packed with the truth.
Episodes 3, 6 and 8, Rosa, Demons of the Punjab and The Witchfinders, did just this as they encountered the ugliest of racism in the Deep South of the US in 1955, the Partition of Indian in 1947 and become embroiled in a witch trial.
We particularly enjoyed the new “Team TARDIS” dynamic the Doctor at first described as “my fam”.
The Doctor is the as down to earth as he/she has ever been. Everyone gets a say and everyone is heard. Whittaker proves that she is every bit the Doctor as her predecessors. Never cruel. Never cowardly. Never giving up, never giving in.
Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) and his ‘grandson’ Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) certainly ride an emotional roller coaster.
The Complete Eleventh Series Blu-ray release includes 10 five-minute Closer Looks documentaries. Each relates to one of the 10 episodes. As well as sharing some of the creative processes, these demonstrate what fun the cast and crew had making this series.
There’s also a few short and sweet video diaries made by the cast, but nothing extensive.
There are deeper documentaries: Becoming the Doctor, Regenerating Doctor Who, Directing Doctor Who, Friends of the Doctor, Everything You Need to Know about the New TARDIS, Making the Theme Tune and Best of Social. These have a combined running time of about an hour.
Jodie’s description of her suspiciously Star Trek looking earing, and the colour scheme of her costumes, is particularly illuminating. The earing symbolises the Doctor reaching out to humanity, the costume the colours of the cosmos and the suffragettes.
Something funny is going on with this release too. The audio navigation for Blu-ray Discs 1 and 3 announce that they are lower resolution DVDs, while Discs 2 and 4 are described correctly as Blu-ray.
At its heart Series Thirteen is still about what Doctor Who is always about, a time-travelling alien travelling the universe with friends in a time ship disguised as a police box writing wrongs.
With a vorp, vorp the eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS materialised, bringing hope to all who heard it.
The Blu-ray release also comes with four beautiful art cards.