After rave reviews and massive audience shares for the previous season of Who could the production capture lightning in a bottle twice?
They did - just about.
The Doctor has regenerated into David Tennent - a life-long Who-fan who has been been involved with the good Doctor previously as a supporting character in several Big Finish audio productions. And doesn't he play the doctor with gusto - he's reminiscent of Baker at his maniacal best, Hartnel at his most devious, Troughton at his most playful and McCoy at his most manipulative. A joy to watch - though a tad irritating with sometimes excessiveness.
The Doctor is still competently supported by Rose, played flatly by Billie Piper (that's personal opinion - I do know that many like her alot which is why I've no interest in deconstructing why I dislike her portrayal here).
The stories are more abitious than the previous season - and it has to be said that they are more hit and miss, though the quality of the hits far outweighs the misses.
The series effectively started with the Christmas special, "The Christmas Invasion" which ably introduced the new playful (yet dark) Doctor and introduced a scope and grandeur which set the store for series two.
The stand-out episodes of this year were The Christmas Invasion, the entireity of disc 2 (Tooth and Claw - the excellent werewolf romp, School Reunion - the return of SJ Smith and K9, and Girl in the Fireplace - the Steven Moffat penned, Hugo Award winning episode that blends science-fiction, drama and humour effortlessly), The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit - a proper off-Earth adventure tht delivers a sence of scale and finally doomsday, Cybermen Vs Daleks, what more can a fan ask for?
The weak points of the series are Fear Her, a good idea that lacked a sense of urgency and fear that the plot promises; Love & Monsters, good cast, great concept but leaves you with a hollow feeling where your satisfaction normally lives; and finally The Idiots Lantern - Mark Gatiss wrote the Dickens episode of the previous series so had good form and this is a well thought out idea and again has a superb supporting cast but there is something in the execution which just doesn't work.
So we get onto the package itself - the BBC has chosen this set to be one of the first where the menus have audio descriptions to aide navigation of the visually impaired, as well as every episode of Who having full audio descriptions, a most excellent situation and something which beggars belief as to why it isn't been done more often.
In terms of extras we get the usual doco-lites that are the Confidential Cut-Downs - Who fans tend to be witty, intelligent and very good-looking so why they are lumbered with these vacuous BBC3 fillers which offer little or no objetive insight into the show is beyond me. Maybe I'm spoiled with the Ed Stradling produced documentaries on the Classic Who releases but if I were writing a report card it would have to say, "Must Do Better".
Finally - commentaries, poor, poor, poor - not the content of the commentaries (though a certain exec is incredibly banal and patronising whenever she talks) but theway they are presented. Valuable space is taken up on the discs with 'in-vision' commectaries where we can sit and watch people watching the programme they are talking about - utterly pointless, remove these and you'll have more than enough space to include the commentary tracks used on red-button TV transmission aand some decent documentaries.
Though I've ranted I do love this series and the positives far outweigh the negatives. This series is well work some shelf-space in your home and is worth far more than the vanilla releases. Enjoy