PictureBBC's disc for the first volume in the second series presents the show's hallmark bright colours reasonably well. The anamorphic image is certainly a treat for the eyes with a palette that is strong and vibrant. From the opening titles to the organic reds and browns of the Sycorax ship in The Christmas Invasions, and from the green meadows surrounding the hospital in New Earth to the atmospheric body-chambers that house the diseased within its treacherous bowels, the disc copes admirably with the wild colour schemes. However, all this lustre is let down by a contrast that fluctuates too often, lending a hazy touch that ruins sharp edges and finite detail.
There are also some occasional elements of motion-blurring and some visible horizontal lines in portions of the image, but the picture is still very watchable and vibrant. Blacks are reasonably strong and there is good depth of field afforded the wider shots, such as the Doctor and Rose standing on the cliffs overlooking the cityscape of New New York or the shots of Rose and Mickey cavorting through a festive London. Effects-wise, the disc does no further disservice to the blatant CG than the original TV broadcast did. Edge enhancement is slightly evident, but should pose no major problem.
SoundThe Dolby Digital Stereo Surround track has a bit of oomph to it, but it is nothing too showy. Dialogue is certainly clear enough and the score - whether it is the terrifically remixed main theme, or the sometimes naff incidental orchestral cues throughout the shows, themselves - has plenty of body and presence. The bass feels restrained and high ends don't really challenge the mix, but the soundtrack is still crisp, clear and punchy. Steerage across the front is largely reserved for the effects, but the aural array is still fairly active.
ExtrasNothing on these plain-Jane individual releases, I'm afraid. Rest assured, though, there will be a features-laden full box-set out in November.
VerdictWell, just like the first series' standalones, these individual releases are purely for the casual follower of the show, or for those - like me - who just cannot wait for the big full-season box-set to come out. Bereft of extras and the nice 5.1 makeovers, there is absolutely nothing to recommend these vanilla discs except for the episodes themselves. Although a confirmed fan of the revamped show, and especially of the marvellous David Tennant, I have to say that the two episodes contained in Volume 1 are pretty lousy. Yes, there are some good moments - I still love that homicidal Christmas Tree and Cassandra discovering Rose's curves - but the stories are too wacky, over-the-top and painfully contrived to bear much reward in the way of repeated viewing.
Thankfully, the next volume is a different story altogether, with three simply incredible episodes that rock the Doctor's universe in exactly the right way - the awesome Tooth And Claw (that'll be great in its eventual 5.1), the return of Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion and the stunningly emotional The Girl In The Fireplace.
Now, they'll be fantastic.
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