Blu-Ray Review: ‘Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series,’ ‘Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1’

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CHICAGO – Are you loving the Starz import of the great “Torchwood” into the pretty-good “Torchwood: Miracle Day” and wondering where the heck Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) came from? Do you already know about one of the best sci-fi series of the last decade? Either way, the gorgeous HD box set for “Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series” is spectacular and you might as well keep your BBC fix going with the strong “Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1,” both released this week on Blu-ray.

“Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1” Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

Let’s start with the new material. “Doctor Who” made something of a controversial leap stateside earlier this year with a two-part season premiere that not only played with American history but aired here on BBC America simultaneously with its U.K. premiere for the first time. “Doctor Who” was international. After a strong start, fans grumbled a bit about the course of the season with more comparing it unfavorably to recent seasons than is often the case, but there are still some incredibly strong episodes in this two-disc set, including one written by the spectacular Neil Gaiman.

Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 19th, 2011
Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 19th, 2011
Photo credit: BBC/Warner Bros.

If you’re unfamiliar, Matt Smith took over for the great David Tennant and stepped into some pretty big shoes as the new doctor but he’s given this beloved character his own unique personality while also not breaking too far from what works about him in the first place. Smith is just getting better, blending intelligence, whimsy, and a bit of danger into his performance. He’s very good here. And Karen Gillan matches him in the performance department, perfectly imbuing Amy with both infatuation with the doctor and infuriation at some of his behavior. She’s both attracted to him and terrified of him. She’s great.

Of course, a show like “Doctor Who” requires more than strong leads, as fans have become accustomed to some whimsical, charming, clever adventures for the Doctor and his team and the writing was a bit off in this half-season. I liked the premiere the first time but it doesn’t hold up well again and the third episode about a siren and a group of pirates is shockingly ineffective. Still, a sub-par half-season of “Doctor Who” is better than a lot of sci-fi choices on the market. Pick it up.

“Matt Smith and Karen Gillan make their triumphant return as the Doctor and his companion in an all-new series of Doctor Who! The new series will split in two parts, with DVD/Blu-ray release dates in July and in early November, closely following their premiere runs on BBC America, and then a complete series gift set just in time for the holidays. In Part 1, the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves in Sixties America, battling the invasion the world forgot, then journey on the high seas of 1696 aboard a pirate ship, to solve the mystery of the Siren. In a bubble universe at the very edge of reality, the Doctor meets an old friend with a new face, and in a monastery on a remote island in the near future, an industrial accident takes on a terrible human shape. And waiting for them, at the end of all this, is the battle of Demon’s Run, and the Doctor’s darkest hour. Can even the truth about River Song save the Time Lord’s soul? Only two things are certain. Silence will fall. And a good man is going to die…”

Special Features:
o Monster Files

“Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series” Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

I adore the original “Torchwood.” There’s something both tragic and great about the fact that it will never be more than two series/seasons and “Children of Earth.” Like a band that broke up before it could release a crappy album, “Torchwood” in its UK incarnation will always be a thing of perfect beauty. All sci-fi fans should own every episode and if you haven’t picked up the individual box sets yet than this is clearly the way to go. It’s a showcase item for your TV-on-Blu-Ray collection. Don’t miss it.

Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 19th, 2011
Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 19th, 2011
Photo credit: BBC/Warner Bros.

“Separate from the government, outside the police, beyond the United Nations, Torchwood sets its own rules. Led by the enigmatic, ever watchful Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman, Doctor Who, Central Park West), the Torchwood team delves into the unknown and fights the impossible. Everyone who works for Torchwood is young. Some say that’s because it’s a new science. Others say it’s because they die young.”

Special Features:
o Deleted Scenes
o Outtakes
o Torchwood Declassified
o Featurettes
o Commentary

“Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1” and “Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series” were both released on Blu-ray on July 19th, 2011 from BBC/Warner Bros. content director Brian Tallerico

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