Tom Baker - Complete Season One (Season 12)
Starring Tom Baker as Doctor Who
With Elizabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, and Nicholas Courtney
Written by Terrance Dicks, Robert Holmes, Bob Baker and Dave Martin, Terry Nation, & Gerry Davis
Directed by Christopher Barry, Rodney Bennett, David Maloney, & Michael E. Briant
Released by BBC Worldwide in July 2018
Available from Amazon UK
REVIEWERS NOTE: This Review is based on the Region A (North America) Release of the Set. I can find no real difference in the content of the set other than some packaging and label changes.
BBC Worldwide spent over a decade restoring every available Doctor Who episode, releasing them individually on DVD in the best possible quality, with each release packed with special features, and all lovingly remastered. For some collectors, like myself, diving into my love for the series a bit late...collecting the classic stuff was daunting, pricey, and difficult to even find room for. I only purchased a few classic DVDs, and watched most of the serials via my very excellent local library, which pretty much had everything. Now, the BBC has finally decided to begin releasing these stories on Blu-ray, and this time they are releasing a full season boxset!
Despite being a show that was shot on SD Analog Videotape in the 1970s, the picture looks remarkably sharp. The source may be vastly inferior to anything you'd see today, but the details are pretty clear. The classic Tom Baker opening looks particularly sharp. Compared to the DVDs, the uptick is minor, but I did feel there was a tad less digital compression than what I had seen of the DVDs. But the years of detailed restoration has paid off for this release, as stories look clear and look better than they probably evedid on TV or any other home media.
As for Special features, it is packed. The Doctor Who Restoration Team spent over a decade compiling special features for each individual story, making sure that even though you were only buying a DVD for a single multi-episode story, that you were going to be buying nothing bare bones. And that pays off again here...every special feature made for all the individual story has been ported over to this release. The new features exclusive to this set include some Making Of Documentaries for stories that didn't really have them in their original DVD release, a rather mundane "Behind the Sofa" thing in which Classic Who actors watch clips of the old shows, and some other odds and ends.
If you bought the DVDs, I can't say that there is a pressing need to upgrade. The uptick in picture quality is noticiable, but minimal. You already have most of the features (they have added a few new things, but on the whole you still have packed features on the DVDs), you have all the stories and commentaries. This may be the definitive version of all these great stories from a high quality year of the Classic show, but I don't blame those who already collected the DVDs from being hesitant to double dip for this. What more you get isn't so great that it warrants replacing everything.
But if you, like me, never got around to collecting all the old DVDs, or if you would love to unload the bulk of DVDs for the shelfspace saver that is this set (and likely the sets too follow)...then you won't be disappointed in the quality the BBC has put into it. The source will never look as clean and clear as the latest series, but it is surprisingly good in this set!