September 4, 2018  (Web Review)

Doctor Who: Tom Baker—Complete Season One

BBC, 6 discs, 480 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $71.99

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Fans of the venerable BBC-aired sci-fi series, which began its run in 1963 and has continued—with a major interruption between 1989 and 2005—until the present, will rejoice over this Blu-ray release of the show’s 1974-75 season (the 12th, in actuality), in which Tom Baker became the eccentric Time Lord’s fourth incarnation. Baker remained in the role through 1981, which became the longest tenure of any of actor playing the Doctor. This season contains 20 episodes divided into five arcs: “Robot” (four episodes), “The Ark in Space” (four episodes), “The Sontaran Experiment” (two episodes), “Genesis of the Daleks” (six episodes) and “Revenge of the Cybermen” (four episodes). All have moments that will delight aficionados, but the last two will likely prove most engaging, if only because of their obvious connections with the broader DW mythology. The entire season serves as fine evidence of Baker’s endearingly goofy interpretation of the time-traveling Doctor, which in many respects remains the standard by which others are judged. Needless to say, the effects remain charmingly chintzy (despite an occasional bit of updating). The extensive extras include audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes and “making-of” featurettes, the “Genesis of the Daleks” arc re-edited as a 1975 movie, the 1991 overview “The Tom Baker Years,” a “Behind the Sofa” segment featuring cast members, a new conversation with Baker, and photo galleries. For long-time devotees, this will be essential, while for others it will serve as a fine sample of the series in its vintage years. Highly recommended. (F. Swietek)