Doctor Who: The Complete First Series

"You wouldn't recognise me 'cause I've changed a lot since the old days," says the Doctor to a suspicious civilian who "googles" his name, and how true it is. This is not the original "first" series of Doctor Who — far from it, really — but is indeed the first in 16 years. Featuring the ninth Doctor overall (played by Christopher Eccleston, star of Shallow Grave and Elizabeth), this long-awaited return of the time-travelling, TARDIS-riding adventurer surprisingly exceeds the high expectations. Resuscitated by writer/developer Russell T. Davies (the writer for the original British Queer As Folk), the show's first episode, "Rose," is overwhelming to take in; trying to adapt to a new series after such a long gap asks a lot of understanding from a dedicated viewer, but once the premiere works out all of the kinks, the show takes off. The Doctor fatefully stumbles upon a new companion, the feisty teenage Londoner Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), who he easily convinces to join him. Together they do everything from saving the earth from a conniving piece of stretched human skin (you need to see it to believe it), to saving London from some flatulent Slitheens in a mildly amusing and thought-provoking War of the Worlds-type skirmish, to landing on deadly, futuristic versions of reality/game shows. Best of all, though, is the two encounters with the dreaded Daleks, including the brilliant, unpredictable finale that leads us to the ninth regeneration and the tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. Hell, they even bring in another alpha male, the lovably, ever-so-confident Captain Jack, to make things interesting. Simply put, fans couldn't have wished for a better update of the series than this, and it's thanks in large part to the wonderful talent of Eccleston, who plays a brave and detached Doctor capable of stirring up real hilarity, even if the moment doesn't call for it. "Doctor Who Confidential" makes up the fifth bonus disc, which is a series of featurettes (14 in all, with a running time of nearly three hours) narrated by "The Long Game" guest star Simon Pegg (star of Shaun of the Dead and Spaced). They're a little exhausting to withstand all in one go, but the way the BBC handles these "behind the scenes" short docs makes them more like companions to the actual episodes than mere extras. Key revelations include how some episodes took up to nine months to make because of the complex CGI, the truth behind the new "blinged-out" Daleks, and the "mad science world" behind the show, which breaks down all of the requisite scientific explanations with great detail. (BBC/Warner)