Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 12 Blu-ray review

It's a new era for classic Doctor Who at home. And who cares if you’ve already got them all on DVD? Now you can start buying them all over again on Blu-ray!

Having some time ago exhausted the library of extant classic Doctor Who stories to release on DVD, BBC Worldwide has now got around to testing fan appetites for Blu-ray re-releases. Choosing the 1974-1975 season to kick things off makes a lot of sense – not only does it mark the ever-popular Tom Baker's first year in the lead role, it also boasts one of the show's most well-regarded stories.

The season begins with Robot, a rather atypical tale that feels more like a hold-over from the John Pertwee era than the start of something new. Still, Baker is on excellent form throughout and the design of the titular menace is charmingly clunky.

The icky The Ark in Space finds the Doctor, Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) battling giant insects on a space station – and it's here that the new production team of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes really start to set out their stall.

Lasting for just two episodes, the brisk and brutal The Sontaran Experiment provides viewers with a chance to catch their breath before launching into the season's biggest story. And it's always fun to see the potato-headed aliens return to the show.

Genesis of the Daleks is the high point of the season (and one for the series as a whole, too). Exploring the origins of the Daleks, the story finds a way to make the evil pepper pots scary again and with the arrival of Davros introduces one of Doctor Who's most unforgettable villains.

Unfortunately, Revenge of the Cybermen fails to work the same magic for its bad guys, serving up a rather run-of-the-mill adventure that finds the metallic marauders attempting to destroy a 'planet of gold' that threatens their existence.

Picture: Considering its origins as a studio-based BBC TV series shot on video with some 16mm film inserts (typically model and location shoots), you really have to temper your expectations of what to expect from Doctor Who's picture quality on Blu-ray.

These upscaled 1080i 1.33:1 transfers exhibit plenty of ghosting and chroma anomalies. However, some additional clean-up work and the improved encoding Blu-ray offers over DVD means that the episodes definitely look better than they did in standard-definition.
Picture rating: 2.5/5

Audio: All five stories feature restored DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono soundtracks, while The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks also receive DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes. For the most part the audio quality is as good as you could hope for – although an error on the first episode of The Sontaran Experiment sees all audio relegated to the rear channels on surround setups. The good news, though, is that the BBC is working on replacement discs.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: This set ports over almost all of the commentaries, interviews, featurettes, archival footage, photo galleries and other assorted goodies from the earlier DVD releases of the individual serials (a handful are being shuffled around in these BD boxsets to better place them with more relevant stories), and adds some brand new goodies of its own. These include an hour-long interview with Tom Baker, Gogglebox-style Behind the Sofa featurettes for each story, the Christmas 1975 omnibus version of Genesis of the Daleks, and almost three hours of material from the 1992 tie-in video, The Tom Baker Years.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: The definitive home release of these classic episodes – just don't expect too much in AV terms.

Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 12, BBC Worldwide, All-region BD, £50 approx