New BBC TV on DVD and Blu-ray: Doctor Who, Last Tango in Halifax, The Paradise and Silk

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Michael Craze, Anneke Wills, Robert Beatty
  • Director: Derek Martinus
  • Writers: Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis
  • Producers: Innes Lloyd
  • Format: NTSC, Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
  • Run Time: 93 minutes

  • Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet


            As all fans of classic “Doctor Who” are painfully aware of, many episodes were destroyed in an infamous purge of old film and television content by the BBC in the 1970s. Only through discoveries in personal collections and various archives have some of these episodes been recovered, though there are still many storylines which have been left incomplete for decades since they were first created. “The Tenth Planet” was one of these storylines, taking place during William Hartnell’s three years as the first of many to play the Doctor.


            “The Tenth Planet” is story number 29 in the “Doctor Who” timeline, and it involves the discovery of Earth’s forgotten twin planet in the year of 1986. The planet Mondas is inhabited with the emotionless Cybermen attempting to convert all of humanity on Earth into the same fate. Only the Doctor can help to save humanity, though very few episodes actually show the otherworldly invaders, and one of those is the episode which is missing. The missing episode has been replaced with a brand-new animated version of the lost section. This storyline also marks the last appearance from Hartnell as the Doctor, making history as he becomes the first to retire from the role.


            The special features are overflowing, in order to make up for what cannot be replaced. There is an audio commentary with actors Anneke Wills, Christopher Matthews, Earl Cameron, Alan White, Donald Van Der Maaten, Christopher Dunham and designer Peter Kindred, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There is also a making-of featurette and a handful of retrospective material. There is also an interview with Hartnell from 1966 and a gallery of photos.



    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10

    Historical Significance: 10/10

    Disc Features: 10/10

  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 336 minutes

    Last Tango in Halifax: Season One


            Despite the good-natured romantic storyline, “Last Tango in Halifax” is often a bit too overly melodramatic in the various plot twists. Moments are enjoyable while the overall result is a bit forced. Situations are thrust into the storyline merely to provide a bit of drama, even when they aren’t entirely believable. What could have been a simple love story for the senior set ends up being an ensemble with more romantic improbabilities than a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.


            The basic premise for the series is laid out in the first episode, as two childhood sweethearts reunite after 50 years apart. Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) reunite on the internet thanks to the help of a few tech-savvy grandkids, and then agree to meet in person. This reunion leads to a sudden relationship between the two that has an effect on both of their families.


            If this series were simply about Alan and Celia, it may have been a bit more believable despite a lack of conflict. Instead we are dragged into the romantic entanglements of all family members, which are absurdly convoluted despite first appearances. Celia’s daughter, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire), has a failing marriage with a man who has just returned from an affair with an alcoholic, while secretly has a lesbian lover of her own. Alan’s daughter, Gillian (Nicola Walker), is simply unable to make wise decisions when choosing who she sleeps with, causing violence all around her.


            Season one was six episodes, with a second season having aired with past year. All six episodes are included in this 2-disc set, though special features are not available.


    Entertainment Value: 5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10

    Historical Significance: 3/10

    Disc Features: 0/10



  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 471 minutes

    The Paradise: Season One


            “The Paradise” is a new BBC series which has the feel of a classic literature adaptation, filled with savory melodrama and colorful characters in an immaculate Victorian setting. Season one of this delightful romance could stand alone as a miniseries by the way the story is neatly wrapped up in eight episodes, though the narrative continued with a second season this year. All eight season one episodes are included in this two disc set, displaying the magnificent costumes and set design on marvelous high definition Blu-ray.


            The series follows country girl named Denise (Joanna Vanderham) as she travels to the city in order to work with her uncle in his dressmaking shop. Upon arrival Denise discovers that her uncle is struggling with business because of Britain’s first department store, which is located across the street. Run by the innovative young owner John Moray (Emun Elliott), The Paradise is a huge success which has unique problems arising with each new turn.


            With no other options for money, Denise begins working as a lowly shopgirl at the department store, though her imaginative brain is perfectly suited for more creative aspects of the business world. Struggling to remain on good terms with everyone in the shop, Denise finds many conflicts of interest as she has new ideas to help The Paradise. With each great idea she has, it threatens the business her uncle has built, but more important is the dynamic her success causes within the power struggles of The Paradise. Matters are complicated even further when romantic entanglements also distract from the daily work of the department store.


            The first season of “The Paradise” is eight episodes on two Blu-ray discs. The special features include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series.


    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance: 6/10

    Disc Features: 4/10

  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 360 minutes

  • Silk: Season One


            In Britain this is called a six-part series, because each season has six episodes. This is one of many things which may seem somewhat unfamiliar to American audiences, who can now purchase the first season of this series about the frontline of criminal law in the UK. But if you can get past the wigs and the robes, the cases are not that different than those you might find in the myriad of law shows in the U.S.


            The storylines may be a bit far-fetched at times, and the characters often resemble something more akin to melodrama rather than realism, but it helps to keep the legal jargon more entertaining. The cast is led by Maxine Peake as Martha Costello, a defense barrister looking to join the Queen’s Counsel. Martha’s passion is only matched by the ambition of her colleague, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry Jones), who is also applying for the coveted position.


            Series one has six episodes at just about an hour each, with continuing storylines and episode-specific cases. They are split up on two discs, along with a behind-the-scenes featurette in the extras.


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10

    Historical Significance: 4/10

    Disc Features: 3/10







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