When the Doctor Who Series 5 DVDs/ Blu-rays (individual volumes and complete series) were released back in 2010, sharp-eyed Doctor Who fans noticed they had some particular technical problems with every single episode, which significantly differed to the original broadcast versions.
For those who have seen Matt Smith’s first full series as the Eleventh Doctor, you may have watched them when it was broadcast and/or released on DVD, Blu-ray, or digital.
I know it’s all rather confusing, but these issues must never be ignored. So let’s dig into the minutiae! After all, these small changes typically interest Doctor Who fans more than most.
The Next Time trailers were all but omitted from the DVDs and Blu-rays, only to receive widespread criticism from fans. But that’s not all. There is no clear explanation as to why such a ridiculous decision was made to omit them altogether; therefore disrespecting one of the New Series traditions.
From what I can recall, I didn’t find out about any of this until coming across a number of Amazon reviews, as well as a YouTube video of the Series 5 Volume 1 vanilla DVD menu (prior to being removed for copyright infringement).
Traditionally, a Next Time trailer would appear right at the end of each episode before, or occasionally after, the closing credits (the latter if it’s a multi-part storyline, following complaints during Series 1). While most trailers tend to avoid revealing too many details, others would spoil them by giving very brief glimpse of a plot twist (such as the Daleks during the climax of Series 1’s Bad Wolf), which is why some viewers would choose to skip them for their own preference.
The Beast Below is, notably, the only episode in the Matt Smith era where they use the Russell T Davies era tradition of playing full theme music during both the Next Time trailer and the end credits. With the exception of The Day of the Doctor, we also get to hear the “Middle Eight” as the credits roll while random scores and motifs are incorporated into every single subsequent trailer.
But omitting trailers wasn’t the only problem. For the majority of home media releases, every Series 5 episode has the standard BBC “blocks” logo replaced with a variant of the infamous BBC Worldwide logo. What’s worse, instead of the end credits finishing with the BBC Cymru Wales logo, they go straight to the Worldwide ident by trimming the final bars of the theme music.
Executive decisions and policy guidelines are always complicated, from my point of view. I honestly don’t understand why the broadcasters decided to return to the practice of incorporating the BBC logo into the pre-titles, rather than the opening titles, with the exception of Flesh and Stone and Cold Blood both of which began with Previously recaps only. It’s a regressive move after what they rightfully did for the entirety of Series 3 and 4, but I’m glad they came up with the idea of adding a unique variation over or underneath the Doctor Who logo – starting with Series 6.
(Going slightly off-topic, I feel it would’ve been better if The Eleventh Hour went straight into the new title sequence, along with the Series 8 opener Deep Breath. Funnily enough, The Ghost Monument also marked the debut of the latest title sequence, despite being the second episode of Series 11.)
One of the strangest things about The Eleventh Hour title sequence, on the home media releases only, is that the TARDIS has a fiery effect around its police box exterior. This is likely to have been done in error, considering that the new TARDIS exterior does not appear until the episode’s climax.
But some speculation suggests that the title sequence could also act as an extra scene, to show the TARDIS heading back in time, albeit still out of control after The End of Time. If that turns out to be the case, then it’s a continuity error.
Considering that The Eleventh Hour was the only Series 5 episode to receive the most number of unnecessary edits, the end credits begin with the logo (see header image) zooming towards the camera; only featured in the Series 5 Volume 1 DVD and the Netflix release. I bet it’s a cheap homage to Series 1- 3.
On a more positive note, the only platforms you can watch Series 5 unedited are on BBC iPlayer and iTunes (comparatively quite ‘pricey-wicey’ if you purchase the latter). But more surprisingly, the Blu-ray Steelbook release has also managed to retain the original broadcast versions, including reinstated Next Time trailers.
And in the meantime, you can enjoy the Coming Soon trailer featured at the end of The Eleventh Hour.
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series on Steelbook Blu-ray is available now through third-party sellers. Alternatively, the original complete DVDs and Blu-rays are still available.