Christopher Eccleston's tenure as the time-traveling title hero in the venerable UK sci-fi series "Doctor Who" lasted just 13 episodes, but he left enough of a impression on fans to make some wonder how his replacement, veteran television performer David Tennant, might fare in the role. As this second-series boxed set proves, the answer is: he's a near-perfect Doctor who combines the eccentricities of earlier incarnations (most notably Tom Baker) with a fresh and youthful interpretation of his own, and even brings a healthy dash of romantic chemistry with his sidekick, Rose Tyler (the equally charming Billie Piper). And their adventures retain the solid blend of thoughtful speculative fiction, pulp action, and quirky humor that typified the series at its best. Among the 15 terrific stories contained in the six-disc set are the "Children in Need" (a.k.a. "Pudsey Cutaway") mini-episode from the 2005 Children in Need telethon that showed Eccleston's transformation into Tennant; "School Reunion," in which Elisabeth Sladen returns as Sarah Jane Smith; "The Girl in the Fireplace," which draws together robots in 18th century France with a derelict space station in the distant future; and the season finale, "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday," which not only revives the series' most popular villains, the robotic Daleks, in a head-to-head struggle against the Cybermen, but also marks the final appearance of another series regular. For fans and first-time visitors to the TARDIS alike, the Second Series is simply thrilling sci-fi TV.
As with the First Series set, the supplemental features are plentiful here; commentary by the show's cast and crew is provided on each episode, and four feature picture-in-picture commentary tracks; deleted scenes and outtakes are also included, as are video diaries by Tennant and Piper, and a lengthy featurette, "Doctor Who Confidential," which covers nearly every aspect of the series' production, including the introduction of the Torchwood Institute and the return of Sarah Jane, both of which would be featured in their own respective spin-off series (the first in "Doctor Who"'s long history) in 2007. "– Paul Gaita"