If you’re looking for science fiction that’s suspenseful but not entirely serious, check out the latest “Dr. Who” collection from BBC home video.
If you’re looking for science fiction that’s suspenseful but not entirely serious, check out the latest “Dr. Who” collection from BBC home video, which collects the first part of Series 6 (as they call seasons over in England). These adventures of the venerable British Time Lord stretch from a pirate ship in 1696 to a monastery in the near future, but the most imaginative one takes place in good ol’ 1969.
In the two-parter “The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon,” the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions have to battle an alien invasion that, it turns out, succeeded sometime around the time the wheel was discovered. Like most “Doctor Who” adventures, the aliens start out a bit cheesy, but by the end of the tale, they’ve managed to become creepy and ominous in the manner of the best “X-Files” episodes. The Doctor’s solution, which involves, among other things, Neil Armstrong’s big moment, Richard Nixon’s taping system and a cell phone camera three decades too early, is truly inspired.
“Doctor Who” has been traveling the English airwaves since the 1960s, and if he continues to be this much fun, there’s no need for him to stop anytime soon. The new “Doctor Who” set, available on DVD and Blu-ray, included seven episodes plus “Monster Files” about the show’s badguys. If you’re the sort of geek who likes “Dr. Who,” then you’re probably the sort of geek who will like “Monster Files,” too.
From the Archives
Three recent releases from the Warner Archives (warnerarchive.com) should fit nicely on the shelves of fans of vintage films:
“Day of Reckoning” is a 1933 melodrama with a classic heartbreaker of a plot. Nice guy Richard Dix is tossed into jail for embezzling funds, and his spendthrift wife (Madge Evans) immediately falls in with Dix’s old pal, who orchestrated his prison term in the first place. Naturally, prison is a swell place, full of loyal chums and life lessons, and Dix eventually learns to appreciate the new, scaled-down version of his life. Keep an eye out for legendary Little Rascal Spanky MacFarland as Dix’s 5-year-old son.
“The Woman on the Beach” is a 1947 film noir from legendary French director Jean Renoir. Unlike his fellow expatriate director Fritz Lang, Renoir had tough times in Hollywood, and this film was recut by the studio before it hit theaters. But even so, it’s a wild, fever dream of a movie, with cold-hearted Joan Bennett playing WWII vet Robert Ryan against her blind artist husband (Charles Bickford). Classic screen romance rarely seemed so rough and tumble.
“Symphony of Six Million” is hopelessly dated, but that’s what makes it enjoyable. In this 1932 weeper, Ricardo Cortez plays a Jewish doctor who turns his back on his old neighborhood — and girlfriend — for the big-bucks life of a Park Avenue surgeon. Did I mention his girlfriend (played by Irene Dunne) is disabled? Or that, out of nowhere, tragedy strikes, forcing poor rich Ricardo to reconsider his life choices? It’s that kind of movie, the kind they just don’t make anymore.
Will Pfeifer writes about DVDs and movies. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/willpfeifer/.