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Dr. Who: The Complete Fifth Series Review

The hero of Dr. Who has the ability to transform and recreate himself many times over. This is an ability shared by the Dr. Who franchise in general, which has allowed the BBC to continue producing new episodes, despite the fact that the character first debuted in 1963. The modern revival of Dr. Who, which began in 2004, carries on the tradition of constantly revamping the show and replacing the actor who portrays the enigmatic hero.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it depicts the adventures of a time-traveling alien genius who uses his vast intellect to defend the innocent against dangerous monsters and space invaders. The unnamed hero travels under the alias of “the Doctor.” Doctor who, you ask? No one knows. Hence, the title of the show.

Matt Smith is the third actor to portray the Doctor since the 2004 revival of Dr. Who, and the eleventh actor in total to assume the role in its 47 year history. The youngest person to ever play the part, Smith does a wonderful job essaying the Doctor’s alien qualities and making him genuinely seem like a man from another world. His quirky performance has breathed new life into the franchise.

The fifth series (or “season” in American parlance) gives fans not only a new Doctor but also a new traveling companion named Amy (Played by pretty, flame-haired Karen Gillian). If that weren’t enough, the fifth series is also the debut of new Executive Producer/Head writer Stephen Moffat, who previously contributed some of the most popular episodes of the first four series. Moffat walks the tricky tightrope wire between reinventing the series according to his own vision and repeating the established formula which was set in stone by his predecessor. For the most part, he does a good job finding the best of both worlds. Many fans consider the fifth series to be the best since the revival and with good reason.

The fifth series begins with Eleventh Hour, when the newly transformed Doctor crash lands his ship, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) in the backyard of Amy Pond, who is dealing with a mysterious peril that emanates from the walls of her home. (This is the beginning of a season-long story arc.) The unseen menace soon threatens the whole planet and it's up to the Doctor and Amy to save the world in one hour. Amy then joins the Doctor in his time-traveling/planet-hopping adventures, being drawn into one perilous situation after another.

Amy is running away from her own insecurities, which consist of life in a dull small town, an embarrassing job and an engagement to the sweet but uninteresting Rory (Arthur Darvill). Mid-season, the Doctor takes it upon himself to play cupid and recruit Rory as a member of the TARDIS crew, hoping to repair the rift in Rory’s relationship with Amy. Also featured in four episodes this series is Alex Kingston, who plays the recurring role of River Song, a women full of secrets.

As is generally the case with Dr. Who, several historic characters show up to aid the Doctor in his defense of Earth. Winston Churchill and Vincent Van Gogh both feature in the fifth series. The Van Gogh episode, Vincent and the Doctor, is one of the highlights of the season.

Some old enemies show up, most notably the Doctor’s persistent arch-foes, the Daleks, although they feature in the weakest episode of the year, Victory of the Daleks. Also making a nostalgic appearance are the subterranean Silurians (who haven’t been seen since the 1980s) in the two-parter The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. The wonderfully creepy Weeping Angels--the scariest monsters of the revival series--are back in an excellent two-part tale, Time of the Angles/Flesh & Stone. Toby Jones guests stars as the otherworldly Dream-Lord in one of the year’s best episodes, Amy’s Choice. The series epic finale, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, is chock-full of monstrous guest appearances.

Dr. Who: The Complete Fifth Series delivers 13 episodes from the most consistently entertaining year of Dr. Who since the 2004 revival. Matt Smith erases any doubt that he could follow in the footsteps of the earlier Doctors and makes the part his own. The combination of Smith and Moffat have returned Dr. Who to top form and have ushered in an era that could end up being among the finest in the franchise’s history.

DVD BONUS FEATURES:

There are quite a number of entertaining extras in this DVD set.

1) Two “Inside the TARDIS” micro-episodes.

2) The Monster Files, which give up a close-up look at the show’s alien menaces.

3) Video diaries by the cast members.

4) 12 episodes of DR. Who Confidential; a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

5) Six commentary tracts by Steven Moffat and others.

6) An out-take reel.

7) 20 teasers and trailers for year five.

"Dr. Who: The Complete Fifth Series" is on sale November 9, 2010 and is not rated. Adventure, Sci-Fi. Directed by Adam Smith, Ashley Way, Jonny Campbell, Toby Haynes, Various. Written by Steven Moffat, Toby Whithouse, Chris Chibnall, Gareth Roberts, Richard Curtis, Mark Gatiss . Starring Alex Kingston, Arthur Darvill, Karen Gillian, Matt Smith.

Nov
20
2010
Rob Young

Robert is obsessed with movies. He has a background in advertising and a long history of freelance writing but there's nothing he loves to write about more than movies. Let him dissect a film and he's a happy man. His favorite movie stars of all time are the Marx Brothers. He hates Cheech and Chong.

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