BluRay/DVD Reviews

DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON

By • Nov 30th, 2010 •

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DOCTOR WHO began telecasting in 1963, the day after the assassination of President Kennedy. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and is currently being shown in about 50 countries. It has been spoofed on Saturday Night Live, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. Eleven actors have played the good doctor, and with no viewer friction incurred, since he is an alien and regenerates himself, so why not into different actors? The series owes a great debt to the work of the great British screenwriter Nigel Kneale, but where Kneale’s fantastic blends of Science, Sci-fi, Horror, Fantasy and Mythology – most notably in his Quatermass films – were played dead serious, DOCTOR WHO adds healthy dollops of whimsy. Kneale didn’t like the show. It’s definitely a different take on the grand cosmic adventures he imagined. And the character of Doctor Who is like Quatermass on amphetamines.

The eleventh actor – Matt Smith, fleshy-faced, appealing and brimming with energy – debuts in an episode adroitly called “The Eleventh Hour.” I’m sure the fans were amused. In it he does a lot of running around, pursued by his latest familiar, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan – pretty, sexy, and sporting a very sweet nose). He has twenty minutes to save the world in the first episode, and he’s more confident than we are, although, if we’d looked at the BluRay box, we would have seen that there were more episodes to go, so he must know something we don’t. (And even when it’s over, I don’t know some of what he knew…but I’ll be thinking about it.)

When the episode is over, he invites Amy to join him in the time machine. She hesitates. He’s done it all and needs a change. She is enthralled by both the machine and the thought of adventure. She sets the ground rules, that they are just time-traveling friends, and that no matter how far they travel in time, he must get her back in time for her wedding the following morning. He agrees. But we know they care about each other, they know they care about each other, and maybe we’ll all get lucky before the season’s over, though maybe not. And off they go. He looks at things with a pragmatic eye, she with a more ‘Blinkian’ intuitive attitude. A well-matched ying-yang duo, kind of like Fox and Mulder from The X-Files, in an alternate universe.

Kudos to Stephen Moffat for crafting a season which comes full circle. I could feel the presence of THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR in the wrap-up. One of my favorite films. I cried at that one, and I was similarly moved here. Pretty cool, for a tv series to get that kind of emotion out of me. I think Nigel Kneale would finally have given it a nod.

I am told by an authority on the subject (aka: he’s viewed more of the seasons than I have) that the years featuring David Tennant were even better, but this season is all I have to go on, and I heartily recommend it. The image is crisp as can be; the effects don’t fall apart under BluRay’s scrutiny. The music, by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, is lush, effective, and really clever. The original theme by Ron Grainer, which gained much attention at the time it was originally created, has been fiddled with, and purists are apparently put off by this, but not being a purist, it worked just fine for me. The scripts are fast and furious, and if there are ebbs and flows, they are at least always dealing with tantalizing ideas. Production value is high, all the more reason to make it a BluRay purchase.

And the 3D box cover is nicely designed, imparting the sense of fun and constant movement that defines the show.

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