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"Doctor Who": (Series - 6) - "Part One” - {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Daniel Ruwe
Studio: Warner Brothers
Genre:
Sci-Fi
Release Date:
July 19, 2011
Special Features:

See Below

Review:

As far as I can tell, when most people think of Doctor Who, they think of a blurry show from the seventies on late-night PBS starring an eccentric-looking British actor wearing a scarf running down countless hallways pursuing (or being pursued by) very low-budget monsters. In 2005, the BBC rebooted the show, which had been off the air since 1989. The new show…is pretty similar to the old one, except the Doctor doesn’t wear a scarf anymore.***

Not that that is a bad thing. The old Doctor Who was quite good, its lack of special effects and sets offset by very strong writing. (Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy creator Douglas Adams was one of the writers). The new Doctor Who looks a little better—the costumes have improved from middle school Halloween party to ScyFy Channel original movie level.***

Just like the old show, though, it doesn’t really matter. Doctor Who has some of the best TV writers around. The head writer for season six is Steven Moffat, who has written six Hugo Award nominated episodes for the show. The sixth season (or the first half of the season; the second half is currently airing on the BBC), shows Moffat at what might be his best.***

(As far as the lack of special effects go, it isn’t noticeable in a show that can make decorative statues, darkness, and what appear to be giant metal pepper shakers into genuinely terrifying villains).***

The idea behind the show is that the Doctor, a mysterious alien Time Lord, travels around the universe in the TARDIS, which functions as time machine and is stuck in the shape of a blue police call box. Every once in a while, the Doctor dies and regenerates into another actor.***

The current Doctor is Matt Smith, and he might be the best Doctor since the show was created in 1966. He looks young for his age, and he’s only twenty-seven to begin with, but is somehow able to project the wisdom, experience, and confidence that comes with being a 900-year-old Time Lord.***

Also outstanding are Karen Gilliam and Arthur Davrill as Amy Pond and Rory Williams, the Doctor’s loyal companions. Amy is smart and sassy and leggy; her husband Rory is less impulsive and less bright but also utterly loyal to his wife. Alex Kingston plays River Song, a clever, mysterious time traveler who has a past with the Doctor. Both of them being time travelers, they are traveling through time in different directions, so the last time River meets the Doctor is the first time he meets her, and vice versa. Together, the four make up a brilliant ensemble with incredible chemistry, especially considering that the current cast has been together for only a season and a half.***

Even the weakest episodes of Doctor Who have at least a few strikingly original ideas, while the strongest episodes are probably the best science fiction on TV. The first half of season six has no weak episodes. (The weakest is probably The Curse of the Black Spot, and that episode is only flawed in comparison to the brilliant ones surrounding it, such as The Impossible Astronaut and A Good Man Goes To War). The writing is as strong as ever here—Steven Moffat is easily the best writer on the show, and he wrote three of the seven episodes.***

The very first scene of the first episode shows the Doctor being gunned down by an astronaut. The second introduces possibly the creepiest of the show’s villains, the Silence, a species that is instantly forgotten after they are encountered. Then Amy gets pregnant, and River Song knows more about the Doctor than he knows about himself. (Not surprising, since she’s met him in his future). Sometimes all the plot threads become a little too confusing to handle, and the first half of the series ends with the audience knowing far too little about antagonists’ motivations.***

But for the most part, the show flows quite well, balancing well-written stand-alone episodes with show-altering revelations reminiscent of Lost or Twin Peaks. Doctor Who is like no other show on television today. It is always smart and original, and season six might be the best season yet.***

Video and Audio:

The DVDs look good; the color is crisp and sharp. The show’s special effects people always make sure the show looks good on screen and that attention to detail shows here. The sound is good too, with the dialogue easy to hear. Murray Gold’s score is good, but fortunately never overwhelms the dialogue.***

Special Features:

This release is light on special features, with only a short documentary about the show’s newest aliens.***

Final Words:

Doctor Who is easily one of the most original shows on television, and it has to be the best sci-fi show on the air. The first half of the latest season is utterly fantastic and essential viewing.***

 

 
 
 
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