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Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series

BBC Worldwide // Unrated // November 9, 2010
List Price: $89.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted November 27, 2010 | E-mail the Author
The Show:



 


Young boy: Have you met
monsters before?


The Doctor: Yeah.


Young boy: Are you scared of
them?


The Doctor: No. They're scared
of me.


 


A new Doctor, a new companion, a new head writer, and even a
new TARDIS interior... it's time for fans of the Doctor to get their geek
on with
Doctor Who:  The Complete Fifth
Season

from BBC America.  This is a great set of
shows that takes all of the best aspects of the Russell T. Davies years
but
leaves out all of the silly parts (there are no aliens with chronic
flatulence
in this season!).  This year's worth of
programs also tells one larger story, while also taking time to focus
on more
intimate tales.  In a nut shell, this is
the best so far.


 


Young Amelia Pond has a crack in the wall of her
bedroom.  Though her aunt tells her it's
an ordinary crack, she knows it isn't because she can hear voices
coming from
it at night.  One evening while she's
home all alone she prays to Santa Clause to "send someone to fix it or
a
policeman..." when she interrupted by a crash in her back yard.style=""> 
Looking out she sees a blue object on its
side with the words "Police Box" stenciled around the top. 
She runs out just as the newly regenerated
Doctor (Matt Smith) climbs out, soaking wet. 
(He was thrown into the library, but so was the pool.)style="">  She tells him about the crack, correctly
assuming that he's someone who could help, and he eventually takes a
look.  He discovers that it's a place where
two
pieces of time and space that were never supposed to meet are touching,
and
it's not just in her wall; it's running through all of creation.style="">   


 


It's easy enough to seal up, which he does.  He
offers to take Amelia along with him, but
first he needs to check out the TARDIS and makes a quick test drive,
promising
to be back in 5 minutes.  Amelia packs
her suitcase and goes out to await The Doctor's return.


 


When the TARDIS reappears The Doctor runs into Amelia's
house only to discover that Amelia, now Amy, is all grown up.style="">  While the TARDIS was away on its 5-minute
shakedown cruise 12 years had passed on Earth. 
What's worse is that before he could seal up the crack all those
years
ago "Prisoner Zero" had used it to escape into Amelia's house where it
has been
hiding ever since.  Prisoner Zero's
keepers have arrived however, and will burn the entire planet to a
cinder
unless the villain gives himself up in 20 minutes, something that he
has no
intention of doing.


 


Afterwards the Doctor take the newly reconstructed TARDIS on
a quick trip to the moon, and pops back to pick up Amy once again, only
to discover
that another two years have passed.  Amy
reluctantly agrees to go with the last Time Lord, as long as he can get
her
back by tomorrow morning because there's something she has to do... get
married.


 


It usually takes me an adventure or two, a few episodes at a
minimum, with a new Doctor before I start to line him. 
With Matt Smith I was won over in about 15
minutes.  He has the humor of Tom Baker
(before he got silly at the latter part of his run), the seriousness of
Christopher
Eccleston, and a manner that's all his own. 
He reminds me of John Constantine from the Allan Moore run on style="">Swamp Thing (high praise from the
unreformed comic nerd).  He never seems
really worried, no matter how dire the situation, and realizes that
every
problem has a solution.  A good example
is in The Time of the Angels when he
has this conversation slightly abbreviated) when cornered by a monster
intent
on killing him and all the people with him: 


 


Evil creature: You're trapped,
sir... and about to die.


The Doctor: Yeah, trapped. And
you know what, speaking of
traps, this trap has got a great big mistake in it. A great big
whopping
mistake!


Evil creature: What mistake,
sir?


The Doctor: Oh, big, big
mistake. Really huge. Didn't anyone
ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap. If you're
smart, if
you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing
tomorrow, there is one thing you never, ever put in a trap.


Evil creature: And what would
that be, sir?


The Doctor: Me.


 


The new head writer, Steven Moffat (the guy who was
responsible for the best episodes from earlier season including style="">The Doctor Dances and the modern classic
Blink) had the season plotted out
from the beginning and did a great job of keeping the larger story
going in the
midst of a string of stand alone episodes. 
There are some really interesting clues about the origin of the
crack
sprinkled through the season that keeps viewer interest up.style=""> 


 


There are several stand-out stories in this season. 
The two-part return of the Silurians was well
done and successfully adapted the classic villains to the 21st
Century, and The Lodger was a
fun look at The Doctor in a more domestic
setting.  The best single episode would
have to be Vincent and The Doctor
however where the duo meets Vincent Van Gogh and finds the talented but
tortured artist battling failure and depression but still having a
wonderful
connection to the universe. 


 


From start to finish this was a fun season that passed way
too quickly. 


 


The DVD:


 


Video:

 

This is the first full season of Doctor Who to be filmed and released
in HD,
and I was a bit disappointed that it was only average in appearance for
a
Blu-ray disc.  While the VC-1 encoded 1080i image (like the
earlier
release of the previous year's specials... I'm not sure why they're not
in 1080p)
did look good overall, there are some flaws that take it out of the
top-tier as
far as PQ goes.  The level of detail is
nice, and the colors are strong and vibrant (which really enhances some
episodes, especially Vincent and the
Doctor
where they time travelers meet Van Gogh,) but the image was
marred
by some hard to miss aliasing every now and again, especially when
someone was
wearing a tightly stripped shirt or chain mail.  There was also a
little
banding, but nothing too significant.  The CGI monsters didn't
really meld
with the background in a convincing way, but that's not really a fault
of the
transfer.  Still, it's not a bad Blu-ray
image, just not a stellar one.

 

Audio:

 

The show comes with a DTS HD audio track that suited the show
well.  There
is a lot of aural action in the show; the TARDIS taking off, various
battles
with monsters, etc., and those sequences were engulfing and
forceful.  There's
a good amount of subwoofer action in some of the more dynamic scenes
too.  The dialog was crisp and clear and
well
placed in the soundstage.   Overall I
was
very happy with the why this set sounded.

 

Extras:

 

There's a good compliment of bonus features included with this season
set, but
there are also a few problems.  First off
is a pair of Meanwhile in the TARDIS
additional scenes.  These are cute little
bits with The Doctor and Amy just chatting between adventures.style="">  I really enjoyed these and wish they'd made
more.  They're presented after the
credits roll, but you can access them from the extras menu on the disc
where
they appear too. 


 


Next up are four Monster Files, a quick look at some of the
monsters that appear on the show (the Daleks, the Weeping Angels, the
Silurians, and the Alliance).style="">  There are six In-Vision Commentaries, a P-in-P
commentary track with various members of the cast and crew (but not
Matt Smith,
unfortunately) give their thoughts on the episode. 
I enjoyed the comments quite a bit, but the
P-in-P aspect was just annoying.  Also,
why are there only six?  Other season had
commentaries on every episode and that's what I was really expecting.style="">  That knocks the rating down a notch.style=""> 


 


Since I'm complaining, I should cover the video diaries. 
This is a three-part look behind the scenes
with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan shooting stuff with a camera.style="">  *yawn*. 
I'll be happy when the whole video diary trend fades away.


 


The bonuses that I always have mixed feelings about are the
installments of Doctor Who Confidential,
and this season is no different.  I
really enjoy these documentaries on the making of each episode, but
they are
cut down significantly.  Originally half
an hour each, when they appear on DVD they're condensed to about half
of
that.  I had always heard that it was
because of music rights, but after 5 years you'd think they'd stop
using music
that they couldn't get the video rights for. 
What is there is great, but I wish I could see the whole, uncut,
episodes.


 


The set is wrapped up with a series of trailers for the show
(a lot of them), out takes, and  a couple
of minor deleted scenes.   

 

Final Thoughts:

 

This is my favorite season of Doctor Who, new or old. 
Matt Smith takes the role and runs with it
and is a great Doctor.  Steven Moffat
does an amazing job as head writer (and pens many of the shows in this
season
himself) and instills a sense of wonder throughout this season that
makes it
just a heck of a lot of fun.  My only
complaint is that the extras aren't quite as hefty as they could be,
but
there's still enough bonus material there to give this season a style="font-weight: bold;">DVDTalk
Collectors Series rating. 



 

Note: The images
in this
review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent
the image
quality on the disc.
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