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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Doctor Who: Series Six, Part One (Blu-ray)
Doctor Who: Series Six, Part One (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // July 19, 2011 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 5, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Show:
TARDIS: Did you ever wonder why I chose you all those years ago?
The Doctor: I chose you. You were unlocked.
TARDIS: Of course I was. I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.
If the idea of The Doctor having a two-way conversation with the TARDIS (in an episode written by Neil Gaiman (!)) isn't enough to pique your interest in this latest series, nothing I can say will change your mind.  Go ahead and skip over to the next review.  Don't worry, it won't hurt my feelings.
Okay, now that they're gone we can talk about head writer/ exec producer Steven Moffat's sophomore season on Doctor Who.  I thought his first season in charge of the show was brilliant (read my review here) and I was eagerly awaiting this follow-up.  While they've decided to split the season into two parts (for the original broadcast and home video release) which is an irritating trend, the show is still great, though the overall plot is a bit more convoluted than it has been in the past. 

(Warning:  The first episode sets up the major plot for this season, and I'll reveal a spoiler that takes place in that episode.  If you don't want to read it, skip down to the technical part.)
Amy and Rory are back on Earth enjoying married life without The Doctor until a mysterious blue card arrives.  It has a time, date, and place (the middle of the American desert) listed on it, but nothing else.  The pair show up to find River Song (who received a similar post card) and The Doctor wearing a cowboy hat.  ("Stetsons are cool!")
The quartet go down to a lake and have a picnic, where the Doctor lets it slip that over 200 years have passed since he's last seen them, and that their next mission has to do with the Moon landing in 1969.  Just then, someone in a 60's era NASA space suit walks out of the lake.  The Doctor warns his friends not to interfere, and walks down to greet the anomalous being.  They talk for a minute then the person in the suit shoots The Doctor dead.  He starts to regenerate but he's shot a second time interrupting the process.  His friends rush to his aid (River unloading her gun into the back of the suit that's walking back into the lake) to find him totally dead (presumably) permanently.  Just then an old man shows up, bearing another blue envelope, and gives the three grieving friends a can of gasoline before leaving.  They burn the Doctor's body and retire to a café to figure out their next plan when they see a fourth blue envelope lying on an empty table.  Out of the bathroom walks the Doctor and warmly greets them all.  It turns out that this Doctor is 200 years younger than the one who was killed.  In other words the Doctor will die, but not for a while. 

Amy desperately wants to tell The Doctor what happened, but River forbids her.  He can't learn anything about his own future, since that would set up a paradox.  (If she tells him and he avoids being killed, Amy won't see him die.  So she can't warn him.  Which will lead to his death.  Which means she'll warn him....)   Just who or what was in that space suit and why did they want to kill The Doctor?  Their only clue is The (older) Doctor's clue about going back to 1969 and the NASA Moon landing.  So off they go to 1969 where they discover something odd is happening... to President Nixon.  With his help, and that of a discharge Fed, they start to unravel a complex story.
Steven Moffat has always had interesting ideas, his crack in the universe storyline from last season was great, and he's come up with a few great plotlines for this season.  The only problem is that the subplots are a bit convoluted, with different time-lines intersecting and a new creature "The Flesh" that can make exact duplicates of anybody, it can get a bit confusing.  They also seem to drop the mystery of the person in the space suit for a large part of this half-season (that mystery is not wrapped up by the end of this set) and focus on another odd event.  There are also a pair of two-part shows this time around, and the second of those could have been done in one installment and consequently dragged in places.

Having said that, this is a very entertaining set of shows that builds on what has come before and also expands on the legend of The Doctor.   While Russell T. Davies did a great job bringing the Time Lord and his most famous enemies into the 21st Century, Moffat expands, adding new creatures and villains without forgetting the earlier foes.  The last episode in this set, which is one of my favorites (and I'd rave about it in more detail but I don't want to give anything away), features the Cybermen and the Sontarians while also including a new group of baddies, the Headless Monks.  He also comes up with The Silence, a unique race of creatures that are unlike any other monster I can think of.
The writing is just as strong as ever.  The plots are well thought out and most involve clever twist that are fun, but don't come across as condescending (as unfortunately happens way too often.)  The Doctor has some great lines that are very quotable too, which is a hallmark of Moffat-penned episodes.  When The Doctor discovers that he's being imprisoned in a cell made of dwarf star matter he excitedly exclaims "you're building me the perfect prison!" and then gets serious and growls "it won't be enough."  That's great stuff.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Doctor's Wife, an episode penned by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) a great tale where The Doctor gets a distress cube from a fellow Time Lord in trouble that originated outside of the universe.  It's a tale that takes a surprising twist that will have fans of the show talking for years to come.
The DVD:

This half season contains seven episodes on two Blu-ray discs.  The Christmas Special from 2010, which was released separately a while ago, is not included.
Like the previous Doctor Who HD releases, this set comes with a VC-1 encoded 1080i image which did look good overall.  The level of detail is nice, and the colors are strong and vibrant.  There is a little banding, but nothing too significant.  Overall a nice looking set.
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.
This is the really disappointing part of this collection.  While the earlier full season sets had a good amount of bonus material, this half season set has very little.  No commentaries, no Doctor Who Confidential episodes, just two Monster Files that look at The Silence and Gangers.  *yawn*
Final Thoughts:
From start to finish this was a fun set that passed way too quickly.  Matt Smith is still doing a great job as The Doctor and his companions, Amy and Rory, are wonderful too.  The only real complaint that I have is that this is only half of a season (the second half has not yet aired as of this writing) and the lack of extras.  Otherwise if you enjoyed season five, strap in for an exciting ride while watching this collection.  Highly Recommended.
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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