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This review is from: Doctor Who - Series 7 Part 1 [DVD + UV Copy] (DVD)
This set consists of the five episodes from the first part of the seventh series of revived Doctor Who. The five episodes are spread across two discs and, for some reason, the discs are in separate cases when they could have been put in the same case and they would have taken up half as much space.
The episodes are variable in terms of quality, but the performances from the cast are consistently strong and the episodes all look fabulous, really it's the writing that lets it down badly in places.
The series starts with 'Asylum of the Daleks', which is a triumph of style over substance if ever there was one. It's a plot hole and continuity error riddled mess. Admittedly the parliament of the Daleks looks breathtaking and the whole episode is very well shot and acted but it makes little sense. Another problem is that they had every Dalek prop ever used in the series on hand for this story but they do almost nothing with them.
Despite the fact that Steven Moffat only has 50 minutes to work with he still elects to waste time on an entirely pointless divorce subplot for Amy and Rory. By the end of the episode the pair are back together and it was as if they'd never divorced (which, let's face it, they never should have). The story ends with the revelation that the Daleks have had their memories wiped of all memory of the Doctor. 17 months on and still nothing has been made of this twist. All in all 'Asylum' is an unforgivable waste of a brilliant idea.
'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship' is the highlight of this part of the series; it's funny, well acted and well paced and the Dinosaurs look brilliant. David Bradley is compelling as the repulsive Solomon, Rupert Graves is as smooth as silk as Riddell and Mark Williams impresses in the role of Brian, erm, Williams. The two robots, voiced by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, are hilarious.
At first it looks as if 'A Town Called Mercy' is going to be a straightforward western but it later becomes a morality tale, with the moral dilemma being whether or not Kahler-Jex deserved to die for his crimes. Sadly it's too complex for its own good; at first Jex seems to be full of remorse for his crimes but later he comes across as a psychopath who doesn't repent after all, this weakens the issue. There is however some lovely Spanish location filming.
'The Power of Three' evokes memories of 'The Stones of Blood', in the sense that it starts out rather will set on Earth, but when the action moves to a spaceship it falls to pieces. The concept of the indestructible cubes just turning up all over the world is very good, there's a priceless cameo from Alan Sugar and it's great to see Mark/Brian Williams again. Kate Stewart is a nice addition to the series.
Sadly the resolution is very rushed, the Doctor simply waves his silly sonic screwdriver and all the people killed by the cubes simply come back to life and then the Shakri ship just happens to explode. All a bit convenient really.
'The Angels Take Manhattan' rounds off this set of episodes, and it's certainly enjoyable but it tries to do too much in 45 minutes; it incorporates the Weeping angels, River Song and New York location filming and on top of all this it has to provide a satisfying departure for Amy and Rory. Despite all these elements vying for attention, Moffat still elects to waste time with redundant characters and pointless scenes.
There are some very touching scenes between Amy and Rory and between Amy and the Doctor and these are superbly acted, but a final scene between the Doctor and Rory would have been nice (they don't even say goodbye to each other). Overall the story is rushed.
This mini season was certainly not a disaster, but it could have been much better. The lesson that should be taken from this is that while standalone episodes can work, Doctor Who really does need the odd two parter.
As for extras, there is a short 'Asylum of the Daleks' prequel. There's a short 'Making of the Gunslinger' feature which talks about how the Gunslingers were created in the context of the storyline.
The best extra is all five parts of 'Pond Life', these were five short online segments used to bridge the large gap between 'The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe' and 'Asylum of the Daleks'. These are very funny.