on 19 May 2011
How could I not love it? After all the angst about "Who is this young upstart?", "Who decided to have an incredibly 'young' Doctor?" and most of all "Who was the idiot who decided that Matt Smith would be the perfect follow up to David Tennant?" this first series (in my mind) proved all the naysayers to be completely wrong.
This young man, under Mr Moffit's aegis, has shown us a multifaceted character, a young man's face that can express such old emotions, that depth of anger that links all three new doctors and a wonderfully whimsical surface that can occasionally make me laugh out loud.
As far as I'm concerned Matt Smith's performance is the perfect antidote to the doomed darkness of David Tennant's last days as the Doctor and this first series has been such fun. Okay, many adult viewers have complained that the stories have been simplistic or ridiculous but they certainly showcased the new team's acting chops whether you liked them or not. Amy is growing into a strong, modern woman and if I had daughters I'd be proud to think that she was as determined, caring and intelligent as Ms Pond. We all thought Rory would be a damp squib that would turn up whenever he was needed but, instead, he became Rory the Centurion: Amy's guardian, a man the Doctor can trust and, bless him, the man who dies, all the time, over and over... and every time I'm as horrified as the last!
So, yes, remember Chris Ecclestone's powerful, playful Doctor, weep over the little death of David Tennnant's demise but don't belittle young Mr Smith's performance. Remember that last episode where he sat beside Amy's bed telling her all those wonderful things, his face mirroring his emotions, the shadows of the old man drifting across his face and then tell me he's not the right man for the job.
Long live the Moff!
on 13 March 2011
The 2010 series of 'Doctor Who' is, at first glance, very different to what went immediately before. Lead writer and executive producer Russell T Davies has departed, to be replaced by Steven Moffat, and David Tennant has handed over the keys to the TARDIS to Matt Smith, the youngest actor to play the role to date. There's a look and feel to Series Five that marks it out as different from its predecessors, but ultimately, it's still cut from much the same cloth as before, mixing exciting adventure with great writing, and still being one of the best things on British television in years.
Matt Smith had a tough job, following in David Tennant's footsteps, but from his first moments in series opener, 'The Eleventh Hour', you know everything is going to be fine. His relative youth seems irrelevant, because he feels so at home in the role of the Doctor that you can absolutely buy into him as a 900-odd year old Time Lord. In many ways, his performance brings back memories of Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton - he's a natural, juggling the dramatic and the comedic effortlessly. He's ably supported by Karen Gillan as the feisty Amy Pond, and Arthur Darvill as her sometimes-bumbling fiancee Rory, not to mention a stellar guest cast that boasts names such as Ian McNeice, Sophie Okonedo, Tony Curran, Iain Glen, Helen McCrory and Toby Jones, as well as Alex Kingston making a glorious return as River Song, the mysterious woman whose life keeps intersecting with the Doctor's.
As usual, there's a real ambition to some of the stories told here, both in their scale and the complexity of the storytelling - 'The Eleventh Hour' takes place across fourteen years of Amelia 'Amy' Pond's life, whilst 'Amy's Choice' slides between a number of realities, only one of which may be real, and season finale 'The Big Bang' features all manner of jumping forwards and backwards in time, alternate realities and other such head-spinning concepts. The series has lost none of its epic potential, either - 'Victory of the Daleks' is a WWII epic in under 45 minutes, 'The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone' by turns a creepy horror and epic sci-fi action thriller, and 'The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood' presents an entire underground civilisation living beneath the Earth. For me, the stand out episode was 'Vincent and the Doctor' by Richard Curtis, a wonderful character-driven piece treading the difficult ground of exploring issues of Vincent Van Gogh's terrible depression, whilst also throwing in an invisible giant space turkey for good measure. The fact that it manages to do both of these - and throw in a scene-stealing uncredited cameo from Bill Nighy - just shows how good the series can be when it's firing on all cylinders. It's not all perfect, of course - some episodes don't work as well as others, and the attempts to reinvent Who icons such as the Daleks and the Silurians don't quite come off as planned. But it's certainly up there with the best the series, past and present, has to offer.
This Blu Ray release presents the episodes in stunning high definition - as they're meant to be seen, really. The 2009 Specials didn't always exploit the potential of HD to the max, but this series really does - whether it's the space battles of 'Victory of the Daleks', the sky lit up with alien spacecraft in 'The Pandorica Opens', or simply the gorgeous (and incredibly detailed) new TARDIS interior. The episodes have, quite simply, never looked or sounded better than they do here on BD (though you may need a bit of tinkering with your player settings to get the sound mix right if you don't have a surround set-up - switching audio output to 'Bitstream' may help), and it's definitely worth opting for this version over the slightly cheaper DVD set.
Extras wise, there's plenty here for viewers to enjoy - perhaps most notably two new scenes penned by Steven Moffat, exclusive to DVD and Blu Ray. These sequences feature the Doctor and Amy in the TARDIS, and serve as preludes to 'The Beast Below' and 'The Vampires of Venice' respectively. They're a lot of fun, and are a nice little bonus. It would be good to see more of these in future, if possible. As with previous boxsets, there's a bonus disc housing the 15 minute cut-down editions of 'Doctor Who Confidential' covering each episode, which offer behind-the-scenes access and insights, and are consistently enjoyable. There are commentaries, too, although disappointingly compared to previous sets, these are only on selected episodes, and are in-vision commentaries, which aren't to everyone's tastes. Aside from that, there's an array of video diaries, trailers, and 'Monster Files' focusing on some of the Doctor's enemies throughout the season.
All in all, 'The Complete Series Five' is a fantastic Blu Ray release for a series which not only continues the 'Doctor Who' legend in the quality to which we've become accustomed, but also reinvents it in style. Minor issues over the extras shouldn't deter you from giving this a go, as it really is the best way to watch the Eleventh Doctor's first adventures.
There is a received wisdom that Russell T Davies' time on Doctor Who divided fans and that he delighted and appalled in equal measure. Well, all that seems a long time ago now, and as nothing compared to reactions to Steven Moffat's first series at the Who helm. Of course, Moffat has a long and accomplished track record, including the underrated Coupling and, in the last year, co-writing the superlative Sherlock and the screenplay for the upcoming Tintin movie. And this is before we even start to consider his contributions to Series 1-4: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl In The Fireplace, Blink and Silence In The Library/Forest of the Dead. Unlike Davies' broad emotional sweeps, Moffat seemed more adept at dealing with tricksier elements of plotting and continuity, something which would play a large part in series five's arc. Reaction to the series was polarised between those who thought that he had trashed the entire franchise to those, like me, who thought he had breathed new life into it. It was not an unalloyed success, but there were many wonderful highlights to justify the rating.
Episode one introduces us to a new Doctor, a new TARDIS, a new companion and, shock horror, new titles! Matt Smith is surprising, looking (as some have noted) like a young man built out of parts of old ones, but sounding as beautifully eccentric and alien as The Doctor should be. Frankly, from the moment of, "Fry something, you're Scottish" and "Fish custard", I was sold. It was an episode that took lots of chances, including the wonderful time lapse sequence where The Doctor first meets Rory. And it was a nice touch to position Smith in the canon in his meeting with the Atraxi (who still sound uncomfortably like a brand of handcream to me).
In contrast, the promised thrills and spills promised in episodes 2 and 3 were a bit underwhelming. The Beast Below was a serviceable pot boiler to introduce us further to the new TARDIS occupants, though the much heralded Smilers turned out to be something of a red herring in the larger scheme of the plot. If episode 2 was underwhelming, then the Daleks' appearance in episode 3 was probably the biggest let down of the entire series, feeling as much of a misfire to me as series 3's clunking Daleks in Manhattan. The design of the new generation Daleks aroused huge amounts of anger and negativity. These were almost secondary matters compared to the story, which simply did not work. It was also disappointing that the solid Bill Patterson was not that well used in his role.
After this lull, however, things started to pick up again with the Weeping Angels double bill The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone. Reintroducing the high point of series 3 was a risky gambit, but one which allowed both Smith, Gillan and the returning Alex Kingston some time to develop their characters and really let them fly. The second part in particular was stunningly good. In comparison, the following Vampires of Venice could have been a real disappointment, but happily wasn't, managing to maintain some of the two parter's momentum. What is noticeable by this stage is the crackling dialogue and the rapidly developing interplay between the Doctor, Amy and Rory: it's this kind of writing that the Moffat Who really manages to excel at.
Next came the Silurian two parter: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. In retrospect, these episodes, while serviceable, are not hugely spectacular. They left me feeling much the same as I had with series 4's Sontaran encounter: glad that they'd been revisited, but not wedged in the mind in the same way other episodes were. Such things are common in mid-series, where it's possible for the pace to drop off a little in anticipation for the run-in to the end.
In contrast, Vincent and The Doctor was simply stunning. It's an episode resonating with colour and real emotional power (though some accused it of being emotionally cheap and manipulative), and possibly my favourite full episode of the run. Tony Curran's van Gogh is by turns inspirational, irrational and convincingly tortured; it's a fine performance and does Richard Curtis's script justice.
I wasn't expecting much from The Lodger, having a difficult relationship with James Corden. Thankfully for me, the Corden of the The History Boys showed up, instead of the one from Horne and Corden. The main thread of the plot was almost incidental here; we got much more fun from Smith playing for laughs and the rather sweet relationship developing between Corden's Craig and Daisy Haggard's Sophie. It was a fine appetiser for the inevitable finale...
..which didn't disappoint. One of the big criticism's of RTD's time at the helm was that series finales tended to be lots of noise and plots holes colliding in a big messy heap at the end. In Moffat's hands things were very,very different. Things which seemed inconsequential or just wrong (like the jacket in episode 5's forest scene) suddenly took on huge amounts of extra meaning. And of course, there was Moffat's delight in playing with the narrative structure, the timeline and the expectations of the audience. None more so than episode 12's threat from all of the Doctor's adversaries being nothing more than a cypher for the wonders of what was to come in the final episode of the series. The Big Bang manages to make the end of all creation an intensely personal experience, centering everything around Amy and her life. It's a masterstroke, and one that is tightly and nimbly written. The "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" moment had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end, jumping up and down with glee. The ends that needed tying were tied, while enough was left hanging to bring us into the 2011 run running
As mentioned before, the series did have its low points and longueurs, but these are easily outpaced by the highs, of which there are very many. Karen Gillan's Amy Pond has not met universal approval (I think she's fine), while Smith has a claim to have not only prevented himself becoming trapped in Tennant's long shadow, but to have surpassed his forerunner. Smith's Doctor is sparky, funny, occasionally and unexpectedly melancholy, lanky, otherworldy and, of course, obsessed with bow-ties. Series five represents good progress, and bodes well for 2001's split series six.
on 29 June 2012
What I liked:
- The episodes are awesome. There is not one bad episode.
- The boxset isn't like the previous 4 series, instead it is in the style of a book where you flip through the DVD's.
- The quality of the DVD's (Standard definition) is fantastic.
- There are a lot of special features on each DVD.
- There is a 6th bonus DVD for the confidential cut downs which I really enjoyed.
What I didn't like:
- Instead of having 3 episodes on each disk, on some there are only 2. The boxset would be better having 5 disks instead of the spread out 6.
- Because of it only having 2 episodes on some disk it messes up some 2-part stories. For example on the weeping angle episodes you have to change the disk to watch the second part.
- No episode guide included.
If you are a Doctor who fan I would definitely recommend buying this box set as it is fantastic!
on 19 August 2010
'Oh, I didn't like it', 'He's not as good as David Tennant', 'It's not as good as the original show', 'Well of course, I remember William Hartnell' blah blah blah blah blah. It's funny, Doctor Who fans now don't have to hark all the way back to the original series ('63- '89) anymore, but now can hark back to more recent times to come up with a flaccid 'the new series isn't as good as it was' argument. I have been a fan for Doctor Who since 1973, through it's considerable highs and it's many (lets be honest here) considerable lows. To admit one was even a fan of the show was at one period of history akin to admitting to necrophilia, although not as racey. But Doctor Who has done what it always does; it dusts itself off and enjoys the fact that it can regenerate, just like the main character in the series. It saddens me that Who fans have a demographic within them that is bitter, bitchy, po-faced and nostalgic to the point of myopia. Some of the more negative critiques (and I use that word very loosely indeed) aimed at series 5 on Amazon have again been sadly penned by this camp of moan-mongering morons who wish it was yester-year again. It's not; get over it.
Here's joke for you; How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but they think the new light bulb isn't as good as the old one.
Matt Smith was a suprising choice and I had mixed feelings when the news broke late in 2008. Tennant did a wonderful job and was given many wonderful stories to get his teeth into. Smith has taken the mantel of Who and done some equally wonderful work with it. I think Moffatt was put on a pedestal by fans to be knocked off if any of his tenure of producer gave stories worse than 'Blink', 'The Empty Child' etc, and much of the complaints by those who disliked this series are generated by such a line of thought.
Not every part of this series totally worked for me; I thought the new titles and music not as good as previously since returning in 2005, and I thought the new Daleks were inferior to the previous model. But I think, on balance, this series worthy of 5 stars as it was excellent; well acted, well written and well produced. After years of the bitch abuse Russell T Davies got from nasty bickering Who fans, I expect he can enjoy halcyon days as these same fans now like him as he was better than this young Moffatt upstart!
I thought 'Vincent and the Doctor' one of the finest stories ever made (Tony Curran as Vincent van Gogh and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond giving some of the best acting performanced I have seen on tv for a good long while), and the final few episodes gave a less bombastic and more measured climax in 'The Big Bang' than some of the previous ones we have had. The fact that all loose ends have not been tidily sorted is a great idea, as this leads a viewer back to it next Spring (what is The Silence? Who's is the voice that speaks of it? Who is River Song? What role does she play in the Doctor's future?). I thought Smith's first story to be one of the finest tales to introduce a new actor in the role (loved the fish fingers in custard), the Silurians were at last given some depth and were no longer blokes in rubber suits with dodgey Cornish/Russin hybrid accents, and the Weeping Angels story was not a simple remake of their previous tale (something that could easily have happened in the hands of someone less skilled than Moffatt). Brilliant stuff!
For those who cannot enjoy this for whatever reason, ok, we are all entitled to our opinions, no matter how misplaced and ill-judged they may be. But let me finish on this point; it is no so long ago that Doctor Who was really very poor, a fact illustrated by it's deserved removal from our screens for 16 years. By the late 80s it really was a limping duffer of a programme, lead by a producer who thought he was working in light entertainment; it is now in comparison a strong, engaging and thought-provoking show. Long may it remain a flag-ship of the BBC.
on 1 October 2016
Matt Smith always had a massive mountain to climb and big shoes to fill following David Tennant standing down. His quirky Doctor took a little getting used to, but by episode 3 or 4 he seems to have pulled it off. The one thing about Steven Moffat's writing is that as the viewer, you need to keep a close eye on each episode- there are clues mixed in everywhere.. something which works great on Sherlock, but as Doctor Who is a family show, many younger viewer loose interest (my sons are testament to this- loved everything with David Tennant's Doctor, but lost interest with Matt Smith and the program change). That said, the production and stories on the whole were excellent for Matt's first season as the time lord. Blu-ray picture and sound are excellent, and are a worthy upgrade from the DVD version. I have been slowly been replacing my DVD boxsets with the Blu-ray versions as they come up on offer on Amazon
on 14 September 2016
Matt Smith was brilliant as the Doctor.
When Doctor who came back in 2005 it became a much watch show again. It knocked the socks off the endless rubbish Saturday night television, dancing on something, celebrity garbish shows.. Ugh junk. But The Doc rocked our worlds again. As I remember Tom Baker did for me in the 70's. As a adult its pleasing to see such good television shows for our children to watch that's full of fun and is so impressionable as a better role model in life than the yobbish football players are of todays TV. Hmm getting sidetracked. David Tennant was fun , but Matt Smith brought just so much to the show, as did Amy and Rory. So much fun. But as a 2nd hand blu ray cos it was going cheap.
One more thing, Murray Golds music is stunning.
on 3 September 2012
Matt Smith's new Doctor had unsettled me to some extent. The paradigm shift was even more pronounced with Moffat replacing Davies, as the focus of the episodes became more interlinked in an abstract & complex way (nothing like the visual "BADWOLF" clues). I used to think that absolutely nobody can beat Rose (Sarah jane is beyond comparison and rather sui generis) as the Doctor's companion in these post-modern days, but I was pleasantly surprised by Amy Pond, and Rory, and the recurring presence of River Song, and ...... To cut the things short, this was a brilliant continuation of the rebooted Doctor Who, and Matt Smith was a revelation. Highly Recommended.
on 8 September 2010
Don't care what anyone says, in my opinion this is easily the best written and consistent Doctor Who series in a very long time. While Series 3 and 4 had some of the very best episodes of Doctor Who revival, it also had some of the very worst (Doctor's Daughter anyone?). The writing is wittier and sharper, and doesn't fall back on over hyping things (has everyone forgotten how cheap the cliffhanger for the final episodes of Series 4 was? I think that needs addressing more then David Tennant not being in the show anymore). My summation of Series 5 is this - while it never quite hits the heights of previous seasons, it never goes near the all time lows, which in my books makes it one of the best series of Doctor Who - it's consistently great. Should I say Series 3 is the best because it's got Blink and a few more excellent episodes or do you look at the big picture? And what a big picture Series 5 paints.
All the critism I've read all seems to stem back to fact that David Tennant isn't in the series anymore. Well, if you say this then it ain't a valid argument. Some people never give reasons why they don't like Matt Smith, beyond "terrible acting" - everyone's opinion is a 100% valid but if your saying this just because you prefer Tennant then that's being really pedantic. The fact of the matter is David Tennant was a brilliant Doctor, but the nature of the show is that the Doctor changes to keep the show fresh and alive - they've been doing for nearly 50 years!! Matt Smith does a great job, evoking past Doctors from the grumpiness of William Hartnell, to the playful nature of Patrick Troughton, to the mad gleam of Tom Baker and so on, while at the same time he adds his own spin on the characters making him an arguably more darker and deeper Doctor then Tennant (this I put down to better writing). The fact is critising Series 5 because David Tennant isn't in it is about as redundant as saying Avatar is just Dances With Wolves with Smurfs in it. It ain't a good argument. Now you may prefer Tennant to Smith, which is fine but that doesn't mean you should write him off because of this - look at James Bond. While I prefer Sean Connery in the role, I can still really enjoy Roger Moore doing his spin on the role - you never watch "Spy Who Loved Me" and say "Gee, this really needs Sean Connery to make it good - without him it's rubbish") - has everyone forgotten how poor some episodes of Series 4 was? Or the sheer disappointment of Tennant's final two parter? Or how Russel T. Davies couldn't round off a two parter in a satisying way? For these are more imporant Who issues to be discussed rather then Tennant isn't in it anymore. Overall, I welcome Matt Smith as a fine Doctor with loads of potential for future seasons. Again, people saying they don't like Matt Smith is fine - but at least make a constructive argument.
Another critisim I hear a lot is on Amy Pond. Again, people's argument against her stems from her being "annoying" - again this isn;t good critism - give reasons why she's annoying then its fine. Again, I really enjoyed Amy Pond's arc - like Smith she gives the series a good shot in the arm. People are up in arms about her being too "sexy" and blak at the way she dresses - this is completely stupid - have these people walked out of their homes? Loads of girls dress like that now - Amy Pond is closer to real life then any other of the past companions, and she has a very engaging story arc, displaying some of the season's most powerful moments - did Martha ever have scenes where she's silently weeping, and tormenting over the loss of her love? Did Billie Piper ever act subtly? I really think some people's views of the RTD era are really rose tinted as they suffered in places more then Matt Smith's season.
While Amy took some time to gorw on me in the end I thought she was a great companion and the perfect foil to Matt Smith. Though I think pretty much everyone can agree - Rory is awesome :)
For me the writing is the thing that's been most improved - the best thing to happen to series since it's reboot was getting rid of Russel T. Davies and bringing Stephen Moffat on as head writer - in my opinon Davies wrote some of the weakest episodes, stemming from a lack of structure, other blown concepts, over use of deus ex machina and irritating humour. Moffat on the other hand knows how to tell a great story, where the plot arc in this series stems from more then just a key word. Moffat delivers us a great overarcing story with plenty of mystery to keep us hooked, while leaving things open for development in later seasons. Overall, it's great story telling, with some beautiful and SUBTLE dialogue, with great contibutions from the entire staff.
The Eleventh Hour: 9/10
The Beast Below: 7/10
Victory of the Daleks: 8/10
The Time of Angels: 9/10
Flesh and Stone: 10/10
The Vampires of Venice: 9/10
Amy's Choice: 9/10
The Hungry Earth: 10/10
Cold Blood: 10/10
Vincent and the Doctor: 9/10
The Lodger: 9/10
The Pandorica Opens: 9/10
The Big Bang: 10/10
Overall, I could go on forever - I love this stuff, so I'm going to stop there. Now, people were always going to have split opinions on the 11th Doctor - no matter who was going to follow Tennant there was always going to controversy. Some people just want to find an excuse to rant, as reflected in the media, but really they should just stand back and look at the big picture - it was a great season, with some really good acting and stories, and ended in a very satisfying way. If one is judge a TV series on a couple of indivdual episodes without considering the others, yes past series come out on top (case and point Series 3 = Blink, Series 4 = Turn Left) however if we stand back and look at the big picture, as one should do with a TV series, in my opinon Series 5 had consistenly good episodes, unlike past seasons (Series 4 = The Sontaran Two Parter, The Doctor's Daughter), which this in my books makes it a better season. Spread your own opinion, positive or negative, but do it in a constructive way. For me season 5 was very entertaining, with buckets of potential for future seasons. I mean, after all, it is only a TV show about an alien with two hearts who can travel through space and time, live in a big blue police box, fights pepper pots, aliens with potatoes for heads, picks up very attractive female companions, can change his apperance before he dies, and comes from a planet called Gallifrey that was blown by a massive army of pepper pots, so hey it's only a show - it's just fun entertainment - but I know how passionate fans can be, and it can be real fun debating your point of view - but it ain't worth losing sleep over it :)
on 22 November 2010
I'm not going to say anything on the quality of this programme, it's excellent and many others will have said that much more eloquently than me. The reason I'm only giving this 2 stars is because I was sorely disappointed by the extras. The previous series of new Doctor Who had a commentary for almost every single episode (the last few David Tennant specials didn't) and this one includes commentaries for only 6 of them. Worse than that, they're for episodes that you wouldn't necessarily think are the most interesting. For example, Amy's Choice would have been a brilliant one to know more about but it's not one of the ones with a commentary and the Cut Down Confidential barely contains any information for rabid geeks like me.
Further, the commentaries that are there are in-vision commentaries. What twisted mind came up with this notion? They're horribly distracting as your eye can't decide to watch what's happening on the main screen or in the tiny little box in the corner. There were a few on the previous series of Doctor Who but I didn't mind them so much because they weren't on all of them.
The two extra 'Meanwhile in the TARDIS' scenes are lovely and add a hell of a lot to the relationship between Amy and The Doctor but they weren't good enough to make up for the lack commentaries for me.
I'd been looking forward to this set coming out and was positively quivering with geeky anticipation of the commentaries because the previous ones had been so good. I was so disappointed when I finally found out how few commentaries there were that it kind of ruined the whole excitement of the series for me. I imagine it's a bit like how little Amelia Pond felt when she realised the Raggedy Doctor wasn't coming back for her :o(