DOCTOR WHO: SERIES SIX, PART ONE
MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Matt Smith as THE DOCTOR
Karen Gillan as AMY POND
Arthur Darvill as RORY WILLIAMS
Alex Kingston as RIVER SONG
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
As the sixth season begins for the revamped “Doctor Who” series on the BBC, the Doctor comes to America. After forging ahead on his own, he sends messages to his latest companions – Amy Pond and her husband Rory, as well as the mysterious River Song – having them meet him in the western United States. There, they see him assassinated by an astronaut, and later reunited with a younger version of himself. As the companions try to put together the story and prevent the Doctor’s ultimate death, the come to fight some new enemies, including the insidious Silence as well as the Gangers.
WHAT I LIKED
When I heard that not only was David Tennant leaving as the Doctor but Russell T. Davis was exiting as the showrunner, I was nervous. Fortunately, the fifth season of this brilliant science fiction series proved that Matt Smith made a fantastic Doctor, and new showrunner Steven Moffat has some fantastic stories up his sleeve.
Sure, this latest batch of episodes from “Doctor Who” is a none-too-subtle attempt at capturing some new viewers across the pond. We knew this was coming when BBC America wrestled its “Doctor Who” exclusive from the SciFi Channel a while back. But I’m okay with a little pandering now and then.
One thing I love about the direction of this new run is the throwback nature of the continuing episodes. Not all of them do this, but there’s enough “To be continued…” at the end of an episode that it reminds me of the slick serial nature of the Tom Baker-led shows when I was a kid.
The best episodes in this run are the book-ends, which feature not only the Silence as a new villain (along with some lighthearted humor and plot points surrounding President Nixon and the moon landing), but also the Gangers, who come off a little light but turn out to be pretty important to the ongoing series.
And then there’s the companions. Some new companions I’ve loved (like Martha Jones), and others I’ve had to get used to (like Donna Noble), but I never thought I’d enjoy Amy Pond and Rory as much as I do. In the past, when the Doctor has increased his number of companions (like by adding Harry Sullivan in the 70s), it’s been a let-down. But there’s a pureness to Amy and Rory that is just too sweet to ignore. And of course, River Song really helps to open up the universe even more, hinting at things the Doctor has yet to experience. I knew I’d like her when she showed up a couple years ago to the Tenth Doctor.
Even though there’s some residual pre-knowledge from Matt Smith’s fifth season, the first four reboot seasons and the original series run going back to the 60s, this is as good of a time as any for a new “Doctor Who” viewer to jump into the series.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s not much that played sour for me in this first half of season six. Sure, there are episodes that don’t quite click as well as others (namely the middle ones of “The Curse of the Black Spot” and “The Doctor’s Wife”), but they all had something new and cool in them. Getting a better look into the mind of the TARDIS was nice for “The Doctor’s Wife,” and I can’t say I wasn’t totally disinterested in Karen Gillan’s buccaneer gear in “The Curse of the Black Spot.” On the whole, this is some of the best “Doctor Who” shows you’ll have seen.
Because this is just the half-way point through the season, the supplemental features on this Blu-ray are a little light. Though at least there’s two episodes of “Monster Files,” which profile The Silence and the Gangers, hinting at some more to come in part two of season six.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
“Doctor Who” fans and anyone who wants to jump into the series fresh.