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Blu-Ray Review: Doctor Who Series 6
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Doctor WhoDoctor Who Series 6
DVD | Blu-Ray
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Stuart Milligan, Suranne Jones, James Corden
Written by Steven Moffat, Stephen Thompson, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Graham, Mark Gatiss, Tom McRae, Toby Whithouse, Gareth Roberts
Directed by Toby Haynes, Jeremy Webb, Richard Clark, Julian Simpson, Peter Hoar, Richard Senor, Nick Hurran, Steve Hughes
BBC
Release Date: November 22, 2011

The sixth season of the new generation of Doctor Who is propelled by showrunner Steven Moffat into a web of timey wimey twists and turns, chock full of revelations and unveiled secrets of key characters: specifically fan favorite River Song. The series begins with a disastrous development for the Doctor, witnessed by his companions — and sets the tone for the rest of the season.

Matt Smith continues into his second season as the Eleventh Doctor, along with married companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). Series 6 does not pick up straight away after last year’s Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol (also included in this collection) – a first for the newer version of Doctor Who that has fairly often stayed (almost) continuous since Series 1 in 2005.

At the commencement of Series 6, companions Amy and Rory are separated from the Doctor, for a reason that is never explained (perhaps leaving room for the growing expanded universe of novels, comics, and audio stories). They, along with River Song (Alex Kingston), receive enigmatic invitations in TARDIS-blue envelopes to meet at a specific location in the United States.

They all reunite at a diner in America, with a Doctor claiming to be 1103 years old (200 years older than we last saw him). What follows may seem like a spoiler, but it really isn’t: it sets the tone for the season. While enjoying a picnic besides Lake Silencio, a mysterious figure dressed in an Apollo astronaut suit appears and literally kills the Doctor, who attempts regeneration but is stopped by the spacesuit man.

The three assistants return to the diner, where they meet the Doctor… except it’s 903-year-old Doctor, 200 years before he faces his death. What follows in the entire season is a ginormous convoluted puzzle designed by Moffat, wherein the audience is trying to work out exactly how he is going to get out of this one. What complicates matters is that River Song, Amy, and Rory are aware they cannot inform 903 Doctor of his destiny, in the fear that doing so may create a paradox.

Trailing clues provided at the beginning of first episode, The Impossible Astronaut, the Doctor and his companions journey to 1969, meeting Richard Nixon and discovering a species of aliens that have controlled and modified the direction of humanity for eons. Implied to be partially behind the Pandorica events of Series 5, and extremely sinister and spooky looking, The Silents have the creepy ability to erase memory of them after being seen.

I could carry on with this plot overview, but to do so would spoil the rest of the overarching plot in this season for our readers – because everything that follows through to the season finale surrounds the problem of the Doctor’s “approaching” death, The Silents, River Song, and Amy Pond’s pregnancy.

Doctor Who

While this wonderful labyrinth-style timey wimey puzzle created by Steven Moffat is fabulous, and the kind of thing eaten up by fans such as myself, I do fear that the convoluted and intricate web threads may be lost on the casual fan or occasional viewer. It is complex and muddied at times, and while this plays nicely into the overall season, it might be a little bit of a turn-off for new fans. Conversely though, the complex threads crafted by Moffat do actually simplify a little as further revelations are made while the series progresses.

The overarching plot does dominate the season, but it is also made up of several standalone episodes and two-parters that, predominantly, are of an excellent standard. Neil Gaiman‘s The Doctor’s Wife is an immediate classic, rivaling the best of New Who such as Blink and [IMO] also rivaling the brilliant Classic Doctor Who serials such as Genesis of the Daleks. Gaiman lunges deep into the soul of what Doctor Who is all about, with a mad plot that personifies what the spirit of the series has always been since 1963. Suranne Jones as Idris in the episode is simply magnificent, with a performance that is sure to bring a tear to the eye.

A Good Man Goes To War and Let’s Kill Hitler associate the overarching story arc halfway through the series, both penned by Steven Moffat with brilliant surprises. The River and Doctor confrontation in Let’s Kill Hitler includes a wonderful homage to Rowan Atkinson’s rapid stint as a possible Doctor in The Curse of the Fatal Death; and Moffat’s cheeky move of putting “Hitler in the closet” is highly amusing.

The Girl Who Waited is another highlight of the season, with a wonderful Amy-centric fairytale, following her strong connection with Rory and focusing on the problems associated with different time streams and paradoxes. The God Complex is also a story of a high standard, and writer Mark Gatiss redeems himself with the extraordinary Night Terrors, after his abysmal Victory of the Daleks from last season.

But not all is perfect in Series 6 unfortunately. The third episode, The Curse Of The Black Spot, set with a pirate and siren theme, is below standard for Doctor Who. The finishing scenes placing Rory at risk are contrived and out-of-place — not to mention accompanied with several plot holes, and some very misleading cues inappropriately connected to the overarching plot. The return of Craig Owens (James Corden) in Closing Time (continuation to The Lodger from last season) was also a major disappointment; bringing back Cybermen in a highly compressed ‘adventure’ (for lack of a better term) in which the clichéd plot device of “love conquers all” totally devastates the experience.

Doctor Who

Despite the two bad episodes, it doesn’t make sense to let two ruin the entire season, and the other eleven chapters of Series 6 are of excellent quality, and highly entertaining. The season finale, entitled The Wedding Of River Song, is an absolute ripper of a concluding chapter — posing many clues and cues for what we may see in Series 7 and beyond.

While the season was on television, it was accompanied with some nice little short prequels posted on the internet. The Blu-Ray set includes all of the prequels, and also includes several new special shorts previously unavailable online and never broadcast. Doctor Who Confidential is also in the collection, which is a nice inclusion, as is the commentary tracks made available for some of the episodes.

In general, the sixth series of Doctor Who (otherwise known as Season 32) is an outstanding round with the eccentric Time Lord. Moffat has done an exceptional job in being able to carry on these long threads of various plot lines for so long — with so many answers provided during this season. I have to acknowledge, despite the couple of shows I didn’t overly enjoy, that I found this series to be my favorite out of all of Nu Who, which I’m sure many of the David Tennant fans might find to be a bold call.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

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