Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doctor Who: Series 5 - Review

Matt Smith takes on the Mantle of The Doctor

If there's one pop culture saying that I've found universally true, it's that you never forget your first Doctor. I don't mean your family's physician or your dentist, I mean your first incarnation of The Doctor from Doctor Who, which will stick with you the entire time you watch the show. It's almost a curse, because you'll be comparing your favorite Doctor to the one who will eventually take his place (there's been 11 Doctors so far). My first Doctor was arguably the greatest one to ever pilot the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), David Tennant. Tennant was The Doctor from Series 2 - 4, and also did four TV movies leading up to his regeneration to the newest Time Lord, Matt Smith. Many fans of Tennant were worried that Smith wasn't going to be up to the task of filling the shoes of one of the most popular incarnations of the character, but Producer/Writer/Director Stephen Moffat believed in him. The consensus -- he was right to.

The 5th Series starts where the last TV movie, The End of Time Pt. 2, leaves off, with The Doctor newly regenerated and crashing onto Earth. Right off the bat, the series has a whole different feel than the past few incarnations. It has more of a film feeling and less of a TV feeling in terms of tone and storytelling. Each episode is handled like a mini-movie that has a beginning, middle, and end, adding to the overall arc of the series' story line. Which is another addition -- one straight story line. The past series have all had threads hidden here and there, but this was the first series where every episode, no matter how far off it might seem, was part of a whole in terms of the end of the series. There's wonderful hidden time travel bits strewn throughout it, and watching it a second time reveals moments that make way more sense after seeing the climatic ending.

Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, is The Doctor's new traveling companion, and much like more recent incarnations of female leads in the show, she's a very tough young lady. In fact, she might be the feistiest companion The Doctor has ever had, and the only one who can trap him in a corner metaphorically and physically. She plays an essential part in The Doctor's life, one that he can't even see the whole picture of, and her character is never a bore to watch. She often takes things into her own hands and often saves the day when The Doctor falls short of an idea.

The villains range from Doctor Who classics like the Daleks, who, as pictured above, have been upgraded and revamped, to the newly formed Weeping Angels, who are absolutely terrifying in very respect. The mystery of who is really behind all of the trouble in the 5th series, with the universe breaking and forming cracks across time and space, is well plotted and comes to a mysterious conclusion, leaving it open for the 6th Series, which premiers on April 23 of this year.

One of my favorite episodes was the arc where they're trapped in the maze with the Weeping Angels, pictured above. They're ancient killers who can only move when you're not looking at them or when you blink. The concept sounds harmless, but trust me, it's nothing compared to seeing them in action. These episodes also hint towards the finale, and if you look closely you can see a clue in The Doctor's apparel that gives it away.

Overall the new series is awesome. The look of the show is amazing, the writing is lean and tight, and Matt Smith is developing his own version of The Doctor that isn't as sure and commanding as the previous incarnations. He's making his stamp as an old man in a young man's body, trying to atone for the sins of his past. If you've been a long time Doctor Who fan, this is a great addition to your library. If you're new to the series, this is a great jumping off point because it's a new Doctor, new format, and new sassy companion. Those who don't care for The Doctor, will be ExTeRmInAtEd!!!

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