Doctor Who Season 5
Complete Series Set Review

Hello all, back again, with what I promise is my last Doctor Who related review (until the Sun Makers comes out on DVD later this year 😉 ) With the upcoming airing of season 6 of the new series, I thought it would be nice to look at the previous series on Blu-Ray, and see if the quality is worth the price. Plus, I got my camera working, so this review is chocked full of interesting photos, you know, for the kids.

Let’s be honest, David Tennant was a great Doctor. I honestly do not feel any other actor has so embodied the character since Tom Baker. So Matt Smith had some pretty big hi-tops to fill.

And realistically, I think he has done the job as well as could be expected. He took a little while to grow on me, and I don’t think he was great right off the bat like some reviewers said, but he really made the part his own, and I enjoy the work he’s done with it greatly. Also, as a bowtie aficionado myself, it’s nice to see them getting a little press. 😉

The Plot:
Strange visitor from another time and place, the Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time in a time machine, fighting time violators, and problems with time, and other time related problems…it’s all a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey…er…stuff. Sorry, kind of got away from me there.

And he’s joined by a redhead in a short skirt, and her fiancé’, well until he dies, then comes back made of plastic, as a roman…

This season is the début of new Doctor Who Doctor Matt Smith. His Doctor is supposed to be an homage to more classic Doctors like Patrick Troughton, both in actions and appearance. Apparently they let Smith have a lot of input into the character design, and on the commentary track there is time spent on discussing the look of the new Doctor.

I remember when Chris Eccleston took over, they interviewed him and he went on and on about how the Doctor should be more about the man than the outfit, which I agree with to a point, but at the same time one of the most important features of the Doctor to me is the fact that he could often dress in an unusual manner, and still command the respect of the rest of the room. Plus, his outfit always served, to me at least, as a sign of how the Doctor, while very human in many ways, is not quite like us. With Smith’s costume, you get a Doctor who is both extremely confident, and also a little unsure of himself, constantly having to remind people how cool his clothes are, yet also able to do stare down entire fleets of enemies without batting an eyelash.

And his sidekicks this go around are able to hold their own as well. His main companion is Amelia “Amy” Pond, a young woman who is able to hold her own with the Doctor. What’s nice about Amy is that she brings to the part the free spirit of companions such as Rose, with the brashness of Donna. Of course, she also has a mad attraction to the Doctor, which causes problems, and actually I think makes the character less likable. Not because of the attraction itself, I liked Martha and she was desperately in love with the Doctor, but because Amy is engaged, and it really feels like a forced story line to have Amy have to chose between which man she loves more. It’s like, the Doctor has shown no interest in her at all as anything other than a traveling buddy, while Rory gives his life for her several times in the series (timey-wimey stuff) and yet at their wedding Amy still tries to make out with the Doctor. I get that she is fun and flirty, but at some point you just want Rory to man up and find someone else.

Episode by episode:
Let’s face it, odds are that if you are a regular visitor to this site, you already have seen this series, so I’m not going to go through every episode and give each one a review. I will say that the first couple are a bit rough, and they do get better and better. I think the finale is pretty darn good, and I’m looking forward to the new series. If you need an episode by episode run down that what Wikipedia is for.

The Goods:
This box set shows what all box sets should be.

It comes with 3 postcards, a fold out cover, a slipcase with lenticular cover, a booklet of other Doctor Who merchandise to order, and the standard BBC registration card. They even put the cover vortex on the inside of the slip case! Learn this lesson well DVD producers. If you want to make money off DVD sales and not lose it all to downloads, you must start by rewarding those of us who buy the physical boxes!

Fancy fold out, with the real star of the series, Rory!

I think this is the only dvd I get to review that has articulation joints!

I will say that, while rather nicely produced, I do not quite understand why this series is on so many separate discs. With standard DVDs it makes sense, but with blue rays is seems almost wasteful. Plus, it’s kind of annoying having to get up and swap discs every couple of episodes.

Bonus features:
This is where the set gets a little odd. First, it comes with a whole bonus DVD of behind the scenes stuff, called Doctor Who Confidential, which those who watch BBC America are familiar with as commercial filler, but in England are much longer and more in depth. For some reason, on the Blu-ray these have been included, but also edited down. I’ve read a lot about this, and no one really seems to know why they have done this.

The Pandorica Opens

Secondly, only a few episodes have commentary tracks on them. However none of the included material actually lists who is doing to commentary on the episodes, so you have to watch them to find out who is talking. Even more confusing is why Matt Smith does not do commentary on any of the episodes. If Tom Baker can do commentary, Matt Smith can too!

Also, speaking of commentary, the commentary tracks are done in a rather odd way. Instead of just being a voice over, they are done In-Vision style, with the viewer getting to watch the people who are doing the reviews watching the episode and doing the reviews. I honestly have no idea why they did things like this. I can understand if they wanted to make is a bonus feature on a few episodes with the stars of the show, but do we really need to see production managers watching TV in a box that covers the entire left hand corner of the screen? Plus, the in-vision is shot in regular def, not HD, so the whole time I was watching it I was slightly annoyed by how blurry the image was. Not blurry enough to ruin it, but enough to be irritating compared to the Blu-ray.

In addition to this stuff, there are two added scenes that are included in the set that go between episodes, which are a nice bonus feature. I won’t reveal what happens, but I will say that classic who fans will enjoy the second one, and kids will need it explained.

What an odd outfit. Is that a fez?

The Breakdown:
Packaging: 10/10
Series: 8/10
Commentary track: 6/10 Sorry, but no Matt Smith and annoying windows add nothing to the experience.
Bonus features: 8/10
Total score: 8/10

So, what to do? Well, I’m calling this one a buy, even at the Blu-ray level. First, it does not cost a heck of a lot more, and second, this is sci-fi, the place where good special effects are supposed to thrive. The series is beautiful in HD and should always be watched that way. But it would be nice if they could put them all on one disc, and fix the commentary issues.

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