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Change is a funny phenomenon. All things must end and change is inevitable. Change has long been a part of Doctor Who; from the moment that William Hartnell laid down on the floor of the TARDIS console room and regenerated (or as it was then, "renewed") into Patrick Troughton, audiences realised that few things in Doctor Who were ever going to remain constant.

Matt Smith pulling no punches
When David Tennant announced in late 2008 that he intended to bow out of the show at the end of the series of specials in 2009, the massive fan-base that he had built up were aghast; Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston at the end of the first series, and the BBC were completely taken by surprise at just how phenomenally popular he would become. Kids loved him, chicks dug him and there was a genuine niceness to the character that was seemingly missing from Eccleston’s take on the Doctor. As well as Tennant leaving the show, executive producer Russell T Davies, along with producers Julie Gardener, Phil Collinson, had also decided that it was time to move on, so when Doctor Who came back for a new full series, there would be many differences afoot.

The BBC took the unusual task of unveiling the new actor to play the character nearly a full year before he would appear on television. Speculation had put three actors in the frame and the public was almost frantic to see who was going to step into David Tennant’s trainers. On the third of January, 2009, twenty-six year old Matt Smith was officially announced as the Eleventh Doctor, much to the consternation of hard-core fans, who were not impressed by the young age of Smith and even less so by his appearance, which many people liken to a character in a certain Mary Shelley novel, or—more cruelly, Rocky Dennis...

Over the course of the year, the negativity only seemed to build against Smith and very little seemed to leak out whilst production was underway. Only little clips recorded on camera-phones and the odd audio excerpt found their way into the public domain, and these were still muddying the waters of opinion. Confidence started to build when Smith’s costume was unveiled, as it showed some of the more unconventional aspects of the character — which hadn’t really been seen since Paul McGann played the Doctor — and echoed Patrick Troughton’s outfit.

During the final moments of The End of Time Part II, which was broadcast on New Year’s day, 2010, British audiences got their first official glimpse of the Eleventh Doctor, but many people had their doubts about Matt Smith's portrayal during the final scene, as it seemed to echo the manic nature of the Master's regeneration near the end of series three. Thankfully, this was merely a result of the regeneration, and the Eleventh Doctor finds his feet almost from the outset of series five.

Karen Gillan was brought onboard to play companion Amy Pond. There are some who would point out that whilst RTD was accused of having either a Welsh agenda or a gay agenda during his time on Doctor Who, others have started to accuse new executive producer Steven Moffat of having a Scottish agenda. Could this be merely a product of an overactive imagination, or is there an ounce of truth in it? Either way, the casting of Gillan was a masterstroke, as she embodies everything that is good in the best companions and also adds a few nice little touches of her own into the mix; oh, and she also does the best bug-eyed look of astonishment or horror since Anneke Wills.

Other changes that have taken place include the Doctor getting a new sonic screwdriver and the TARDIS having a complete overhaul, including a new exterior that looks remarkably like the one seen in the Peter Cushing Amicus... sorry Aaru films. There is also a new logo (which incorporates the TARDIS into the logo) and a new and slightly more sinister version of the theme, which we aren’t great fans of. Also, we want to go on record as saying that the concept of the TARDIS being repeatedly hit by lightning bolts in the time vortex is remarkably childish, but now we’ll get on to looking at the episodes themselves...

The Eleventh Hour
Following straight on from The End of Time Part II, The TARDIS is plummeting towards Earth, with the newly-regenerated Doctor hanging by his fingernails on the threshold of the door. The TARDIS inevitably crash-lands in a back garden in the rural community of Leadworth near Gloucester in 1996, and a little girl named Amelia Pond takes the Doctor inside and attempts to feed him the foods that he craves in his post-regenerative state.

The Doctor enchants young Amelia and notices that a strange crack in her bedroom wall is the protrusion into our dimension of an escaped convict who goes by the name of Prisoner Zero. The Doctor disappears in the TARDIS, off in search of Prisoner Zero, promising Amelia that he would be back in five minutes — but young Amelia learns a hard lesson that five minutes is relative to the Doctor and she does not meet him again until more than a decade has passed. The adult Amelia — now calling herself Amy — has spent much of the intervening time obsessing about the mysterious ‘Raggedy Doctor’ who made such an impression on her as a child and now works as a kissogram. After an initially bad reaction, with Amy knocking out the Doctor and handcuffing him, she teams up with him to save Earth from Prisoner Zero.

The Eleventh Hour was written by new Executive Producer — we refuse to use that naff US term "Show-Runner" — Steven Moffat, who was responsible for some of the best stories from New-Who (the best of which was probably the series three "Doctor-lite" one, Blink) and he certainly gets series five off to a fresh start. There are many instances of Moffat’s twisted ability to take seemingly mundane things and distort them into fantastical or sinister concepts — the crack in Amy’s bedroom wall is an ingenious variation on the monster-under-the-bed chestnut — and Moffat’s humour runs through the script like a stick of seaside rock.

Matt Smith effortless confounds his critics by turning in an assured performance that recalls some of the more whimsical aspects of previous Doctors, specifically Patrick Troughton, and is certainly capable of pulling off the more dramatic aspects of the role. When the Doctor finally pulls himself together after his regeneration — and after a montage of all the previous Doctors — he confronts Prisoner Zero and Smith is pretty impressive at that.

Karen Gillan is very good as the adult Amy Pond; Steven Moffat has created one of the most believable companions in New-Who. Pond is a woman who has learnt to fend for herself and is intelligent and resourceful; she retains the sense of wonder from her childhood and has a desire to see the universe. Oh, and she also does a fabulous bug-eyed look of horror and/or surprise.

Special mention must go to actress Caitlin Blackwood, who portrays the young Amelia Pond — she is just wonderful to watch and she plays off Matt Smith so well that you can really see something of the future chemistry that the characters will have.

The Eleventh Hour serves as a great introduction to Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Steven Moffat’s tenure on Doctor Who. The extended running time (it clocks in at around an hour) gives the story more time to breathe and allows Smith more time to develop the character — in stark contrast to Tennant’s first story, The Christmas Invasion, where he spends most of the time comatose. The Eleventh Hour is not without its flaws — the whole "silence will fall" motif that runs through this series seems somewhat forced (Moffat has used a cryptic three-worded phrase before "count the shadows", anyone?) and the confrontation with Prisoner Zero was somewhat by-the-numbers in terms of its writing rather than performance, but it was nice to see brief clips of all the previous Doctors to help tie the original series and the new one together.

OK, it's gratuitous, but producer Beth Willis HAS got a lovely pair of pins - and she looks SO happy to be there...
The Beast Below
The Doctor and Amy materialise aboard the Starship UK, a vast interplanetary craft that contains the remnants of the United Kingdom, who escaped deadly solar flares in the 29th Century.

Whilst investigating the reasons behind a crying child, the Doctor and Amy realise that all is not what it seems, especially with the sinister Smilers, who appear to be protecting a secret from the population of the ship. Whispers of "the Beast Below" cause our heroes to start investigating and they discover that something very large and awfully angry is lurking in the bowels of the vessel, but they realise that all is not what it seems and that the Doctor and Amy realise that they have an opportunity to put right a cruel wrong.

The Beast Below — personally speaking, of course — is probably the weakest of the stories in series five. Written by Steven Moffat, much of it seems as though it has been done before in New-Who and science-fiction in general. The whole concept of an alien environment that has twisted shades of the present day was seen in the series one dog The Long Game and the idea of an alien life-form being tortured by humanoids in order to serve them was almost identical to the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot story, Encounter at Farpoint.

An idea for Doctor Who that had been kicking around since the early eighties was entitled Song of the Space Whale and had been rejected and re-pitched several times before eventually being buried. It would appear that the idea finally found someone who had an interest in such a concept and was included in Doctor Who after thirty years.

Whilst on their travels, Moffat introduces the future head of the monarchy, and she isn’t white - no problem with that, and that’s not a particularly great leap, seeing as our present monarchy is Teutonic in origin anyway. Liz Ten as she is known is largely kept aboard as a figurehead with little power of her own. Liz Ten, like the present one, is kept around in order to maintain the status quo and allow the population of the Starship UK to have someone to look up to and help them to forget the grim situation they are in. It is later revealed that even the reigning monarch has to vote every now and again, and that with the help of the Doctor and Amy, things are to change forever aboard the Starship UK.

Steven Moffat has crafted a script that was a sly satire of the election that was just around the corner when this story was broadcast. Everyone aboard the ship has to vote every five years—in one of the many voting booths on the starship, they are shown a video and afterwards to choose to forget what they have just seen and have their memory wiped and live in blissful ignorance or to protest against what they have just seen. During many elections, the UK tends to forget events immediately prior to the election and want to just maintain a state of ignorance, but that’s just us venturing into potentially dangerous political areas.

The performances are still good here — Smith is still either consciously or subconsciously channelling David Tennant, but is beginning to make the part his own by having his Doctor seemingly firing on too many cylinders when walking into a situation and exploring any and every tangent before making an informed guess as to how to handle things. Gillan is also very good, but is shouldered with the burden of being the prime mover in terms of the story, jumping in and making the crucial decisions, rather than The Doctor; this is a theme that reoccurs in this series and it is a curious one; the Doctor is a nine hundred year old being who has travelled in time and space and gained the wisdom of the ages — to have someone realise something critical that he hadn’t noticed once or twice is fine, but to have this happen repeatedly begins to make the central character look weak or idiotic. Matt Smith is walking a fine line in his characterisation of the Doctor — a bumbling Doctor who is somewhat accident-prone or can be viewed as a fool by his adversaries is one thing, but by taking away the strength of character to resolve situations and foil his enemies himself is quite a serious misstep so early on into this incarnation.

We know that there are many people who found the following story to be among the weakest in the set, but we personally think that The Beast Below has that dubious honour — it flows along reasonably well until the Monarch is introduced and the concept of an habited environment on the back of an animal has been done before (Terry Pratchett) and the animal being tortured for the good of the humans it serves has also been seen previously ( Star Trek: The Next Generation), then the freshness that it started with quickly runs stale.

Victory of the Daleks
Following on from the end of the previous story, the Doctor materialises in war-torn London at the request of Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice), who announces that one of his chief scientists, Professor Bracewell (Bill Patterson) has perfected devices - known as Ironsides - that will help Britain win the war against the Nazis.

The only problem is that the Ironsides are actually Daleks, but they appear to be subservient to the British government, "I am your sold-ier!", they constantly inform them. Churchill's stubborn streak means that he is more interested in the possibility of defeating Hitler and his forces than he is in listening to the pleas of the Doctor about regarding the evil nature of the Daleks.

Eventually, the Doctor realises that the whole thing has been a ruse in order to lure the last of the Time Lords to the last of the Daleks, and bring about the birth of a new generation of Skaro's most infamous residents. These Daleks, when completed, could spell certain doom for the human race and the universe in general, unless the Doctor can stop them.

There is much to like about Victory of the Daleks — it was written by Mark Gatiss, who also penned one of our personal favourite New-Who stories, The Unquiet Dead — and there are themes, both subtle and blatant, that illustrate the obvious love that Gatiss has for the period. Gatiss seems to have taken his inspiration from Patrick Troughton's first story, Power of the Daleks, which featured the characters masquerading as servants to a group of unsuspecting humans, whist keeping their true nature a secret until they had been able to reproduce themselves and go on a bloodthirsty rampage of conquest. At one point — which both of us knew he was going to say - the Doctor mentions a "final end" for the Daleks, which was a reference to the climax of Troughton's Evil of the Daleks.

There are also numerous things to dislike about this episode — the redesign of the Daleks is probably the main thing; one can only imagine that the main reason for seriously screwing with the best part of half a century's design history was purely to bring about a whole new wave of merchandise that the BBC can milk for years to come. The new Daleks look awful, as though a dodgem car had mated with a Mini-Cooper, giving the thing a hunchback (or should that be "hatchback"?) and towering over anything and everything — there are shades of the idiotic "bigger is exponentially scarier" mentality that was brought to the Cyber-King in The Next Doctor. Looking like a dodgem car is now somewhat appropriate, as back in their first story, it was established that the Daleks originally ran on static electricity...

It's the body, the voice and the writer of the words of the Lardeks!
Another problem this story has is that although the portrayal of Churchill in the script was pretty faithful, actor Ian McNiece was completely miscast in the role, transforming Churchill from being somewhat portly to being morbidly obese in a manner that would have elicited blood, toil tears and sweat merely from attempting to climb a flight of stairs; a feat that would have been easier for the Daleks to do in pre-McCoy Doctor Who.

Veteran actor Bill Patterson give a great performance as the would-be inventor of the Ironsides, giving a much greater depth to the part than most other actors would have and making the somewhat dubious climax slightly more palatable than it would have been otherwise.

The concept of Spitfires in space certainly seemed like a good idea, but it loses something when transferred to a moving, visual medium. Hammer Films used to drum up interest in forthcoming projects (not to mention as a way of trying to potentially snare financing) by coming up with a concept and then making an elaborate poster for it — as Hammer was being left behind by contemporary horror such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, one act of desperation was to produce a poster for a film provisionally entitled Zeppelins vs. Pterodactyls; you get that same kind of vibe with this story, combining two completely unlikely opposing forces against each other, only here you had WW2 Spitfires going up against a Dalek mothership.

Where the Victory of the Daleks seriously shoots itself in the foot comes during the climax, when one character is revealed to be something other than human and that this character could potentially destroy many, but destruction could be averted if he can get in touch with his humanity. It’s as cheesy as hell and really takes the edge off what was a pretty enjoyable episode.

Time of the Angels
After winning a temporary victory over the Daleks, the Doctor (Matt Smith) discovers a message written in old Gallifreyan text; the message was from River Song, past (and future) associate of the Doctor, and the message was used to lure the Doctor into rescuing her from a crashing ship — the Byzantium — 12,000 years in the past.

On the surface of Alfava Metraxis, the wreck of the starship Byzantium frees its deadly cargo — one of the dreaded Weeping Angels. The Doctor, Amy, River Song and a group of Christian military troops, led by Father Octavian, are the only hope to track down the Weeping Angel before the wreck's radiation leak allows the Angel to become strong again, threatening the nearby population. En route through the Maze of the Dead to find the Angel, a sudden horrifying discovery is made that magnifies the problem a thousand-fold...

Steven Moffat’s Blink, which was the ‘Doctor-Lite’ story in series three, was arguably the highlight of a pretty duff series (the only other genuinely great episodes being Human Nature and The Family of Blood, both parts of the same story), was so good and the Weeping Angels were such great adversaries that it was only a matter of time before they returned to Doctor Who.

There in an inescapable feeling that Steven Moffat wanted to do a Doctor Who version of Aliens, and the structure is certainly there; River Song is the Ripley character and the Colonial Marines are transformed into the band of militant clerics, headed by Father Octavian. All head out to a planet infested by creatures which only their reluctant civilian recruit appreciates how dangerous they are. Unexpectedly being surrounded by them, being saved by getting blown into space, drastic final measures — they’re all here.

This was of course tried before in the classic series, specifically at the time when Doctor Who was in its death throes, an attempt was made to emulate Aliens, with the Sylvester McCoy story Dragonfire. The results of this attempt speak for themselves — we watched that story when it was broadcast (we were about fourteen at the time) and we cringed with embarrassment, as they tried to do deliver big-screen suspense on a BBC budget and we could tell that the writing was on the wall for the show at that point. Anyway, it was pleasing to note that whilst there were distinct echoes of James Cameron’s film, they were not a cringe-inducingly blatant as Dragonfire.

Matt Smith finally gets to have a signature moment that all actors who have played the Doctor have had; with William Hartnell, it was his "one day, I will come back" speech; Tom Baker, had his "homo-sapiens"; and Peter Davison talked about "smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal"... well, maybe not the last one. Smith gives a passionate, almost seething speech about the dangers of putting him in a trap — it’s just a shame that when this impressive bit of writing and acting was broadcast, many viewers had it ruined by an animated prancing Graham Norton appearing on-screen. We’re relieved to report that there’s no sign of the overpaid pratt on this release.

River Song was a character created by Steven Moffat and she originally appeared in the series four two-parter Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead; unfortunately, the character seems to have changed somewhat and has now moved into areas of Russell T Davies-like smugness and camp. From the "hello, Sweetie" message inscribed in High Gallifreyean, to the Bond-like escape from the Byzantine, pretty much everything about River Song screams "wrong" in this story. Actress Alex Kingston seems to be playing her character as though she were in a different show to everyone else, being flamboyant in a story that is driven by tension and dread. There is also a hint as to exactly who River Song actually is in this story; for the character to be so irritating the reveal had better be pretty satisfying — say being the Rani — or we'll be pissed!

The element of the Christian military group is an element which didn’t work for us, as it seems to be high-concept sci-fi put together by use of a pun. These Christian Soldiers really do go onward, and provide proof that religion is the root cause or more and bloodier wars than anything else in history, but they needed a bigger canvas and separate back-story of their own to establish them. After all, the Space Security Service had Mission to the Unknown to set it up for the epic The Dalek’s Master Plan, and the same thing would have helped out here. Maybe pointing guns at their critics and waging war against their enemies is the only way the church will silence certain accusations?

Moffat rehashes the "who turned out the lights?" element from his series four two-parter (meaning that an alien has taken partial or complete control of someone it has just killed and communicates using the voice of the dead person to sinister effect), as the Angels communicate via poor schmuck Bob, who in the army of clerics is a mere Tommy, with all the simpering of Steve Coogan’s character in Indian in the Cupboard. It works well here, as the soft, harmless disembodied tones of the deceased Bob become an iron fist in the silken glove, delivering disconcerting messages of doom to our heroes whilst never speaking out of place.

The most effective sequence in the episode comes when Amy is trapped inside a military control room with a recorded image of an Angel being played on a loop on the monitor; the image suddenly starts to move and advances on her — with no way of leaving the place, Amy is stuck and she will eventually have to blink at some point (though Karen Gillan spends so much time wide-eyed, she would be safer than the average person in that position). It's a very tense, well-directed and well-edited sequence — if not entirely original, as the name Ringu comes to mind whilst watching it — and it's certainly a scene that scared kids (one of us was watching this episode with our nephews, aged seven and ten, and both of them were getting more than a little rattled during this sequence), so the inclusion of a hide-behind-the-sofa moment is always something to be pleased about.

Who better to comment upon this scene than the writer and the actor?
The cliff-hanger at the end of Time of the Angels was pretty good, but it was screamingly obvious as to how the Doctor was going to get everyone out of the seemingly inescapable situation. Anyone who sat through the early Star Trek: Voyager episode Parallax will be familiar with resisting the urge to scream things at the TV at that point.

We must mention River Song’s observation that the characteristic sound the TARDIS makes when materialising/dematerialising is only due to the Doctor operating it with the brakes on. Frankly, that’s just flippant bollocks that flies in the face of over forty-five years of Doctor Who lore, which reeks of Moffat having a cheap throwaway laugh. So, by following this observation, can we also reason that the Master also flew his TARDIS with the brakes locked on? Bullshit. Let’s hope Moffat hasn’t seen Spaceballs, as the TARDIS will be leaving skid marks round a tight corner next...

Flesh and Stone
Continuing directly on from the end of the last episode, the Doctor, Amy, River Song and the surviving members of the religious army corps find themselves surrounded by a hoard of Weeping Angels, seemingly with no way out.

If there was one serious misstep in Flesh and Stone, it was the decision to show the Angels actually moving. What made them so effective in Blink was that they were not seen in motion — they just changed position without any trace of them moving. The sense of tension was generated by them being seemingly inert, but also being more than capable of being able to move. Sadly, having the Angels move during the climax shatters pretty much everything that Steven Moffat built up with Blink and Time of the Angels.

The concept of the crack in time is augmented here considerably, as it begins to catch up with the Doctor and Amy, larger and more threatening than ever. This highlights one of the things we dislike about Nu-Who, that being the desperate need to thread an entire series together via a linking device, doing a disservice to the viewers whom are perceived as having the attention span of the average gnat.

Oh, speaking of the similarities between this two-part story and a certain James Cameron film, the climax is awfully similar in principle to Aliens, as the adversaries are both defeated by a protective device being disabled and our protagonists holding onto something in order to avoid being whisked off into oblivion. Who fans will also remember that a similar climax was seen at the end of the second series of New-Who ( Doomsday).

The performances are also great, with Smith and Gillan as good as always; we have gone into detail about our thoughts on Alex Kingston and Iain Glen puts in one of his usual solid, dependable turns.

There isn’t much more to say here, as folks get rather annoyed when reviews give away things best left discovered on the viewers’ own, even when they have been broadcast on TV, so let’s make like a towel and press on with the next episode.

Vampires in Venice
With a title clearly ripped off of... sorry we meant inspired by Augusto Caminito’s 1988 film, Vampire in Venice (which, coincidentally, was known as Vampires in Venice on UK television), you know what you are in for as soon as you read the title of this episode.

After gate-crashing Rory's stag-night and whisking him into the TARDIS, the Doctor, Amy and Rory (Arthur Darvill) materialise in fourteenth century Venice, only to discover that all is not how it should be. A plague has engulfed the area and the Venice's patron, Signora Rosanna Calvierri has put the place under quarantine in a bid to prevent the plague from entering the city. Calvierri runs a prestigious finishing school for young ladies, and after some initial investigation by the trio all the signs point to the school being a cover for a group of vampires, where the young ladies who go in soon become something other than human.

Whilst we watched this, both of us became aware that something wasn't right with this story — more than any other episode in this series, Vampires in Venice just didn't grab us from the outset and failed to do so at any point during the story. The key elements in the title seemed to be just that: wild concepts on which to hand a story. Experience teaches writers that you should never come up with the title first, as it ends up being the tail that wags the dog, and Vampires in Venice typifies this.

Vampires have been tackled before in Doctor Who — the Tom Baker era brought State of Decay, which, while far from a masterpiece, the twisting of the legend of the vampire was interesting; Vampires in Venice provides a pretty dull and unengaging reasoning for vampire-like extra-terrestrials. The McCoy era saw Sylv in what was quite possibly the best story of his tenure, The Curse of Fenric, which saw him up against the Haemovores, a race of creatures that were vampiric in nature, yet had an interesting identity of their own. A vampire-like being was also seen in New-Who (the Plasmavore from Smith and Jones), but to much lesser effect.

Writer Toby Whitehouse has given New-Who one of its best episodes, School Reunion, (even if it also included the embarrassingly awful "shooty-dog-thing" line), but sadly Vampires in Venice is not in the same league; we just happened to find it leaden, obvious and derivative — there are other mythical creatures out there and the writers of Doctor Who are smart enough to search them out and write interesting pseudo-scientific stories explaining them away, but the explanation for the vampire-like creatures in this story is pretty poor, and their motivation for being on Earth is even weaker, with a hole in the plot that a whole race of silly aquatic-based life-forms could swim through. The concept of vampirism has been tackled several times now and the vampires should be allowed to rest in peace. Pass the silver-bladed knife...

There seems to be an emerging trend in Nu-Who to redo the classics, with Tooth and Claw covering the werewolf aspect and Vampires in Venice covering the ol’ bloodsuckers. Following this train of through to the navel-gazing last-stop, redos of The Brain of Morbius and The Pyramids of Mars are probably on the cards to have Frankenstein and The Mummy to complete the set. Apropos of too much time on hands.

Oh, and can someone please tell Moffat to avoid that tired old cliché of having the Doctor scale a building in order to push a button which eliminates a threat to the human race — it's awfully tiresome. It was done in The Idiot's Lantern (Alexandra Palace) and Evolution of the Daleks (the Empire State Building) and it's interesting to see that Vampires in Venice is another duff story to do continue this naff trend.

It's not all bad, though — there's a nice little reference to Doctor Who's past, when the Doctor accidentally whips out a library card that has a photo of the First Doctor (William Hartnell) on it. Such little touches are nice, and as lifelong fans of the show, it’s good that it flies in the face of how RTD tried to ignore the original run to begin with, but they are going a little overboard this series — so far, there have been three, but there are sure to be more during the forthcoming series finale.

Amy's Choice
Amy and Rory have seemingly stopped travelling with the Doctor and five years have now passed — they are back in their hometown of Upper Leadworth and Amy is heavily pregnant with Rory's child. This is one of two realities that the pair of them are flitting between, with the sound of birdsong being the key to the pair traversing between the two. The other reality has Rory and Amy back on board a powerless TARDIS, which is drifting towards a cold star that will spell their certain demise.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS...
The premise of the line blurring between dreams and reality is a well-worn one, providing many science-fiction shows with a wealth of "what if?" possibilities — Star Trek used this device quite often, be it dreams, coma-induced hallucinations or holodeck simulations — but Amy's Choice appears to try something a little different by the use of a Faustian character, who tries to show Amy what her future could be with Rory; seemingly idyllic and happy, but ultimately the village of Upper Leadworth is just as dangerous and as fraught with peril as travelling with the Doctor. Certainly as deadly as plunging toward a cold star in an incapacitated TARDIS, as Upper Leadworth has been invaded by a race known as the Eknodine, who are disguising themselves as pensioners who turn out to be as deadly as the average octogenarian behind the wheel of a car. Soon Amy and Rory begin to feel old age creeping up on them, but in this case it's even more deadly than the passage of time.

The Dream Lord, as portrayed by acclaimed actor Toby Jones, is an interesting character in that he is essentially a dark version of the Doctor. This concept was tried in the original series during the Trial of a Time Lord season with the Valeyard, a character who turned out to be an evil version of the Doctor, somewhere between his twelfth and final incarnations (it was originally intended to be his final incarnation, but it was watered-down by John Nathan-Turner). Some fans have creatively linked the two characters, as they share certain similarities, but they are most certainly two separate entities.

The Dream Lord also appears to the Doctor himself, taunting him over his own insecurities — this is clearly an attempt to psychoanalyse the character and allow the viewer to understand his motivations and his fears; over the years in Doctor Who, this has been addressed, but mainly through actions than blatant analysis (The Doctor presiding over genocide with his "have I the right?" speech in Genesis of the Daleks being the best example).

It was a smart move to have Rory as a member of the TARDIS crew, as he allows the audience to identify with him more than Amy, who by this time had become at ease with the concept of travelling to different times and places, along with coming face-to-face with extra-terrestrial adversaries. This trick was tried back in series one of New-Who with Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley), but the motivation of that character was greed and ultimately proved to be his downfall; here, Rory seems to be the New-Who equivalent of Tegan, bringing a sense of the fallible into the TARDIS and is protective of his bride-to-be, Amy.

The Hungry Earth
After waking up from the land of dreams, the TARDIS crew materialise in the year 2020 in the Welsh mining town of Cwmtaff, where a subterranean drilling team is making an attempt to drill deeper than anyone else in Earth's history (excluding, of course, Professor Stahlman), but in doing so, the team — led by Dr Nasreen Chaudhry — has awakened an old adversary of the Doctor, a race that has been lying dormant; one that is not impressed with apes encroaching upon their territory and some factions within that race will stop at nothing to see the human race extinct and the Silurians ruling the Earth once again.

During all of this, people are being sucked into the ground, and eventually it is not just the people associated with the drilling and the surrounding area that are affected by these disappearances — the Doctor sees Amy dragged beneath the surface and suddenly, he is even more determined to get to the bottom of things.

It is interesting to note that this story was written by Chris Chibnnall, who has principally worked as a writer on Torchwood; the more adult-orientated approach to Torchwood appears to have rubbed off on this script, as it seems darker and more interesting than many other stories in this series. Certainly, the big drive behind this story was to take greater inspiration from the novelisation of Doctor Who and the Silurians (which was rather generically known as Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters), which featured — as was always the case with Mac's novelisations — a more fleshed-out storyline. The novel struck a chord with several people on the production team and when the time came to bring back the Silurians, it was fitting that Mac's work be used as a basis for certain elements.

Previously in New-Who, attempts at creating drama and tugging at heartstrings have come across as either heavy-handed or crassly manipulative, but the sequence that sees Amy dragged underground in a manner that almost seems as though she is drowning is astonishingly well-executed; the look of desperation in Amy's eyes and the horror in the Doctor's is quite possibly one of the best moments in New-Who's entire run. The sequence is superbly acted, not to mention well-shot and edited and should serve as a textbook example of how to create drama without seeming like a soap opera.

Cold Blood
Following straight on, the Doctor and Nasreen find themselves in the heart of the Silurian civilisation, where they soon captured and discover that all of the missing people — including Amy — are being experimented upon by Silurian doctor Malokeh. It emerges that things are not exactly harmonious within the Silurian community, with factions each having their own idea over what to do with the humans, both captured and all the others living on the surface of the planet.

One of the best aspects of this story was that two characters opt to remain below the surface — one of them for health reasons and the other because of love. It might sound mawkish, but it works because it seems to reach into Star Trek territory of wanting to understand and create a sense of harmony between the human race and another species.

The whole subplot about the killing of Alaya, the female Silurian warrior, was pretty much the only serious misstep in this two-part story; this aspect just seemed like a contrived way of generating a bit of conflict in order to not make the truce between the humans and the Silurians go as smoothly as it would otherwise have done. Having Alaya killed in the heat of the moment by a mother who is worried about her child (taken by the Silurians) is fairly trite, but one has to ask oneself if such a situation happened in real-life, would the mother want to kill possibly the only connection to getting her son back? We didn't think so, either.

We also don't really like the new Silurians; okay, so something needed to be done to update them for the 21st century, but almost completely chucking out the original designs and starting from scratch is almost an insult to the original series. The mentality that seemed to dominate the design was "let's make it so the warrior can be a hot chick!", or some such crap. The Silurians aren't supposed to be quite so human-looking, because the human race evolved from apes (or if you're religious, they were made by magic) and the Silurians were reptilian in origin. The masks they briefly wear are a transparent attempt to placate original Who fans by making them look a little more like they're supposed to; it didn't work with us.

This Silurian two-parter has deeply divided fans (but then again, with such a rabid fan-base as Doctor Who, opinion on pretty much every story is polarised); there are some who happen to love this story, with its grand scope and wonderful production design, but there are also others who loathe the redesigned Silurians and hate the fact that a major character dies at the end of the story. We happen to fall into the former, but with one or two reservations...

In a rare moment of non-screamy goodness, it's Polly (put the kettle on)
On the plus side, it was nice to see Stephen Moore return to science-fiction as one of the elder Silurians. Moore's distinctive tones helped make former Doctor Who script editor Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the smash it became and having Moore in this story is a cool nod to both Douglas Adams and British sci-fi in general.

Another one of the numerous thing in this story’s favour is the production values are lovely, as it has a feature-film look and feel to it; the design of the Silurian world is almost breath-taking, possibly the most staggeringly beautiful environment that New-Who has produced to date — it manages to convince the audience that this is a totally alien environment, but also a relatively functional one, too.

Vincent and the Doctor
Following the loss of Amy’s fiancée, Rory, the Doctor takes Amy (who has had all memory of her beloved erased and is now completely oblivious to her recent bereavement) to an art gallery, where a painting of a church by Van Gough depicts a mysterious figure with burning eyes. A bell rings in the back of our time-travelling friend’s mind, and is sure he might have encountered their like before...

The Doctor and Amy rush back to 1890 to question Van Gough himself as to the nature of the creature, instead discovering a man who is a shadow of his former self and near the end of his life. Whilst they try and get some sense out of the down-and-out artist, the Doctor and Amy realise that bigger things are afoot than Van Gough simply going off the rails — the mysterious figure in the painting is actually a rampaging monster that threatens to destroy anything in its path.

Tony Curran is great as Van Gough — aside from really looking the part, he paints (pun intended) the artist as a deeply flawed character but one who ultimately wants to enjoy life even though he was haunted by the black clouds of depression and alcohol. Curran had such a raw deal with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as he played (an) Invisible Man, which meant not only was he saddled with a Cock-er-ney accent, but you didn’t get to see his face properly, so it’s nice to get to see him really show his worth here.

It was pleasing to see actor Bill Nighy in a nice cameo as Dr Black, who shows the Doctor, Amy and others around the museum at the start of the episode. Nighy was being heavily touted for the role of the Doctor, and in a piece of casting to rival The Curse of the Fatal Death, Nighy finally found himself in Doctor Who. The casting of Nighy in this story was almost certainly as a result of Richard Curtis penning the episode. Our enduring memory of Mr Nighy was when we were being “zombified” in the makeup trailer on Shaun of the Dead, and Nighy walked in wearing a white coat and hilariously 70s glasses. We thought he was playing some kind of “boffin” in the film, but they turned out to be his real specs, and the coat was to protect his wardrobe. Oops.

In the funeral cortège, we thought we saw a face from the past, and was only watching the end credits which confirmed we were right. Ms Chrissie Cotterill, whom we remember fondly from the 80s’ C4 series Prospects, plays the mother of the dead, and was quite an alarming experience to see how the ravages of time have affected her. It could be worse: look how long Gary Olsen has been dead.

Whilst it’s a fun ride, when Vincent and the Doctor is over there is a feeling that you have been manipulated — the final scene in the museum was intended to be poignant, but the heavy use of emo music just renders the sequence intolerable to all but the emotionally constipated (which is appropriate really, seeing as Richard Curtis’ rom-coms are aimed at similarly afflicted people); instead of being a thought-provoking coda, it just pushes bile up into your throat.

As is becoming commonplace in Nu-Who, there is a repetition of themes to be found, and this one is the power of art. Not on an emotional level, but on an almost metaphysical one. In The Shakespeare Code, the Bard is able to banish the invading evil though his written word, whilst here Van Gough can visualise the Krafayis on his canvas, using his abilities to lead it into the climactic church showdown. It’s a nice way to express the shockingly under-appreciated medium of classical art, but once more might be construed as too often.

This might be a result of us having an aversion to said work of Richard Curtis, or at least the rom-coms, which have given him a very comfortable life. We have stated before that we consider that particular genre to be the lowest form of cinema, with no ideas or outré concepts to challenge the brain - only existing to make it easier to get girlies to assume a “Y”-shape position after the movie. It was Curtis’ Love Actually which opening with the contentious gambit of: “When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love...”. Jesus.

The rear-view mirror device that the Doctor uses to see the Krafayis is pretty naff and brought back shuddering memories of the 3D glasses and vacuum-cleaner thing that David Tennant had strapped to his back in the two-part finale of series two—however, it was with great relief that Matt Smith didn't sing some of the Ghostbusters theme song in this story.

Vincent and the Doctor seems like another example of New-Who where the story was originally a character piece and the only monsters to be battled were ones that existed in the mind, but the Krafayis just seem like they were included in a later draft of the script and harkens back to the days of John Nathan-Turner, where every Doctor Who story had to have a “monster” in it. Peter Davison's finale, The Caves of Androzani was nearly ruined by having a silly monster in it. This also happened with series three’s The Lazarus Experiment and the “must have a monster” dictate is even more obvious here, which is frustrating, as the episode could have existed perfectly well without it. We can safely say that a form of Gene Roddenberry/Fred Freiberger disparity is in effect here.

The Lodger
The Doctor is unceremoniously thrown out of the TARDIS and finds himself in a park in Colchester. Amy is stuck inside the TARDIS, as mysterious force has locked it in time-loop and the Doctor has to become a lodger in a house whilst he works out what to do about his present predicament. This everyday mundane existence is not quite as routine as it appears, as previous tenants in the flat are inexplicably disappearing within the house.

The Lodger is a very entertaining change-of-pace story that comes at the point in the series that had previously been used for "Doctor-Lite" episodes - Smith will probably develop enough clout to demand one for series six - but the Doctor is the central character here and the nature of the story allows Smith to stretch a little by showing the Doctor in situations that are ordinarily be (pardon the term) alien to him. Seeing the Doctor playing football with a pub team is a little bizarre, but seeing as Matt Smith was a promising footballer before injury forced him to rethink his career path, it all works out and he gets to show his stuff on-screen.

An outtake with a Silurian giving tongue-action
Continuing the New-Who trend of casting comedy actors in dramatic roles, The Lodger sees James Corden in a relatively straight role. To be fair, he's not too bad in this, but we have had an intense dislike of him since his ghastly collaborative efforts with Matthew Horne. With the domestic nature of the project, it would have been easy to have let Cordon milk the situation for his usual brand of comedy, but has been tamed by a combination of directorial sensibilities and the good work of Corden himself. Yeah, that really sticks in the throat.

There are shades of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, with various characters drawn to strangeness lurking in the attic of a communal house. Sure, Pinter’s magnet for weirdness is a mentally-retarded guy looking for company, but as we are in Doctor Who territory, it won’t be much of a spoiler when we say that they go down the Sci-Fi route of having a time machine lurking on the highest floor of the residence. What should have been a surprise reveal of said device isn’t, as anyone watching the show now knows what to expect, and this might be a good indicator that the programme might need to go on hiatus for a while. Still, Star Trek: The Next Generation did variations on this kind of plot twenty years ago, but it is still nice to see it being done over here, even though the concept might not be as fresh as it once was.

It might be a touch nerdy to say this, but when the reveal of the alien spacecraft happens near the end of the story, our hopes were raised a little by the fact that it looks more than a little like the Jagaroth ship in the classic Tom Baker story, City of Death — it obviously was our overactive imaginations being engaged in "wishful thinking mode", but never mind...

As we have already said, The Lodger is an interesting change-of-pace, that provides that same kind of light relief that the average Doctor-Lite stories offer just before diving headlong into the final story of the series.

The Pandorica Opens
From various points in history, there are signs that something big is going to happen. Significant historical figures know that something is coming — Van Gough, Churchill, Elizabeth the 10th. River Song is languishing in prison until she receives vital news and engineers her escape.

Van Gough's painting depicts the TARDIS exploding and River Song leaves a message carved on one of the oldest cliff-faces in the universe for the Doctor, along with a set of temporal co-ordinates.

The TARDIS materialises in 102AD and The Doctor and Amy encounter Roman soldiers; they eventually meet Cleopatra, who turns out to be River Song masquerading as the Egyptian queen and together they realises that the Pandorica, a prison, is located beneath Stonehenge and they set off to find it.

When discovered, the Pandorica attracts ships from many of the races that have fallen afoul of the Doctor over the years, all of whom hover over Stonehenge in the night sky. All hell eventually begins to break loose and River Song is catapulted forward to 26th June 2010, which just happens to also be the base code of the universe. The Roman soldiers are revealed to be Autons, along with one particular soldier, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rory, and desperately tries to get Amy to remember him. Will she be able to remember him and get her beloved boyfriend back, or will she have to make do with a plastic substitute?

The Pandorica Opens is an enjoyable romp that sets up the last episode in the series quite nicely; there are times when so many elements are introduced and so much is going on that it threatens to tip over into the Russell T Davies school of first-part-of-the-end-of-series-closer writing, but thankfully, it is reigned in and builds to a climax and a shock revelation that most clued-in Doctor Who viewers saw coming a mile off.

The concept of a zombified Cyberman stalking the unwary at Stonehenge is creepy and the manner in which the sequence is executed is to be commended, as it finally starts to restore an element to the Cyberman that RTD had obliterated when he redesigned them for New-Who. Executive Producer Steven Moffat has always preferred the Mondas Cybermen and even though this story uses one of the camp New-Who Cybus Industries ones, he at least doesn't have it marching like one of the Village People and exclaiming "delete, delete!". Thank God.

The location filming at Stonehenge really augments the sense of wonder to this story; The Pandorica Opens represents the first time that the production has ventured outside Wales for extensive UK location work (other episodes of New-Who have had London footage, but this was mainly confined to second-unit work and some small scenes with the principles) and the results are handsome. The continuation of the scenes set at Stonehenge, but shot away from the monument match up perfectly and the viewer feels as though the real Stonehenge was used throughout.

The production tried to keep some of surprise appearances as just that — surprises. Doctor Who fandom has a way of ferreting out information and more leaks appear than a South American drug informant — there were indeed leaks, but we resisted looking at them, as we wanted to be surprised. We were expecting some big-name cameos or faces from the past, but all they really turned out to be were characters from previous episodes in this series, who obviously all shot their appearances for The Pandorica Opens whilst filming their main stories.

Speaking of surprises, the whole concept of bringing back Amy's fiancée Rory from the dead was almost as foregone a conclusion as pitting Stephen Hawking against Mike Tyson in a thirteen-round pugilistic event. It was screamingly obvious that Rory was going to reappear in some capacity for the final story, but this is done so in a more inventive way than many would have given credit; having Rory return as an Auton and not entirely human was an interesting idea, and having him wrestle with his new Nestine side adds an extra edge to the drama, particularly when incorporated into the multiple cliff-hangers that occur at the end of this episode. The Amy/Rory shock cliff-hanger is far and away the strongest part of the climax and the site of the Doctor being seemingly done away with for all eternity pales in comparison to what happens between his assistant and his recently deceased assistant.

Matt Smith's "rock star" moment, where he addresses all of the hovering ships above him, with various searchlights flashing around him is more than a little camp, and seeing as he's at Stonehenge, the rock group which it's most reminiscent of is Spinal Tap. We’d have been so happy if he'd have proven that banshees reside at that particular monument, and that they do live comfortably.

The whole idea of having many of the Doctor's adversaries forming an alliance in order to get rid of him once and for all falls squarely into the category of "fan-wank" — there has been much speculation as to why such-and-such a race would ever agree to join when such-and-such is a part of it, and that sort of thing. Too much brain-power has been expended upon trying to think of a reason that would fit in with it — the concept of intelligent design is easier to swallow, but the simple answer as to why so many races would be in the Alliance is because the costumes were hanging in the back of the wardrobe...

Big Bangin' In-vision commentary with Toby, Karen & Arthur
The Big Bang
Continuing straight on from the end of the previous episode, all of the elements that have been slowly building up throughout this series have come into play and things look pretty bleak for Amy, who has just been killed by her Auton replica fiancée, Rory and also for the Doctor, who has been imprisoned in the Pandorica, seemingly forever. Silence has indeed fallen as the stars in the sky explode, leaving only Earth in the middle of a black void.

However, back in 1996, young Amelia Pond has been exercising her creativity once again, drawing a picture of the night sky, but there are no stars in the her sky. At a museum, Amelia comes across the Pandorica and it opens, revealing her older self — very much alive. Not only that, it seems that the plastic lover Rory has taken a leaf out of Marvin - the Paranoid Android's book - and has been waiting around for centuries, waiting for Amy to re-emerge. Along with Rory, the museum has another mysterious sentinel — a stone Dalek that turns out not to be quite an inanimate as first thought.

Steven Moffat likes his cryptic three-worded warnings — "count the shadows" was used in series three's two-part story Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead and running all the way through series five, there has been the portentous "silence will fall".

Having the base code of the universe the same date as the broadcast of the final episode of the series (26062010) is pretty cool in the run up to the final episode and is involving during the broadcast, but the novelty is lost when watching it afterwards. That's the trouble when something's of the moment, the moment is glorious, but it dates faster than anything that doesn't try hard to be topical or current. It's very much like watching repeats of Have I Got News For You on Dave. Still, I suppose you could just jump in the TARDIS and travel back in time to watch it again and again just to get that same sensation.

There is a ridiculous amount of twists and turns in this two-part story, with most of them happening in The Big Bang, as their narrative hair-pin bends and all manner of surprises that build to what is quite possibly the most satisfying climax to a series of New-Who. Usually, the first part of a two-part finale is more enjoyable, but this story bucks the trend, delivering a latter episode which manages to wrap everything up without seeming particularly trite or contrived. Steven Moffat carefully built the structure of the story-arc and increased the sense of tension as series five went on and actually delivered on the premise. It could be argued that this is the first two-part finale that actually feels cohesive and not one where the writer was not entirely sure how to end things.

The performances in the two-part finale are as good as usual, with Smith and Gillan's chemistry very much in evidence. Smith spends some time of this story sporting a fez and trying to convince those around him that "fezes are cool" — Sylvester McCoy wore one (albeit briefly) over twenty years before in Silver Nemesis, and if you want to get somewhat anal, the Eighth Doctor also sported that most popular of North African/Middle-Eastern headgear in Doctor Who and the Nightmare Game.

Arthur Darville is also very good as Rory, the loyal returned-from-the-dead-well-sort-of fiancée, who adds a more human side to the story (funny really, seeing as he is now no longer a member of the homosapien species).

It was great to see young actress Caitlin Blackwood back as Amelia Pond, and playing such an integral part in the story — she was wonderful back in The Eleventh Hour and was arguably more fun to watch than the older version of her character.

Alex Kingston is more bearable than usual as River Song, but whatever merits her performance has in this story, it is somewhat overshadowed by the impressive backside she has, which is augmented by what looks like a pair of jodhpurs. OK, we're Doctor Who fans, but we're also unashamed arse-men, too...

Things end on a happy note, as the wedding that had been mentioned, alluded to, thrown out of the window and seemingly postponed indefinitely, finally goes ahead and there is a nice collection of items that are gathered together for the "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue". The schmaltz factor rises alarmingly during this scene, but given all the dramatic events that have taken place between Amy and Rory over the course of this series, a wallow in sentimental slush can be forgiven. The story concludes with what is almost certainly the set-up for the Christmas special, which involves an Egyptian goddess on the Orient Express in outer space — we're hoping that this is just a throwaway thing, as it sounds awfully trite, but only time will tell...

Video


The image quality of the episodes is comparable to that found on the vanilla releases; colours are nicely rendered and there is a fair amount of image detail, even if there is a tendency for it to be slightly soft at times. Whilst there are two episodes on a disc for this set (the final three episodes are on one disc), the possibility of an increased bit-rate for them is dashed because of the in-vision commentaries, which take up roughly the equivalent of a whole episode for each one.

Audio


All of the stories in this set come with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, which 2Entertain had been holding back on with the vanilla releases (the HD broadcasts went out with discrete 5.1 mixes, so there was no excuse this year...) and they sound pretty good, with lots of engaging spot-effects and a nice amount of low frequencies.

Extras


The credit-crunch appears to have impacted upon 2Entertain, as they haven't exactly pushed the boat out as far as extras are concerned; a fair amount of it has already been seen in one form or another and the video commentaries take up valuable space that could have been used for more interesting extras or increasing the bit-rate on the transfers of the episodes.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS: These are two scenes that provide answers to a couple of questions posed during the series, specifically, why Amy was floating in space at the start of The Beast Below and also what happened after the kiss between Amy and The Doctor. These were written by Steven Moffat and the first of which handles some of the more obvious questions that new companion Amy Pond has about both The Doctor and the TARDIS, and has Karen Gillan rattling through some rapid-fire dialogue with aplomb. The second amusingly brings up The Doctor's previous companions, and Amy is alarmed at just how many female companions he has gotten through; it's entertaining and an excuse to show images of most (if not all) of The Doctor's feminine assistants (excluding Adric)...

In-vision commentaries: Various members of the cast and crew appear on-screen during certain episodes on this set. These are fairly pointless, as the image of the participants is so small, that it's hardly worth bothering about. Regardless, the participants are as follows...

The Eleventh Hour: Producers Steven Moffat, Beth Willis and Piers Wenger; this is pretty much how you would expect a conversation between three producers to be, but Moffat writing the episode prevents things from becoming too dull.

Victory of the Daleks: Writer Mark Gatiss, Dalek Voice Artist Nicholas Briggs and Dalek Operator and occasional Dalek Voice Artist Barnaby Edwards; this is fun, as Briggs and Gatiss are both huge Doctor Who fans, and Gatiss expands upon the episode in very interesting and intelligent ways. Good stuff!

Time of the Angels: Producer Steven Moffat and Actress Karen Gillan have a jokey, informal look at this particular episode, with Moffat being his usual smart-arsed self and Gillan giggling at his witty remarks.

Vampires in Venice: Director Johnny Campbell, Writer Toby Whithouse and actor Alex Price Whithouse interestingly reveals that Moffat wanted this episode to be a "reboot" one, meaning that enough information is contained in it to allow people who hadn't seen the show before to watch it and be brought up to speed.

Cold Blood: Director Ashley Way, Second AD James DeHaviland  and actor Alun Raglan have a fairly lighthearted conversation over the action.

The Big Bang: Actors Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville, along with director Toby Haines all chip in with amusing anecdotes during this episode, with the actors in particular examining their performances and nit-picking somewhat.

Out-takes: It wouldn't be a New-Who box-set without some of the season's fluffs, cock-ups and general on-set shenanigans. These run for about seven minutes and aren't as amusing as ones from previous seasons; quite a bit of it involves James Corden mugging shamelessly into the camera.

Video Diaries: The ingenuity of coming up with cheap and cheerful extras has to be admired here, as several members of the cast and crew are given camcorders and record the day-to-day events of shooting Doctor Who from their perspective. They are scattered over the discs and include such riveting topics as the cast and crew having a sandwich break and hanging around in a trailer.

Doctor Who Confidential Cut-Downs: All thirteen of the "oh-shit-I-missed-the-first-broadcast-and-I-have-to-make-do-with-the-poxy-shorter-ones" mini documentaries are included here. It IS somewhat annoying that the full-length ones are never included, but we suppose that this is better than nothing.

The Monster Files: Fans who paid out money for the (almost) vanilla releases are going to be distinctly disgruntled, as the only extras to be included on those discs have also been included here, meaning that the vanilla discs will be rendered completely redundant. So much for The Monster Files being exclusive. They're just short featurettes all too obviously culled from footage from Doctor Who Confidential, they’re not that bad, just the visual equivalent of a meringue—created by hot air and not having much substance to them. Anyway, they have all been included here, and they are as follows...

The Daleks: This ten-minute examination of the new-look Daleks has clips from the show, popular tunes to underscore the intent and congratulatory interviews with the cast and crew where everyone interviewed slavishly raves over the new Dalek designs and tries to win over the more hard-bitten fans.

The Weeping Angels: Clocking in around the same time as the previous entry, this looks at Steven Moffat's most enduring Doctor Who creation to date.

The Silurians: Wasn't that an Australian Soap? This looks at The Silurians, from their original incarnations through to the Matt Smith two-part story.

The Alliance: This ten-minute look at who is in the Alliance has Executive Producer Steven Moffat confirming that the deciding factor behind who was in the Alliance was simply which costumes and outfits were available at the time, and yet straight after Moffat admits this, fellow Executive Producer Piers Wenger immediately comes out with the sort of bullshit that Moffat just exploded.

Trailers and promos: There is a nice assortment of various TV spots and promos for both series five as a whole and the individual episodes. It's a pity that the 'Next Time' previews weren't included here, as they were nixed from the stories on DVD. A couple of international trailer have been thrown in for your delectation, including a U.S. TV spot that is fairly conventional, until an impossible butch voiceover hastily says "Duck-Tuh Who" at the end.

More in-vision commentary  - this time, it's from Cold Blood

Overall


Doctor Who Series 5 is something of a mixed bag; some have criticised the show for trying to play it safe and just keeping things running along at a constant level, with little in the way of the customary peaks and troughs that have come to characterise most of the previous series of New-Who[i/]. Whilst there haven't really been any seriously poor episodes (though [i]The Beast Below comes perilously close to this), most of them have been reasonably entertaining. We're happy enough with how things are going, but we can only hope that Steven Moffat's intention to turn the show from being a science-fiction-based one to one of fantasy isn't going to materialise.

Many hailed the appointment of Steven Moffat as Executive Producer as almost like the Second Coming, but some of those people have since become disillusioned are now thinking one of the most often quoted line from Monty Python's Life of Brian...

"He's NOT the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"


All joking aside, 2Entertain have produced a box-set where the video and audio are very good, but the extras are distinctly lacklustre (it would have been nice to have had some genuine deleted scenes, along with active participation from Matt Smith), and considering the RRP, fans expected something a little better than what they have been presented with.


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