Doctor Who 5 (2010)


  

Our rating: 4 out of 5
Rated: TVPG
 
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
      
The announcement that British writer Steven Moffat was taking the reins of the cult classic, hit television series Doctor Who was met with immense excitement – and a hint of sadness as the most popular Doctor (David Tennant) retired. His departure opened the floodgates for new creativity and re-design. Moffat has taken a successful series and breathed new life into it...
 
Regeneration takes its toll, and the Doctor (Matt Smith) is not quite himself. Still somewhat disoriented from his "death" and rebirth, he lands the TARDIS unceremoniously on the front lawn of a small home and stumbles through the garden, where he meets a child. Amy has never been on an adventure, but she is frightened of a mysterious crack in her wall. The Doctor too is concerned and assures her he will return in five minutes to provide a solution. Unfortunately, as the TARDIS also re-organizes itself, its instruments are temporarily thrown off-kilter and that fifteen minutes turns into twelve years! When he does turn up, Amy (Karen Gillen) is twenty years old and delivers kissing telegrams for a living. But there is still something sinister hiding out in her house and when it places her life and the lives of all her friends in jeopardy, the Doctor must discern what it is and get rid of it, before some of them pay the ultimate price.
 
Once that near-mishap is over, Amy joins the Doctor on the further explorations in his time-traveling TARDIS… but each of them is keeping a secret. The Doctor has an ulterior motive in bringing her along, and Amy is running away from something… that hangs in her bedroom amid her “Doctor memorabilia.” While the fans shouted foul long and hard prior to the premiere of this season over numerous things (the casting, the re-designed interior of the time machine, the choice of companions, even the wardrobe and costuming department decisions), within ten minutes Moffat has his audience captivated. It’s still the same Doctor we know and love, just with a different face. Smith is a worthy replacement for Tennant, adopting some of his mannerisms and vocal inflections but also putting his own unique spin on the character. There are moments when he seems young and deranged and others in which we sense how truly old and battle-scarred the Doctor actually is. The few times he falters and inevitably causes the audience to compare him to his predecessor are rare scenes of sadness, but when it comes to playing up the physical humor and sarcasm, Smith nails it. Gillen is also delightful as Amy, a courageous and spunky companion who scampers about in mini-skirts and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Midway through, her fiancé Rory (Arthur Darvill) joins the cast and adds a lovely romantic element that for once isn’t directed toward the 509-year-old Time Lord!
  
We once again encounter some of the Doctor's old adversaries but also a host of new creatures and planets. One of Moffat’s ingenious earlier inventions (the Stone Angels) is revisited in a creepy two-part mid-season arc, but there are numerous other introductions of sinister space creatures and more than a few genuinely chilling instances. Nothing is ever quite what it seems and his creative team keeps us guessing throughout. Most of the installments are stand-alone but also build in an overall arc that has to do with a crack in time – “history can be rewritten!” the Doctor exclaims at one point, in a blend of enthusiasm and outright horror. He also presents us with a truly emotional episode in which the audience is invited along on an escapade with Vincent Van Gough -- the ending is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. The series builds toward an epic, intense finale in which the tiny threads running throughout the season are at last brought together and answers provided. Some secrets we learn and others are left for future installments, but along the way our fondness for the characters increases as well as our sense of urgency in the disastrous, galaxy-threatening problem that the Doctor finds himself in. It's also nice to see some popular British thespians (including Bill Nighy) in guest appearances -- we meet Churchill, travel to the center of the earth, encounter vampires in Venice, and much more!
 
Also present is much more humorous antics, some slightly suggestive humor, and a constant emphasis on Rory and the Doctor “competing with one another,” much to Amy’s annoyance. While Moffat avoids the homosexual references that plagued former seasons, he does indulge in a bit of innuendo and a scene in which Amy attempts to get the Doctor into bed. She comes onto and propositions him, but he declines. She frequently appears in short skirts. Elsewhere is the typical violence anticipated from the genre, thematic elements that include the abuse of various creatures, and sinister "monsters" such as vampires and zombies. There are a scattering of mild profanities. While not all our questions are answered, and Moffat continues to tease us with hints as to what River Song (Alex Kingston) has to do with the Doctor, it's a terrific season with fabulous new characters and a mind-twister of an ending that promises even more adventures to come.
  

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