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DVD Review: Doctor Who – The Complete Sixth Series

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Series Six of Doctor Who is the second complete season with Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor. While I was sad to see David Tennant leave the show, I think Smith is a great doctor. As Tennant did when he took over for Christopher Eccleston, Smith incorporated some of the previous mannerisms while developing his own unique take on the character. Smith’s Doctor possesses the fun loving exuberance of Tennant’s Doctor, but he is more cynical. The eleventh Doctor is world-weary (or maybe that’s universe weary) and he is not always convinced he has the right answers. The Doctor has been through a lot of adversity over the past few seasons and it shows.

Series six brings an intensity of storytelling that rivals the first and second series, with Eccleston’s Doctor determining the meaning of “Bad Wolf,” and Tennant’s Doctor discovering Torchwood. This set includes the pre-season Christmas Special “A Christmas Carol,” in which The Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) must convince a Scrooge type character to help them save a spaceship that is on a collision course with his planet. This episode is fun, but the series really takes off when it gets into the regular season. The story arc of series six deals with the mortality of the doctor. We have seen the doctor die many times, only to regenerate into a new form. But even the doctor is a mortal being and this series explores that concept.

The first episode of the season, “The Impossible Astronaut,” starts the series off with a bang. The episode plays with the concepts of time travel and introduces some freaky new aliens. River Song (Alex Kingston) returns to join Amy and Rory as they investigate a mysterious message left by The Doctor. The group travel back and forth through time encountering aliens that are forgotten as soon as someone’s back is turned to them, a strange little girl who calls President Nixon prior to the 1969 moon landing, some men in black types, and Nixon himself. “The Impossible Astronaut” is one of the best episodes of the rebooted series, and that’s saying a lot because there have been great episodes throughout the last five seasons. A lot happens during this episode, and it’s follow up “Day of the Moon.” These episodes set up the thread that runs throughout the rest of the season.

The basic premise is that The Doctor must inevitably die. It seems his death is a fixed point in time that can’t be changed. Whether this is a known truth or just a theory is something The Doctor wrestles with through the following episodes. One of the strongest aspects of Doctor Who is its unbridled imagination. It’s a show that does not constrain its concepts or settings. The Doctor can travel everywhere and anywhere in the universe (and sometimes beyond even that), and that’s something that was really taken advantage of in this series. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory travel to several new worlds and a strange alternate reality where all events in time happen at the same time. A sign in a park warns visitors not to feed the pterodactyls, while “Emperor” Winston Churchill chats with Charles Dickens.

This series also reveals the truth about the mysterious River Song and we learn more about the TARDIS. In “The Doctor’s Wife” (an episode written by Neil Gaiman) the TARDIS is personified in the body of a woman, and we get a glimpse of what the TARDIS thinks about The Doctor and all their adventures together. River Song turns up in several episodes and the mystery of who she really is and how she knows The Doctor slowly unravels. I was unsure of what to think when the truth was finally revealed. At first I found it hard to swallow, but as it went on I found the whole idea very clever. I can’t reveal any more about it, but the direction it took was a total surprise to me.

One thing that separates series five and six from the previous series’ is The Doctor’s relationship with his companion. The eleventh Doctor and Amy have a very different relationship than any of the previous companions had. Amy is not in love with The Doctor in the same way Rose (especially her), Martha, and Donna were. Amy’s husband Rory is along for the ride and is almost as much of a companion as Amy is. It could be said Rory is more of a companion to Amy, but he is just as involved in the adventure as The Doctor and Amy. In fact Rory is integral to the story. I think it’s a nice break from the usual. At first I thought it was strange to have Amy’s husband tagging along, but he is worked in rather well.

Overall series six of Doctor Who is very entertaining. I liked all the story threads concerning the mortality of The Doctor and the truth about River Song. I thought this series capitalized on the adventurous nature of the show. There were also some genuine creepy moments, such as The Shining inspired hotel in “The God Complex,” which added some thrills to the show. With all the compelling stories and characters the show seems just as strong as ever.

This DVD set includes all series six episodes along with the Christmas special. There are also a slew of special features. There is an inside look at every episode in the “Doctor Who Confidential” series. There is also a bonus “Doctor Who Confidential” which is an inside look at the exclusive DVD scenes. The four “Monster Files” featurettes provide an interesting look at some of the aliens from the series. There are audio commentaries on select episodes, five episode prequels, and trailers for the episodes. Overall this is a great package for any Doctor Who fan.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.