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Music Review: Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Specials

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The last episodes of Russell T. Davies’ run on Doctor Who were accompanied by some great music, and at last (about ten months after the last of them aired) the soundtrack is finally available on CD. Having not seen the earlier ones in far too long, the most recognisable pieces in this two disc set are on disc two, which is entirely occupied by the End Of Time soundtrack.

The music for this was written by Murray Gold, who has of course worked with the staff of the Doctor Who revival since its introduction. The orchestra was conducted by Ben Foster, who I am pleased to see conducted music for the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy movie (which I liked) and has written music for the spin-off Torchwood

The music throughout, as befits Gold’s previous work on the show, is suitably epic and grand, with echoes of his previous pieces. At one point, a brief passage from All The Strange, Strange Creatures can be heard as part of one of the songs. This makes sense, as a fair bit of the story involves returning enemies, so particular motifs can be expected to reappear. 

The good thing about soundtrack CDs is that the music is typically so tied in with the visuals of what’s going on that it can conjure up memories of good episodes or particular scenes. Some of the stand out pieces, in my opinion, are The Timelord’s Last Stand, The Master Suite (which features the familiar drum rhythm in abundance and will stay in your head for days – I’ve had it in my head for about three years now and it manifests itself in the form of the Master’s tapping) and Minny Hooper, which sounds like it’s the last bit of fun and games the Doctor has before his death. 

Another epic one is The Council Of The Timelords, which is really short but sweet (42 seconds), and shows Gold’s talent for setting the tone. The tone is vaguely military and sounds like it could almost be the Gallifreyan national anthem. 

Interestingly, you can follow the Doctor’s emotional journey through the episodes (as do the actual episodes, it’s definitely an arc following his emotional state) merely by listening to the music. It goes from upbeat on the second track (which is from The Next Doctor) to sad and mournful as his time runs out on the last tracks. Then it goes a bit off the wall when the next Doctor is introduced and it sounds like something from Donkey Kong Country

The cover art is pretty good and captures the mood well (what with David Tennant being his usual pessimistic self – it’s been a while since I’ve seen him smile), but has the unfortunate side effect of making John Simm’s Master look like some sort of space chipmunk when you see the image at the size shown. 

I’m normally not one for Doctor Who CDs (I much prefer the televised adventures; the only other Doctor Who CD I own is The Dalek Conquests, which is a documentary of sorts hosted by Nicholas Briggs) but listening to this soundtrack brought back a lot of good memories. If you want to recapture the mood of the specials without splashing out on the expensive boxset, then this is the CD to get. Might as well come with the Quality Seal Of Rassilon. 

 

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About Scott Varnham

  • Debra

    Well, you must really find chipmunks very sexy then, mustn’t you?

  • Scotty2

    I meant Skeletor Master, not Regular Master. However, I do not find chipmunks sexy. I really wish I didn’t have to clarify that 😛