30 December 2013

Doctor Who, the complete series 6 (starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill)

It has taken us four months to watch the sixth season of the 21st century Doctor Who. Matt Smith is well established as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor, and Karen Gillan returns as his companion, Amy, now married to Rory (Arthur Darvill) who has a brilliantly comic touch at times, adding some welcome lightness, but who also shows amazing depth and loyalty.

The opening episode, ‘A Christmas Carol’, was shown in December 2010. It features a Scrooge-like character, who refuses to let Amy and Rory’s honeymoon spaceship arrive. The Doctor works some Dickens-like magic, and there’s a bittersweet ending; it’s nicely done, if a little twee.

Then the sixth season began properly in April 2011, with a very dramatic episode where the Doctor is shot by a lakeside, watched by Amy, Rory, and the mysterious River Song. Then they meet a younger version of the Doctor, who has no idea what’s going to happen…

It’s a confusing series in some ways, and I almost feel as if I should start watching it over again with the benefit of hindsight. While most episodes are complete in themselves, the idea of a ‘crack in the universe’ continues, as do the mysterious ‘Silence’ aliens, who disappear from memory as soon as someone stops looking at them. Amy announces that she is pregnant, then insists that she is not.. and the Doctor runs scans which are oddly inconclusive.

Other than the Silence, here are not so many evil aliens in this series; the Daleks and Weeping Angels make only brief appearances, as do the Cybermen. On the other hand, there’s a pirate ship complete with singing Sirens, an episode where Hitler appears, and some doppelgangers who impersonate their human counterparts. It was difficult trying to work out what parts of each episode were significant, and I often found my head buzzing… there’s a lot of fast action and tension, neither of which really appeal to me.

Yet Doctor Who is very engaging. Matt Smith has a lot of energy and projects a kind of alien feel to the show. The human - and human-alien - interactions are often revealing, sometimes moving. The heavier, darker episodes are interspersed with lighter ones; I particularly enjoyed the penultimate ‘Closing Time’, where the Doctor pops in to see his friend ‘Craig’, who featured in Season Five, and gets caught up with some very strange things going on in his neighbourhood.

The last episode sees time and eternity bizarrely mixed up, with the clocks and calendars stuck, all history happening at the same time. A paradox has been created, which the Doctor wants to break out of… we see flashbacks to the first episode of the season, and a dramatic finale.

There are plenty of short extras in this season, with prequels and mini-episodes as supplements, although it’s not necessary to watch them.

All in all, a season well worth owning and watching for anyone who is a fan of this long-running series. In the US it may be cheaper to buy in two parts, but note that the much less expensive UK release will only work with region two (or region-free) DVD players.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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