19 October 2014

Doctor Who, Series 7 (starring Matt Smith)

It’s taken us a long time - more than ten months - to watch Doctor Who, series 7. Partly this was because we were travelling for quite a part of the summer; partly because we knew this was the last series available on DVD. Series 8 started broadcasting in the UK as we were watching the last few episodes of series 7, but won’t be available as a DVD set for some months.

This is the last season starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, and the first with Clara (Jenna Coleman) as the Doctor’s companion. Each episode is complete in itself - there are no cliffhanging multi-parters - but there’s an overriding story arc about who exactly Clara is; this begins quite early in the season with some interesting and confusing scenarios, and is not resolved until the final episode.

The first part of this season - five episodes - were broadcast towards the end of 2012; the rest were in 2013. They followed on from the Christmas 2011 special, ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’, which ends with the Doctor making a brief visit to Amy and Rory, the Doctor’s married companions from the previous series. They then accompany him in the first few episodes of this series, overlapping with the time when Clara’s mysterious presence begins to make itself known.

There are daleks, aliens, cybermen, weeping angels and dinosaurs in this series, as in previous ones. In a sense it’s more of the same kind of story: aliens threaten, the Doctor saves the world (or, for variation, the Universe). But then, that’s what Doctor Who fans want. I find it astounding that the team continue producing such good scripts with variations on the theme when there’s really only one basic plot.

Matt Smith isn’t as talented an actor as his predecessor, David Tennant. That doesn’t always matter; there’s an ‘otherworldly’ and somewhat scatty appeal to him which I was finally getting used to as the series came to a close. But in the penultimate episode when The Doctor is playing chess with himself as two distinct personalities, we felt that Tennant could have done this so much more convincingly.

While some of the scenes here and there were over-fast and too tense for my tastes (sometimes I shut my eyes if there was too much suspense), I enjoyed the dynamic between the Doctor and Clara, and I thought the final episode was particularly good. The mysterious story about her origins is very clever indeed; it kept me intrigued and had a very clever explanation in the end.

We learn quite a bit about the Doctor during this series, including the fact that his ‘real name’ is not just a secret but has immense power. River Song (Alex Kingston) makes a couple of brief appearances - I gave up even trying to understand the ‘wibbly wobbly timey-wimey’ dimensions - and all in all, we thought this another excellent series.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's DVD Reviews

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