Opening with the blisteringly fast-paced The Eleventh Hour and closing with the timey-wimeytastic The Big Bang, the fifth season of the reinvigorated Doctor Who is an exhilarating romp through space and time which you won’t find anywhere else on British TV these days.
It was less than a year ago that the world was introduced to the latest incarnation of the Doctor, as number Ten vacated the Tardis for failed US drama pilots and a movie career and number Eleven stepped into his plimsolls.
Matt Smith makes for a gangly, old-before-his-time version of the Time Lord, a fusion of Troughton, Davison and perhaps a dash of Tennant as he takes on the multiverse with new companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), a flame-haired stripper from Scotland with a penchant for short skirts and one-liners.
The new Doctor’s crash-landing in the village of Leadworth in the first few minutes of episode one, and his encounter with the young Amelia Pond (the brilliant Caitlin Blackwood, who deserves her own spin-off), leads to an hours worth of perfectly-pitched drama which could be the most enjoyable slice of telly we’ve had in 2010.
From here, it’s into deep space, back in time for meetings with Vincent Van Gough and Churchill (not to mention a few Daleks), and onto present day England for a spot of footie and a meeting with more foes from the Doctor’s past. There are also return appearances for mystery woman, River Song (Alex Kingston), and the Weeping Angels in two-parter The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, a bleak adventure penned by Steven Moffat, who writes six of these 13 tales.
Throw in the presence of a fiancé for Amy in the shape of Rory (Arthur Darvill), who dips in and out of the series, and an ongoing plot thread revolving around a crack in time, and it becomes hard to believe that, apart from episode one, these are only 45 minute episodes.
Expertly pitched at a family audience, there are few duff notes in these episodes, though the logic of spreading key plot points across seasons is curious one. There are a few occasions when seemingly important ideas are raised but not resolved, The Lodger being one where a rewatch still leaves questions unanswered.
Making the most of its tight budget, with impressive FX and sets, and a musical score from composer Murray Gold which will have you snapping up the soundtrack album, this is a nifty package that demands your attention.
Available as a DVD or Blu-ray set, the package comes with six in-vision commentaries from various members of the cast and crew (though quite why we don’t get 13 is a mystery), as well as some newly filmed linking sequences between episodes and video diaries from Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Thirteen cut-down Doctor Who Confidentials are awarded their own disc, offering insight into the making of the relevant episodes.