You know the main character, The Doctor, well… he dies. Those unfamiliar with the show might be thinking, “a spoiler warning would’ve been nice, dude”, but that’s just episode one of the sixth series. Note: Time isn’t always linear. Welcome to the wondrous world of Doctor Who. More bounding through space time after the jump in our review of the complete sixth series on Blu-ray.
For those stepping into the Tardis a bit tardy… Doctor Who isn’t his name. The Doctor is a Time Lord, a thousand-plus year old alien. When gravely injured, The Doctor regenerates into a new person both physically and personality-wise. With use of the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), an old-school blue British police box, he travels through space and time. The 11th Doctor (third of the “restart”) travels with companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams and sometimes the ever-meddlesome River Song. There’s a lot of running, a good deal of being clever and much use of a sonic screwdriver, quite the handy gadget if ever there was one.
So, The Doctor dies in episode one, but the show isn’t over. The Doctor and company go on to unravel the secretive plans of The Silence, crossing paths with Richard Nixon. The Silence are a race of aliens that have managed to stay under the radar because, aside from some subliminal suggestions, your brain forgets them the moment you aren’t looking at them. Also, they look like Edvard Munch’s The Scream, all dressed up in black suits. Our adventurers cross paths with the Gangers, fleshy avatars that demand independence. The Doctor and co-horts, go to war over Amy and Rory’s child. They wind up in WWII Germany and cross paths with Hitler as well as a shapechanging robot piloted by miniaturized people. Seems like a lot, right? Did I mention that the Tardis spends some time as a woman? (And written by Neil Gaiman, no less.) If, like me, you’re spooked by creepy dolls, make sure that you’re in a comfortable space when you watch Night Terrors. Oh, and the Doctor dying, of course that gets addressed as well as the long-standing mystery of River Song, who she is and what she means to the Doctor.
Matt Smith, though an even younger Doctor than we’re accustomed to, somehow manages to convey the character’s ancient nature. He slips effortlessly from carefree and charming into perhaps the most dangerous Doctor we’ve seen. Something very dark lurks behind those seemingly friendly eyes and fish custard. Karen Gillan brings spitfire Amy Pond to the screen, to the delight of nerds worldwide. She has a very impressive outing playing both herself and an aged version in The Girl Who Waited. Arthur Darvill’s Rory has seen the other side of existence and continues to go through it all for the love of his wife. Enigmatic River Song comes to the screen via Alex Kingston. She peppers serious moments with perfectly played cheeky ones. River’s origins are deeply explored in this season. I’d say more, but just note her catchphrase since her first appearance has been “Spoilers!” A nice little blast from the past comes through as James Corden reprises Craig from The Lodger and with the help of his baby, aids the Doctor against a Cybermen invasion.
The special features run the gamut of the episodes, as well as A Christmas Carol, from Doctor Who Confidential. These include episode specific interviews with the cast and creative forces. These are a welcome addition after being sadly missing from the first half release.
The Monster Files address new additions to the Who-niverse of the Silence, the Gangers, the Anti-Bodies, as well as those pre-existing pesky robot rodents, the Cybermats, relaunched for the revival.
Additionally, disc one includes the Comic Relief sketches of Space and Time. Though short, these perfectly encapsulate the Doctor Who experience, and the wibbly wobbly nature of time. Also scattered amongst the discs are additional scenes from Night and the Doctor.
Commentary is available on The Impossible Astronaut, The Doctor’s Wife and The Rebel Flesh, A Good Man Goes to War, The Wedding of River Song and prequels are included for Episodes 1, 3, 7, 8 and 13.
Though Newcomers could conceivably catch up with The Sixth Series, I’d still recommend at least stepping back to the Fifth for the introduction of the Matt Smith Doctor. Doctor Who continues to be a dark and wonderful ride. The Sixth Series introduces fantastic new additions to the rogues gallery and ends on the biggest question yet, making the wait for the Seventh Series all the more unbearable. Thankfully, you can watch and re-watch these beautiful Blu-Rays in the interim. Unless you have access to your own Tardis, that is.
FINAL GRADE: A