It’s hard to believe that we’re already midway through the second series of Doctor Who featuring Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, but here we are! And this week the first half of the modern sixth series of Doctor Who arrived on Blu-ray, collecting a whole bunch of excellent time and spacery.
Beginning some time after the conclusion of series 5 and the 2010 Christmas special, series 6 opens with Amy and Rory happily married on Earth and out of contact with the Doctor for around two months. “The Impossible Astronaut,” the first episode in this season, opens with mysterious letters being delivered to the newlyweds, as well as to the enigmatic River Song and to a previously unknown man. It is a mysterious invitation that summons all of them to America, where they meet up with the Doctor, now somehow 200 years older than he was when they last saw him. A fateful picnic beside a lake in Utah begins a sequence of events that will impact the past and present, the fate of the Doctor, and even the presidency of one Richard Nixon.
The modern era of Doctor Who has proven to be prime breeding grounds for long term mysteries that span entire seasons. Bad Wolf, Torchwood, and a strange Professor Yana kept the Doctor and his companions guessing throughout Russell T. Davies’ tenure on the show, but the era of Steven Moffat has been all about the identity of River Song, the women the Doctor first (and last) encounters in the “Silence in the Library” two-parter. River is someone important to the Doctor and is a fellow time traveler, but her timestream flows in the opposite direction of the Doctor’s, so all their meetings have been out of order. Moffat’s long game continues through this first half of series 6, leading up to some ultimate revelations and a payoff that sets the stage for the yet-unaired remainder of the sixth series.
While the River Song story occupies a big chunk of the continuity in this half-series, there are some fantastic one-shot episodes that delve into elements of Doctor Who that somehow have gone unexplored until now. Neil Gaiman puts his stamp on the franchise with “The Doctor’s Wife,” a really intriguing episode that introduces us to a new side of a character who always has been integral to the show, all the way back to the very beginning of the First Doctor’s travels. “The Curse of the Black Spot” is a momentary deviation away from the main story to put the Doctor, Amy, and Rory onto a pirate ship. And “A Good Man Goes to War” is a suitably epic conclusion to the half-series, drawing upon all the previous episodes, as well as bringing elements and characters from previous series, to turn most of the main characters’ dynamics on end just before sealing the whole affair with a cliffhanger.
The seven episodes collected in this Blu-ray set look and sound fantastic in HD. The only extras included are monster files for the Gangers and the Silence, two new enemies the Doctor faces during these episodes. Doctor Who Blu-ray releases usually pack in the BBC’s Doctor Who Confidential specials with making-of featurettes for all the included episodes. The Confidential specials are missing from this set, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them show up on a future release.
Doctor Who Series 6 Part 1 released on Blu-ray on July 19 and is available for purchase now.