Blu-ray: Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series
Release Date: November 9, 2010
As the longest running science fiction show in history, Doctor Who is no stranger to cast changes and overall redirections for the story. The long-lived series got a little of both at the beginning of its fifth season since the 2005 relaunch with a new showrunner and a new actor playing the Doctor. Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series recently released on Blu-ray, and it’s packed with all the features and quality you’ve come to expect from BBC.
Russell T. Davies, the creative leader behind Doctor Who‘s relaunch, left the series at the end of the fourth season. With him went David Tennant, the immensely popular actor who brought a legion of new fans on board with his portrayal of the Tenth Doctor. They left huge shoes to fill, and there was quite a bit of uncertainty among Who fans when Matt Smith was announced as the next Doctor. He would be the youngest actor to step into the role, and he doesn’t look anything like what most people expected from the vaunted role. Within the first few minutes of his tenure, all uncertainty is banished. The Eleventh Doctor is every bit as unique, eccentric, and enjoyable as we could hope.
The addition of Karen Gillan as Amy Pond also stirs the pot, giving the Doctor a new companion who for once is not dazzled by space and time travel, and she proves just as resourceful as the Doctor himself. At times, she’s even better suited to the jobs than the Doctor is, providing for a new spin on the old Doctor-companion relationship. Amy boards the TARDIS on the day before her wedding, accompanying the Doctor on a new series of adventures that span the thirteen episodes of this season. Some old enemies and allies from previous seasons do return, but new showrunner Steven Moffat does an outstanding job of putting his own stamp on the series and introducing some brand new characters and elements.
This season functions well as a continuation of the Doctor’s journeys, but it also works as a great jumping on point for newcomers. There are some villains and characters that return from the past, but for the most part everything is very accessible to first time viewers, and the Matt Smith era begins with great definition and a new tone that is markedly different than the weirdly pseudo-epic and downbeat specials that ended the Tenth Doctor’s time in the TARDIS. There are a couple of weaker episodes here (“The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood” come to mind), but this season also contains “Vincent and the Doctor,” one of the most effectively moving Doctor Who episodes in recent memory. And in true Who form, there’s a grand story arc that spans the season and introduces great peril and mystery of its own.
The Blu-ray Release
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series is collected on Blu-ray now and is a fantastic package for fans and collectors. The outer box is a cardboard slipcover with a lenticular cover, giving a really cool 3D effect to the front panel. The inside Blu-ray case slides out to reveal a front and back cover with designs from the Pandorica, an important artifact from the season’s main story arc. The case opens like a book to reveal the six Blu-ray discs housed on hard plastic pages. The package also includes several special art postcards with some really cool Doctor Who drawings on them. I’m not sure whether there are different art cards inserted into different packages, but the ones I got featured the Eleventh Doctor with Amy, a drawing of the TARDIS, and one of a Dalek.
Most people who invest in a Blu-ray season set already are fans of the series they’re buying, so the real interest is in the bonus features that are included. BBC doesn’t disappoint with the loads of extras that are heaped onto these discs. In fact, the entirety of the sixth disc is special features, as it includes all thirteen Doctor Who Confidential episodes that aired after the regular episodes throughout the season. That’s a lot of great behind the scenes material! In addition to the Confidential episodes, you can look forward to a bunch of other features spread across the first five discs:
- In-Vision Commentary on the episodes “The Eleventh Doctor,” “Victory of the Daleks,” “Time of the Angels,” “The Vampires of Venice,” “Cold Blood,” and “The Big Bang”
- Monster File featurettes about the Daleks, the Weeping Angels, the Silurians, and the Alliance
- Two additional “Meanwhile in the TARDIS” scenes
- Three video diaries
I was a huge fan of the new cast, new crew, and new direction for Doctor Who as the fifth season was originally airing, and it’s really gratifying to see it getting this fantastic Blu-ray treatment. All the episodes and features look great, and there’s plenty of additional material to pore through even after having watched the episodes themselves.