Doctor Who returned for its sixth season since the 2005 relaunch with a second round of episodes featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. The series started in April 2011, took a summer break from June through August, and concluded its thirteen episode run in October. Now the full series, including the 2010 Christmas special that bridges the gap between seasons five and six, is available as a complete Blu-ray box set from BBC.
After helping reignite Doctor Who for a new generation of fans, producer Russell T. Davies relinquished the reins at the end of David Tennant’s tenure as the Tenth Doctor. Steven Moffat took over and essentially hit CTRL-ALT-DEL on a show that basically had rebooted only a few years before. Gone were the popular Tenth Doctor and most of the characters and situations he encountered during his time piloting the TARDIS. In his place, we met the Eleventh Doctor, a fan of bowties and fezzes and ultimately unable to land immediately upon his feet after his latest regeneration. His new companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) soon showed up to help steer him onto the right course, making the first season of Moffat-run episodes one of the most original and fun since the show’s rebirth.
The sixth series brings Amy’s new husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) officially into the fold as a companion and a series regular after he earned his keep and became a fascinating entity in his own right as a supporting character throughout series five. Also along for the ride is River Song (Alex Kingston), who would prove to be the centerpiece of Moffat’s grand plan. River first appears in 2008’s “Silence in the Library,” the first half of a two-parter written by Moffat. River establishes herself as a character with a long history alongside the Doctor, but the nature of their relationship and the truth about her identity remains a mystery, made more intriguing by the revelation that she also is a time traveler but is moving through time in the opposite direction from the Doctor. The first time he meets her is the last time she would see him, and vice versa.
River appears in series five, but series six truly is her season. From beginning to end, the season’s ongoing story arc is all about who River is, how she knows the Doctor, and what her significance is in his life and in the overall universe. There are a few departures for one-off episodes, such as the return of James Corden as Craig from “The Lodger” in “Closing Time” and the Doctor’s pirate adventure in “The Curse of the Black Spot,” but nearly every other episode stays doggedly on the trail of River’s story, even when the episodes at first appear to be about something else entirely. Doctor Who always has been a show that embraces new and varied adventures, so keeping to a more serial format feels unusual and is at times somewhat frustrating, but the questions surrounding River Song are ones that need answering. In the end, the results are both satisfying and confounding in the way that only Doctor Who can be with its fun and loopy storytelling that completely falls apart when you try to analytically make sense of anything. Doctor Who is very good at distracting you with the fun stuff, though, so it’s very easy to ignore the bits that just plain don’t make sense.
The Blu-ray set comes in an attractive cardboard slipcase that houses a nifty “book” to hold the six discs. The first Blu-ray contains “A Christmas Carol,” which aired on Christmas Day 2010 and guest stars Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins. The thirteen regular episodes are divided across discs two through five, and the sixth collects the Doctor Who Confidential behind the scenes specials for the entire season.
In addition to the Confidential episodes, the set also packs in a number of other cool bonus features that fans and completists will enjoy, including the five “Night and the Doctor” mini-episodes and two Comic Relief sketches. There also are plenty of Monster Files, prequels, and trailers to round out the complete box set. With its natively high definition footage punctuated by special effects that look better with each progressing season, Doctor Who’s sixth series looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. BBC also has released the season piecemeal with box sets containing the first and second halves of this split season, but this complete set is the way to go if you want to add these adventures to your collection.