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DVD Review: Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series
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Tom Cheredar   |  
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Doctor Who, The Complete Fifth Series DVDDoctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series
Blu-ray | DVD | Digital Download
(2010)
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gilian, Arthur Darvill
BBC Warner
Release Date: November 9, 2010

The fifth series of the BBC television show Doctor Who is a refreshing take on the now classic time-traveling adventures of The Doctor and his companions. New show runner Steven Moffat successfully reinvigorates the spirit of every iteration that came before while not alienating newer viewers.

Moffat does this by including many subtle visual references to the past Whovian story continuity, the first of which is featured at the end of the series opener The Eleventh Hour in the form of an homage to the ten previous incarnations of The Doctor. For children, casual, and new viewers the story opens with a young Amelia Pond who discovers a crashed TARDIS in her garden and a strange man willing to inspect the eerie crack on her bedroom wall.

Matt Smith, the eleventh actor to portray The Doctor, makes his debut on the show and wastes little time asserting a masterful version of the character aside new companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). The trio battle a plethora of “monsters” both new and old, including the Silurians — a civilized race with reptilian origins that pre-date humans and the Weeping Angels the third series episode “Blink.”

Of course, the Daleks make their way back to continuity despite The Doctor’s previous efforts to contain them. In the episode Victory of the Daleks a tenacious British Armed Forces of the World War 2 era manage to acquire the technology to build Daleks to fight Hitler and his Nazi regime. The story is viewed as the dud of the series (largely surrounding the new colorful batch of “iDaleks” that debut) and perhaps only matched by Vampire of Venice tale.

But aside from the two notable misses, the majority of stories are large in scope and very engaging. My personal favorite of the series is Vincent and the Doctor, a brilliant tale that weaves history, time travel, and adventure together. After The Doctor notices something wrong within one of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, he and Amy journey back in time to enlist the help of the legendary artist and put things in order.

The series overall offers a good introduction into Doctor Who without getting too tangled in continuity and still manages to deliver a highly entertaining story by the conclusion of the overlapping “Cracks in the Universe” plot.

The Series 5 DVD box set includes a number of companion features for many of the episodes, including The Monsters Files short videos, six episode commentary tracks, a multi-part video diary by the show’s lead staff, outtakes and trailers, and the complete season run of Doctor Who Confidential.

Most of these extras are geared toward enthusiasts, which would be fine if the supplemental materials weren’t so disappointing as a whole. The commentary is quite interesting but the outtakes and “video diary” are forgettable additions. Probably the only real gem of the bunch is the Meanwhile In The TARDIS… video shorts produced by Moffat specifically for these box sets. Anyone who watched the entire series will likely be amused with these and it’s almost worth the purchase alone.

If extras aren’t appealing to you, a more economical option would be to download all 13 episodes of The Fifth Series from Amazon for about $1 each. However, since this box set is rather pricey for 13-episodes, anyone who has a Blu-Ray player might as well spend the few extra bucks and watch the best quality picture.

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