Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series

Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series
Despite the fact that it says The Complete Fifth Series on the front cover, Doctor Who is actually the longest running science fiction television. It originally appeared in 1963 in the UK and ran for 26 series before going on hiatus in 1989. It was resurrected again in 1996 as a T.V. movie, but didn't appear regularly until 2005, when Christopher Eccleston took over as the ninth actor in the Doctor role and his adventures carried on as if he had never been away. For the uninitiated, the Doctor (as he is normally called) is a Time Lord who travels through the universe battling his many nemeses and saving numerous planets from harm, including Earth on multiple occasions. Periodically, he regenerates due to sustaining a major injury, which is a very clever way of introducing a new actor, allowing the show to stay fresh. Inevitably, such changes are viewed with a certain amount of trepidation by fans and Doctor number ten (David Tennant) was widely regarded as one of the best, leaving some very big shoes to fill. All the doubts that fans might have had about a young, relatively unknown actor being cast as their beloved Doctor were unfounded. Matt Smith completely owns the role right from his very first scene and, best of all, he isn't trying to mimic any of his predecessors. Instead, he creates a convincing square-jawed hero with just the right amount of goofiness. It does help that he's backed by the best assistant since Billie Piper's Rose. Karen Gillan's Amy Pond makes a compelling debut in the first episode and her character plays an integral part in almost every episode, particularly towards the end of the series. What does let down the fifth season is the writing ―while the good bits are very good, there are too many average episodes. New show runner Stephen Moffat wrote about half of the episodes, most of which drive along the series' main story arc, but now that Doctor Who is cool again, other people are lining up to have a crack at it and therein lies the problem. While both Richard Curtis and sitcom writer Simon Nye manage to create a suitably lighter episode, The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss struggles with his take on iconic enemy the Daleks. Season five is a mixed bag, although there's nothing bereft of entertaining moments. Hopefully the quality control can be addressed before it returns next year, when Neil Gaiman will be contributing an episode. Considering its popularity, it isn't a big surprise that there are a whole bunch of good quality extras. There are three hours of Doctor Who Confidential, a behind-the-scenes show with about 15 minutes devoted to each of the 13 episodes in the series. It features interviews with the cast, writers and pretty much answers any questions anybody might have about the show. In addition, there are four "Monster Files," about the bad guys, outtakes, extended scenes, video diaries and commentary tracks, making for a very comprehensive set. (Warner)