Jan 6, 2011

[TV] The New Doctor Who - Series 5

Doctor Who - Season 5There's an overused saying about how the only thing constant in this world is change. This is most true for the life of the long-running Doctor Who series that uses the change in casting of the lead actor as a plot device quite effectively.

This year was another of those rare times since it marked the transition of one Doctor to another. As much as we all come to know and love the previous incarnation of the Doctor, regenerations are fated to happen and thus we get a new face. And a new Doctor also means a new companion (or several new companions). And so the show continues on.

It takes a while before an actor grows into the role of the Doctor, at least in my opinion. So when you think about it, a lot of praise has to go to the likes of Christopher Eccleston and Paul McGann, who had to learn the ropes given a much more limited time frame.

So how'd our new Doctor handle things?

This marks the Eleventh incarnation of the Doctor and the fifth season since the show was re-launched 2005. With Russell T. Davies leaving the show, this season also marks Steven Moffat taking the helm for the show as executive producer and head writer.

The Eleventh Doctor and Amy PondImage via WikipediaThe new Doctor is played by Matt Smith, who is the youngest actor to ever play the role. He comes with a new sonic screwdriver and a new look for the interiors of the TARDIS. Gone are the trench coats and sneakers of the Tennant period and now we have...a tweed jacket and a bow tie. And occasionally we also have a fez.

His companion Amy Pond is portrayed by Karen Gillan. She's a nicely spunky character that's reminiscent of Catherine Tate's performance as Donna Noble. She's a smart enough girl, but then again few companions are entirely stupid when you think about it. In this case however she's not entirely single - she has a boyfriend in the form of Rory (Arthur Darvill).

The adventures in this series were interesting given Moffat decided to link all episodes together with a larger story arc. In past incarnations of the Doctor, most episodes were generally independent of the others and the only sense of continuity would come in the form of brief references to the past. Here we had a big bad plot driving things in the background which keep things moving along in a steady fashion. At times it felt like this larger story was narrowing the focus of a lot of the stories but the approach did grow on me over time.

This season also saw the return of many popular figures of past shows. Much publicized was the return of the infamous Weeping Angels. But we also got vampires, a giant space whale, Vincent Van Gogh, some new Daleks and best of all we got River Song. Still not enough to figure out who she really is in the life of the Doctor ("No spoilers!") but she is clearly very important. The season ended with a big mash-up involving pretty much all villains of the past in one, but in a manner that was still surprising and generally interesting.

While initially I had problems with Matt Smith and how different his Doctor was from David Tennant, his portrayal of the role grew on me too and by the end I've come to fully accept him in the mantle. He has managed a pretty tremendous challenge in filling the Doctor's shoes and he's done in quite well. Plus I love Amy Pond given how striking she is as a character that is still smarter as compared to just how Donna Noble was all spunk and a lot less wit.

This fifth season of Doctor Who continues the grand tradition of quality storytelling that the series has been known for and marks a strong and interesting shift with Moffat. It gets 5 slowly-awakening angels out of a possible 5.

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