So we arrive at the third quarter of (almost) vanilla DVD releases from Matt Smithâ€™s first run as the Doctor.
As before itâ€™s an inventive mix of episodes, one a true classic, the other (a 2-parter) would split the audience right down the middle. I was more concerned about the quality of SFX, but more on that later. As with my review for Series 5 Volume 2, this review is culled from the previews I wrote earlier for this site. Do note that I have not changed my views on any episode.
Itâ€™s been five long years since Amy travelled with the Doctor in his mysterious craft known as the TARDIS. When he shows up, on the eve of the birth of her first child, danger is not far behind. Amy is faced with a heartbreaking choice that will change her life forever.
Travelling through several different time-streams, a sort of Sliding Doors for the Doctor Who generation but without the tawdry Gwyneth Paltrow the story is Who at its finest. Each stream leads to different adventures, different situations and, for Amy, different choices.
Simon Nye fills each line with as many words as he can so be warned, you do need to concentrate with this one. Thereâ€™s also an amazing sequence, set in a playground that contains one of Doctor Whoâ€™s darkest and most chilling moments. Toby Jones as the â€œDream Lordâ€ is deliciously sinister in the old fashioned style of Doctor Who baddie but with a large slice of ironic delivery. Heâ€™s funny, witty, clever and guards a secret thatâ€™s kept well hidden from viewers.
As before Arthur Darvill does his best to keep Rory from falling into the trap of being just another casual traveller who happens to be in love with the resident companion. He adds a lot of pathos to his character without ever making him out to be a bumbling idiot. The last 10 minutes or so are wonderfully deep and once again take the show into mature territory.
The Hungry Earth
We journey to 2020 for this first part of Chris Chibnallâ€™s resurrection of the Silurian race.
In Wales the most ambitious drilling project is under way and Dr Nasreen Chaudhry and her team have reached 21 kilometres into the Earthâ€™s crust. But something is stirring below and Amy Pond discovers thereâ€™s nowhere to run when you canâ€™t trust the ground under your feet.
The Hungry Earth retains the format and feeling of Classic Doctor Who, meaning the set up and execution of the story feels like anything from the late Jon Pertwee and early Tom Baker eras. Yes it does feel like The Green Death and Doctor Who and the Silurians serials but this isnâ€™t a hindrance to the storyâ€™s flow. Chibnall concentrates on the Doctor and his relationship with humans to get the idea of â€œalienâ€ into the piece.
Here the Doctor is bombastic, over confident and ultimately fallible. Having more in common with the Sixth and Seventh doctors, Matt Smith laps up some of his most challenging dialogue yet. Never during this season has the Doctor seemed so alien. Meera Syal stands out as a scientist who takes onboard the Doctorâ€™s theories without ever falling into the trap of being too smart-arsed and negative.
The Silurians have been updated (they are a new form of the species) and have lost that magic eye that was set in the middle of their foreheads. They speak in clichÃ©d Doctor Who tones and wear rather strange masks. Prosthetics wise they do look wonderful, similar in style to the reptiles seen in the original series of V and the make-up allows the actor beneath to convey wonderful facial expressions. Problem is they now have a CGI tongue which can lash out and looks totally out of place. The whole piece builds up into a very tense cliff-hanger that does keep you watching till the very last moment.
The Doctor is facing his most difficult challenge. It is the most important day in the history of Earth â€“ the dawn of a new age of harmony, or the start of its final war. This is a battle the Doctor canâ€™t take sides in, a day when nobody must die.
Heartfelt, exciting and at times very dark, Cold Blood is a study of broken relationships and the futility of war. Chibnall peppers the whole story with top drawer dialogue that captivates and by twenty minutes in it really is (clichÃ© withstanding) edge of your seat stuff.
The cast once more act their collective socks off. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur DarvillÂ are as reliable as ever and with the guest artists challenging them to up their acting game. Meera Syal, Nia Roberts and Stephen Moore add weight to the story which gallops along without stopping for breath. There is no room for time wasters, every minute of the duration adds to the episode, not a word or gesture is wasted.
A thread of humour is less evident here but it does shine through ever now an again. Then Chibnall plays his trump card; the last 10 minutes or so are deep and once again take the show into mature territory. Then right at the end the story takes an unexpected twist making it a turning point for the ever engrossing story arc. Impressive to say the least.
The Monster Files â€“ A nine minute look at the Silurian race with comments from the cast and crew. Short but perfectly formed its well worth checking out, if only once.
As with the other releases the â€œNext Weekâ€ teasers have been removed though the â€œPreviouslyâ€ for the second part of the Silurian adventure is intact.
So then, this is another solid run of episodes from a series that has, in my book anyway, become one of the best.
Doctor Who â€“ Series 5 Volume 3 was released on August 2nd 2010, and is available on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon, with each disc available for preorder at a reduced rate of Â£10.43 for the DVD and Â£13.99 for the Blu-ray!