The sixth series of Doctor Who marks a departure of sorts in a couple different ways…first, rather than air the complete season continuously as has been traditional (the exception being the special movies between the 4th and 5th series), the BBC and showrunner Steven Moffat decided to split it into two halves. And rather than wait for the second half to air, they likewise decided to split the Blu-ray/DVD release in two…with Doctor Who: Series Six, Part One being released tomorrow (July 19th) on DVD and Blu-ray.
Alas, in splitting the series release, they seem to have left out all the added stuff that made the previous releases great. There is a distinct lack of extras this time around. No Confidentials, no audio commentaries. In fact, there are only two extras – two “Monster Files” segments, one on the Silence, and one on the Gangers. They are at least interesting, getting into creating them, making them, acting for them, etc.
The question is, what will we get for the second half? Will we get all the other things we have gotten in previous releases? But on the bright side – this release costs much, much less than the previous ones…$29.98 list price for the Blu-ray and $24.98 for the DVD – compared to $84.98/$75.98 for the complete Series 5 set (of course, the purchase prices are generally lower). So hopefully we’ll get more with the second half, if perhaps for a slightly higher price to cover it. So the lack of features at this time doesn’t bother me.
The second difference is with the tone of the series itself – right off the bat it is much darker, and at times more like a macabre horror in style, which may cause some parents who have let their children watch to think twice about it. Although there is still humor, there is a definite serious tone throughout, leading up to the first-half climax.
Here is a quick synopsis, followed by some non-spoilery episode details…
Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1, a two-disc DVD and Blu-ray set, contains the first seven episodes along with two Monster files, “The Gangers” and “The Silence,” two of the Doctor’s most challenging opponents.
In the season opener, “The Impossible Astronaut,” four envelopes are received, numbered 2, 3 and 4, each containing a date, time and map reference, unsigned, but in TARDIS blue. Who sent them? And who received the missing number one? This strange summons reunites the Doctor (Smith), Amy (Gillan), Rory (Darvill) and River Song (Kingston) in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret the Doctor’s friends must never reveal to him. ‘Space 1969’ is their only clue, as their quest lands them – quite literally – in the Oval Office, where they are enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former-FBI agent Canton (Mark Sheppard) in saving a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman.
Following the two-parter, the Doctor, Amy and Rory journey on the high seas of 1696 aboard Avery’s (Bonneville) pirate ship to solve the mystery of the Siren (Cole). In a bubble universe at the very edge of reality, the Doctor meets an old friend with a new face, and in a monastery on a remote island in the near future, an industrial accident takes on a terrible human shape. And waiting for them, at the end of all this, is the battle of Demon’s Run, and the Doctor’s darkest hour. Can even the truth about River Song save the Time Lord’s soul? Only two things are certain. Silence will fall. And a good man is going to die…
The first half consists of 7 total episodes:
“The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”: The opening two-parter sets the tone for the series, with the Doctor reuniting with Amy, Rory, and River after an apparent time of separation…but something isn’t quite right. And when – well, I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say there is a scene early on which leaves you wondering, “But what about the rest of the series?!?” At least for a few minutes. THEN it get’s interesting… 🙂 These episodes introduce the latest enemy of the Doctor, known as the Silence – and perhaps are the scariest monsters since the Daleks. Guest stars Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica), along with an appearance by his father, W. Morgan Sheppard (Max Headroom).
“The Curse of the Black Spot”: A bit of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Doctor Who-style. Not the greatest episode, other than as a vehicle for Rory to get beat up yet again…
“The Doctor’s Wife”: An episode whose title created so much speculation about the plot – and they were all wrong. But this is the episode long-time fans with questions have been waiting for – written by one of those fans, author Neil Gaiman. You may want subtitles on this one – some of the dialog is rapid fire but definitely worth understanding. Guest actor Suranne Jones does a wonderful job as – sorry, Sweetie – spoilers!
“The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People”: Another two-parter, a morality story over what what rights should be given if you had a complete duplicate of yourself – memories and all. These episodes are OK, but set up the plot device for the climax.
“A Good Man Goes To War”: A great episode, which explores the influence the Doctor has had throughout time and space…and what the meaning of his name is to others – a plot element Steven Moffat wanted to explore 16 years ago, as evidenced by this post to Usenet’s rec.arts.drwho group! It is a bit confusing though – the Doctor gathers some “friends” to help him although several of them we haven’t seen before, and can only surmise they have met the Doctor off-screen and owe him a debt. And there are several times where he appears to be answering a question that fans have been asking for a while – only to find out it was a different question…but the question EVERYONE wanted answered – “Who is River Song?” is finally answered.
We also aren’t left hanging with a traditional cliffhanger, but we are left with more questions and yet another mysterious enemy in the Headless Monks…
So while this release is lightweight in content, it is also so in the price…and were bide our time to find out what happens next when the Doctor returns in the next episode, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, apparently a twist on the old time travel enigma…
As an added little bonus, here is an Inside Look at the series with a focus on Steven Moffat (note, this is a bit spoilery):