Sunday, July 25, 2010

Doctor Who - Season 5

So my favorite Who writer Steven Moffat taking over the show didn't result in a tidal wave of total amazingness, but it was still definitely my favorite run of the show to date. Obviously that praise is a bit limited since I never saw it before the reboot, but it was still pretty darn good. It's greatest strengths were definitely the main cast. Matt Smith is pretty brilliant as the Doctor, maybe not reaching the peak of David Tennant's best moments just yet, but I was sold on him from the opening scene of the season. He manages to pull off some of Tennant's wackier tendencies while also coming close to capturing the gravitas of Christopher Eccleston in his angrier moments, while Tennant had to settle for saying "I'm so sorry" in a monotone. And Karen Gillan (not to be confused with Kieron Gillen) as Amy Pond is my favorite companion of the series as well. She's not exactly the greatest actress, but none of the companions have been, and she combines Martha's easiness to look at with an actual interesting connection to the Doctor that makes her pretty likable. Also, Rorie kicks Mickey's ass as far as companions' boyfriends go.

Since the reboot Who has typically followed a pretty familiar formula, with about ten stories spread over thirteen episodes, mostly watchable on their own but teasing a connective storyline that finally reveals and resolves itself in the finale. Season five doesn't really change this, though it did feel more cohesive as the connections between episodes were more obvious and there was more opportunity for speculation as it was more like a mystery than some loose series of references. I did enjoy said climax as much as any the show has done, though the best stuff was again in some of the episodes preceding. One thing this season did lack was a truly stand-out, completely amazing episode that people will remember for years, but on the other hand there were no heinously terrible ones that people will remember for years for the wrong reason either. It's too bad there was no "Blink" this time, but I think I'd take that trade.

There was the predictable return of classic Who villains like the Daleks, Cybermen, and Moffat's own Weeping Angels, the latter of which I enjoyed quite a bit, though the best stuff tended to be more character focused. The typical meeting-a-long-dead-celebrity episode featured Vincent Van Gogh and was surprisingly good, the one where the gang is stuck between two realities and can't tell which is a dream was quite enjoyable, and the one that's basically a sitcom with the Doctor moving into a London flat was pretty funny even if he seemed just a bit overly oblivious to human behavior. A couple stories, like one in a London that's floating through space and another with vampire-like aliens terrorizing Venice, felt like throwbacks to the show at its most unremarkable, but they were at least competently done. I enjoyed the way they wrapped up the season's arc while leaving tons of possibilities for future adventures, and the set up for this year's Christmas special was pretty great. I figure more time at the helm can only improve Moffat's show running skills, and I'm really excited to see what's next.

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