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DOCTOR WHO:
THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES

For those unfamiliar with DOCTOR WHO, it is Britain’s (and the world’s) most long-lived science fiction series, initially running from 1963 to 1989. After a false start back in 1996, the BBC finally resurrected DOCTOR WHO in 2005. DOCTOR WHO is the story of a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who goes by the moniker "The Doctor" and has traveled through time and space with various companions from the planet Earth. Although they appear human, Time Lords are a long-lived species, which have the ability to regenerate (i.e. transform), when their current physical form becomes irreparably damaged (this usually happens when the current lead actor tires of the role). By the time DOCTOR WHO came back to the airwaves, The Doctor was believed to be the last of his race- the only survivor of a war with the Daleks, a highly xenophobic race intent on exterminating every other species in the universe.

As I stated in previous reviews, I have been a fan of DOCTOR WHO since my youth, when episodes of the Tom Baker era aired on a local New York television station. By the time I had made my initial acquaintance with the series, DOCTOR WHO had been on the air for more than a decade in Britain and Tom Baker was already the fourth actor to portray the series title role. Since Baker was my first "Doctor" he has remained my favorite for many, many years, that is, until the tenth incarnation of the character portrayed by David Tennant. Tennant displayed a lot of the quirkiness that made Baker so popular, but Tennant brought a different type of quirkiness to the role.

During his four series tenure as the Tenth Doctor Tennant exuded a lot of emotional depth in the role, although his character tries to mask his emotions with a sense of absent minded professor detachment, making for one of the most interesting interpretations of the role. Like many, I was rather disappointed when Tennant announced that he intended to move on from DOCTOR WHO, vacating a role that he had made truly his own. Initially, I wondered if they would be able to find a worthy successor to Tennant, but twenty six year old Matt Smith has proven himself to be a terrific Eleventh Doctor. Smith brings a similar quirkiness to his portrayal of The Doctor, along with a youthful exuberance that sits on top of the world-weariness of his character.

DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES ($90) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a six-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes: The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below, Victory Of The Daleks, The Time Of Angels, Flesh And Stone, The Vampires Of Venice, Amy's Choice, The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, Vincent And The Doctor, The Lodger, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. Series five introduces new companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), when the newly regenerated Doctor crashes the heavily damaged TARDIS in her back yard. A crack in Amy’s bedroom wall proves to be the first iteration of the overlying story arc for the fifth series, in which cracks are appearing within the very fabric of the universe. Amy’s boyfriend Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) also accompanies them on a number of adventures. Also during series five, Professor River Song (Alex Kingston) reappears on several occasions, as do a number of The Doctor’s deadliest enemies.

BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made all the episodes that comprise DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080i presentations are really quite smashing. For the most part, the image displays terrific sharpness and clarity, in addition to appearing rather dimensional. Some shots do look a bit softer than others, but nothing is out of sorts. Colors come across with smartly saturated hues and attractive looking flesh tones. Blacks are deep, while the whites crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are strong performers, which is just what one should expect from this type of high definition television production. There are no noticeable defects in the source materials. Grain is present, but never appears excessive.

All of the episodes that comprise DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD High-Resolution soundtracks. While not quite Master Audio, the sound is a definite step up over lossier soundtrack options. Sonically, the episodes have well devised sound designs that have a certain playful quality that takes advantage of the outlying channels for the action, outer space and decidedly science fiction elements. There is a sense of space in the sound designs, as well as directionality. Sound quality is generally robust, especially in the lower registers, with the tracks providing strong overall fidelity. The strong bass channel effectively renders explosions and other percussive elements. Dialogue is usually clean, precise and fully understandable. No other language tracks have been included, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. There are picture-in-picture Video Commentaries provided for six episodes The Eleventh Hour, Victory Of The Daleks, The Time Of Angels, The Vampires Of Venice, Cold Blood and The Big Bang (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Disc six features the next major supplement- thirteen Dr. Who Confidential episodes, which chronicle the show’s production, with the programs running nearly three hours in total. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Video Diaries (twenty nine minutes), Monster Files (forty minutes) and Meanwhile In The TARDIS (seven minutes). Outtakes & Trailers close out the supplements.

Matt Smith is a terrific Eleventh Doctor and truly worthwhile successor to David Tennant. DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES offers a series of fun and exciting adventures that include a number of classic antagonists. The Blu-ray presentations are really quite smashing. Highly recommended to fans!

 
DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SERIES 


Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series [Blu-ray] (2010)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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