The Series (4/5)
When Steven Moffat took over Doctor Who in Series 5, he was looked at as the great new hope of the series. Russell T. Davies 4 series were considered excellent, but by the time they were over, it was understood that a new direction was needed, and Moffat offered Who that new direction almost immediately with a fairy tale style tone using Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. Series 5 of the current run of Doctor Who will most certainly go down as one of the greatest of the recent run, season 6 was of a similar quality, but with Season 7 the quality began to diminish. Fortunately, Moffat seemed to find a new muse in 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi, and seemed to be revitalized quite a bit in series 8 and 9.
However, witching Series 10, I could honestly say it did it's job of creating quality Doctor Who, but it felt again that Steven Moffat was experiencing some sort of creative burnout. One could easily say that any writer has a limited number of tricks that they personally have in their creative arsenal, and having watched everything from Coupling and Jekyll to Sherlock and Doctor Who from Steven Moffat you begin to see a creative through line with his work, especially with so much of it being produced in such a short period recently (most notably the latter 2).
With Doctor Who Series 10, we see the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) settling down as a literal university professor, guarding a vault which appears to contain a threat which he must guard for the long term, with the help of his late wife River Song's former assistant Nardole (Matt Lucas). Into this comes Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), a cafeteria worker, who becomes obsessed with the Doctor after sitting in for some of his classes, and finding herself being stalked by a sentient puddle in the first episode of the series.
The first half of the season is a slow start, but has quite a few things to recommend it by. The Pilot gives us a solid introduction to Bill, but Smile seems like a generic Doctor Who adventure with robots that communicate via emoji. Fortunately, the series begins to hit a stride immediately after with Thin Ice a Victorian era tale, where the Doctor visits the 1814 Frost Fair and finds himself and Bill involving themselves in a creepy mystery involving pickpockets and a creature under the frozen Thames. My favorite episode of the first half of the season has to go to Knock Knock, which takes place primarily in a sinister old house, that eats its residents. Bill and her friends decide they need a new place to live, and find a good deal on the place, but find that they are getting what they pay for, when it comes to cheap housing. The episode is a solid scare fest, with the only downside, being a very Moffat-lite ending.
Oxygen begins to setup little plot details for the 2nd half of the series. It's an effectively scary and suspensful space adventure in the tradition of the Water of Mars (but never quite reaching those epic heights). The whole episode takes place on a mining station that is not oxygenated, except for the space suits. Which the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole quickly snatch up. It turns out the company in charge of the mine dedicate oxygen to each activity and withdraw it should they deem it unnecessary. Due to this extreme vetting of oxygen the suits have created an army of air-less zombies on the station. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole have to find away to defend themselves and the survivors, and get off of the mine. The end of this episode leaves the Doctor blind, which is not a temporary change for this episode.
Oxygen leads into the second half of the season, and a trilogy of episodes that can be dubbed "The Monk Trilogy". The first episode of this sequence Extremis is one of the series highlights, and sees the Doctor and Bill taken to the Vatican to read over a document called the Veritas, which has been known to cause the readers to commit suicide. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to just go over the document, and portals begin to open up revealing zombie like creatures (Monks). The Doctor, Nardole, and Bill, eventually resolve the issue at the Vatican, and reveal that the Doctor has been guarding Missy/The Master in a vault over the past few episodes. He now needs her as the Monks begin an invasion of Earth. The next 2 episodes Pyramid at the End of the World and Lie of the Land run together with Extremis as the prologue. The Monks have invaded, but need an invitation with heart to take over The Earth. The Doctor is working to prevent it, and trying to convince the leaders of Earth to not allow them to take over, unfortunately, his words are falling on deaf ears, and someone close to him allows the Monks to take over the Earth. Lie of the Land shows the Earth after the Monk invasion, and what must be done to send them packing.
The following episode Empress of Mars shows the return of the Ice Warriors, but this time in a battle with Victorian era Earth soldiers. There is also an AMAZING throw back to Pertwee era Doctor Who in this episode (HINT: Peladon tales). Eaters of the Light is unique in that it is written by Rona Munro who actually wrote the final episode of the original run of Doctor Who (Survival). I will say it's not a highlight of the season, but it's a unique entry that involves the Doctor and TARDIS team going back to 2nd Century Scotland to find out what happened to the Roman Legion that disappeared there, and finding themselves dealing with Locusts of the Lights. It's effectively creepy and interesting, and I hope this signals some other surviving classic Who writers get back to writing for the show.
The final two parter of the season World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls concludes the series in some of the finest fashion I've seen since Series 5. Freddy's Dead/Tank Girl director Rachel Talalay does magnificent work here as she handles what seems to be the beginnings of the Doctor's regeneration, but also the first Multi-Master episode in the show's 50 year history as Missy meets John Simm's incarnation of the Master last seen in the End of Time in 2010.
Doctor Who Series 10 is presented in a splendid 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the film's OAR. Everything is well reproduced here, color is sharp, detail is excellent, and aside from some minor soft moment, I found no issues.
Audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English with optional subtitles. Everything sounds quite good here with score and dialogue coming through quite clearly.
This collection is packed with 12 fan shows, 12 inside looks, binaural audio for Knock Knock, interviews, commentaries, and MORE.
Series 10 of the revived Doctor Who was slow to start, but once it got going it was another excellent series with a number of soon to be classic episodes. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and it is loaded up with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Now let's check out SHADA!