Doctor Who: Series Seven Part 1

Directors - Various

Cast - Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs - 2

Distributor - BBC Worldwide

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

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The Series (5/5)

   There are so many things about Doctor Who that I love, but one of the items high on the list is it's ability to constantly change with each passing era. I started watching the show with Tom Baker reruns on my local PBS station in the 90's, and started expanding my viewership of the classics on DVD a few years back.  all the Doctors have a distinctly different vibe, not just in the personality of the Doctor, but the look and feel of the show itself.

   Back in 2010 Steven Moffat took over as showrunner, with Matt Smith taking over as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor. The show took a darker turn with some fairy tale-esque elements thrown in.  One of the main additions to this new era was of the Doctor's new companion Amy Pond and her husband Rory.  This being the first time a husband and wife got to be part of the TARDIS team. The last 2 seasons saw more serial esque adventures with stories that tied into each other Season 5 dealing with cracks in the universe, while Season 6 told the story of the Doctor's death at the side of Lake Silencio, Utah.

   This was the first time that a real effort was put into a series wide story arc since the days of Colin Baker in Trial of a Time Lord of Tom Baker in the Key to Time. Of course, everyone is a critic, and the serialized format of these episodes was met with a mixed reception, some fans loved the continuing story arc through the season, others panned the concept.  So when it came time to do Series 7 Steven Moffat announced that each episode from title to concept would  be treated like a Blockbuster Movie.

   So that's what we have in this collection. A run of 5 episodes of Doctor Who that are straight forward, and exciting and definitely carry that Blockbuster movie vibe that Moffat was going for.  That being said he didn't quite leave the tendency to have a long form story behind.  It was well known going into this run of episodes that this would be the final 5 episodes featuring the Pond's, and throughout the 5 episodes elements of their departure slowly begin to trickle in culminating in the sets fourth episode The Power of Three in which the Doctor spends a year in the Pond's household in order to get to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an enormous amount of black cubes which one day fell to the Earth.

   The Power of Three offers an excellent prologue to the sets final episode the Angels Take Manhattan in which Moffat favorite villains the Weeping Angels return to a New York Apartment Building which they are using as an all you can eat buffet. It is, of course, up to the Pond's, The Doctor, and River Song to stop them. The other 3 episodes feature cyborgs in the old west, dinosaurs on a spaceship (in an episode conveniently called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship), and one of, if not the finest Dalek outing in the entire run of new Doctor Who, Asylum of the Daleks.

   Asylum of the Daleks offers an excellent and chilling setting combined with a suspenseful atmosphere to create a truly epic Dalek episode. The episode also introduces us to Jenna Louise Colman as Oswin a crash landed prisoner of the Daleks. Now, this character is apparently not the one she will end up playing when she is the Doctors companion proper, but it allowed us to have a nice introduction to the companion to be, and the energy she will bring to her performance.

   Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 is an absolute blast of television. It takes a show that has recently entered it's 50th year, and reenergizes it all over again. This run, of course, ends with the departure of the 11th Doctors only known long-term companions, so it leaves us on a cliffhanger of sorts wandering in which direction Doctor Who will go in next.

Audio/Video (4/5)

   BBC Worldwide have presented Doctor Who Series Seven Part 1 with all 5 episodes in a 1080i AVC encoded 1:78:1 transfer. The transfer on these episodes are complete fantastic, detail throughout is fantastic especially in close range.   The colors are nice and bright, and black levels are solid and deep.

   BBC Worldwide have provided an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Track for their release of Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1.  The sound is quite good for the most part, the dialogue comes through crisp and clear, Murray Gold's score is loud and bombastic where it needs to be, and falls into the background quite nicely in other places, and sound effects come across also quite nicely.

Extras (3/5)

   I will be completely honest, I did not expect any extras on the Blu-ray release of Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1.  These half Series releases in the past have tended to be stop-gap releases until the full series release, and as such do not contain the full package.  This is not the case with this set which contains a few nice extras to compliment the package. We get a documentary called The Science of Doctor Who which goes into detail about how some of the fantastic things on the show could end up being possible scientifically speaking. We get all the Pond Life shorts that ran up to the first episode of the series, we also get the prequel to Asylum of the Daleks. The set wraps up with  a short featurette called Doctor Who at Comic-Con that is fairly self-explanatory.

Overall

   I will take a controversial stance here, and say that I think the Post-2005 run of Doctor Who has only gotten better since Steven Moffat and Matt Smith took over 3 years ago.  I will further state, that each subsequent season has upped the bar ever so  slightly, and that Series Seven Part 1 might just be the best half Series of Who in that run. The A/V Quality is absolutely outstanding, and it's nice to get a few extras on here.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED