New on DVD/Blu-ray: Doctor Who – The Complete Sixth Series

Arthur Darvill, Karen Gillan, and Matt Smith in Doctor Who Series Six

Doctor Who comes to America in Series Six of the constantly regenerating (see what I did there?) British sci-fi TV show. Of course that’s just where it starts, and like most Doctor Who seasons, it’s not where it begins that matters, it’s where it ends up. The Complete Series Six collects all 13 episodes from the show’s 2011 run, including the special holiday episode, “A Christmas Carol”. “Doctor Who: The Complete Series Six” now lands on DVD and Blu-ray from BBC Worldwide, just in time for your time-travelin’ Holiday gift-giving needs. If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.

The 6-disc set combines all 13 episodes of the new season from award-winning lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (Sherlock, The Adventures of Tintin), along with the 2010 Holiday Special, A Christmas Carol, starring Harry Potter’s Michael Gambon, plus hours of bonus features. The series follows the adventures of the Doctor, a mysterious traveler who journeys throughout all of time and space, picking up companions along the way. ©BAFTA nominee Matt Smith (the Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory) and Alex Kingston (River Song) are back when the Doctor faces his date with death and learns a lot more about the mysterious River Song.

I wouldn’t call “Doctor Who” Series Six greatness, but it’s definitely far from rubbish. A lot of complaints seem to stem from the show’s convoluted plotting when it comes to the season’s recurring storyline, but when your show’s hero is a time-traveling alien, isn’t convoluted timelines a given?

As with most “Doctor Who” seasons that I’ve seen, Series Six features one constantly running storyline that begins and ends the season, while managing to cram filler episodes in-between with its fair share of hits and misses. If you’re still not a fan of Matt Smith as the new Doctor, I’m really not sure what’s stopping you from liking the guy. He’s just so damn likeable. And yes, Karen Gillan, as his spunky (and married!) companion, is equally fetching. The fact that she drags her hubby Rory (Arthur Darvill) around on their adventures gives the show a whole new vibe from previous seasons.

Unlike previous “Doctor Who” seasons, companion Amy Pond plays a huge role in series six’s recurring storyline, as do Alex Kingston’s enigmatic, time-traveling River Song. Without spoiling too much, the two women’s storylines eventually converged at mid-season with the revelations-heavy episode “A Good Man Goes to War”, an excellent jumping off point to the show’s second half.

Matt Smith in Doctor Who Series Six

I’ve already reviewed Series Six’s first half here, so as not to repeat myself, I’ll just skip on to the second half highlights.

Standout episodes from the second half of Series Six include an appearance by Hitler himself in the aptly titled (and very funny) “Let’s Kill Hitler”, written by series producer Steven Moffat and directed by Richard Senior. If “Let’s Kill Hitler” brings the jokes, the following week’s “Night Terrors” returns to the kind of chilly, under-the-currents spooky stuff that “Who” (and I have to say, the Brits in general) does so well, this time from writer Mark Gatiss. What is it about spooky ass English kids and Doctor Who? No one does it better. “The Girl Who Waited” finds the trio looking for some vacation time, but of course, it’s not nearly that simple. The Cybermen make an not-entirely memorable return in the odd “Closing Time” written by Gareth Roberts, which also features the return of Craig Owens (guest star James Corden) from “The Lodger”. Meh.

And finally, the series’ finale episode, “The Wedding of River Song”, brings us back to the question of the Doctor’s mortality, with those pesky Silence aliens once again back to finish things off. We learn why they’re so desperate to take out the Doctor, and the most dangerous question of them all (at least to the Silence) is finally answered. In a lot of ways, “The Wedding of River Song” is a good representative for the series as a whole — a lot of really good ideas from Moffat and company, who take great liberties with the show’s core time-travel component, but it never really excels as it should. Still, an eyepatch-wearing (and yes, gorgeous) Amy Pond in charge of a paramilitary unit, with Rory under her command, is not a bad way to end the season.

Hitler in Doctor Who Series Six

With the ending of Series Six, there are actually a number of intriguing directions for the show to proceed. I suspect this is what Moffat wanted — a way to reset the Doctor, if you will, in order to have the freedom to plot a new course. It will be interesting to see where he takes the good Doctor.

The Blu-ray comes in a six-disc set, with the first disc holding the Christmas special (along with a Who Confidential and a couple of sketches for charity), with discs 2 through 5 holding the series’ 13 episodes, and the final, 6th disc reserved for even more “Doctor Who Confidential” installments. For those who don’t know, “Doctor Who Confidentials” are essentially behind-the-scenes specials on the making of the show’s episodes.

Other goodies include optional commentary tracks, five in all, for the premiere episode “The Impossible Astronaut”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, “The Rebel Flesh”, the mid-season finale “A Good Man Goes to War”, and of course, the season finale, “The Wedding of River Song”. Monster Files on the Gangers, the Silence, the Anti-Bodies, and The Cybermats are also included.

Buy “Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series” on DVD or Blu-ray from BBC Worldwide Now.

Doctor Who The Complete Sixth Series Blu-ray Cover