Doctor Who: Series 6
Longevity is not exactly an attribute attributed to television series. It is a big deal when a show manages to survive a meager few seasons. And anything close to ten years is close to miraculous. Sure there are exceptions with the twenty year mark reached by series like ‘Gun Smoke’, ‘Law & Order: Prime’ and ‘The Simpsons’ by even those Methuselah series cannot compare to the near half century one science fiction show has been around, ‘Doctor Who’. The series began in 1963 ostensibly as a relatively cheaply made show primarily targeting children. The show was not quite the hit it would become immediately, that took a significant number of years to achieve. Once ‘The Doctor’ and his trusty companions captured the imagination of teens and young adults there was no stopping the juggernaut that had been released. The Doctor is a human looking extraterrestrial, a Time Lord actually, who travels through time and space in his TARDIS, a blue London police call box, generally saving the universe from the most hideous beings you can think of.
The show has accumulated a myriad of awards and world’s records for good reason; it is one of the most brilliant concepts for as television show ever. The premise is more conducive to longevity than any other series in history. The mythos and internal consistency is crafted in such a way that it is only natural for it to last decade after decade. The usual enemy of a show lasting so long is the cast. Actors tend to grow out of parts, want to change roles or die off. Whenever a change in the main character is warranted he goes through a little Time Lord specific change that occurs at death regenerating into a new personality and body. This permits the series to retain continuity while each actor playing the Doctor gets to place his own spin on interpreting the character. The current incarnation is portrayed by the youngest actor to attain this highly coveted role, Matt Smith. His variation of the Last of the Time Lords is a bit of a prankster. Most of the Doctors have a significant whimsical streak but Smith brought a more energetic exuberance to the role. Sporting sneakers and a bow tie Doctor Number eleven gleefully charges off into danger. Each Doctor has one or more companions, usually human, to help drive the stories. Many of the early companions played the part of the damsel in distress. The current companion, Amy Pond, is also played by the youngest actor yet, Karen Gillan. This season she and her Doctor are joined by her husband, Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the mysterious woman, River Song (Alex Kingston). Much of the sixth series revolves around a temporal anomaly that liker the Doctor River is a time traveler but she is moving through time in the opposite direction from the Doctor so presently she knows far more about him than he does about here. This is an extreme source of consternation fir the nine hundred year old Time Lord. He has gotten quite attached to the notion that he knows more than anybody else. She has her own sonic screwdriver, the ubiquitous gadget of choice specific to the Doctor and is well versed on the intricacies required to pilot the TARDIS. It might seem like a lot for a little box to do but thankfully it is vastly larger on the inside than its external dimensions would logically indicate.
This season, or series as it is referred to across the pond, begins with Amy, Rory and River receiving cryptic invitations to a location in the United States. Once they get there they are joined by the Doctor who professes to be two hundred years older than the last they met. The joyful reunion is interrupted by a figure dressed in an Apollo era space suit that shoots the Doctor finishing the murder by shooting again before the regeneration cycle is complete. The nine hundred year old Doctor meets up with them later but on River’s advice they do not disclose this incident to him. This initiates the Sixth modern series which is notable in several ways. The BBC had converted to high definition making this the first season entirely high def prepared. To celebrate the greater profusion of BBC shows here in the states thanks to an increased penetration of the market by BBC America, this season sets a significant amount of the action on our shores. Driving the point home are shots of the Doctor sporting a Stetson hat leaning back with his cowboy boots propping him up. The case and writers had a lot of fun creating this season and it shows in a great chemistry that is very evident in the 13 enjoyable episodes. Consistent with the current trend the season is divided into two parts available separately or in a full season set.
This season manages to blend the whimsy that has propelled the Doctor into becoming a Sci-Fi legend and as well woven story that holds together dramatically. The themes here are slightly more mature that the kid’s show origins would usually permit but the main thing to keep in mind here is this show continues to evolve staying fresh. The usual tropes are here with several historical location which brings the gang in contact with Apollo 11, Hitler and Nixon. These serve more as sub plots that cover a couple of episodes providing a solid foundation for the season long quandary over the final death of the Doctor and the true identity of River song. While there have been actors better suited to portraying the Time Lord and his companion Smith and Gillan generate an enjoyable chemistry for a fun new direction for the series. The high definition make-over provided by ‘"Auntie Beeb’ comes across in quite spectacular in this Blu-ray release. The travel of the TARDIS is transformed into a new sensory experience with the audio swirling around the room while the video becomes a kaleidoscopic trip. Not the best of the Doctor or even the latest set of incarnation but still exceptionally worthwhile.