In the past few weeks, we have just gone through the Russell T. Davies era of Nu Who, which rebooted the show, brought it back into the consciousness of people and of pop culture, and had a great run, which, in my opinion, peaked in Series 4. We have gone through two Doctors, three main companions and other companions as well, four series or seasons and three Christmas Specials. So, at this point, it is now time to enter into the Steven Moffat era, which allowed the show to become more modern, have better production quality, currently has two Doctors under its belt, and propelled the show into the global phenomenon it is today.
However, as everything always has to begin somewhere, the Moffat era began with a bang with a brand new production team, producers, new companions, and a brand new Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), with Series 5.
When I first watched Series 5 of Nu Who, I was very hesitant at first, especially as this meant that I would have to get used to a new TARDIS interior, a new Doctor, and a new companion or two. And, upon the second time around, I found myself with the same dilemma, but I was a little bit more open minded this time around.
Series 5 really managed to set up a lot of plot points that Moffat wanted to have during the Elventh Doctor’s incarnation, and gave viewers a taste of what is quintessentially Moffat- basically, a lot of complicated timey-wimey stuff that I was finally able to pinpoint in the second watch around.
Of course there’s a new dynamic with the new companion, and dare I say, TARDIS team, and the new Doctor, but this time around, I felt that this kind of feeling was okay, as I realized that actually, the Eleventh Doctor, although he does know who he is at his core, is still feeling his way around his newest incarnation as well.
Smith is definitely great as the Eleventh Doctor, but even though you can see shades of how awesome he will be moving forward, audiences could tell that he, and the writers, were still getting a feel for him. For me, Smith’s Doctor actually ages well into his character as his particular series go by, but right from the get go, we begin to see shades of who this Doctor is at his core.
Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are great as Amy Pond and Rory Williams, and quite honestly, I prefer it when Amy and Rory are together with the Doctor on the TARDIS. Amy and the Doctor have a very unique relationship with each other, it’s not really romantic, but there’s a very strong bond there. Having Rory being on the TARDIS as well brings a whole new dynamic to the team that really hasn’t been done. And it is quite interesting to note that in real time, the entire series actually spans just one night.
Alex Kingston also made a return to the series as the enigmatic River Song, and right from the get go, we get more hints about who she is, and you get the strangest feeling, right from the first viewing, that she is also connected in some way to both Amy and Rory.
When I first watched this series, there were some episodes that I really didn’t like, but upon the second watch, stories like “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood” became favorites of mine, while others, like “The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone” reinforced how much I loved those particular ones.
All in all, it was actually a very solid series with an interesting overarching story arc, that was executed in a brilliant way, and is therefore, a strong start for the beginning of the Moffat era, and of the Eleventh Doctor.
The entire series started out with a bang with the “Eleventh Hour”, which was a great episode to begin a new series and a new era for “Doctor Who”. Not only did it introduce you to Amy and Rory, but you also had the double treat of having the Doctor being around for the entire episode, being clever, beginning to figure out who he is, and in very Doctor-like fashion, save the Earth in the nick of time.
“The Beast Below” and “Victory of the Daleks” were not really among my favorites in this particular series, mostly because I wasn’t so big on Amy yet, and because I didn’t like the “skittle” colored Daleks at all. I also had a little bit of a problem with how they resolved both these episodes. However, I did like that we were gradually seeing how Amy can ground this version of the Doctor, I liked seeing this new Doctor in action, and I loved how he could become so furious at the Daleks that he actually physically tried to beat one up. (I also think that he’s one of the few Doctors who really went physical and verbal when it comes to his hatred of the Daleks.) However, I can say that after the second viewing, I’m now a little bit more forgiving towards “Victory of the Daleks” more.
I love any episode that deals with River Song (Alex Kingston) and the Weeping Angels, and “The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone” was no exception to the rule. It was a good episode, and it’s the creepiest that I’ve seen yet involving the Angels. This was the episode that solidified Amy as a companion, and I love how quick she is to realize precisely who River might exactly be to the Doctor. The Doctor here was quicker to use a gun, and I love realizing which version of the Eleventh Doctor actually spoke to Amy while she was alone in the forest. The only thing I didn’t like about this episode was Amy trying to come on to the Doctor. The cracks in time were featured again here, and it was in these episodes in which the Doctor decides to make sure that both Amy and Rory stay with him until he figures out the cracks in time problem before their actual wedding day. It was also here when he began saying that time can be rewritten, and he said it more often than his predecessor did.
This led into “Vampires of Venice”, which I realized that I did enjoy, even though I wasn’t fond of how it ended. I’m a huge fan of Rory so I think that the only thing holding me back on this one was the fact that I was annoyed at how both Amy and the Doctor treated Rory.
“Amy’s Choice” was a wonderful gem of an episode, which also had a lot of character work from the TARDIS team. Here, we see all of the Doctor’s self-loathing, and if you delve deeper, the darker parts that the Eleventh Doctor keeps hidden out of sight, such as the fact that he hates not being able to save everyone, and when he can’t, he hates himself for that. For Amy, it was really a choice of choosing between the Doctor and Rory, and as this episode featured Rory’s first death, we see here that Amy really does love Rory.
I think I tried to block out “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood” as Rory gets erased from existence this time around, but upon second viewing, it was a great story that re-introduced the Silurians back to the Whoniverse, and had a lot of real world applications too, such as dealing with first contact situations, prejudice, and handling situations diplomatically instead of solving things with violence.
“Vincent and the Doctor” was a wonderfully crafted and beautiful episode, and is the one moment in which the Doctor wins, and it isn’t fun. I love how they treated the issue of mental health well. Meanwhile, “The Lodger”, another lighthearted not so heavy on the plot episode, was just great fun. (However, if you notice, in the spaceship they were in, there was a dead Silence there that we just forget about later).
“The Big Bang/The Pandorica Opens” was a spectacular way to end the season, although I liked the set up (“The Big Bang”), better than it’s conclusion. It is here that the first shades of the Eleventh Doctor’s “god complex” comes into play, and the first instance in which we begin seeing how his reputation from centuries back, has finally caught up to him. Darvill and Gillan have amazing character work here, and I love the love story that envelopes these two characters together. This was also a very timey-wimey episode, and it seemed like it was testing the ground for what was to come in Series 6.
I do admit, however, that I cried during my first watch of this, up to the point when Amy remembers and he comes back. I also liked the ending, with Amy and Rory spending their wedding night in the TARDIS with the Doctor, as it makes it feel like the three of them are family now.
Acting wise, Smith, Gillan and Darvill did amazing jobs in this series, and I like how Moffat managed to come up with a story arc in which I didn’t yet need to hit the pause button and rethink everything because of the complexity of the plot and series long story arc.
All in all, Series 5 has some missteps, but it was still a very strong premiere series or season for the new “Doctor Who” team, and for a brand new TARDIS team comprising of the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, and Rory Williams.
What did you think about Series 5? What were your favorite episodes and least favorite episodes of the series? Let me know in the comments below!