Well, after I finish this review, I will only have one disc of the superlative fifth season of Doctor Who to write about before this season draws to a close (and I’ve already watched the first episode of that disc. and it’s a good one). I had such massive reservations about beginning this season. I literally feared beginning it because I was worried that it was going to ruin the show forever because while the switch from Christopher Eccleston to David Tennant was easy to swallow, I spent much more time growing attached to David Tennant and the cynic inside of me just worried that we’d have to eventually get an inadequate Doctor eventually. Thank God that I couldn’t have been more wrong. With just two episodes left to go, unless they manage to screw the finale up royally, this has been without question the best season of the series yet. There’s not even any competition because the previous holder of that title (season 3) had its share of weak episodes.There hasn’t been a single weak episode this season, and I am an official convert of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat years of Doctor Who.

After the Doctor lands in England in the 2020’s (after promising Rory and Amy a trip to Rio), the Doctor stumbles upon an impending invasion from a species known as the Silurians (a sentient lizard-race that had inhabited the Earth before humanity but have been exiled into caves in the center of the earth ever since losing the surface) after a drilling project nearly destroys their current home. When Amy and several members of the drilling team are taken hostage by the Silurians, the Doctor takes a hostage of his own to negotiate the release of his friends and to create a peace between the humans and Silurians. The Doctor tasks the remaining humans (led by Rory) to keep the hostage alive and “to be the best of humanity” but when one of the drillers is stung by the hostage and dying, his daughter tortures the Silurian to death when she won’t divulge the cure to her father’s poison. In the Silurian city, one of their generals has gone rogue in her wish to create a war with humanity and the murder of one of her soldiers (who is also her sister) is all it takes for the peace talks to fracture. As the Doctor, Amy, and Rory try to escape the Silurian city, Rory is killed (!!!!!!!!!!!!) saving Amy’s life and one of the cracks in times erases him from existence causing Amy to forget he even existed. The next episode involves Amy and the Doctor going to Holland in the 1890’s to meet Vincent Van Gogh as a mysterious monster that only Van Gogh can see is murdering the local population.

“The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood” was good if not quite as memorable as everything else so far (though the special effects work struck a wonderful chord between modern effects and the cheesiness of the original series) until we got to its truly shocking ending. Had I not known that Rory is actually still alive I would have been very, very upset although I’m actually a little more upset that the series didn’t have the stones to kill off such a major character permanently. With the exception of the Silurian Emperor (or whatever he was) and the scientist, the Silurian were all pretty one-dimensional but that was okay in the end because the episode didn’t really paint humanity in a much better light. I like it when the show isn’t afraid to capture that “humans are bastards” theme. Of course, I like my television morally ambiguous and cynical so I’m probably going to be disappointed in what is essentially a children’s show when it tries to be optimistic. The scenes where Rory dies and Amy is trying to hold on to her memories of him were wonderfully acted and some of the best dramatic moments of the series. “Vincent and the Doctor” now edges out “The Shakespeare Code” as my favorite historical figure episode of the series and one of my favorite episodes of this season. The man playing Vincent Van Gogh was stellar, and it was a highly emotional and surprisingly both dark and hopeful moment for the series. I could have done without the Brit-pop at the end but whatever. It’s a small complaint.

I can’t believe how quickly I’ve watched this season. It’s only going to end up taking me a little over a week to fly through it. I think I started it a week ago, and I’m going to finish it tomorrow. It’s just been spectacular. Doctor Who has been without fail the series that causes me to take extraordinarily long hiatuses between episodes because there’s nothing serialized happening to make me need to see what happens next. While there aren’t still a lot of serialized things happening this season, it’s done a phenomenal job of introducing the cracks stories into the alien of the week tales (it freaking erased Rory from existence!!) and the writing has just been so strong and imaginative that I haven’t cared that each weeks story is almost entirely self-contained. I can pretty well guarantee that I’m going to finish the season tomorrow. I’m going to start the sixth season of Dexter so that I can get right to the most recent season of Doctor Who and be all prepared for Series 7 when it begins this spring. It’s supposed to be Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (Rory)’s last season as companions though not Matt Smith’s last season as the Doctor so he will surpass David Tennant in number of years helming the TARDIS.

Final Score: A-