Man. I was not expecting this. I loved Season 5 of Doctor Who. And I don’t mean I loved it in the same way that that I’ve always “loved” Doctor Who. For the first time in the series history, I never felt like I needed qualifiers or caveats to explain the pleasure of the show. I never felt like I was slogging my way through several mediocre episodes in a row just to get to the good Steven Moffat episodes or the rare good episode written by Russel T. Davies. No, from the moment that the Eleventh Doctor crash-landed into Amy Pond’s garden, Doctor Who became an entirely new series and the increased level of quality, whether this was in the writing, acting, or general world-building, was apparent from the get go. There was exactly one episode the entire season that I wasn’t simply crazy about it so Steven Moffat’s tenure as the lead writer of the series seemingly transferred his stellar writing abilities to the entire staff. Season 6 has been even better… You’re reading that correctly. I’m only four episodes in (five technically since I have already seen the first episode of the next disc) and Steven Moffat has managed to raise the stakes again, and even more than last season, this has truly felt like his Doctor Who once and for all.
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory begin the season having spent an indeterminate amount of time apart when Amy and Rory start to notice the Doctor popping up in all sorts of completely inappropriate places (like Three Stooges DVDs). The Doctor sends mysterious invitations to Rory, Amy, and River to meet him in America (where of course, he’s wearing a cowboy hat cause “Stetson’s are cool”). After spending a day or so reminiscing about old times, a mysterious old man appears on the edge of a lake where our heroes are meeting and not long after, a figure in a NASA spacesuit walks out of a lake. Amy sees a mysterious figure on a mountaintop but forgets it as soon as she walks away. The Doctor tells River, Amy, and Rory not to interrupt whatever is about to happen and he walks off to speak with the figure in the spacesuit. The spacesuit zaps the Doctor and as he’s regenerating, it zaps him again and kills him before he can regenerate. Thus, the Doctor is dead for good. Oh Shit! The old man turns out to have also received a letter from the Doctor and he has a gas can with him. River realizes they have to burn the Doctor’s body so that every hostile alien race in the universe doesn’t descend upon Earth to tear the planet apart to get his body. This all happens within essentially the first twenty minutes of the season premiere. It turns out there was one more letter sent out and as River, Amy, and Rory mourn the loss of the Doctor, they discover that the fourth letter was sent to a past version of the Doctor. Realizing that they can’t tell the Doctor about his impending death, the group finds itself whisked away on a trip to 1969 where they uncover an alien race known as the Silent who have been controlling humanity from behind the scenes for our entire existence thanks to an even better defense mechanism than the Weeping Angels, you forget they ever existed as soon as you aren’t looking at them.
After spending months being chased by the U.S. government (though not really because it was a ploy to confuse and trick the Silent), the Doctor, Amy, Rory, River and their new friend (FBI Agent and serious bad-ass Canton Delaware III) try to strike back at the Silent by launching a message on TV of a Silent telling Canton that humanity should kill every Silent they see because they are essentially the Silent’s slaves. They play this message during the Apollo moon landing so nearly every person on the planet saw it and will see it for ages to come. The episode ends with River and the Doctor sharing their first kiss (well the Doctor’s first kiss with River. It will be River’s last kiss with the Doctor cause… timey wimey). The other two episodes involve a marooned pirate ship where a Siren seemingly kills and marks every man who gets even the smallest cut (cooler than it sounds. I swear), and the last finds the Doctor, Amy, and Rory visiting a bubble universe to find a distress signal from another possibly living Time Lord, and the Doctor meets the human incarnation of the TARDIS.
“The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day of the Moon” managed to be an even more impressive way to start off the season than “The Eleventh Hour” was last season. It now gets the award for best possible way to start off a season. I mean for God’s sake, they KILLED THE FREAKING DOCTOR at the beginning of the episode. I know he won’t be dead for good cause that would like mean the end of the series. So even if they find some way to massively retcon it out of existence, it’s still going to affect the way this whole season plays out and I applaud Moffat’s ability to try and shock the audience. That alone would have been ballsy, but what makes the episode truly memorable will be the Silent. They are without a doubt the most terrifying monsters that I have ever seen in the Whoniverse, and this includes the Weeping Angels and the Vashta Narada (all Moffat creations, not surprisingly). They are paranoia incarnate and the scene in the orphanage where Amy encounters their nest was pure high octane nightmare fuel. Steven Moffat is pretty peerless when it comes to creating terrifying creatures (and having it never involve blood or gore), and the Silence may be the pinnacle of his scaring the shit out of British children career.
“The Curse of the Black Spot” was quite good if not quite as phenomenal as the disc’s other three episodes. However, the cinematography was as flawless as this whole disc has been. The show looks different than it ever has. There’s a certain moodiness and darkness hinting in the background except when they’re simply trying to achieve pure beauty like the many shots of the desert in “The Impossible Astronaut.” The show is trying to achieve cinematic ambitions and it is certainly starting to succeed. I did love the way that the episode certainly subverted my expectations on where the story was going and at times, it reminded me structurally of “The Girl in the Fireplace.” “The Doctor’s Wife” though. Boy. What a thing of beauty. It was written by my all-time favorite author, Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Sandman, Anansi Boys), and just adding in the human personification of the TARDIS would have been mind-blowing enough (let alone the fact that the episode felt like Tim Burton’s take on the Whoniverse). Add in an appearance by the always terrifying Ood as well and the very creepy scenes where HOUSE is tormenting Amy and Rory for his own amusement and you have an episode ofDoctor Who that both explores an unstated relationship of the series and manages to scare the hell out of you with its sheer imagination. I really hope that Gaiman ends up writing more episodes of the series.
Ok, I’ll stop rambling now about how fantastic this season has been so far. Needless to say though, Steven Moffat seems to only bring his A game as the showrunner for the series and he expects the same from the rest of his writing staff. I’m excited to be able to finally be finishing this series because the new season should actually be starting sort of soon. Actually, I just looked that up. I don’t think they have an air date for the season premiere so that means this new season will be airing at a different pace than usual. Oh well. Regardless, I’ve been on a very long journey with the Doctor now, and while it’s had its ups and downs, ever since Steven Moffat took over, the highs have been much higher and more often, and Season 6 is looking to be the best season yet.
Final Score: A