Doctor Who: Series 7 DVD Review

series701(Special thanks to BBC Home Entertainment for providing complimentary DVDs of Doctor Who Season 7 for review)

Season 7 of new Doctor Who has been – much like Season 7 of “classic Doctor Who – a significant game-changer in terms of approach and content,providing a new context for the science-fiction television series. Thankfully, with Doctor Who Series 7, Part Two and Doctor Who: The Snowmen coming out on DVD on May 28th, viewers can watch these – along with Doctor Who Series 7, Part One – and see how this year has focused not only on the Doctor, but also change, loss, and secrets to be discovered.

Series 7 Part One (already released on DVD) kicks off with Asylum of the Daleks, which not only introduces one of the central mysteries within the series, but also serves to drive the idea that the Doctor wishes to remain anonymous. After the darker tones of the opener, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is a romp – and yes, it does have a slightly dark ending, but it has a great does-what-it-says-on-the-tin feel. With A Town Called Mercy, the show mixes two genres that it had barely touched: deep moral concerns and the “wild west”. (For the last time the Doctor visited the American West onscreen, check out the classic series’ story The Gunfighters). With The Power of Three we catch an early glimpse of the 50th anniversary celebration with a fresh take on a long-standing element of Who canon. And although it provides for a tragic end to two well-loved characters, The Angels Take Manhattan really feels like it deserves to be a two-parter.

Normally, Doctor Who’s Christmas specials tend to fall between seasons, and snowmen_bd_3dlie somewhere outside of “normal” season continuity. The Snowman (DVD release due to May 28th) defiantly breaks the mold, not only bridging the two half-seasons, but serving as a “prequel” for two now-lost classic series stories and setting up the tone for the rest of the season. Although the least “Christmas-y” in spirit and tone, The Snowmen serves as a transitional piece, allowing the season to change gears, establishing the tone and elements for the next half-season to come.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B EPISODE 1With Series 7 Part Two (also to be released on May 28th). the past half-season has been a much more deliberate evocation of the series’ past in celebration of the 50th anniversary (even down to the new opening credit sequence). Although Michi Trota already reviewed The Bells of St. John on this site, the only thing to add is that, watched in quick succession after the Christmas special, it feels like the second part of a two-part episode. Although initial audience reaction to The Rings of Akhaten was split, the episode serves as an all-too-rare effort on the series to create a uniquely alien world. Both Cold War and Hide serve as picture-perfect examples of classic Who elements, with the former being a great “base under siege” tale, and the latter reminiscent of classic Hinchcliffe/Holmes fare. “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” is the only flat-out clunker of the series (despite its spacey-waceyness), but “The Crimson Horror” successfully melds steampunk and elements of Hammer horror films. Nightmare in Silver does to recast the Cybermen as the series opener did for the Daleks, and The Name of the Doctor not only brings the arc – and series – to a satisfying close, but also serves as a great teaser for the 50th Anniversary Special.

Although a complete series box set is due later in summer, Who fans have a great opportunity on May 28th to pick up both parts of Series 7 – and The Snowmen – on DVD. Watched in succession, this series demonstrates the flexibility of Doctor Who, establishes a status quo while setting up the show’s future…and most importantly, provides some really good viewing.

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