Retrospective: Series 5 (2010)

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Guest contributor David Selby continues his retrospective, this time looking at Series 5.

David Tennant was, and most likely always will be my favourite Doctor. In the words of Sarah Jane, he was a “tough act to follow”. That’s not it, either; Russell T. Davies was an excellent show-runner. Smith and Steven Moffat had a lot to live up to. The question: did they?

The Eleventh Hour

The short answer: yes! The Eleventh Hour remains to this day one of my favourite episodes. Matt Smith had me re-assured from the start that he would exceed my expectations and Karen Gillan was equally amazing in this episode. The writing and effects were top-notch, and so was the music – we were introduced to wonderful new tracks like ‘I am the Doctor’ and ‘The Madman with a Box’.

The Beast Below

As an episode, I have a mixed opinion of The Beast Below. If it was written by another writer such as Mark Gatiss, I would have been satisfied, but as a Moffat episode I wasn’t quite as impressed. You had so many original ideas from him; the boy who tore the world apart looking for his mummy, the spaceship which followed the life of a French girl, the monsters which move when you blink, the piranhas of the air and the little girl who waited 12 years for her imaginary friend to return (and then another two on top of that), so you can see why I was slightly unimpressed by The Beast Below. But don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed many parts of this episode, particularly the ending and Matt Smith’s unusual touch which separates him from everyone else on the ship (I’m thinking of the glass of water here).

Victory of the Daleks

Victory of the Daleks is probably my least favourite episode of the series, mostly due to one thing which really annoyed me (no, not the multi-coloured-Power-Ranger Daleks), and this was the way that they sent spitfires into space.  I fully accept that Bracewell had the knowledge, but there’s no way that they could develop the technology that quickly, or get them up so quick! If we worked out how the moon was made, could we make another one? No, we’d need time – and that’s what this episode needed; time. If it had been a two-parter, the first part could have been about the Daleks and their plan and the second could be about sending the spitfires into space and stopping the Oblivion Continuum. I’m not saying this episode was good, but I’m saying it had potential.

The Time of Angels

The Time of Angels had an excellent opening, and once again introduced River Song in an exciting way and portrayed her as a mysterious can-you-trust-her? character. I also liked the idea of the Angels being able to enter your soul, but it begged the question, “Why didn’t an Angel enter Larry in Blink?” Because he looked into the eyes of an Angel.

Flesh and Stone

Flesh and Stone is another interesting episode. From one angle I like it, and from another I don’t. I loved the way they fitted the plot in, and I was on the edge of my seat about the whole ‘un-writing time’ thing. But on the other hand, I hated what they did with the Weeping Angels. For a start, the Angels stopped sending people back in time, which was my favourite thing about the Angels. But then they went and made the Angels move as well. Why? Shouldn’t that be left to our imagination? Yes, it should in my opinion. But my main bugbear about this episode was the ending. What kind of a companion comes onto the Doctor because she was left in a dark forest the night before her wedding? I found this pretty disgraceful of Amy and I don’t think I ever quite forgave her.

The Vampires of Venice

I actually quite liked The Vampires of Venice. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the strongest episode of the series, it wasn’t bad and was rather well written by Toby Whithouse and entertaining.

Amy’s Choice

I really enjoyed Amy’s Choice. The humour from the Dream Lord was great, particularly the Elizabeth I joke, and the Dream Lord was a great villain. Plus, I wasn’t expecting the ending – and at last, Rory got some attention!

The Hungry Earth

You could tell watching The Hungry Earth that this story would be something big. I really liked Nasreen as well, it’s a shame she couldn’t have stayed with the TARDIS crew longer!

Cold Blood

After the phenomenal The Eleventh Hour, Cold Blood is my second favourite episode of Series 5 – it took much more of a ‘sitting down’ approach to the situation than the first part, though half way through things began to stir up with the new and short-lived villain Restac. The ending was great, for once the Doctor saved the day and the alien, and Rory’s death at the end was a (can I say ‘nice’?) surprise! Such a shame he continuously died after that – even if he does die in Series 7, it will take a bit of believing.

Vincent and the Doctor

From what I’ve seen and heard, Vincent and the Doctor appears to have a fan-base of its own besides being an episode in the show. It went into far more depth about the historical figure than perhaps any other historical episode in ‘new who’, and it was also touching to see that the Doctor was still recovering from the loss of Rory – and so was Amy, even though she couldn’t remember him – which is quite beautiful, if you think about it.

The Lodger

The Lodger was a very original episode – never before had the Doctor had to pose as a human being for any length of time. As well as being well written, I have to give props to Matt Smith’s amazing and at times hilarious acting in this episode, which for me was one of his highlights.

The Pandorica Opens

Whilst not being my favourite, The Pandorica Opens was a very good penultimate episode which for a change was all really about suspense, and in a sense a sort of countdown – in some ways similar to Utopia or Bad Wolf – the ‘hero’ of the situation had only a limited amount of time to save the day. It also had a great cliff-hanger.

The Big Bang

I’m sorry to say but this was one of the first times I was truly disappointed by an episode. The series had built up a dark, suspenseful plot, which was finished with a slightly cheated resolution, lose ends which still haven’t been tied up and silly moments which made the finale seem more childish then perhaps it should have. However, saying that, I did enjoy the last 5 or 10 minutes of the episode more than I had in any other finale apart from Journey’s End.

Overall, with the exception of The Big Bang and The Victory of the Daleks, series 5 was mainly an excellent series (as per usual) which took a far more ‘magical’ approach than any before it, which resulted in exciting, original and well-written episodes. But what would series 6 bring?

Note: Christmas Specials and mini-episodes will have their own separate article.