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4.5 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: Series Six, Part 1
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82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2011
Format: DVD
Episode 1: The Impossible Astronaut

Starts things off with a bang (rather literally). The word "impossible" in the title is well-deserved: something you would never have expected to happen really does. Feels more like a typical DW series finale in scope rather than a premiere, and makes for a nice change from the norm. Lots of new plot threads introduced, some new development added to old ones...including the revelation of the Silence, definitely the scariest monster Steven Moffat has created so far.

Episode 2: Day of the Moon

It's hard to believe after watching Episode One, but this episode is even more incredible and jaw-dropping. All the stars get a chance to stretch their acting muscles and add some layers to their characters. Plus, we're treated to what is probably the most shocking cliffhanger ever to be seen in Doctor Who.

Episode 3: The Curse of the Black Spot

Fun but forgettable. A simplistic romp which adds little to the main story arc. It's not terrible, but it falls far short of the show's usual standard of quality (which admittedly was pushed very high by the premiere).

Episode 4: The Doctor's Wife

Definitely the best of this set of episodes. It's so surprising and incredible that I can't say much about it without spoiling the genius of its premise. You aren't a true Whovian unless you've seen this, and even if you're not an avid fan, I guarantee you'll love it.

Episode 5: The Rebel Flesh

An enjoyable return to traditional Who. Very creepy "monsters" (though I'm not sure the term actually applies here). Thought-provoking and engaging. Plus, some things introduced in this episode will become very, very important in the future...

Episode 6: The Almost People

Even better than Part 1 (a rarity in two-part stories). Provides a satisfying, unpredictable conclusion to one of the thorniest ethical dilemmas the Doctor has yet encountered. Some of the FX are a bit over-ambitious, but that doesn't detract from the fun. And finally, we get some more plot development on the main story arc, in the form of yet another gasp-inducing cliffhanger. You really, really won't see this one coming, and you won't be able to keep yourself from watching the next episode.

Episode 7: A Good Man Goes to War

How should I put this? It's a mixed bag. The first half of the episode feels a bit like a rerun of Journey's End, and there are a few irritating bits and pieces randomly thrown in. Then the Doctor makes a mind-blowing discovery, and the second half changes everything for him and his companions - perhaps permanently. And we finally find out who the mysterious River Song is. If you've been watching very carefully thus far, and if you're the kind of person who sees the solution to mystery novels before you finish them, you may not find the revelation surprising. However, it's no less fascinating, and there will be parts of it you won't have been able to guess beforehand. In addition, we really don't find out everything about her in this episode. It'll be a long, long wait until autumn...

So overall, this first half of Series 6 gets five stars from me. We finally get some real, honest-to-goodness shocks and surprises, and all the main characters are far better developed than they were last year. Order today and enjoy.
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82 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
I'm not going to critique the episodes themselves...people have already done that. What I'm going to focus on is the release itself. True fans, this is just the "vanilla" pack. Notice that there are no extras, no commentaries, and it doesn't even include the 2010 Christmas special. Granted, it's dirt cheap, but you get what you pay for.

I for one will wait until they release the entire set, all 14 episodes, with the Confidentials, the episode prequels, the commentaries, and all the other goodies. Frankly, if you don't get those, then why should you pay for something you could just as easily torrent?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This two-disc set contains the first 7 episodes from Season (Series) 6 of "Doctor Who." The video quality, while 1080i rather than 1080p, is nevertheless excellent. Audio quality is equally solid whether played through standard t.v. speakers or through a surround sound system. Another review here suggested that this was a "vanilla" release, which is mostly quite right. There are two supplements presented with the set; two "Monster Files" each about 12 minutes long about two of the creatures featured in four of the episodes, one on "the silence" and the other about "the gangers." Hopefully whatever extras are produced for any "Complete Series 6" set released at some point in the future will also be included with the second half of Series 6 which will undoubtedly be released later this year. Given that this set is available for about $20 it seems like an excellent deal to me and I am happy with the purchase. Had this set included the "prequel" shorts shown on BBC and made available on the BBC official "Doctor Who" website prior to original transimission (one for "The Impossible Astronaut" and another for "Curse of the Black Spot") along with perhaps a few more extras the set would have easily achieved a five star rating from me.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2011
Format: DVD
I've enjoyed every story of this series so far which is something I cannot say about series 1-5. Matt Smith is by far the best actor to have taken on the role of the Doctor since the show came back in 2005, and he might just be the best actor since 1963! Tom Baker will always be my favorite Doctor but Matt Smith is easily my second favorite by far. He is the perfect embodiment of the Doctor. He "gets" the character, that much was evident from his very first scene. The companions aka "The Ponds" have been far more 'fleshed' out this series (lol) and I am actually starting to enjoy Gillans performance which is something I had a problem with in series 5. Rory is the best male companion since Jamie McCrimmon. I will probably be waiting for the entire series 6 box set to come out (hopefully by Christmas) before I purchase anything but I can't wait for that day to come. The show is in safe hands with Moffat. Roll on Series 6 part 2!
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31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
- the Doctor: "I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool."

All hail DOCTOR WHO, back for this Series 6 and more awesome and mind-warping than ever. And this time there's a neat swerve as show boss and head writer Steven Moffat plonks the Doctor (complete with Stetson on noggin) in the American West. The Doctor's close associates - Amy Pond (the amazing Karen Gillan) and her long-suffering hubby Rory (Arthur Darvill) - each receive an invitation (in Tardis-blue envelopes) from the Doctor and off they go to rendezvous with him in a desert in Utah. The enigmatic time-traveler (and prison inmate), Professor River Song, also shows up, her own invite in hand, and to quote her now: "SPOILERS." They all go have a nice picnic, in the middle of which the Doctor gets murdered by an astronaut emerging from a lake. And Series 6 is off to a twisty start. That bloke, Steven Moffat, seems to think he's some sort of clever clogs, and maybe he is. Amy Pond is absolutely inconsolable; the Doctor had perished before regeneration could initiate. It looks like it's eleven and done.

The fantastic two-parter - "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" - goes a ways into resolving certain questions left dangling from Series 5. We learn the nature of the Silence, and there are inroads made in fleshing out River Song's back story and her connection to the Doctor. As usual, this series plays fast and loose with time and space, and that's in a good way. Temporally, the venue shifts from the present to the year 1969, and, as the Doctor cautions his friends: "A lot more happens in '69 than anyone remembers." In 1969 the Doctor and his companions stroll into the Oval Office and meet a President Nixon early into his term and receiving constant phone calls from a terribly frightened little girl. In two episodes chock full of swerves, one of the really surprising ones is that Nixon comes across as a fairly likable guy. On two occasions he actually intervenes on our protagonists' behalf.

We learn the true reason behind man's quest to reach the moon, and also that America had long been occupied by a race of malevolent aliens, aliens that lurk in the corner of your eyes and had been surviving off man's accomplishments from the very beginning. And I'll tell the world that these boogeymen are easily as terrifying as the weeping angels. Like the weeping angels, these aliens in 1969 possess a disturbing and creepy knack for distorting perception. How the companions get around that, and how the Doctor ultimately gets the best of the aliens are simply some of the biggest grin getting experiences in my time watching this show. Matt Smith brings his usual eccentric and lively take on the Doctor, and, in his interpretation, there's a sense of an old soul inhabiting a giddy young body. And Smith really is terrific in those rousing "Gotcha!" moments. "Silence will fall." Indeed.

There are so many things to love about this two-parter. British aplomb rubs elbows with American bravado, and results in dynamic synergy. And maybe it's this more impartial perspective from overseas that lends a refreshing feel to this 1960s era. As mentioned, Nixon comes off in a good light. The episodes also benefit from the presence of FBI Agent Delaware, and the final exchange between him and Nixon in "Day of the Moon" is priceless. I love the notion of the two time travelers - the Doctor and River Song - having to sync up their diaries each time they meet. I love the sheer scope of the story, the ballsiness of it, and the constant shifts from chilling horror to political drama to slam bang sci-fi thriller. I also love that, unlike the ninth and tenth Doctor, this one looks to last a bit longer. At least until he meets a sinister Apollo astronaut. I'm loving Series 6 so far; these first two episodes come very strong. As usual the show thrives on the element of surprise. And if we know Steven Moffat, clever clogs that he is, there are even more epic surprises in store.

Just don't expect it from the third episode, "The Curse of the Black Spot." With the Tardis behaving all wonky, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are stranded onboard a 17th century pirate ship of which crew members are being steadily decimated by a beguiling (but homicidal) sea siren. On this ship, one tiny bloody scratch spells doom. But, as usual, things aren't what they seem. Maybe the best bit in this episode is Amy Pond, sword in hand, taunting the ship's understandably cautious crew: "What kind of rubbish pirates are ye?" A decent episode, but not all that.

Episode 4 makes up for episode 3's lack. "The Doctor's Wife" raises the possibility of other living Time Lords as the Doctor and his companions track a distress signal emanating from a bubble universe. The story begins with a knock at the door even as the Tardis hurtles thru deep, deep space. "The Doctor's Wife" hits those wonderful emotional beats I've come to expect; and, in unexpected ways, it explores the Doctor's connection to the Tardis. I really liked this one.

Then comes the thought-provoking two-parter - "The Rebel Flesh" and "The Almost People" - which features doppelganger drones (made out of programmable living flesh) that rebel against humanity in the near-flung future. Moral implications and an exploration of identity abound, as do disconcerting doubles of our core cast. A moody, claustrophobic, and rather compelling tale of which body horror and gothic sensibilities take hard core fans back to the 1970s era of Doctor Who.

The rousing, action-packed mid-series finale, "A Good Man Goes to War," reveals the long-awaited true identity of River Song and finds the Doctor contending with Cybermen and headless monks and calling in favors across the galaxy to amass his own army. All in all, a satisfactory episode to go on hiatus with. Six strong episodes out of seven so far in this supremely self-assured Series 6. Matt Smith is THE man, consistently in fine and sometimes spectacular form, even if he tends to drop phrases like "wibbly-wobbly" and timey-wimey."

Not much in the way of bonus features, just these two featurettes: "Monster Files: The Silence" (00:10:57 minutes long) and "Monster Files: the Gangers" (00:13:00 minutes long).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Judge Michael Stailey, DVD Verdict-- What a difference a hiatus makes! Whereas everything about Doctor Who: Series Five was fresh, new, and optimistically enchanting; Series Six is drenched in darkness, secrets, and raw unbridled emotion. Nothing is what it appears and your head is bound to hurt trying to make sense of certain aspects, but the ride is no less entertaining.

The opening two-part story--"The Impossible Astronaut" / "Day of the Moon"--is a trip. Literally. The gang packs up and relocates to the United States for a tale that introduces us to a new (albeit quiet ancient) spieces the likes of which only the twisted mind of Steven Moffat could provide. Think the Weeping Angels were creepy? Wait until you get to know The Silence.

Given there are only seven episodes in the first half of this series, there's not much time to waste on extraneous adventures. Yet sandwiched between two crucial two-parters are what may well be considered throwaway episodes...or not. Doctor Who doesn't often pander to popular culture, but one can't help think this may be the impetus behind "The Black Spot." Capitalizing on the worldwide love for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (box office, not critical), The Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory find themselves stranded aboard a pirate ship with a skeleton crew being tormented by a bloodthirsty siren.

On the other hand, if Doctor Who didn't allow for these thematic pit stops, we never would have encountered "The Doctor's Wife," author Neil Gaiman's first (and hopefully not last) foray in this world. In all sincerity, I have not seen an episode with so much reverence for a franchise that can also propel its 40+ year mythology into brash and bold new directions. Without question, it's the highlight of this set and a breakout performance for Suranne Jones (Coronation Street).

"The Rebel Flesh" and "The Almost People" uncover a huge piece of the larger puzzle, but do so in a long drawn out way. Since "A Good Man Goes to War" is arguably part three of this tale, the triad could have easily been boiled down into a meatier experience.

Presented in 1.78:1 1080i widescreen, the image is just as sharp and mesmerizing as was broadcast on BBC America HD. Eagle eyes will likely point out a handful of flaws here and there, but that's nitpicking at best. The colors exude emotion, be it the warmth of the TARDIS, the blackness of space, the green evil of House, or the magnificence of Monument Valley. And the visual effects continue to improve by leaps and bounds. I don't know if Moffat has scored a bigger budget from the BBC or the artistry of his production team grows by the day, but you'll be hard pressed to find a more convincing sci-fi series. As for the DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix, it may be step down from true Master Audio, but none but the techiest of viewers will notice. Between the ambient effects and Murray Gold's score, your system will thrill you and annoy the neighbors, if given the chance.

Bonus materials are sparse, as seems to be the trend with this partial season releases. All you'll find here are two Monster File featurettes, one on The Silence, the other on The Gangers (Flesh), both of which run about 11 min. Seems like we'll have to wait for the complete Series Six box set to get the full treatment, which includes all of the Doctor Who Confidential episodes, plus interviews, commentaries, and other behind-the-scenes treats. Until then, you can rewatch these episodes in anticipation of "Let's Kill Hitler" on August 27.
-Full review at [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Warning: This Blu Ray edition only has English DTS-HD 5.1 audio, no Dolby for older systems.

The find print says Dolby, but I got my 2 disc set in the mail today after pre-ordering and the actual episodes are DTS-HD audio only. The menu is in Dolby, but once the episode starts, no audio.... Bummer.....

I guess I really will have to upgrade my home theater audio sooner rather than later.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I have been a Doctor Who fan since 2005. I had great hopes for seasons 5 and 6, because Steven Moffat had become the producer and lead writer. Moffat wrote my 2 favorite stories (2-part episodes counting as 1 story) from the Russell Davies series of 2005-2009, and all 4 of his earlier stories ranked among my all-time top 12 for the modern and classic series combined. Unfortunately, the first two Moffat seasons did not live up to my expectations, for several reasons.

Concept of the show: The 4 Moffat stories from the Russell Davies era conformed to Davies' conception of the show and the character of the Doctor. Davies viewed Doctor Who as a science fiction show, a la Star Trek. Moffat views Doctor Who as a fairy tale. I prefer science fiction. Both of the Davies incarnations of the Doctor - Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant - were serious characters. Eccleston played the Doctor as intense, enigmatic, very lonely, self-doubting, and angry over the total destruction of his fellow Time Lords in the Time War. In his David Tennant incarnation, the Doctor largely got over his anger, but his seemingly light-hearted banter covered up a deep loneliness and sadness, combined with steely determination. In his current incarnation, the Doctor is just silly and undignified - a madman with a blue box. Also, in his interactions with his primary companion - Amy Pond - he comes across as hen-pecked. Good grief! Also, the repeated "Hello sweetie" stuff with River Song has become tiresome. Many jokes are only funny once. I must say, however, that the silliness of the Smith Doctor has been declining in recent episodes.

Quantity versus quality: During the Russell Davies era, Moffat wrote a total of 4 stories and 6 weekly installments. Moffat is currently writing about 5 weekly installments per year for Doctor Who, plus a couple more for his other show (Sherlock), and is acting as producer for both shows. This does not allow him to devote enough time to each episode that he writes. Moffat needs to cut his number of weekly installments to about 4 per year (for both shows combined) and recruit better writers (see below) to generate the remainder of the episodes.

Inferior "secondary" writers: In my opinion, the following writers accounted for the top 10 stories from the Russell Davies era: Steven Moffat (4, out of the 4 he wrote), Paul Cornell (2, out of 2), Davies (2, out of 25 (31 weekly installments)), Robert Shearman (1, out of 1), and Toby Whithouse (1, out of 1). Stories number 11 through 15 came from Russell Davies (4) and Matt Jones (1, out of 1). (However, Davies might have written better stories had he confined himself to fewer episodes per year.) Whithouse provided 1 weekly installment per year in seasons 5-6; Cornell, Davies, Shearman, and Jones combined for ZERO. Moffat should recruit some of the other good writers from 2005-2009 and get Neil Gaiman (see below) to write more than 1 weekly installment next year.

Fixation with time-loop paradoxes: Moffat's first story - The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances - was a superb example of the "Doctor solving a problem" type of story. Moffat's other three stories from the 2005-2009 series all dealt with time-loop paradoxes. These episodes all worked well, especially "Blink," but this was partially because such episodes were "different." Having such episodes account for the bulk of a season, as they do now, is tedious and confusing. How much of season 5 actually happened after the last episode erased most of the season? Will the same thing happen at the end of season 6?

General tone of the season 6: Season 6 is darker and scarier than earlier seasons, and has more emphasis on morally complex or ambiguous themes (e.g., Amy's continuing interest in the Doctor even though she is married to Rory). Also, the Doctor seems perfectly willing to let River Song shoot people/monsters, whereas earlier incarnations of the Doctor were gun-shy (except for Christopher Eccleston when he encountered Daleks).

Specific episodes from the first half of season 6: 1) The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. This is a genuinely creepy story, Moffat's best since the David Tennant era (Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead). Despite my general unease about "time paradox" stories, this one has an ingenious "time loop" plot twist at the beginning (which I will not reveal). Also, the aliens are a scary new enemy - will they be back? I disliked a couple of things about the story, which prevented me from putting it in my all-time top 10. First, I really hated it when River Song shot the Doctor's Stetson hat off. This was supposed to be funny, but I found it merely stupid. Second, former president Richard Nixon played a significant role in the story, and was portrayed very poorly. The actor did not look like Nixon, did not sound like Nixon, and captured nothing of Nixon's character. He was just a "generic president." 2) The Curse of the Black Spot. This was a silly 18th century pirate episode, loosely inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, but without Johnny Depp. This is right down there with "Victory of the Daleks" as the worst story of the Moffat era. 3) The Doctor's Wife. This is the best story written by anyone other than Moffat since Human Nature/Family of Blood (Paul Cornell) back in season three of the Davies era. This is a clever story where the soul of the Tardis inhabits the body of a woman. Hopefully, Neil Gaiman will write two or three weekly installments next year. 4) The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People. This is a surprisingly good - and thought provoking - story about the nature of humanity and slavery. Much like the movie Blade Runner, it deals with artificially created human-like beings that are exploited. 5) A Good Man Goes to War. This is part one of a two-part story. This is one of Moffat's worst episodes. It is much too fast-paced and confusing, and provides little understanding of what is going on or why. It might have made a good 2-part episode or 90-minute special. It also gives away the secret of River Song's true identity. It probably would have been better to keep the secret until part 2 of this episode debuts later.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Today, July 26'th 2011, is a sad sad day. I have finished yet another batch of Doctor Who episodes! Now I am forced to wait, yet again, for a continuation of what is arguably the most inventive, creative, inspiring television show today.

Doctor Who Season 6 brings everything to the table a Who-fan would come to expect; you've got very interesting episodes all featuring a new story, intertwined by an underlying story that climaxes as the series progresses. Many questions are answered and, of course, even more questions are raised.

I do feel as though the show has been tailored a bit towards Matt Smith's style, though I can assure you this is not a bad thing. Every Doctor has their own "thing" that makes you fall in love with them; Christopher Eccleston with his "Fantastic!" catch phrase, very enthusiastic voice, and strong emotion for Rose. David Tennant with his unique mannerisms, "Allons-y!", and admiration of his own brilliance. Matt Smith with his "*insert object here*'s are cool!", his insistence on calling Amelia, "Pond", regardless of the fact she's married, and his love for both Rory and Amy. This series is the scariest, most thrilling of them all, so watch out for that...!

The trio of Amy, Rory, and the Doctor balance out much better in this series than in the previous. I've always felt that the drama between the Doctor and Rory fighting over Amy was silly. It was a little too outlandish; even for Doctor Who. However, they've stabilized that, allowing for them all to get along perfectly. Amy has her heart in the right place, knowing that although the Doctor will always be there, Rory will always be her Roranicas, her Roman in shining armor. The girl and boy who waited. I find this flows much better, and you can tell the Doctor respects this when he first asks Rory if it's ok if he hugs Amelia Pond.

Also, a special treat is in store for you in the final episode of this collection. I don't want to state too much and ruin it for you, but I will say I'm certain you will enjoy the final episode very, very much.

So we see new creatures, reunite with some old ones, find out shocking things about main characters, and the ride just goes on and on. The ending is well played. I was a little concerned that, this being a part 1 set, they would end in a silly manner, but honestly they made it so it's basically a short season within itself. You've got a really big, climactic ending that answers and brings up a bunch of questions, but doesn't end in the middle of a story (or at least, not in a really bad spot). It's a good enough place to stop, until future episodes are released, which I really appreciated.

All in all, an amazing continuation of an already incredible series. Thank you very much Doctor Who, keep up the great work! Allons-y!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I ordered this via Amazon Instant (get it free with Prime memberships), and I'm still in awe. Christopher Eccleston was so fantastic, then David Tennant (WOW, 10th doctor was just too much fun), and now Matt Smith - also great. I love that because it is so fast paced, I can watch them again and again since I often miss phrases in part due to the fast talking and action, and in other part due to the British slant which I'm not so familiar with to keep up so quickly. This season does not disappoint at all - it's really different than the rest, but I guess that is what makes it so good - the series keeps growing. This has to be my favorite TV show, period. Wish there were more episodes, but I'm already going back to 9th Doctor and watching them all over again. I loved the Almost People episode, but my favorite so far was The Doctor's Wife, no wait, I just love them all, no favorite episode!!
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