Doctor Who Series Seven, Part One REVIEW

Doctor Who Series Seven, Part One review: The Long Goodbye

Doctor Who "The Angels Take Manhattan".

The Super Glue prankster struck again.

Release Date: 29 October 2012
2012 | 12 | 250 minutes | £25.59 (DVD)/£30.63 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: BBC Worldwide
Showrunner: Steven Moffat
Cast: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Mark Williams

It’s Saturday night at the movies! That was the idea behind this Autumn’s run of Who, five instalments we were promised would be glossy, standalone epics. Did they succeed?

Well, in terms of production values and sumptuous visuals, they most certainly did – these episodes demonstrate once more why Who is the most gloriously gorgeous and indomitably imaginative show on British television.

The writing’s pretty good too. All three scribes deliver scripts that are among their personal highs: Chris Chibnall’s “The Power Of Three” is his best for the show, a witty invasion romp only let down by its final act; Toby Whithouse’s “A Town Called Mercy” is a solid, no-nonsense mid-season yarn, his most enjoyable since “School Reunion”. As for Steven Moffat, a showrunner who’s never quite tugged the heartstrings the way Russell T Davies used to, he does just that with emotional masterclass “The Angels Take Manhattan”, which balances all its elements with precision, never becoming mawkish or soggy, sending the audience away with a slightly shaken, moist-orbed demeanour. The doom-shrouded finale also makes clear why the preceding story was so frothy. Shame “The Power Of Three” couldn’t have segued into a post-apocalyptic second part, à la series three’s “Utopia”.

One thing is palpably clear: bloody hell, we’re going to miss Amy and Rory. The idea that a couple in the TARDIS wouldn’t work is but a distant memory; in this semi-series we saw the pair demonstrate time and again their resourcefulness, decency, calmness, mutual affection, and attempts to always try and do the right thing.

While the run wasn’t perfect – “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship” was a raggedy underachiever; the Daleks were unthreatening in the opener – by its close even viewers turned off by the density of last year’s arc plotting are in love with the show once again.

If you can’t wait until 2013’s complete series box set, this stopgap release does at least have some extras – though you’ve probably already seen them online. Five-part web-series “Pond Life” (10 minutes) is pretty inconsequential, but does offer the priceless sight of an Ood on a loo; two further short prequels shed further light on how the Doctor was lured to Skaro, and the origins of “A Town Called Mercy”’s cyborg. Slightly pricier Weeping Angels Limited Editions (see below) add a 44-minute BBC America doc on Who’s science, and a poster.

Russell Lewin

Read our review of Doctor Who ebook “The Angel’s Kiss” (the Melody Malone book from “The Angels Take Manhattan”)
Read our review of Doctor Who: A History Of The Universe In 100 Objects.

Read more of our Doctor Who DVD reviews.