So we arrive at the final release from series (insert your number here!), the first full run of Doctor 11. Itâ€™s been an exceptional pack of episodes so far but will the â€œstunt castingâ€ that peppers the last four episodes let it down? Please note some of this piece is made up of previous reviews I did when these episodes aired, my opinion has not changed and the whole feature contains spoilers.
If you havenâ€™t seen these yet please do not read any further.
Vincent and the Doctor
Terror lurks in the cornfields of Provence, but only a sad and lonely painter can see it. Amy Pond finds herself shoulder to shoulder with Vincent Van Gogh, in a battle with a deadly alien.
Touching, sentimental, bleak and at times whimsical this is not a traditional Doctor Who episode, much in the same way Love & Monsters wasnâ€™t and split the audience right down the middle. Containing many of the Richard Curtisâ€™ trademark touches such as light comedy, human emotion and love, the story may at first seem slight but it is actually an incredibly deep episode which looks at the darker side of creativity. The small ensemble are forced to face up to demons both personal and possibly real with measured gusto.
Matt and Karen are in supporting roles here as Tony Curran takes centre stage, embracing the role of Van Gogh painting the artist larger than life with bold, colourful strokes. Bill Nighy (a man often connected with the role of the Doctor) pops up as a Curator, a rather charming and polished cameo played, as youâ€™d expect, to his usual perfection.
Thereâ€™s a house on Aickman Road and a staircase that people go up but never go down. To solve the mystery of the man upstairs, the Doctor must face his greatest challenge â€“ he must pass himself as a perfectly normal human being and share a flat with Craig Owens.
Slight with a nice touch of melodrama, The Lodger is one of those episodes that just floats over you. Nothing really exceptional happens except the Doctor gets to have plenty of fun whilst trying to save us innocent folk of Earth. Over exposed flavour of the month James Corden gives a solid performance here. Yes, heâ€™s delivering his usual â€œhappy go luckyâ€ chubby bloke schtick but is kept reigned in by director Catherine Morshead. Smith on the other hand just goes for it and this is his most outlandish episode yet. Normally at this time of the season we get a Doctor-lite episode, not for this fella.
This is 110% Doctor and loads of fun it is too.
Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
The Doctor and Amy learn that according to legend, the Pandorica contains the most feared being in all the cosmos, a monster soaked in blood of a billion galaxies. But what is inside it and can the Doctor stop it.
Each season ends with a two-part spectacular and this one is surely one of the best ever. The story is packed with worthy material, the acting top drawer and the effects finally get their moment to shine. The idea of the Baddie Alliance is a fanboy dream come true, all the best ones (well ones from the new run anyway) come together to â€œgetâ€ the Doctor and as daft as it all seems it really does work. Thatâ€™s because Moffat gives us the best, most polished cliff-hanger ever. This is truly jaw-dropping, eye-popping TV at its best. Not a dry eye was in my house when Pandorica Opens reached its heart-breaking climax.
Instead of the second part of the story being mainly filler it builds wonderfully on what has gone before and like the first part, builds and builds until it reaches an air punching ending. Perfect Doctor Who from the perfect Doctor Who team.
Monster Files: The Alliance â€“ Ten minutes of vox pops from Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, producers Steven Moffat and Piers Wenger plus director Toby Hayes talking about how this compendium of baddies al came together. Not really long enough to be interesting its still worth a look.
Though the â€œNext Weekâ€ trailers have been removed the â€œPreviouslyâ€ that appeared on the front of The Big Bang is still here.
Doctor Who (Moffat style) has been a true triumph and one of the finest since its resurrection. Hereâ€™s looking forward to Christmas and the travels beyond that. Oh, and remember, wearing a Fez is cool.
Doctor Who â€“ Series 5 Volume 4 is also available on Blu-ray format – purchase either from www.amazon.co.uk.