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'Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series'
(Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / BBC Video)

Overview: Matt Smith and Karen Gillan star as the new Doctor and his companion in an all-new series of Doctor Who coming to DVD and Blu-ray. After his explosive regeneration, the Eleventh Doctor awakes to discover his TARDIS is about to crash! After falling from the sky, he pulls himself out of the wreckage to come face-to-face with young Amy Pond. The Doctor promises to take Amy to the stars. But first they must divert an alien plot that could destroy the Earth!

DVD Verdict: In short, this is such a great franchise, now completely undone by horrible casting!

The previous seasons were so great that when I got them I had to stay in the house and watch them all, one after the other until I'd watched them all. And then, I could re-watch them two or three times!

Alas, but no more. The colored Daleks have more stage presence than this pair of yearning would-be's. At least when the white Dalek says he's Supreme, you kind of believe the threat.

Can you imagine how brilliant David Tennant would have made the fish fingers and custard scene in the first episode? How comically Billie Piper would cringed? Moffat wrote a classic, adorable, 'bad English food scene' for the Dr. but it falls flat because, 1) Matt Smith's doctor is too introverted and serious, and 2) his foil is a young child, whose reactions can only be based on her reaction to a world of stuffed animals and pretty wall paper. In those crucial scenes, he doesn't have a partner. It was as if he were playing to a wall instead of another actor.

Smith does not summon the humongous ego of our favorite demi-god, his insouciant self-confidence, or his flood of self-mockery. And most humiliatingly, he seems competent only to rob the cradle.

As for the girl that plays Amy . . . Karen Gillan ... shudder! At the signpost up ahead, you have entered the "Baby Sitter Zone." She's colorless, tasteless, and sexless. With Catherine Tate you always wondered in which direction those generous mammaries were swinging. Piper had that smile, that DAZZLING, man-melting smile. Amy's Scottish accent doesn't compensate, except by way of the nursery. And we're not in a Walt Disney, Kurt Russell movie. We're supposed to be in outer space where our costumes can be as tight was we like them.

I'm halfway through 'Victory of the Daleks,' and turned it off. Winston Churchill is as fat a Portland sow with a double chin the size of Labrador. In a complete absence of characterization, he merely spouts patriotic cliches. He's as complete a character as the doctor in the episode, "The Empty Child," which is to say, a cipher. I'm upset. Moffat's a brilliant writer, but he can't fill Russell Davies' shoes in the sci-fi genre.

And Spitfires in outer space? This is stupid. By comparison, the dying OOD in "Planet of the Ood," is John Gielgud - and a wonderful reflection on the fury boiling behind the reserved national character of Great Britain.

Russell did have a habit of grabbing forms and themes from other films in the public mind, such as his atrocious repurposing of 'The Fifth Element' into 'Voyage of the Damned,' (not my favorite episode), but one could forgive that. . . but he always came through with an blend of clever dialog, great dramatic music, inspired silliness and a touch of terror that gave the first four seasons their pleasant zing.

Even at low ebbs, his lead and sidekick gave you a reason to tune in. (That episode focused on Shakespeare, for example . . . Freema's curves in that narrow bed with Tennant). And 'Gridlock,' where the Doctor's dialog wanders off into one of those elegant Pink Floydish meditations on mortality, the one concerning the silver leaves on the plant Gallimauffrey (forgive the spelling, please)!

Give me the 'Christmas Invasion' and the line, "My handy spare hand." Sigh. The Atraxi have no reason to run from this doctor! [RH] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Meanwhile in the Tardis: Newly filmed scenes written by Steven Moffat, exclusive to DVD and Blu-ray, telling what happens between the episodes
Doctor Who Confidential: An inside look at each episode
Monster Files: Get under the skin and inside the minds of the new Doctor's most challenging opponents
In-vision commentaries
Outtakes
Video Diaries
Teasers and Trailers

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