I’ll admit I was excited about season 5. I’d grown weary of both Tennant and RTD, and I was actually intrigued by having someone who I’d never heard of, much less seen before, being in the title role. Conversely, I’d been a big fan of Moffat’s episodes to date. While it all had every chance of going horribly wrong, I didn’t think either Moffat or the BBC would be taking too much of a gamble on the show at this point.
Going in I’ll also say that I wasn’t overly excited about the new logo nor about Smith’s costume, so it’s not as if I’d completely left my cynicism at the door.
As my scores show, I rated this season pretty highly; only one episode going as low as a 2, but also only a couple of 5s. Definitely a few less than inspiring episodes, but also a few really interesting ones (Amy’s Choice and The Lodger, in particular, trying to find new ways of telling Who stories).
And of course Moffat does his best to top every previous season finale by destroying the entire universe. In truth I found leaving the Silence thread hanging at the end of the season was more irritating than anything else, but the rest of it hung together well enough and just – only just – avoided getting lost in its own complexity.
- The Eleventh Hour: probably one of my favourite episodes ever, I never get tired of watching this. We get an effective reboot of the show (an episode that could work just as well as the first ever episode of new-Who) that in no way ignores what has come before. Smith absolutely owns the role. Sure, Moffat is riffing on The Girl In The Fireplace, but
- The Beast Below: decent character piece that further establishes Amy and reiterates why the Doctor should always travel with a companion by his side.
- Victory of the Daleks: hmm, love the duplicitous Ironside daleks, but the episode quickly pisses all over its welcome when you realise that the whole thing is nothing more than a setup for some new dalek toys.
- The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone: always interesting rewatching this in the knowledge that it was the first episode Matt Smith filmed (see how understated he is compared to Eleventh Hour). Pitching him opposite River Song (great return for the character by the way) and playing off the Doctor’s reluctance to deal with her is a fine way of masking any first night nerves on Smith’s part. Moffat also does a pretty good job of expanding the angels’ mythology. I also hated, hated, hated Amy coming onto the Doctor at the end. Fine if she was single, but it doesn’t do any favours to a character who’s been one night away from her wedding day for the last four episodes.
- The Vampires of Venice: good enough
- Amy’s Choice: any episode where nothing’s exactly what it seems is always a winner with me.
- The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood: pretty good first episode, though it’s a bit futile spending a whole episode ramping up the tension when we already know exactly what’s underneath the ground. Second episode did absolutely nothing new with the scenario; I’m not even really sure why they bothered telling this story (again).
- Vincent and the Doctor: you probably don’t need me to tell you how lovely this episode is
- The Lodger: ignore the slightly pants storyline, which starts off pretty sinister and then descends into pants, and just enjoy the chance to watch the Doctor make a great, big hash of pretending to be a normal person
- The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang: watched this one again recently and was really impressed. Enjoyed it at the time (especially being blindsided by the twist at the start of The Big Bang) but it holds up even better when removed from the baggage of the rest of the season.
- A Christmas Carol: another one that I really enjoyed at the time, but haven’t quite convinced myself to watch again. Again, good to see a story that really plays with the possibilities of time travel.
|The Eleventh Hour||5|
|The Beast Below||3|
|Victory of the Daleks||3|
|The Time of Angels (1)||4|
|Flesh and Stone (2)||4|
|The Vampires of Venice||3|
|The Hungry Earth (1)||3|
|Cold Blood (2)||2|
|Vincent and the Doctor||5|
|The Pandorica Opens (1)||4|
|The Big Bang (2)||4|
|A Christmas Carol||4|