Doctor Who Season 31 (Matt Smith, 2010)

Get your copy of this DVD box set from the links below:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.
Region 2, PAL, U.K. (Limited Edition)

also available in Blu-ray high definition:
Blu-ray Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Blu-ray Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Blu-ray Region 2, PAL, U.K.
Blu-ray Region 2, PAL, U.K. (Limited Edition)

Check out this companion 2-disc Audio CD as well:

Doctor Who: Original Music from
Season 31 ("Series 5", 2010)
by Murray Gold

More info & buying options (2-disc album)

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Picture-in-picture commentaries for six of the thirteen individual episodes, featuring head writer Steven Moffat,
    fellow executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, actors Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) and Arthur Darvill (Rory),
    writers Mark Gatiss and Toby Whithouse, directors Ashley Way, Jonny Campbell, and Toby Haynes, and others.....
    (Unlike previous full season sets, we don't get an audio commentary for every episode this time,
    and each two-part adventure only has commentary on half of the story.)
  • 13 Doctor Who Confidential cut-down featurettes: (approx. 13 min. each) adding Matt Smith (The Doctor), Alex Kingston (River Song), and
    many other members of cast and crew....
  • 4 "Monster Files" featurettes (approx. 10 min. each)
  • 2 Additional "between episode" scenes (7 min. total)
  • Video Diary entries by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill.
  • Outtakes & Bloopers (7 min.)
  • Trailers & Promos

Buyers' Guide Season Review

by Martin Izsak

(A series of more in-depth analyses, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the 2010 season, begin with "The Eleventh Hour" (story no. 208).)

Overall, compared with the most recent years of Doctor Who, this season was fairly good. As expected with Steven Moffat taking over as head writer, the stories tend to cater more to finding things to be afraid of than in previous years, which doesn't particularly impress me. But it does contain strong, hit-and-miss emotional arcs and mysteries that continue to pull you through the episodes one by one right through to the last moment of the finale. And fans seem split on whether the journey has overall been glorious or disappointing.

I find that whenever there is a deviation from previous recent years it is largely an improvement. Most of the traps they fell into this year are the same ones they've been falling into for some time now.

Matt Smith makes a great Doctor, and seems more successful in the role already than Doctors six through nine managed to be. He hasn't quite topped David Tennant, or the first five Doctors.... at least not yet. One senses there is more potential in him though, waiting to be unleashed when the right stories come along......

Three major disappointments stand out during this season, and even those like me who hate spoilers would probably be better off getting over this first one before cracking into the box. The first disappointment is the ridiculous lack of story ideas that can put the Doctor and friends on an alien planet and explore a new culture. Early on, Moffat takes us way out into space just to give us London and the British government all over again. After that, we come back to Earth to have another love-in with.... the British government yet again. The settings rarely get any better. Story after story starts off with a scenic, Earthly establishing shot. Come on, writers, ramp up your imaginations!

There are still lots of good stories here, most of which would impress more easily if the season's settings were better balanced. About half of these tales could have and should have been transposed onto other planets and other cultures (i.e. ones that aren't labeled as myopically as "New Britain").

If there is only one story this season that truly deserved to be on Earth, it is my season favourite, the two-parter occupying the always successful mid-to-late season slot. Writer Chris Chibnall deserved another go at Doctor Who, and delivers superbly once again. And here we get precisely the type of social complexity and cultural variety that one would want alien planets to deliver. Enough said for now; this story's a winner.

In fact, considering how successful each story in this "creatively free" two-part slot is each year, contrasted with the earlier two-part slot that always seems tied to setting up an overcomplicated finale and/or showcasing a big/returning monster army, would a season not work better with more two-part stories like this, with guest writers allowed to freely come up with their own premises, and less emphasis on building complications to try to top previous years? The 2005 season template, though successful, has become too predictable. Moffat's favourite criticism of 1970's Doctor Who is now applying to his own era in a whole new way.

A second disappointment is more of a "danger area" in terms of story ideas: that of rewinding time to rewrite it. Normally, this is ridiculous, if mere travel in time machines like the TARDIS is meant to instigate it, because everyday decision-making branching into parallel universes is a core part of what's going on, and most sci-fi writers failed to wrap their heads around it. But at least here, Moffat and co. use some other concepts to fuel their ideas, which earns them a bit of creative freedom. But even at best, this feels like an idea that science fiction has dwelled on too often and too clumsily for us to get excited about it yet again this year.

Our last major disappointment concerns the set-up of the regulars' interpersonal relationships - a lot of which actually works well. Karen Gillan and her character are compelling enough that she could function well in the arc that Russell T. Davies set-up for Rose, and I would actually get as emotionally invested as they had wanted the audience to be at that time. However, there is also Rory, who although played as successfully and entertainingly as can be hoped for by Arthur Darvill, isn't written to stand as a proper companion in his own right like Jamie McCrimmon or Harry Sullivan, and winds up plaguing the season like a fifth wheel instead. Although many good directions for relationship development are hinted at, the writers seem determined to make less interesting, still too domesticated decisions about where to go next at a few too many points. Yes, Rory is sympathetic and worth investing in, but this show is going to be watched by people who have already invested a great deal more in the Doctor, and with Matt Smith playing him far more interestingly than Christopher Eccleston managed, we won't invest in Rory at the Doctor's expense.

Then there are all the excellent improvements this year made. Thankfully, the irritating, redundant spoiler ads for subsequent episodes are no longer embedded into the end credits of the show. Superb move! Also, the cast members' names are large enough and scroll slowly enough that you can actually read them in real time. Not quite as easy to catch them all as in the classic years of the show, but almost as good. Nicely done!

The TARDIS gets a bit of a makeover, and it is largely an improvement, though still doesn't go as far as I would have liked. You'll have to tune in yourself and form your own opinion.

Best of all, this season provides an enjoyable ride, the television equivalent of a page-turner that you won't want to put down until you've reached the end.... and even then only reluctantly.

This season has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.

(Limited Edition)

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "A Christmas Carol"

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