Doctor Who Season 32 (Matt Smith, 2011)

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 32
(aka "Series 6", 2011) by Murray Gold

More info & buying options (2-disc album)

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentaries for five of the fourteen individual episodes, featuring head writer Steven Moffat, actors Arthur Darvill (Rory),
    Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), and Frances Barber (Madame Kovarian), directors Julian Simpson and Jeremy Webb,
    writer Neil Gaiman, and others.... (Unlike most 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. 12 min. each)
  • Christmas Confidential featurette (56 min.)
  • 4 "Monster Files" featurettes (approx. 11 min. each)
  • 6 Additional TARDIS sketch episodes (21 min. total), with their own Confidential "making of" featurette (15 min.)
  • Trailers / Prequel Scenes

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 2011 season, begin with "The Impossible Astronaut" (story no. 219).)

Well, this is a decent season for the modern show, breaking new ground in some areas while still getting stuck in some of the same modern ruts. The first half is definitely exciting and showcasing the best of the new ideas, making me think we had suddenly got the best year since season 28. The second half slips behind though, dragging the season down closer to average once more.

Several things stand out though. Even when the stories are good, we get some of the worst episode titles ever seen for Doctor Who. The thinking behind the stinkers seems to be all about preserving secrets, while questions of relevance and good taste should have weighed in more. In fact, some of these are so awful, I refuse to repeat them on this site. So beware and look for some altered episode titles here. Don't worry, it should be obvious which listings have altered titles and which episodes those titles refer to anyway.

No doubt regular readers will have noted my rants on how predictable the stories had become, in the sense that you could just look at where they fell within the season and easily predict what would happen and what the quality of the story would be. Well, by the time the first episode of this season was over, I knew the mould had been broken but good. There should be more two-parters in modern Who, 'cause that's when the characters get room to breathe and stretch, and good stuff can really happen and develop. Right on.

Sadly, they reverted to one of the older problems this year: the stupid spoiler ads for the next episode were once more idiotically embedded into the end credits again. ARRGGHH!! Last season was so smart in finally leaving them off. Really, no one who buys the DVD's needs those there. Chop them off in the edit, and bury them on the last disc, I'm begging you.

Christmas Extras

This box set begins with the one-hour 2010 holiday episode "A Christmas Carol", which you can read more about from the link to our individual Buyers' Guide Review. It is also sold separately, and there remains an advantage to buying it separately for music fans, as you will get a 57 minute feature covering the "Doctor Who at the Proms" 2010 concert. This feature was NOT included in the season 32 (series 6) box set, which is a bit bizarre. Still, the box set is a better package altogether, not least because as usual the season is better than the Christmas Special; no surprise there.

Separate Halves

I had no idea that half of the season had been delayed until autumn for first broadcast until I saw the end credits of the last story of the first half, since I prefer waiting for the full season DVD box set to come out each November rather than trying to figure out what bizarre times of the year some Canadian station will broadcast it, just to get chopped up episodes full of ads. Interesting. If half-seasons do work better for ratings, perhaps it says something sad about either audience attention spans, or the predictability of television episodes in general.

At any rate, let's hope this split wasn't the only reason that the first half of the season decided to break the season template so successfully. In fact, it feels like Steven Moffat has written a modern Star Trek style of half-season cliffhanger / next half-season opener to bridge the two halves of the season - a kind of disguised two-parter. In fact it probably parallels Deep Space Nine most closely, where such things were often disguised by different titles and separate locations. Then again, it could be just dismissed as two separate installments of the larger River Song saga that just happen to have no other episodes in between. Though I had considered calling this a two-parter, not least because it would provide more wiggle room to avoid the horrid on-screen titles, I think it is better to acknowledge that these are two very different stories altogether. And I like them both.

When all is said and done, the mini-opener for the second half is probably the best episode of the second half of the season. I just wish it had a good enough title that I could proudly hold it up and point to it without sounding like a racist moron to anyone that hasn't actually seen it.

Ultimately, I am disappointed that we got so many little formula episodes in the second half of the season. For my money, we should probably have not wasted any time on the three least effective episodes here. Strike them out of the schedule. Expand one of the better episodes to a proper two-parter, and get another brand new two parter from whoever you want. Double-bank issues can be taken care of similarly to the way Sarah Sutton was only required for the first half of the studio sessions for "Earthshock" (story no. 122). And with four two-parters in the season as a whole, the exercise of changing the template would have been good.

In the end, we ended up with fewer two-parters than before. I think this season can just about get away with it though, since every River Song episode is working as another chapter of a longer saga, and some of the between-story cliffhangers have been such plot-twisting shockers.

Time, Memory, and the Mysteries of Steven Moffat

So.... we come to the end of another Steven Moffat season... and we still don't have a clue to the logic behind some of last year's key events which are the lynchpin of all the temporal mechanics and ultimate credibility for last year's stories. This is not a good thing to use to create long-term suspenseful questions. This year's stories have also handled time quite badly, and we still don't have enough answers to be able to say that we've been watching science fiction instead of fairy tale fantasy.

Perhaps the additional scenes and Moffat's own interviews say it best though, as I suspected last year. Moffat's real concern is with untrustworthy memories, which is cool, and worthy of exploration, and I'm right there for it. Blaming alternate memories on the idea of time re-writing isn't going to cut it though - best to reveal that as a red herring one day.

I'll give you the theory that I'd believe. All versions of time occur, and a person's doubles in each separate branch of time live out their experiences. Normally, they each only remember the one version that they've experienced. Their common soul remembers ALL of the different possible outcomes as having happened. Presently, not too many of us humans know how to communicate with our souls on purpose, but if memories from your double's life bled through the common interface of the soul, you would start to "remember" multiple versions of events, and multiple versions of your lives. Maybe some of that is going on here. I'll easily buy that, especially if a person gets to see something of each different parallel/branching universe, as Amy often does. I just think it's a totally unnecessary hang-up to think that one version ceases to exist if you witness or create or move into one of the other versions. Wiser minds know they all continue to co-exist, and you can avoid trick questions and make better choices when you know it.

Oh well. I think I like this year's finale better than last year's, and I like this season better than last, which wasn't too shabby to begin with. We can improve for next year, but on the whole things are getting better. More two-parters and saga extending entries please. Drop the backyard-alien-of-the-week formula padding. More alien planets with fleshed out cultures please. Drop the spoiler ads. And give us relevant, tasteful titles. Thank you! See you next time!

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

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

(Limited Edition)

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

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

(Limited Edition)

Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


Read the Buyers' Guide Review for
the next DVD / Blu-ray box set: "Season 33" (aka Series 7, 2012-2013)

Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who Matt Smith Era Episode Guide Catalogue