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Doctor Who Series 5 soundtrack review


The controversial Murray Gold seems to have produced a winner...

[Contains spoilers]

Doctor Who season 5 soundtrack

With Steven Moffat taking the reigns of the longest running sci-fi program ever, it only seemed fitting that everything would get a complete overhaul. New Doctor, new TARDIS, new companions, new friends and threats, and of course, new music. Enter our old friend Murray Gold, who changes things up for Matt Smith’s tenure in the classic role. Right from the start, we he lets us know this isn’t the same Doctor Who we’ve been watching for the last five years. The theme song was the first thing to be revamped, given, as Gold puts it, a 'reckless' sound. While Tennant was the most human Doctor since Peter Davison wore a cricketer’s uniform, Smith’s Doctor was one of the most alien. He had the cunning of Troughton, the impatience of Colin Baker, the mystery of McCoy, and a bow tie. And the new score had to reflect that he wasn’t the same man. Not an easy task, I dare say.

As one would expect with a season of Doctor Who, there are a lot of different places, people, and emotions involved, and for the most part, Gold does his best to give us a truly symphonic score, matching every scene in tone. Just in the first episode alone – 'The Eleventh Hour' – there are many varying motifs. There are light moments like the track 'Fish Custard', to the determined 'I am The Doctor', which follows The Doctor while he gets a new wardrobe and rushes off to face the Atraxi.

'Little Amy' almost sounds like a lullaby, which is probably fitting, since it’s a night scene, and it almost gives that fairytale feel that Moffat was trying to convey with this season. 'The Mad Man with a Box' sounds like something from Harry Potter, starting out light but heading straight into unknown danger. 'Amy in the TARDIS' relays the feeling of awe that one must feel the first time they step inside the wondrous time machine. 'Amy’s Theme' comes from the episode 'The Beast Below', with simple piano, strings and a beautiful vocal line, but towards the end giving us a darker tone. It gives us the image of a young woman who is stepping out from her comfort zone for the first time, at first awestruck, but soon wondering what she’s gotten herself into.

The first two themes from 'Victory of the Daleks' are dark, low strings and brass, conveying the danger posed by the deadliest of The Doctor’s foes. But the episode ends with 'Battle in the Sky', with all of the fanfare one would expect from a good old-fashioned dogfight. 'River’s Path' from the two-part story 'The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone' has a decidedly Middle Eastern flair to it, working into a very percussion-driven piece. 'The Time of Angels' is the sort of fare you would expect to hear in a horror movie, which is pretty in tone with the story being told. The pieces from 'The Vampires of Venice' have a bit of an Italian Renaissance feel, setting the mood for the story. Creepy in spots, but overall, quite lovely.

'Wedded Bliss' is from 'Amy’s Choice', which was one hell of a different take on a Doctor Who episode. It has a carefree tone to it, complementing the opening scene of a very pregnant Amy living a quiet village life with country doctor husband Rory. 'This is the Dream', though, has a very Twilight Zone feel to it, as the three heroes are forced to decide which state is reality: One where Amy and Rory live a quiet life or one where they face certain death on the TARDIS with The Doctor.

It’s the last three episodes where we see many different themes thrown at us. 'Vincent', in particular, ranges from happiness to sorrow, which seems only fitting as the man of the hour is Vincent van Gogh. The episode closes with 'With Love, Vincent', which shows the disappointment and grief that Amy feels for not saving Vincent, but then finishes with a triumphant, uplifting motif, when Amy realizes that she did make a difference in Vincent’s life, no matter how small it may seem. 'The Lodger' has some playful moments as we see The Doctor trying to live domestically in a flat with a normal everyman. There is also the ever present danger presented by the upstairs apartment, and some romantic moments as The Doctor’s flatmate Craig comes to terms with how he feels about his best friend Sophie.

The most music from this soundtrack comes from the two-part finale 'The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang'. It’s a sweeping epic done in a different vein than previous finales. While we do get a bit of the 'everybody and their uncle' showing up in the first part, it’s really a MacGuffin. The real story is about our four heroes: The Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River. Amy and Rory get a joyful reunion, only to have it torn apart when it is revealed Rory is an Auton, and ends up reluctantly killing Amy. Or does he?

The first episode is mostly action, danger and suspense, with the exception of 'Amy and Rory'. The second episode brings us more somber moments, like 'Amy’s Starless Life', which touches on 'Amy’s Theme', 'A River of Tears', 'The Sad Man with a Box', and 'You and Me, Amy'. It’s here where The Doctor is removed completely from the universe, with no trace left of him. But somehow, there’s a memory left with young Amy Pond, and it isn’t until her wedding day that she remembers just what was forgotten. Suddenly, the somber turns to triumph, as The Doctor, Amy and Rory climb aboard the TARDIS again for 'Onward!', and again we’re off.

Murray Gold may have something against silent tension or quiet moody moments, but he does write every note with a purpose. Where some musical moments in the past four seasons may have felt out of place, here they work every time, accentuating the scenes that they are written for. The difference in writing for the new Doctor is vast, but needed to tell the ongoing story of a man who is the same, yet different. The soundtrack is the second double disc that SilvaScreen has put out for Doctor Who, and I hope they continue with that trend, because we get every note, every soundscape, every beautiful and frightening and exciting moment that makes Doctor Who worth watching. I would have to recommend this to any Who fan.

5 stars

Doctor Who Series 5: The Official TV Soundtrack will be available in the US on February 8, 2011

See also:

Doctor Who Series 4: The Specials Soundtrack Review

Top 10 Best Doctor Who Series 5 Moments

Doctor Who: series five trailer

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