Doctor Who Series 6 Review
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
This week we move from the confusion of Series 5 to the mess of Series 6. The second year of the Eleventh Doctor was an interesting, controversial and inconsistent effort, one that has divided fans since its release in 2011. It might be the most ambitious and most unique of all the modern series' of Doctor Who, but for that it is also the most confusing and troublesome. It is a year that is full of grand ideas, some great performances and memorable moments, but it just never quite captures the consistency across the stories to make it a successful overall series compared to some of its predecessors.
More than any other series, Series 6 was dominated by specific story arcs, including The Silence, the death of the Doctor, and the life of River Song. As a result, across the 13 episodes it became a sizeable undertaking to keep those threads together and alive in order to bring them to a satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately, ‘The Wedding of River Song’ didn’t exactly bring about that satisfying conclusion to those storylines, and it was at times a jumble of a journey to get there at all.
Saying that, while perhaps not giving us the perfect pay off, Series 6 had some very enjoyable individual episodes, some funny moments and plenty of callbacks and tie-ins, so it was still fun even if it was a bit messy.
Regarding any changes and developments from Series 5, this is probably the most settled the show has been when moving from one year to another. There was no change in either the Doctor (Matt Smith), companion (Karen Gillan) or head writer (Steven Moffat) for the first time in NuWho. Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) becoming an official companion was the biggest development, but that didn’t really come as too big of a surprise to anybody.
The biggest change this year was scheduling. Rather than playing out each episode on Saturday evenings over 13 consecutive weeks, there was a mid-season break for the first time. So following ‘A Good Man goes to War’ which aired on June 4th, there was a gap until August 27th when ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ was first broadcast, a misleading title if ever there was one. A break like this would be tried in Series 7 as well in a far more confusing manner.
Before we get into the episodes, for those of you reading these reviews for the first time, they are being written in light of our upcoming Doctor Who tour of Cardiff filming locations. The Welsh capital has served as the backdrop to most of the new stories filmed this century, be it in studios or around the city’s streets and buildings, and a tour of those locations will become a reality later this year, once tours are possible again. Cardiff is as prominent in Series 6 as ever , especially in, for example, ‘A Christmas Carol’ (The Exchange), ‘Rebel Flesh’ (Cardiff Castle), and ‘Closing Time’ (Howells department store). In the meantime, consider these reviews a light introduction into what may or may not feature on those tours in the future, and a fun look back on the individual series’ as well to get us through lockdown.
With the set up and changes all noted, it’s time to get into the respective stories, so let’s try and make some sense of it all, starting with the 2010 Christmas Special...
‘A Christmas Carol’ was really just a Doctor Who take on the Charles Dickens classic but it was really enjoyable and the concept of past, present and future unsurprisingly works nicely in the Whoniverse. This might just have been the best Christmas episode of the five there’s been up until this point, and it brought memorable appearances from Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins, even if it did break the rules of time travel a bit with the younger and older scrooge characters hugging.
Series 6 properly kicks-off with ‘The Impossible Astronaut & ’Day of the Moon’, which is the first two-part season-opener there has been so far. It gets off to a great start with the Doctor getting killed, for real, in the middle of the American desert, and the dilemma over whether to