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Monday, November 22, 2010


Doctor Who - Series 5
Music by Murray Gold
Silva Screen Records SILCD 1345
Disc 1 - 28 Tracks 67:25 mins
Disc 2 - 35 Tracks 64:49 mins

Following hard on the heels of UK No.1 Soundtrack Album Doctor Who - Series 4 - The Special comes Doctor Who - Series 5, another splendid double-disc set of music from the recent episodes, with Matt Smith debuting as the last of the Time Lords.
With the exception of The Specials, previous Doctor Who series releases have been limited to a one-disc presentation, which might make for a tighter and more consistently enjoyable listening experience, but there were always notable omissions and I'm sure, like me, you would rather have as much music as possible, and be able to pick and choose your favourites, rather than miss out on something. I therefore applaud this change in direction and hope it continues for the next eagerly anticipated series.
Disc One opens with Gold's latest take on the famous Ron Grainer Doctor Who theme, but I think this is really a bridge too far and maybe he should take a step or two back. This one is not as attractive as other versions.
There follow 10 tracks from the series opener The Eleventh Hour, including the blockbusting opening "Down to Earth;" the child-like innocence of the young Amy theme, first heard in "Little Amy;" the comic antics of "Fish Custard;" the urgency of "The Sun's Gone Wibbly;" the increasing determination of "Zero;" the new rhythmic Matt Smith-Doctor theme composed for the series, introduced in "I Am The Doctor;" and the "The Mad Man With a Box," with its strange and unattractive vocal.
Another new theme, that for the grown-up Amy, which disappointingly features a similar vocal performance to "The Mad Man With a Box," is introduced in episode 2, The Beast Below, from which we have three tracks, and from which we have some frightening choral sounds in the episode's title track, and a beautiful choral conclusion in "A Lonely Decision."
The Daleks returned in "Victory of the Daleks," and again we are afforded three tracks, with plenty of diabolical menace and of course great swashbuckling, heroic action in the memorable "Battle in the Sky," where the Spitfires take on the Dalek ship. Incidentally, for those of you, like me, who found the new Dalek designs laughable, I hear they have thankfully been ditched in favour of a return to the old design.
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, the two-parter that saw the return of the terrifying statue-like Angels is only afforded two tracks here, but there's some powerful, propulsive stuff on display in "River's Plan," whilst "The Time of Angels" has some pretty frightening electronics added to the mix.
Vampires are of course all the rage at the moment, and even Doctor Who had its vampires of sort in The Vampires of Venice, five tracks from which are featured here. Gold does some nice Mediterranean-styled scene setting, whilst also nodding towards the Hammer-style of dramatic scoring, and includes an elegant theme for "Signora Rosanna Calvieri." There's also a percussive action cue "Cab for Amy Pond," with the title track starting off music box style, before taking on large choral proportions.
The two tracks from Amy's Choice includes "Wedded Bliss," a quirky theme with ticking clock accompaniment, and dark menace of "This is the Dream," whilst the final adventure on the disc, the two-parter The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood again features two tracks, the initially quaint, then cold and menacing "Rio de Cwmtaff" and the "The Silurians," which starts out darkly on bassoon, before Herrmann-like horns signal a furious ending.
Disc Two commences with five tracks from, for me, the best episode of the series, "Vincent and the Doctor," which sees the time-travelling duo team up with Vincent Van Gogh to combat a monster that only the painter can see. It's a sympathetic look at the great painter's troubled psyche and the music reflects this, though "Vincent" actually paints a semi-comedic picture.
Seven tracks from The Lodger follow, starting with the almost '60s-styled driving opening to "Adrift in the TARDIS." "Doctor Gastronomy" offers a largely breezy introduction to the whimsical capers of "You Must Like it Here," whilst the Doctor gets down to serious business in the propulsive "A Useful Striker" and there's more action and drama in "Kiss the Girl," with brief pauses for a heavenly choral passage and some romantic strings.
The bulk of this disc is given over to the two-part series closer The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, an entertaining, but unlikely adventure, with more plot holes than a moth-eaten jacket, in which the Doctor's enemies band together to imprison him. The 22 tracks presented take one through the whole range of emotions and include plenty of drama, as you can imagine, with menacing and heroic action, as well as some pretty awe-inspiring stuff for "The Pandorica," which is to be the Doctor's prison, and inspirational heroics in "Words Win Wars." But there is also some tender, but short-lived romance for the reunion of "Amy and Rory," some great orchestral variations on Amy's theme for "The Life and Death of Amy Pond," and touching, quiet devotion from "The Patient Centurion" along the way. "A River of Tears" presents some interesting electronic manipulation of the character's theme, which subsequently develops a feeling of genuine sadness in "The Sad Man With a Box," before the Doctor's rhythmic theme takes over. Of course, the quirkiness of Smith's Doctor is also explored here and there, with farcical moments among all the drama, before proceedings come to a happy conclusion in "The Big Day." But the story is far from over, and our intrepid trio (Rory is now firmly in tow) prepare for adventures anew, with the Doctor's theme returning in all its rhythmic glory to close "I Remember You" and continue to the conclusion of the album's final track "Onwards!"
As always, a colourful booklet, with stills from the show and Murray Gold's summation of the music presented accompanies the disc, which can be sampled at, where you can of course also order your copy. Roll on Series 6!


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