A Conversational Journey through New Who – Season Five Report Card

We would like to thank everyone who nominated our “New Who in Conversation” series for the William Atheling Jr Award again this year – it’s a great honour to be on the ballot! Voting for the annual Ditmar Awards (which the Atheling is included in) is open to all members of  Continuum X (2014 Natcon – Melbourne) and Conflux 9 (2013 Natcon – Canberra), and can be done online.

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

See Tehani’s S5 Report Card and Tansy’s S5 Report Card by following the links! (See our Season One Report Cards here, our Season Two Report Cards here, our Season Three Report Cards here, and our Season Four Report Cards here.


*The Doctor: Matt Smith

I am not ashamed to admit it, I was wrong about Matt Smith as the Doctor. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Perhaps it was the fact that I really didn’t feel ready for an actor younger than me playing the Doctor, or maybe it was the glimpses I had caught of him during my long absence from Doctor Who had left me cold. But, he was brilliant! He managed to capture the many facets of the Doctor I remembered. One one hand there was that air of childlike innocence, the insatiable curiosity and the sense of the ridiculous. On the other, a true sense of the alien standing apart from everyone else, and the ability to summon a true sense of menace and power.

Most of all, this is the season where I felt the Doctor truly rediscovered his moral centre, and starting make the right decisions more often.

From the first time he mixed fish fingers and custard I knew that I was going to enjoy Eleven, and I was never disappointed. Smith took about ten seconds to make this role truly his own, and ran with it from strength to strength.

The Companions:

MV5BMTUwMzk2NjYxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDg0MDU1NA@@._V1._SX640_SY360_Amy Pond: Karen Gillan

Young Amelia Pond was wonderful, but Amy Pond was even better! Gillan did an incredible job of portraying one the most three dimensional companions of New Who. Scottish and red haired and wild tempered, yet deeply sensitive and compassionate, Pond really does grow as the season progresses. She is fundamentally flawed (with good reason!), but aren’t we all? The way she stumbles and make mistakes is something we can identify with and, above all, she just seems like she would be so fun to hang out with! If I had to sum her up in one word it would be “real”.

Gillan has a real talent for making us feel the same emotions as Amy is, from wide eyed wonder to wrenching sadness. Amazing.

MV5BMjIzNjI4MzI0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk0MDU1NA@@._V1._SX640_SY360_Rory Williams: Arthur Darvill

Hands down my favourite companion since Harry Sullivan, and for many of the same reasons. The “Nice Guy” is a trope that gets done to death in pop culture, but Rory showed that nice doesn’t mean weak, devotion doesn’t mean subservience, and selflessness doesn’t mean losing your sense of self. I found Rory and Amy’s relationship one of *the* great love stories of speculative fiction. In particular, the revelation of Rory’s long vigil was truly moving and his refusal to give up  in the face of being forgotten a mark of his true strength

Of course, it was certainly not always plain sailing, and there were so many times I would think “Poor Rory!”, but I thought that the up and downs of their relationship had a genuineness often lacking in on screen romances. I also loved the inversion of some of the traditional dynamics we normally see, and how Rory took on what many might call “feminine” roles without ever acting like it made him less of a man or that it somehow diminished him. And, Rory was perfect for Amy, keeping her grounded when it was needed, but never trying to clip her wings and stop her from flying high. Because, her  free spirit was what he loved about her, and why would he try and change that?

Darvill is wonderful actor, too, combining a real gift for comedy with the ability to switch on true emotion when needed. The perfect straight man when needed, but never boring.

Recurring Characters:

doctor-who-time-of-angelsRiver Song: Alex Kingston

Inter Galactic Secret Agent River is awesome! I am still not sold on the whole Doctor getting married thing, but if it has to be anyone I can live with it being her.

What is your favourite episode of this season?

The LodgerThat’s a tough one! The strength of this season was that there were so many to choose from. I enjoyed the Angel duology a great deal, as well as Victory of the Daleks, and the Christmas Special (if it counts) was perhaps the best of its type. But, if poked with a sharp stick until I named one, I would have to go with The Lodger. The episode was so much fun, but it had real heart, and a lot of tension! I was genuinely scared for some of the characters and desperately wishing for a happy ending.

Least favourite episode?

DissectionI didn’t think there were any “terrible” episodes as such, but the weakest link was definitely Cold Blood. Aside from some deeply problematic elements, it missed a real chance to link back to Classic Who. The redesign of the Silurians seemed unnecessary to me, and some of the parallels to the first Silurian story were woefully under utilised. A missed opportunity.

Favourite guest performance?

CordernAnother tough one. Iain Glen brought dignity and gravitas to Father Octavian, Ian McNeice was a wonderful cigar chomping Churchill, but I thought James Corden shone as Craig Owens. He more than held his own against Matt Smith (no easy feat!), and made us want him to find his happy ending.

Describe this season in one word!


Grade: A

Previous Episodes
“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time
The Eleventh Hour. S0501
The Beast Below/Victory of the Daleks,S050203
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone,S05E0405
The Vampires of Venice/Amy’s Choice,S050607
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood,S050809
Vincent and the Doctor/The Lodger,S05E10/11
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,S05E12/13
2010 Christmas Special – A Christmas Carol

5 thoughts on “A Conversational Journey through New Who – Season Five Report Card

  1. Tansy Rayner Roberts

    I had never heard of James Cordern when this first screened, but my enjoyment of his portrayal of Craig led me to his other work – and many new favourites. In particular I adored Gavin and Stacey, a clever culture-clash sitcom, and more recently the crime noir parody sitcom The Wrong Mans. Both of which he co-wrote as well as appearing in!

    I would genuinely love to see James and his Gavin and Stacey co-writer Ruth Jones write for Doctor Who. After all, Amy’s Choice was brought to us from a writer best known for sitcoms full of dirty jokes, and that worked out fine!

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