Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Music composed by Murray Gold
Performed by The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Conducted by Ben Foster
Distributed by Sliva Screen
Horror and sci-fi go hand-in-hand. Monsters, aliens, technology gone horribly awry – they’re all elements of the weird and strange. Many horror fans are also rabid fans of Doctor Who, and for good reason. With weeping angels, vampires, soul-sucking monsters and mechanoid zombies, the line between the genres is blurry at best. With series six (the BBC refers to them as “series,” not “seasons”) close at hand, Silva Screen has just released the soundtrack to Doctor Who: Series Five, and it is not only a love letter to every nerdy one of us, but it’s also a textbook on how the scoring of a television series, or movie for that matter, should be done.
Composer Murray Gold accomplishes what many composers can’t in that he not only gives every episode a distinct flavor but also manages to tie the music to a central theme that makes it distinctly Doctor Who. From the intense action scenes, horrifically frightening scenes, and downright goofy scenes, Gold creates a rich soundscape for all the series’ ten episodes. And with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales playing his music under the watchful eye of Ben Foster, it all comes together with emotion and passion.
Contained on this collection’s two CDs are sixty-three tracks, separated by episode. Granted, many of the tracks are about a minute long, but they’re meant to be played back-to-back, attached to each other, to show the continuing emotional arc of the story. However, there are quite a few tracks that stand on their own as bits of musical brilliance. From disc one, “Down to Earth” perfectly captures the emotions as the Doctor, in a flaming TARDIS, plummets from the sky, followed by the manic comedy of “Fish Custard.” Of course the real measuring stick of any piece of cinematic music is the emotions that the listeners feel. To that end, “I Am the Doctor” is the sort of piece that simply makes people want to go out and do something great. It also provides the spine around which the rest of the series’ music branches. Perhaps the most fright-inducing pieces from the first disc are “The Time of Angels” and “This is the Dream,” both of which are from the more horror-related episodes “Flesh and Stone” and “Amy’s Choice.”
Disc two begins with frantic beauty from the episode “Vincent and the Doctor,” in which the Doctor travels back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh. It’s followed by quirky riffs from “The Lodger,” the best piece of which has to be “Doctor Gastronomy,” for no other reason than its comedic brilliance. The final twenty-two tracks on the second disc all come from the season finale, the two-part “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang.” It was a good choice to put all the music from these episodes in, as, while apart they are brilliant, together they form a rich tapestry that carries the listener along for the ride.
One does not need to be a fan of Doctor Who to enjoy the music on this soundtrack. It no doubt helps but isn’t necessary. What this set shows is that creating a binding line of music through a series doesn’t mean simply playing the same tired piece of music over and over again, but it requires real thought and talent to put together something that brings every episode its own life and personality. Speaking of which, there is also the first track in the set, “Doctor Who XI,” which is a brash, faster and powerful remake of the iconic theme. There simply isn’t enough good to say about this collection.
THE ELEVENTH HOUR
THE BEAST BELOW
VICTORY OF THE DALEKS
THE TIME OF ANGELS / FLESH AND STONE
THE VAMPIRES OF VENICE
THE HUNGRY EARTH / COLD BLOOD
VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR
THE PANDORICA OPENS / THE BIG BANG
5 out of 5
Discuss Doctor Who: Series 5 Soundtrack in the space below!