Keen observers may have noticed that I wasn’t as thrilled with the third season of the new Doctor Who as I was with the first two. When the tracklist for the eagerly-anticipated Doctor Who Series 3 CD was revealed, I’ll admit that I was a little underwhelmed there too: half of it seemed to come from the two-parter Human Nature / The Family Of Blood, and those just weren’t my favorite episodes. Apparently I’d forgotten that they sported some of the season’s most distinctive music by a long way.
And when I say “distinctive,” it brings me neatly around to something that did bug me about the third season’s music – it seemed to repeat, a lot. Whether intentionally or otherwise, the third season’s music took on the feeling of library music drawing from a limited number of pieces, much like the original Star Trek, which tracked many of its 80 episodes from only 20 or so original scores. But compress that effect into 13 episodes of a single season, and the effect becomes more apparent even to the casual viewer/listener. “All The Strange, Strange Creatures (The Trailer Music)” is a tune that cropped up incessantly throughout the season, almost like the Amok Time fight music from Star Trek. It’s a fine tune, but man, did we hear it over and over again. Let me point out that it sounds great on CD, and its habit of turning up every other episode may have been an editorial decision on the producers’ part, not the composer’s.
There are quite a few episodes that broke that mold, and they’re the ones that are featured most prominently here: The Shakespeare Code, Evolution Of The Daleks (the best excerpt from which is the borderline-risque Broadway-by-way-of-burlesque song “My Angel Put The Devil In Me”), Human Nature / The Family Of Blood, Blink, and the closing trilogy of episodes, Utopia / The Sound Of Drums / Last Of The Time Lords. The Runaway Bride is represented by three cues, one of which may well be the new Who’s best chase scene ever, and there’s a “preview” number from this year’s Christmas special, a seasonal (but original) tune called “The Stowaway”.
“The Master Vainglorious” is the cue that represented Professor Yana’s regeneration into the Master as well as the arrival of the Toclafane, while “YANA (Excerpt)” accompanied the launch of the rocket to Utopia and Yana’s hijacking of the TARDIS. These two tracks, along with “The Futurekind”, which is a much heavier take on the same basic melody as “All The Strange, Strange Creatures”, are great stuff, as is the wild “The Runaway Bride” cue, which was heard during Donna’s freeway-rescue-by-TARDIS in the episode of the same name.
What I had forgotten was how nice the music from Blink was – and that was an episode I actually liked and rewatched a lot. “Blink (Suite)” is unique and atmospheric, almost like a modern take on ’70s TV detective show music. Gridlock is represented by “Gridlocked Cassinis”, which has some unique sounds (even a little cheesy in places, but it works), and “Boe”, which heralded that character’s demise. It’s the same basic tune as “The Face Of Boe” from the first new series soundtrack, but takes on a more elegiac tone before turning into a gentle, pleasant variation on the same melody. The choral version of “Abide With Me” is also heard here, from the end of Gridlock, but it’s pretty enough to silence even that persistent voice that’s still wondering if we’re ever going to get the music from School Reunion on CD.
The Human Nature music is pleasant, reflecting on the shattering of simpler times by leaning on simple, sparse music played by a smaller ensemble than you’re used to from the show’s big action setpieces. In retrospect, and away from the context of the episode and my opinion thereof, it’s actually quite nice music, and it’s easy to see why it became the centerpiece of the whole album.
Doctor Who: Series 3 may well be an example of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture effect – i.e. the music was better than what it accompanied – and it’s a great listen.
- All The Strange Strange Creatures (The Trailer Music) (4:07)
- Martha’s Theme (3:42)
- Drowning Dry (1:54)
- The Carrionites Swarm (3:23)
- Gridlocked Cassinis (1:17)
- Boe (3:43)
- Evolution Of The Daleks (1:53)
- My Angel Put The Devil In Me (3:08)
- Mr. Smith and Joan (2:05)
- Only Martha Knows (2:31)
- Smith’s Choice (1:42)
- Just Scarecrows To War (1:30)
- Miss Joan Redfern (1:51)
- The Dream Of A Normal Death (1:55)
- The Doctor Forever (4:18)
- Blink (Suite) (2:55)
- The Runaway Bride (4:18)
- After The Chase (1:26)
- The Futurekind (1:44)
- YANA (Excerpt) (0:54)
- The Master Vainglorious (3:22)
- Martha’s Quest (3:19)
- This Is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home (3:17)
- Martha Triumphant (2:49)
- Donna’s Theme (3:14)
- The Stowaway (3:36)
- The Master Tape (1:55)
- Abide With Me (2:28)
Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 74:17