Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Specials

Doctor Who: Series 4 - The SpecialsReleased purely by popular demand (a fan campaign that was, admittedly, egged on by composer Murray Gold), this 2-CD set of music from David Tennant’s final Doctor Who episodes is quite different from the collections of Gold’s music that have been released before. Previous Doctor Who CDs from the new series have featured short suites of music from given episodes and, in a few cases, complete cues from particularly high-profile scenes. Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Specials presents almost all of its material as discrete cues rather than edited highlights.

Since modern Doctor Who relies to a certain extent on a “library music” approach – certain pieces of music recorded for earlier episodes in a given season frequently recur throughout that season – some episodes are more heavily represented than others. In the case of the Series 4 – The Specials soundtrack, the episodes that drew the short straw – because they leaned heavily on existing music – are Planet Of The Dead and The Waters Of Mars. As these are generally regarded to be the weak points in the tenth Doctor’s finaladventures, this probably won’t meet with too many howls of protest.

Represented much more fully are The Next Doctor (the 2008 Christmas special) and both episodes of The End Of Time, a two-parter that wrapped up the tenth Doctor’s story. The Next Doctor actually has a rather Christmassy feel to it, and it reinterprets some of Gold’s previous Cybermen music from Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel. This is typical Murray Gold: a bit overblown, like a student of John Williams set loose in a candy shop, but a lot of fun.

Somewhat more interesting is the lengthy selection of music from The End Of Time, which has a much heavier, more doom-laden feel to it; whereas The Next Doctor‘s title was a red herring, The End Of Time makes good on its promise to end the tenth Doctor’s story and introduce the Time Lord’s eleventh incarnation. From the beginning, The End Of Time is painted in shades of epic, with an abundance of choral pieces and less jubilant music than a typical Murray Gold Doctor Who outing. Highlights include the scenes set on Gallifrey during the Time War, and a new suite of music expanding the “four knocks” motif from the Master’s previous appearance at the end of series three. Even casual listeners will probably zoom straight forward to “Vale Decem”, the choral piece that sees Tennant’s Doctor out of the Doctor Who mythos. (A prelude to this piece, “Vale”, opens and closes the whole collection.) The energetic, rock-oriented “The New Doctor” gives us our first glimpse of the eleventh Doctor in action – but for more of him, there’s a whole different soundtrack.

Even the music from The End Of Time isn’t all new – the disappearance of Gallifrey back into its rightful (and doomed) place in time isn’t included here, having been tracked with music from the fourth season episode Midnight (already available on that season’s soundtrack). Also, there are two iTunes-exclusive tracks – one from The End Of Time and one from The Next Doctor – which owners of the physical 2-CD set would have to buy the entire thing all over again, this time in digital form, to get. (As a general rule, this kind of exclusivity annoys the hell out of me: digital delivery has killed the brick-and-mortal music store already. Further incentives to abandon physical media are, quite simply, no longer necessary. Put the same material on both formats and let consumers make up their own minds, as those still buying CDs are most likely doing so for reasons that won’t be overridden by two extra tracks.)

It almost seems as though The Waters Of Mars gets shortchanged here, as its very scary, drippy-liquidy music comes and goes all too briefly; I would’ve traded some of The Next Doctor‘s music in for more Waters.

4 out of 4Overall, it’s a nice musical chronicle of David Tennant’s extended swan song as the Doctor, and should more than satisfy fans who are looking for any particularly memorable scene from his final episodes. The change from “brief suites covering much of the season” to “mostly unedited full cues straight off the master tapes” is a bit of a gear shift that’ll take some getting used to.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Vale (1:37)

    The Next Doctor

  2. A Victorian Christmas (1:34)
  3. Not the Doctor (3:19)
  4. A Bit of a Drag (1:23)
  5. In the Sea of Memory (0:44)
  6. Hidden in the Closet (1:51)
  7. The Wonder of Balloons (1:23)
  8. A Forceful Intelligence (1:12)
  9. The Greats of Past Time (5:04)
  10. The March of the Cybermen (4:13)
  11. Goodbyes (5:04)

    Planet of the Dead

  12. A Disturbance in the Night (0:38)
  13. The Cat Burglar (1:30)
  14. Alone in the Desert (3:19)
  15. A Special Sort of Bus (2:19)
  16. Stirring in the Sands (1:58)
  17. Lithuania (1:48)

    The Waters of Mars

  18. Letter to Earth (2:15)
  19. By Water Borne (2:23)
  20. The Fate of Little Adelaide (5:05)
  21. Altering Lives (3:23)
    Disc Two
    The End of Time

  1. We Shall Fare Well (1:26)
  2. A Frosty Ood (2:50)
  3. A Dream of Catastrophe (1:18)
  4. All in the Balance (0:55)
  5. A Ruined Gaol (1:22)
  6. Wilf’s Wiggle (0:43)
  7. Minnie Hooper (1:31)
  8. The End Draws Near (3:46)
  9. Gallifrey (2:22)
  10. Final Days (1:43)
  11. The Council of the Time Lords (0:41)
  12. The Master Suite (4:33)
  13. The Ruined Childhood (3:27)
  14. A Chaotic Escape (2:59)
  15. The World Waits (5:18)
  16. A Longing to Leave (1:18)
  17. A Lot of Life Behind Us (4:20)
  18. Dealing with the Menace (1:35)
  19. Speeding to Earth (1:18)
  20. The Time Lords’ Last Stand (3:27)
  21. The Clouds Pass (1:53)
  22. Four Knocks (4:04)
  23. Song for Ten (Reprise) (2:21)
  24. Vale Decem (3:19)
  25. Vale (4:20)
  26. The New Doctor (1:07)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 52:02
Disc two total running time: 64:06