|Series Four: The Specials
Music by Murray Gold
Release Date: Oct 4
Tracklisting: Visit HERE
How times have changed, how spoiled we fans have become…
So, to recap, in four years, we’ve gone from one disc covering 22 stories to just one disc covering only one story. Now that’s what I call progress.
Allowing more space lets Gold’s music to breathe. As good as the previous soundtracks were, and they were bloody good, they had a ‘compilation’ feel to them; mainly because the composer was covering so many differently~toned episodes. But now, the listener can really enjoy the music from The End of Time, for example, as an experience – akin to an album from an artist – and not as part of a ‘greatest hits’.
This is how it should be from now on please!
Thankfully the theme tune is dispensed with (not that it’s bad, we’ve just heard it enough and, frankly, I feel it wouldn’t fit the tone of the soundtrack), allowing for even more of Muzza’s music to fill the set. It’s neatly presented with cues appearing chronologically from The Specials, making for a fascinating journey through the last televised adventures of The Tenth Doctor.
In a recent Doctor Who Magazine interview Murray noted that the music from The Next Doctor (review HERE) may not have been the first thing that fans would have been clamouring for (I had to agree) and yet the cues collected here from the 2008 Christmas special are an absolute delight.
Flitting between light and dark within the bat of an ear, Gold expertly switches from Crimbo romp (A Victorian Christmas) to cinematic stomp (The March Of The Cybermen) to the more doleful and melodic (The Greats Of Past Time and Not The Doctor). Both these cues display the composer’s forward thinking and sensitivity as they include snatches of the Vale decem melody which would accompany the final moments of David Tennant’s Time Lord. Beautiful touch.
The music from Planet of the Dead (review HERE) receives the least time on the set but it’s distinctive nonetheless. Brilliantly odd synth sounds and beats in The Cat Burglar juxtapose very keenly with the vastly different instrumentation of Stirring In The Sands as the action moves from Cardiff crime thriller to alien desert hunt.
Like the Specials episodes themselves, the music from The Waters of Mars (review HERE) is a completely different kettle of ball~game. Letter to Earth is deliciously haunting and, like the rest of the score from the Hugo Award~winning tale, unnerving. You’ll certainly be getting the jitters by the time By Water Borne begins. Pizzicato strings fight with unhinged melodies that then, somewhat startlingly, ramp up into “chase” mode (I did an actual jump).
This is really the only “actiony” bit of music from this score as Gold concentrates on the more pensive pieces, removing any of the heroics from the story and leaving one with the sad realisation of The Doctor’s mistake on Mars. Rather than an actual account of the music, these tracks display the mood of The Waters of Mars, a remarkable story with an achingly downbeat emotional core – a core Murray Gold captures only too well.
But hey, there are other tracks too though! And flippin’ magnificent they are too.
Again, because we have an hour or so featuring cues from the same score, the feel is uniform and pleasing. Though I saw “uniform”, it does range from the fun ‘n’ bouncy Wilf’s Wiggle and A Frosty Ood (reminiscent of Donna’s jaunty theme) to the brass~tastic blasts of The End Draws Near and The Master Suite.
But it’s the soulfully touching melodies in tracks like The Four Knocks (the start of The Tenth Doctor’s end) and A Lot Of Life Behind Us (the Time Lord’s chat with Wilf) that’ll make you break out the tissues. And this is even before Vale begins – the prelude to the very end as The Doctor visits his past companions. A sparse and affecting arrangement with a melody that hints at the approaching menace of regeneration (don’t worry though kids, it turned out alright in the end).
Negatives? Well, it seems daft to mention it but, to be utterly frank, I’m not that keen on the cover (it’s a bit too copy ‘n’ paste for me) and the placing of Vale after Vale decem seems a bit odd (it came before it in the episode). Yup, my negatives are daft. Anyway, these two very, very slight points don’t stop The Specials soundtrack from being true perfection. To be honest Vale decem, as I’m sure you know, is worth the price of the set alone.
Murray Gold, again, has delivered an audacious piece of work; ranging from the light and dainty to the cinematically dramatic to the devastatingly emotional; the ultimate reminder (well, apart from the episodes themselves) of the golden age that was the RTD era.
Thanks to Silva Screen