The first album of music from the new series of Doctor Who brings us the best themes and tracks from Series 1 and 2. It therefore covers all the stories with companion Rose, plus two Doctors played by Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant. The music of composer Murray Gold is a major part of the feel of the new series, and takes us emotionally on a roller-coaster ride of exciting adventures, insights into the key characters, moments of mystery and comedy, the wonder of time travel, the adrenaline rush of battles with major enemies, and intensity of relationships parted, reunited or separated forever. The musical language needs to be varied to match these elements but the pacing of the modern series is generally much quicker than before, and the bolder cinematic quality demands more in the way of bigger orchestral scoring.
The album is sandwiched by two versions of the "Doctor Who Theme" - the TV version with its synthesis of electronic music and orchestral music, and the longer "Album Version" with its greater emphasis on the orchestral. "Westminster Bridge" features a retro guitar sound plus an orchestral big band with all the energy of the new series (to accompany lots of running and chasing). "The Doctor's Theme" has a wordless female voice in a mysterious haunting melody which conveys some of the Timelord's loneliness referred to in the series. "Cassandra's Waltz" follows on from the weird alien procession in the space station at "The End of the World", with spooky sci-fi electronics plus grounded piano. "Slitheen" accompanies the iconic scene of this two-part adventure story as a spaceship wobbles in the skies over London then crashes into Big Ben and splashes down into the River Thames. In "Father's Day" Rose goes back in time and meets her father before he died, with all the emotion that entails. "Boom Town Suite" starts with a slightly comedic waltz and introduces a strange melody on Cor Anglais in a story where Margaret Slitheen makes a comeback in Cardiff. The next 4 tracks are all big orchestral tracks from the final climactic story of Series 1 against the Daleks, with "I'm Coming to Get You" being one of those huge moments where the Doctor scares the Daleks with his determination to rescue Rose.
"Harriet Jones Prime Minister" is described in the sleeve notes as a British track and comes from the first Christmas Special where Harriet Jones (whom we met in the Slitheen story) now has the country's top job. "Rose's Theme" is a simple but great theme with a certain longing to it which recurs in a few places. "The Face of Boe" shows the folk wisdom of a creature who has lived for many millennia, while "Unit" is appropriately a track with a steady military beat, and "Seeking the Doctor" is suitably enigmatic and complex. "Madame de Pompadour" is a piano waltz accompanied by string chords and exhibiting a longing and timeless quality for "The Girl in the Fireplace" story with an unusual take on the concept of time travel. "Tooth and Claw" starts with percussion, shouts and grunts for the martial arts scene and then becomes big and orchestral with lots of running action as the Werewolf of the story makes an appearance. We also get to hear two completely different aspects of the Doctor's arch-nemesis - "The Daleks" is one of those huge orchestral tracks which needs a chorus to make it even more intense than other epics with some hints of religious overtones for the mad emperor Dalek who thinks he's a god, while in complete contrast "The Lone Dalek" shows a sympathetic side to this misunderstood creature. Among tracks used in more than one story we have "New Adventures" - another big orchestral track (almost like Lawrence of Arabia) with an interest sliding effect on the violins, and "Monster Bossa" - a fun comedy track. "Cybermen" is another big apocalyptic theme with a regular beat as the steel warriors stomp around London, and then a syncopated ostinato rhythm leading to a big climax.
"Doomsday" is another vocal theme for Rose with a bass guitar, a piano note then a minimalist cello. "The Impossible Planet" has a sad Viola tune but then turns scary and apocalyptic for the devil creature jailed for millennia in the bowels of the planet. The album also has two songs sung by and with lyrics by Neil Hannon. These are homely nostalgic tracks used on the two Christmas specials which follow on after Series 1 and 2 respectively - "Song for Ten" and "Love Don't Roam". The lyrics in this second song seem to describe the Doctor's situation as he speaks of his love for his "precious girl" Rose, trapped in another dimension. This soundtrack CD comes with some excellent glossy sleeve notes written by the composer to identify the story and the context of the music. The whole package is highly recommended and can be previewed at the following online sites: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
See also details of the Doctor Who Prom Concert and our review of the Doctor Who Series 3 CD which has more great music including Martha's theme, and music from "The Shakespeare Code", "Gridlock", "Daleks in Manhattan", "Human Nature", "Blink", the final episodes with the return of the Master, and two Christmas Specials "The Runaway Bride" and "Voyage of the Damned".