With the recent announcement that a new composer will be replacing Murray Gold after his ten years of composing for Doctor Who, I felt it best to look back over his fantastic work for the show and do a few reviews. Strap in, this is going to be a series.
To start, we have the first album released for the 2005 revival of Doctor Who; the one for the first and second seasons. Other than the TV movie, this was the first time that the show had a proper orchestral score, and it sounded all the better for it. In the classic episodes (from 1963 to 1989) there were a few scores that stood out (Earthshock for example) but the composers were continually switched up and there was no real serialisation for the themes or any music apart from the main Doctor Who theme. This however all changed with the 2005 revival. Murray Gold was hired as the composer and we as the listeners were treated to (in my opinion anyway) the point at which the music for Doctor Who went from OK to out of this world.
Gold kicked off the revival with a brand new take on the classic Who theme, and what a take it was. This fully orchestral and frankly fantastic sounding piece became instantly iconic and even today is widely recognised as THE Doctor Who theme (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating when I say that). It was a big step up from the traditionally electronic main themes from the classic era, and was a very refreshing take on a theme for a show that was in desperate need of some high quality compositions. It was also the first track on the album for Series 1 & 2, and what a start it makes for.
The Doctor’s Theme is up next, and it marks another first for the series; a theme for the Doctor himself. The piece is quite mysterious and very alien, and does a nearly perfect job of representing the Doctor’s character. Here Gold utilises vocals primarily in a very simple rendition of the theme, with soft strings to back it up. Knowing what this piece goes on to evolve into, it is very interesting to hear it as it was heard for the first time here, given that it is still showing up even now (season 10).
The first major action cue then starts with Slitheen, a theme for the monsters that showed up frequently in the first season. Frantic and heavy-sounding brass is used to represent them, and like much of the themes on this album it does a great job. The action continues through to Rose In Peril, an intense piece where the Doctor is rushing to save his companion Rose. One thing that does bother me slightly about this album is how all over the place the music is, as this particular track is from near the end of season 2. Still, Rose In Peril makes for a fine action track in any case.
The music then darts back to the first season in Hologram, where Murray Gold scores his first regeneration – the ninth Doctor’s. It is a very sad track that makes excellent use of strings, and still brings tears to this day. The music changes slowly, gradually building up to its finale – getting louder and more intense as the regeneration occurs. It then ends on a more hopeful note as the tenth Doctor arrives.
Rose’s Theme is another beautiful piece of music, starting out with a soft piano rendition in a manner similar to how the Doctor’s theme plays out. Her theme is very melancholic, and like much of Gold’s work does an excellent job of representing Rose as a character throughout all the seasons in which she appears. It reoccurs frequently throughout the revival of the show, I would imagine because of how fantastic a theme it is. At times it has even been used to represent the Doctor, which should give you an idea of how important this piece has been to the show. It remains to this day Gold’s best companion theme (in my opinion anyway – though I challenge those who say otherwise).
U.N.I.T gets its own militaristic theme in Unit, a fast paced marching-sounding track that can’t help but give off a sense of impending doom – being on-edge and very intense music. It contrasts significantly with the next track entitled Madame De Pompadour, which is a beautifully serene piece to represent the historical figure of the same name and her adventure with the Doctor. Both of these cues make for fantastic listening, and are as iconic as many of the themes on this album.
Gold then tackles the Doctor’s greatest enemy with The Daleks, a dark, menacing theme for the creatures that inspires terror whenever you listen to it. Vocals and strings combined make for a pretty scary piece of music, and one that was again used for seasons to come. Next we have the slightly less good theme for The Cybermen, a much more depressing and brass-oriented piece that is still very menacing but lacks that overall feeling of dread that Gold nailed with The Daleks. Still, it is a great theme and the best one yet to represent the Cybermen.
Doomsday is one of the better cues on the score, being the emotional piano-based farewell to the Doctor’s companion Rose. Here Gold makes great use of vocals combined with a simple piano melody that is absolutely heart-wrenching to listen to. The music then slowly builds up with guitars to a loud and sad ending as the Doctor and Rose make their goodbyes. Being one of the final tracks on this album it certainly makes for an emotional build up to the finale.
To finish up, Gold then treats us to a full two-and-a-half-minute album version of his fantastic new take on the Doctor Who Theme. Here he goes all out, including the upbeat middle-eight sequence from the classic era and in general making a fantastic new theme for a mind-blowingly great revival of the iconic show.
And he’s only just getting started.
Standout Cue: 31. Doctor Who Theme (Album Version)