NOTE: This review points out many plot devices and key scenes, if you’ve yet to see this episode then please read this after viewing.
Though it was only shown a few weeks back it seems like ages since Iâ€™d watched this festive episode. Packed with more yuletide references than any other Christmas special and borrowing more blatantly from a classic text than any other Doctor Who episode, the stakes were high for this one.
Itâ€™s the deepest part of winter, the exact midpoint, Christmas Eve â€“ halfway out of the dark. Amy and Rory are trapped on a stricken space liner thatâ€™s plummeting through banks of thick icy fog to the surface of the planet below. Only one man has the power to save them; only one man is in possession of a machine that can clear the fog and let them land safely. That man is Kazran Sardick, a rich but lonely old miser who rules Sardicktown with a sky-mast of iron. The Doctorâ€™s only chance of rescuing the shipâ€™s four thousand passengers is to save Kazranâ€™s soul and show him that life is worth living. For this he needs to go back, way back, to where Kazran was a boy with a life full of promise. But can the Doctor put a song in Kazranâ€™s heart and love in his life, in time for Christmas? Can he bring him out of the dark?
OK, I know many thought this was a slushy as a snowfall in Florida, but to me this was a wonderful and entertaining special with heart, story and a bottom lip trembling ending that would have made the coldest heart warmâ€¦ slightly. Smith is, as ever, just a joy, the way he plays the Doctor is just perfect and Moffattâ€™s script sparkles like crisp snow. Fans of Amy and Rory may be disappointed as they get slightly side-lined here though they do get to perform a wonderful, slightly saucy joke at the start.
The sets are perfectly Victorian (or should I say Dickensian) with a Jules Verne nautical feel to them and the CGI is a step up from what we saw in the last season.
The story isnâ€™t just a play on A Christmas Carol, it has added depth to it, not to mention fish in the sky and Katherine Jenkins in her first acting role. Now sheâ€™s a bit of a revelation here, giving Abigail a wonderful sense of longing and lost life. She does get to crack out a rather emotional tune (to a shark) but sheâ€™s not only here for her voice. She can act and would like to see more of her in action, as it were. Michael Gambon in the role of Kazran is just perfect. He plays it with less ham than I was expecting and makes his mark as one of the showâ€™s most memorable half villains. This story also contains probably one of the showâ€™s most surreal moments, a rickshaw being pulled by a shark!
Apart from some rather tasty extras (more information below) the test disc I was supplied with had the main feature with a 5.1 sound mix. A nice touch for these releases and fingers crossed this continues. Oh, and the Coming Soon teaser is still in tact at the end of the episode!
Doctor Who Confidential â€“ Yes, you read that correctly, the 56 minute edition of this popular series is here with plenty to entertain and educate Doctor Who fans with. Gambon is the star of the show here, gushing about everyone and itâ€™s a nice sort of gushing from a true acting legend.
Doctor Who At The Proms 2010 â€“ Another fine extra, 57 minutes of looking at the Prom performance from last year plus plenty of the music from the show. It captures the energy from the event and makes me slightly jealous that I wasnâ€™t able to attend!
So the, a fine start to 2011 for Doctor Who releases and note that this will also be available on Blu-ray.