The Episode (5/5)
The Doctor and Clara arrive at a science base located around the North Pole during an invasion of "Dream Crabs", that attach themselves to the face of their victims, puncture thier brains, and dissolve them until they take over the host body. While this is happening the victim will essentially have sweet dreams, until they die. The Doctor, Clara, the science crew, and yes, Santa Claus find themselves trapped between the real world, and the crab induced dream world, and must figure out what's real and what isn't if they are to wake up before their brains dissolve and they die.
Doctor Who is a show that lives and dies by evolution. The show started as a cross between an educational series, and traditional science fiction program of the early 60's. In the 70's it hit a gothic horror stride, before moving into more comedic territory. In the early 80's there was an attempt at blending hard science fiction, and more consistent continuity and concepts into the series. Doctor Who is always changing, if it doesn't it becomes stale, and fans get bored. That's why the regeneration concept is important, but almost as important is the changing of the guard. When the show was revived in 2005, we had Russell T. Davies at the helm who did a wonderful job bringing Doctor Who into the new millennium. We then were given Steven Moffat as a showrunner. The show felt like it was in more than capable hands with a man who knew how to write not just Doctor Who the show, but Doctor Who the character. However, with Series 7 I felt it was time for a change, I thought maybe Moffat would leave, he didn’t, and so I waited with anticipation for Series 8, wondering if a new Doctor will change the downward trajectory that I felt had occurred in 7. I was wrong.
I will be forthright in admitting that Series 8 of the revived Doctor Who has been my absolute favorite of the series since it came back to screens in 2005. Peter Capaldi reminded me of the type of Doctor I grew up watching. Of course, the Christmas Special is usually a bit of a cheery Sci-Fi wreck, almost too caught up in it's holiday concept to be any good, so I expected to not be as enamored by this as I was the prior seasons episodes.
Again, I was absolutely wrong.
Last Christmas is the best of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials. This is the first Christmas Special to actually feel like a proper episode of Doctor Who, it just happens to be set around the biggest holiday of the year. Rather, then make a light-hearted sci-fi romp as in years past, Moffat decides to go for the throat, and bring the viewer just what it wants for Christmas SCARY MONSTERS. Seriously, between the crabs themselves, and the human/crab hybrids that walk around the episode these things are chilling. When these are coupled with imagery such as the Videodrome-esque moment where a member of the science crew is plucked through a TV screen, and you have an episode whose primary intent seems to scare the viewer to the backside of their couch.
The cast, of course, is in top form with Capaldi offering an excellent dynamic performance, and even Jenna Louise Coleman, who I normally find grating offered a excellent turn as Clara. Special mention of course must be made to Nick Frost who turns in a great performance as Father Christmas himself blending action film seriousness at times with his well established comedic chops. The direction from Paul Wilmhurst is standard modern Who stuff, but keeps things looking sharp, and everything flowing nicely. The narrative put together by Moffat is quite clever, and will keep the viewer on the edge of their respective seats.
BBC Worldwide presents Doctor Who: Last Christmas in an excellent 1080p AVC encoded transfer that preserves the original OAR of it's broadcast. The transfer sports excellent colors, deep blacks, and splendid fine detail.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. The track sounds quite excellent with dialogue coming through nicely, as do the effects, and Murray Gold's score.
Just a commentary track, and a quick Behind the Scenes documentary are present on the disc. I'm sure there will be more when it's included on the next season set.
Continuing on with the quality observed in Series 8, Doctor Who: Last Christmas is simply an excellent Doctor Who episode that blends concepts and ideas from Videodrome, Alien, The Thing, and more into a neat holiday themed sci-fi package. The A/V on the Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and the extras offer a nice addition to the package. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.