Published on February 16th, 2015 | by Sean Warhurst
Doctor Who: Last Christmas Blu-ray Review
Summary: Last Christmas is not only one of the better Christmas specials of the series but also one of the best episodes of Capaldi’s run to date.
All I want for Christmas is Who...
Film Genre – TV Sci-Fi
Label – BBC/ Roadshow Entertainment
Audio – English (DTS-HD 5.1)
Running Time – 60 mins. approx.
Aspect Ratio – 1.78:1
Region Coding – B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard – PAL
Rating – PG
Year of Release – 2014
Primary Format – Blu-Ray (Also available on DVD)
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst
Christmas specials are a longstanding British television tradition, with many popular shows airing a festive seasonal themed episode each year; Doctor Who, much like the Christmas special itself, is a uniquely British institution, so it comes as no surprise that since 2005 the series has carried on the annual convention.
The most recent offering, Last Christmas, features guest stars such as always effervescent Nick Frost, Misfits’ Nathan McMullen and Michael Troughton (Son of Patrick Troughton, the second doctor) in a rollicking sci-fi adventure that begins quite whimsically enough before pulling the rug out from underneath the audience and veering off in an unexpected direction by borrowing liberally from films such as Inception, The Thing and Alien (A fact not lost on the characters themselves, who amusingly draw comparisons between their predicament and the main antagonists of the episode with those from Ridley Scott’s classic film).
Clara (Jenna Coleman) and The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) reunite on Christmas Eve after the former accidently stumbles upon jolly old Saint Nick (the rather aptly named Nick Frost) and his elves Wolf and Ian (Nathan McMullen and Dan Starkey, who is probably better known to fans as Strax, finally getting a chance to appear without a pound of prosthetics on his face) after they unceremoniously crashland their sleigh upon on her roof.
Quickly whisked off to an artic research station (Why? It’s a long story), the Doctor and Clara soon find themselves attempting to assist the station’s inhabitants in trying to save the lives of four of their colleagues who’ve fallen prey to Dream Crabs, parasitic alien creatures with a strong resemblance to facehuggers who clamp onto the faces of their victims and put them into an enforced dreamlike state in order to mask the fact that they’re feeding on them.
To reveal too much of the plot would be doing a grand disservice to the convoluted nature of Steven Moffat’s script, but suffice to say both The Doctor and Co. and Santa Claus and his elves are eventually forced to work together in order to repel yet another alien invasion that portends the end of humanity as we know it.
I will say this, though: Fans will be happy to know that Last Christmas also serves as a coda of sorts in regards to the relationship between Danny Pink and Clara Oswald, although maybe not in the way that most had hoped.
Still, it’s great to get closure on that chapter of the series and the continued growth of both Clara and her relationship with Capaldi’s Doctor bodes well for their adventures in the upcoming ninth season (Fans can breathe a sigh of relief as this episodes finally puts those pesky rumours of Coleman’s departure from the series to rest).
The interplay between Frost’s Santa Claus and The Doctor make for some hilarious moments, yet this episode is one of the series’ darker offerings despite its festive theme; the cast performs superbly and the cinematic influences are worn proudly on the episode’s sleeve, making this one of the strongest offerings from the series in recent years.
Last Christmas comes with a pristine Blu-ray transfer that, visually, is the finest the series has ever looked. Colours are naturalistic yet vividly realised when necessary, fine detail is superbly realised (You can almost count the individual strands of Santa’s beard) and the pristine image quality is free of any banding, aliasing or any other visual anomalies.
Audio is presented via a robust DTS-HD 5.1 lossless soundtrack that boasts exquisite clarity and dynamic range, with the audio levels meticulously mastered to ensure that the listening experience is as solid and immersive as possible.
Overall, top marks all around in the audio and visual departments.
As is often the case with individual episode releases of Doctor Who, Last Christmas is relatively light on extras when compared to the bounty that comes with the full season releases. There’s a brief look behind the scenes in an Inside Doctor Who featurette that covers details like the guest stars and the process of creating the episode as well as an audio commentary track with Producer Paul Frift and Director Paul Wilmshurst. Insightful and engaging, the commentary track covers nearly every facet of the production process and is, on the whole, much more informative than the featurette.
List of Features:
- Audio Commentary
- Behind the Scenes (13;27)
Last Christmas is not only one of the better Christmas specials of the series but also one of the best episodes of Capaldi’s run to date.
The episode threatens to devolve into the saccharine silliness that has plagued other Christmas specials at times (The Doctor gleefully piloting Santa’s sleigh, for instance) but admirably Last Christmas manages to stay its course and present, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining viewing experiences to come out of the Moffat years.