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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray)
Movie Reviews

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray)

The Blu-ray release of possibly the best Doctor Who Christmas Special ever made is also one of the series’ most barebones and feature-free yet.

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The 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special was definitely one of the best specials in the long-running sci-fi fantasy’s history, especially for North America fans who could finally enjoy partaking in a little Who Christmas joy at the same (relative) time as their British counterparts. That led to record numbers for BBC America and bode well for the future of the series here in the US, as the station promises to make more of an effort for parallel releases (for Series Six) in the future.  It’s a shame the same couldn’t be said about the home Blu-ray release, as BBC Warner’s Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol comes nearly a full two months after it was originally broadcast in December.

The story featured an epic combination of fantasy/sci-fi that defied our expectations of just what a Christmas Special could be, with the crew of series regulars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill joined by Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins in her acting debut, as well as the always-reliable Michael Gambon (Harry Potter). Rather than simply squeeze Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s holiday redemption into the Doctor Who universe, we have flying sharks star-crossed lovers, set to exquisite opera that’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  In short, it fit perfectly within the franchise’s rules of the absurd, yet was accessible enough for even Who newbies to enjoy.

The Special itself received an Editor’s Choice Award and totally deserved it. Here’s a snippet of our original review which followed the special’s original transatlantic broadcast back in December (you can read in full by clicking right HERE):

“Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol may not be the Christmas special we thought it would be, but it’s exactly the special it needs to be. Dickens’ classic tale of redemption makes for a surprisingly good fit inside this reinvented Who universe. The best comparison would be to fellow long-running sci-fi saga Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which placed the crew of the Enterprise in a similarly precarious predicament and involved gigantic ocean dwelling creatures. It also became that franchise’s most relatable entry for non-fans, and while A Christmas Carol may not have whales, it does have flying sleighs pulled by man-eating sharks, star-crossed lovers, and cryogenic chambers.”

Warner BBC’s Blu-ray release, however, doesn’t quite reach that lofty goal, as they’ve opted to release a barebones disc that, apart from its HD picture quality, hardly qualifies as a standalone release. As with the a previous Doctor Who Blu-ray releases,, the picture and sound quality are spot-on and presented in fantastic high-definition. You get to see and hear every little detail in the show, which is pretty cool considering how much effort the producers put into stuffing as many little details and secrets whenever possible.

Sadly, there’s not much in the way of special-features on this disc. Just the Doctor Who Confidential episode that gives an inside look into the making of the Special itself, interviews with the cast, and the real highlight, “Doctor Who at the Proms”, which features a concert performance of music from the series recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall during the BBC’s annual Proms concerts. Diehard fans will get a treat from both, but will probably be expecting a little more given the space a Blu-ray disc allows, not to mention the potential coolness of anything related to everyone’s favorite Time Lord.

Recommending the Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol Blu-ray is kind of difficult. If you’re a die-hard Who fan, you’ll most likely snatch it up to get your Doctor Who fix and to just have it to complete your collection. But casual viewers and other fans might want to hold out for the next season box-set, which will most likely bundle this special and won’t have to double-dip for this title. Still, if all your after is a high-definition version of potentially the best Christmas special that series has ever produced, you probably won’t mind double-dipping a little bit to spend some quality time with the Doctor. Hey, what other Christmas special has man-eating sharks and cryogenically frozen lovers? Try to find a cheaper version if you can, because the special itself is totally worth your time.

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02/15/2011

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TV-PG

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BBC Warner

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About the Author: Chris Mitchell