2013’s Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, also serves as the fourth Christmas special and final episode of the series for eleventh Doctor Matt Smith.
It’s Christmastime and the Doctor (Smith) rescues his faithful companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) from a miserable dinner with her family. Shooting off in the Tardis, the Doctor’s new personal assistant, a modified head from a Cyberman he calls “Handles”, identifies a distress signal that has been constantly broadcasting as coming from a planet he identifies as Gallifrey. Reluctant to believe this could be true, the Doctor goes to investigate. There, he is met by The Church of the Papal Mainframe, a militaristic religious order, and their leader, Mother Superious Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), an old acquaintance of the Doctor’s.
Going to the planet below to investigate, the Doctor and Clara find Angels buried in snow and discover from where the message has been broadcasting. In a town called Christmas, surrounded by a truth field, it is a crack in the universe left over from when the Doctor rebuilt the universe after his Tardis destroyed it. It is a question being broadcast: “Doctor Who?”. It is believed that it is the Time Lords on Gallifrey in another universe trying to break back in, looking for confirmation they have the right place. If the Doctor answers, a whole new endless time war will begin, because the planet is surrounded by all of the Doctor’s enemies – from Daleks to the Silence to Cybermen and everyone in between.
This sets up a stalemate, with the Doctor unable to leave lest the town of innocent people in Christmas be destroyed and The Church of the Papal Mainframe there to hold off the Doctor’s enemies and to keep him from answering the question.
As final episodes go, The Time of the Doctor could have been more epic, especially given the planet that the Doctor ends up on, without giving anymore away. In the end, however, given this is a Christmas special, the episode strikes a good balance between Christmas levity and regeneration sentimentality, especially as the Doctor, trapped, actually begins to age and must make a hard decision between saving Christmas or leaving with Clara.
The high definition production of The Time of the Doctor looks superb in this AVC 1080p encoded transfer to Blu-ray from the BBC. There are very little issues with digital anomalies, the contrast and colors are all strong, and we get lots of fine, sharp texture with little video noise.
The Time of the Doctor also get a solid English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack that places sound effects through the room. Some, especially when we are in the Church of the Papal Mainframe, tower right above or behind us. Dialogue is clean and full and a good bit of extension into the low end supports the action.
- Behind the Lens (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:20)
- Tales from the Tardis (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:44:53) – This documentary focuses on the different actors who have played The Doctor throughout the years, with plenty of interviews with the various actors included.
- Farewell to Matt Smith (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:45:23) – So long, Matt!
The Definitive Word
A fine final bow from Matt Smith who had a brilliant run as the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor is a fitting conclusion that wraps up an enjoyable run and starts a new one for twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi.
Additional Screen Captures