“Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol”
The “Doctor Who” Christmas special starring Matt Smith as the Doctor comes to DVD. While it's not exactly the time of year for a Christmas story, this is nonetheless a charming episode that mixes the Charles Dickens tale with the science-fiction zaniness of “Doctor Who.”
Matt Smith is the latest to play the Doctor, a time-traveling alien who is the last of his kind. He looks human, though he has a sonic screwdriver that can overcome nearly any technological impediment, and the TARDIS, a time-traveling ship that looks from the outside like a 1950s police call box. He often traverses time and space with companions to avoid being alone; as “Christmas Carol” begins, his latest companions have been married and are honeymooning aboard a space cruiser.
When their space cruiser runs into difficulties and may crash, the Doctor attempts to intervene. Michael Gambon plays Kazran Sardick, the “Scrooge” of this tale, an elderly man who controls the skies of his planet. With the Doctor's companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and her husband, Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), trapped in the spaceship above, the Doctor needs Kazran to allow the ship to safely land. But Sardick refuses.
Needing to save his friends and the 4,000 others in danger, the Doctor goes back in time to determine the cause of Kazran's stubbornness. Christmases past, present and future play a part as the Doctor and Karzan alter history — but will it be enough to save the passengers?
The Doctor's travels through time with Karzan range from the fun to the hilarious to the downright heartbreaking. Smith, who is as quick and as quippy as previous Doctor David Tennant, at 28 brings a youthful exuberance to the role. However, he's also able to appear wise beyond his years when he needs to convey the full experience of the Doctor's 900-plus years of life.
Ultimately, “Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol,” like Charles Dickens' original, reminds us to be mindful of those around us and to fully embrace life.
Extras include a making-of documentary and a concert of the series' music.
— Matthew Price