The last season of Doctor Who, the inaugural one for Peter Capaldi as the twelfth incarnation of our favorite Time Lord, ended with a bang. It was a two part event that brought together two of the Doctor’s most dangerous foes. Prior to the launch of Season 9 these episodes were shown in cinemas back on September 15th-16th, together as a feature-length extravaganza with 3D conversion. This new release from BBC America offers you the chance to take this special slice of Who home.
This feature length season finale wraps up the plot line running through season 8, answering the questions of who the enigmatic recurring figure of Missy is as well as how people who have died throughout the course of the Doctor’s latest adventures have ended up joining her in some kind of after life. The Master, a renegade Time Lord newly regenerated as a female, Missy, orchestrated a nefarious scheme to build an army of the dead to take over the Earth. A gripping episode and a truly chilling idea.
The emotional beats are nailed by Moffat and are not just the result of the episode but a season-long buildup. What is fascinating is how the show really confronts death and loss in this story. Thee horror elements are far more reminiscent of Classic Who. Those perturbed by the acerbic nature of Capaldi as the Doctor will not have been won over by this latest outing, but that is their loss. This is a darker manifestation of the Time Lord (and indeed the show), and creatively the show is reveling in his complexity and unpredictability. An enigmatic, alien Doctor is a welcome return to the show. Capaldi nails the vast intelligence and imbues it with the genuine confusion about aspects of humanity, a real return to the core of the character.
Capaldi’s performances have been matched by those of Jenna Coleman, truly revitalized as Clara. She is superb here in her handling of some pretty upsetting scenes. This two-parter brings very deep levels of emotion and marries them well to some impressive action. To round things off, Michelle Gomez has added an unforgettable villain to the history of the show, no mean feat considering there are 50+ years worth out there. Madness with a dash of lipstick, a perfect personification of nemesis for our Time Lord. She works as a great foil for the outstanding Capaldi.
THE PACKAGEThe release is up to the usual standards for BBC America. The episodes themselves are represented well with sharp, crisp detail, deep colors and no artifacts visible. Aside from the multiple versions of the episodes and 3D addition, special features include a deleted scene and a exclusive prequel short to season 9 The Doctor’s Meditation, which is currently airing on BBC America. You can find weekly recaps right here at Cinapse. The biggest addition is an extended interview (hosted by Wil Wheaton) with showrunner Steven Moffat and stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman discussing future plans for the show.
THE BOTTOM LINEThis two-parter marks a memorable new incarnation for the Doctor’s oldest enemy, the Master. Michelle Gomez’s turn as Missy is reason enough to own this set but in addition you have an action packed and chilling tale. Completists will be happy to add this to their collection and the 3D presentation throws the good Doctor into a different dimension.
The Blu-ray 3D + DVD combo pack of Dark Water/Death in Heaven is available from Amazon and BBC America now.