DOCTOR WHO Season Nine
released OUT NOW! 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD
Showrunner Steven Moffat
Cast Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman,
Maisie Williams, Alex Kingston
Christmas episodes bookend this box set. One’s great, the other’s not; such is the lottery of festive Who.
“Last Christmas” kicks things off in fine style. A hybrid of The Thing, Alien and Miracle On 34th Street, it’s the best seasonal special since “A Christmas Carol” and marks an important transitional phase for Capaldi’s Doctor.
Yes, this was the year that Twelve learned to kick back, relax and play his guitar. His showy entrance in “The Magician’s Apprentice” is a startling contrast to the distant figure he cut throughout season eight, but Moffat and Capaldi make it seem like a natural evolution.
A shame, then, that the first half of the season feels oddly flat, with a vague arc, a confusing opener and Clara often sidelined. Peter Harness’s Zygon two- parter gets things back on track, however, setting up a superior second half, of which the astonishing “Heaven Sent” is the clear highlight. A showcase for Capaldi, it’s like nothing Doctor Who has ever attempted before.
Finally, there’s “The Husbands Of River Song”. Comedy is exactly what was needed at this point, but this falls very flat. Alex Kingston shines in the poignant final act, but with Greg Davies lumbering around in a robot suit and Matt Lucas gurning, it’s hard work getting to that point.
Extras A well- stocked set, though there’s little truly essential. The 25 minutes of deleted scenes slip in a few more jokes for the Doctor and some welcome call- backs to Danny Pink ( RIP). We see more of Ashildr’s tragic history in the years between “The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived” and – hold onto your hat – some short shots of Kate Stewart walking.
On the documentary front, there’s 14 episodes of Doctor Who Extra; a brief and breezy watch, light on insight but good fun. The longer features are better. “Writing Who” follows “Face The Raven” scribe Sarah Dollard as she takes us through the process of getting her episode from initial pitch to the screen; “Clara’s Journey” gives Jenna Coleman the chance to look back on her four years on the show, while “The Adventures Of River Song” explains the history of, well, take a guess. “Sublime Online” pulls together videos originally published on the Who website, “The Fan Show’s Finest” is a best bits package from the YouTube series and “Dalek Devotion” finds Capaldi and Moffat nerding out about the Skarosian pepperpots.
You also get commentaries on four episodes ( the Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss track on “Sleep No More” being the most engaging), a Comic- Con panel, episode prologues and trailers. But the most worthwhile extra here is an hour- long chat between Wil Wheaton, Capaldi and Coleman; Wheaton gets amusingly flustered at one point and Capaldi is charm personified. Will Salmon
“Sleep No More” was originally intended to be a two- part story; Mark Gatiss still hopes to pen a sequel.
‘ Heaven Sent’ is the clear highlight
Elvis patiently waited his turn.