HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death in Heaven 3D
HTS Overall Score:74
“Doctor Who” is probably one of THE longest science fiction franchises known to man. Originally airing in Britain for over 25 years from 1963 to 1989. Then, it was revamped for modern times in 2005 and by Russell T. Davies and has run steadily for the last decade. For those of you who aren’t whovians, the series is able to keep itself alive through multiple cast members because of the very simple premise. Doctor Who is a time traveling alien being called a timelord. Living without a planet of his own, part of a near extinct race, Doctor Who is able to jump from body to body and inhabit different forms. Thus you can change the actors at will and never ever contradict the rules of the story universe (and they do that quite often). Simple, yet exquisitely effective. “Dark Waters/Death in Heaven” is actually just the final two episodes of season 8, packaged together as a single movie and given 3D and Dolby Atmos treatment. In reality, those whovians who love the show probably already have it in the Season 8 boxset, but the disc here is mainly a curio used to get the uninitiated introduced as well as to show off the Dolby Atmos audio format.
Like many whovians, I’ve been a little miffed at Moffat’s writing for the last several seasons and the direction he’s taken the show. I was a little annoyed at having Peter Capaldi come on board as he just DIDN’T seem to fit the character of the Doctor. Still, I gave him a chance and season 8 has been surprisingly entertaining once I got used to the older doctor. Strangely enough Capaldi is the best part of the season, as Moffat’s lackluster writing robbed him of the power he could have had in the past, but there are some gems in the season. “Dark Water” and “Death In Heaven” are two of those stories. Luckily the uninitiated will not have a problem following along with the little mine movie, as the two episodes really don’t need a lot of backstory. Sure you’d have a bit more knowledge of some of the characters like Clara (Jenna Coleman), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and the Mistress (Michelle Gomez) as well as the importance and historical significance of the Cybermen, but you get the gist of their origins and relationships quite easily within the first 30 minutes.
Clara has finally expressed her love to her Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), only to have him die in a freak car accident not 30 seconds later. Stricken with grief, she has the Doctor take her to “hell”, using the Tardis, in order to try and bring Danny back from the dead. The Tardis takes them to where Danny is, but it seems that the afterlife is a bit different than we though. The location that the Tardis sent them was a place called S3, an afterlife allocation company that services the needs of the afterlife to rich clients. Danny is stuck in what is called the Nethersphere, e.g. the afterlife, or a storage facility for dead bodies. Things turn south really fast when the curator of the company, Missy (Michelle Gomez) turns out to be a long running enemy of the past (fans of the series will have no problem recognizing who he/she really is at the mention of her name). It turns out that Missy is using the company as a front to harvest dead souls and upload them to a giant computer from the Timelord’s home world in an effort to re-upload their consciousness into the bodies of Cybermen. For those who haven’t kept up. The Cybermen are a group of cybernetic beings, part man and part machine, who are a strange mixture of the Borg and Cylons. Missy has taken direct control of these beings and turned them into puppets for her will of world domination (well, universe domination really). Now it’s up to Doctor Who and Clara to shut down the program before the entire world comes to an end.
“Dark Water” is easily the better of the two episodes (or halves of the movie in this case), and is wickedly dark with it’s almost body horror taken on the afterlife. The introduction of Missy is almost inevitable, as whovians know exactly who this decades old villain really is. “Death in Heaven” is a bit weaker, as the Cybermen are such incredible Doctor Who villains, but are reduced to playing puppet under the control of Missy. It’s a solid ending to the season, and it looks like Clara may be replaced by the next Doctor Who girl (it seems he goes through them like Bond does romantic interests). They’re both fun episodes, and work well as a movie, but I have to give props to the first half a bit more than the second half.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56873[/img]The 2D 1.78:1 image looks very good, with a nice ash blue/grey color grading and solid detail. The show is definitely a TV show on a TV show budget, but the BBC has really gotten the most out of the series. There is very little OBVIOUS CGI, and tends to rely on practical effects for a majority of the film. Skin tones can look a bit pale as the blue/gray coloring makes everything look a bit grey. Near the latter part of the episodes and the very beginning, it looks a lot more natural, but once they go to S3 the image takes on that Blue/Grey sci-fi look. Fine detail is impressive, but never spectacular and black levels look very solid. Sometimes there’s a bit of greying out blacks, but nothing really egregious.
This pair of episodes was never shot on 3D material, so this is another post converted project, and a rather mediocre one at that. It’s pretty obvious that the 3D was put together hastily as you go from shot to shot and it’s very inconsistent with the levels of depth and layering. Some scenes look really nice, with solid backdrops, while others look flat and with very little 3D pop out. The image is definitely a bit dimmer than the 2D version, and as such the colors are a bit flatter and the blacks lean towards crush at times.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56881[/img]There is only one track on board the disc, and that is the Dolby Atmos track (or the Dolby TrueHD core if you’re not Atmos capable yet. The audio experience is good, but once again it feels like the show was not really recorded for an Atmos experience. Much of the surround usage and overhead usage is just relegated to a few beeps, bleeps and sounds of the tardis or the Cybermen, instead of creating a layer of immersive ambiance. The rest of the audio is a solid, but rather front heavy experience that replicates the regular showing of the series. There’s a nice front sound stage, with impeccable dialog and good panning effect. Unfortunately it’s not as wildly immersive as other Atmos track have been. I will give them this though. There were several LFE moments where the bass hits, and hits HARD.
• The Doctor's Meditation
• Wil Wheaton Interviews Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman - Extended
“Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death in Heaven” is a fun pair of episodes for the series, but really is kind of redundant for Doctor Who fans unless they want to watch the episodes in 3D or listen to the Atmos track. It works as an introduction for new fans and would be well worth renting to see if you like the show, but the Atmos experience is a bit weak, as is the 3D, so a rental is really where it’s at now. But for those of you who have never seen the show, it really works well as an introduction and should be treated as such in my opinion. Rental material for sure.
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
Written by: Steven Moffat
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core)
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 29th 2015
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