DVD Extras for this story on the 15-episode box sets include:
But the episode quickly gathers itself around that intrepid trio of the Silurian investigator Madame Vastra, her loyal sidekick Jenny Flint, and ex-nurse Sontaran Commander Strax. As my reviews of the one at Demon's Run (story no. 223) and "The Snowmen" (story no. 236) have already indicated, I love this trio! Getting another episode with them makes it worthwhile to come to England in 1893. Oh yes! This adventure takes place several months after their last one ("The Snowmen"), keeping their chronology easy to follow.
As the story unfolds, it appears that this pseudo-superhero trio is here to take over the center-stage from the Doctor, indicating that this may indeed be the annual double-banked story filmed while Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman are off shooting a completely different episode. But the Doctor turns up about 1/3 of the way through, and proceeds to be every bit as strong a participant. Bonus! I don't know how Matt Smith manages to pull this off every year. Clara is here too, but seems to have a bit of a reduced role, as though Coleman really is on a double-banked schedule.
Vastra and Strax also keep themselves quite busy as well, and deliver their usual charm on cue. Each member of the trio has critical things to do during this adventure right up through its climax, and so the story makes good use of them both separately and as a team.
Apart from the characters he inherited, Gatiss comes up with many of his own. Mrs. Gillyflower, her daughter Ada, and the all-too-enthusiastic coroner really pop off the screen with that unique trademark flavour that says they are Gatiss characters - a bit bizarre but with a twinkle and a bit of humour (sometimes quite dark) which keeps them easy to watch. The woman that befriends Jenny in the Sweetville line-up also makes a positive impression without much screentime in which to do it. The humour in this story works fairly well and is plentiful. Dame Diana Rigg in particular seems to be really enjoying her lines, giving the impression of a lively villain who relishes the nastiness she is able to inflict on the world.
The plot never really did grab my interest for what it was, but thankfully it does hold up far better than many other plots that we've endured this season, and the viewer is not required to struggle to follow it. We can instead relax a bit and enjoy the character interaction. In fact, the characters even find time to satirize the episode title that encapsulates the plot, and make the horror aspect of the story sound a bit pretentious. I don't mind that so much. I'll go for satire over horror any day.
It's also really nice to check in with the Vastra/Strax/Jenny trio regarding the larger season-long mystery of Clara. They were there when it all began, and they're still as baffled as the Doctor was at the end of "The Snowmen". The Doctor still doesn't seem too sure of anything he's learned since though. This story has the scenes to make sure that point comes across, and with charm.
Both the Doctor and Clara have good things to do at the end of this one to resolve the conflicts, ensuring that they are as well-served as the interplanetary trio. It is a much more satisfying ending here than we've seen in many of Gatiss's earlier Doctor Who scripts.
Tacked on to the end we have a scene of Clara arriving back at her present-day home, only to be blackmailed about her traveling by the two kids she looks after. In many ways this is much more about setting up the next story than tying off anything in this one. But it is strange that she now seems to be going back to the initial pattern of "dating" the Doctor, instead of appearing as though she has moved into the TARDIS with him like most other companions did in the past. The kids also insist on referring to the Doctor as Clara's boyfriend, a title she does not argue with. As intriguing as all this is, it does seem to indicate that their relationship is flipping back and forth over its very nature as the season continues.
This story has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
This story is also available in an 8-episode volume with minimal extra features.
The U.K. version also includes the episode "The Snowmen"; North American versions do not.
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