Ah, the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Created by Russell T. Davies in the wake of Doctor Who’s revival in 2005, the annual Christmas Special has since become a mainstay of the show for the past 10 years, this last year’s being the 10th anniversary. Some people want toys, books, or video games under their tree., but for Doctor Who fans, this special is the gift we look forward to all year. It’s the only Doctor Who we’re getting this year after all.
As I’ve mentioned before, my personal favourite special is Matt Smith’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Out of all of them I think it’s the adventure that has the most to do with both Christmas and time travel. Christmas because it’s a Christmas special so there should be Christmas as a focal point and time travel because duh. Seriously, what’s a better idea for a Doctor Who Christmas Special then a story based on one of the most famous Christmas stories of all time?
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE DOCTOR WHO 2015 CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
The TARDIS is trying to cheer the Doctor up after the events of the last episode when a stranger knocks on the door asking for the Surgeon. He takes the Doctor to his queen, the Doctor’s wife Prof. River Song, played by Alex Kingston. River, however, doesn’t recognize the Doctor, having only ever seen his first 12 forms, including the War Doctor and not knowing about his new set of regenerations. Here’s where things get a bit confusing. River is married to King Hydroflax, a cyborg tyrant with a diamond stuck in his head that’s killing him. She’s there to steal it with the help of the Doctor and her husband Ramone. This is nothing new as the Doctor’s been married several times as well. That’s the trouble with marrying a time traveler. You have to share. From there, it’s spoilers as River tries to escape and sell the diamond while the Doctor tries to get River to realise who he is.
Let’s get to the acting first this time. Kingston and Capaldi are great as always. River Song is as an enigma as she always is, but it’s explained quickly enough that she DOES remember the Doctor. She just doesn’t know 12’s face. The other actors do well enough, but it’s the leads that shine the brightest. The final scene in particular is very touching and wraps up River’s story so nicely that there is no way they could possibly bring her back after this, finally giving us a scene the show’s been hinting at since David Tennant’s run.
While most of the characters on the show were humanoid, the new aliens we saw were interesting designs. In all honesty though, the bad guys and supporting characters were a bit weak this time though Ramone clearly loves River and vice versa but, her heart will always belong to the Doctor. Hydroflax was decently creepy, same with the main aliens of the week, and the Maître d’, was appropriately slimy. Any Hannibal fans getting a little Chilton vibe off him?
The story itself was…okay. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas outside an opening gag, but the parts with Kingston and Capaldi are pretty much the only ones you care about. The two work together just as well as Kingston did with Matt Smith and they make it clear that the Doctor still loves River and, even with the new body, still considers her his wife.
Also…wait! Do you have both now!? MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!
While this isn’t the best Christmas Special, far from it, I do feel it’s a satisfying conclusion to River Song’s arc…again. But considering Moffat’s leaving, there’s a good chance River won’t be back. She’s always been Moffat’s character and it’s very rare that someone else writes for her. I do recommend this special for the performance of Capaldi and Kingston alone. This is a better farewell for River than ‘The Name of the Doctor’ was.
Once again, farewell River. You will be missed. It’s been fun. Don’t come back.
That’s all for Doctor Who’s 2015 season and all for 2016 until the next Christmas Special. We’ll be getting a new companion and hopefully a better intro to her(?) than Clara got.
Next Time: The Sherlock New Years Special
(Photo via BBC)