Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Well done everyone, we're halfway out of the dark

With the Christmas special, Steven Moffat again proves that the best episodes of Doctor Who are the ones that are full of ideas. Here a man watches his past Christmas Eves being changed as the Doctor introduces his younger self to an annually-defrosted woman. It's a version of Dickens' Christmas Carol, and this man is Scrooge, refusing to save a plummeting space ship in the skies of his planet. And there's flying fish. The story's not made up of lots of running around, but clever ideas expertly stuck together. With each Christmas Eve that passes, the mean old man gains new memories and new experiences. The woman that comes out of the ice every year teaches him that the world isn't so bad after all, and that the massive flying sharks are nothing to be afraid of if you've got a good singing voice. Doctor Who can work these seemingly random ideas into one episode without feeling messy. It takes skilled writing to make something like this seem coherent. It takes extraordinary writing to make it good. Yes, it uses plenty of dubious Who logic to reach its conclusion, but where there's a sonic screwdriver there is always a way. The usual companions are mostly absent, screaming somewhere up in the sky for the Doctor to save them. Instead there's Michael Gambon giving speeches like this: 'On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, well done. Well done everyone. We're halfway out of the dark.'

The reason I write so much about Doctor Who, more than any other TV show anyway, is that every episode is a new story, a new little film. They can't be grouped together and summarised in a few sentences. Doctor Who can do anything it wants and, in the new season, it probably will.


  1. Heh, I thought I recognized Michael Gambon. One of my favorite things about Stephen Moffat taking over is that we're seeing these amazing actors turn up on Dr. Who. Bonus: A Christmas episode NOT about the end of the world. Will look forward to this!

    I would like another episode in the coming season with the Dark Side (AKA Toby Jones) reappearing, please.

  2. And let's not forget the Doctor riding a shark. Ho, ho, ho!

  3. Great Christmas tello. I thought Katherine Jenkins was surprisingly good too considering she isn't an actress.

  4. adding you to my blog roll soon as I have a minute ! Loving the Moffat era more and more.

  5. ArtSparker - Agreed. The end of the world gets really boring. It never seems to happen.

    Drake - Also liked the psychic card malfuntion: 'finally a lie too big'.

    Gemma - She was pretty good. Good song, too.

    Mietek - Thanks for joining.

  6. I do like the way you have described it, especially the 'dubious Who logic!' I think 'where there's a sonic screwdriver there is always a way' should be adopted as a motto.