Christmas time just wasn’t the same last year. Yes, there were presents, yes there was too much food and yes, there was a new episode of Doctor Who on the telly but it just wasn’t right: Good as The End of Time was, the sense of overhanging, foreboding, impending devastation in the build-up to the death of David Tennant’s Doctor just didn’t feel right while everyone else was off to eat, drink and be merry. And, thankfully, that is a mistake that Steven Moffat has not made in his first seasonal special, as we head towards The Christmas Invasions’ only contender for Christmassy-ist Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Set on Christmas Eve, billed as “The deepest part of winter, the exact midpoint” or, as the Doctor puts it “Half way out of the darkness”. While we see that as a strange way to think of the festive period, one man who wouldn’t is Kazran Sardick, an old man who holds the key to saving four thousand passengers aboard the Sardicktown, a large spaceship headed for impending doom.
Sardick has grown tired of life and sees no point in saving any of these lesser mortals, which includes the Doctor’s companions, the newly-wed Amy and Rory Williams. (Although feminist Amy is still sticking by her old moniker of Pond, if the credits are anything to go by. Gwen Cooper in Torchwood did the same when destined for the same surname. Honestly, what is wrong with Williams?) So far, so Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The thing to remember is that (As all who have watched Christopher Eccleston story The Unquiet Dead will know) the Doctor and Charles Dickens are pals- Surely he couldn’t bring himself to steal his mate’s story? Trailers show him announcing “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past”- Using someone elses works for his own gain is somewhat of a moral dilemma for the Doctor, once again played by Matt Smith who puts in a similarly sterling job to what he did with his first season in charge of the TARDIS.
Joining him this Christmas are not one but two of the usual big stars with Dumbledore himself, seasoned actor Michael Gambon playing Sardick and Welsh songstress Katharine Jenkins tries her hand at something else before she has to sing the national anthems again in the Six Nations, ‘becoming’ Abigail in her first-ever acting job. However, to avoid getting her too lost in her new job, she does pop out a little tune mid-way through to keep everyone going on.
The guest acts sum it up: Something old, something new. While it may draw plenty of inspiration from the original A Christmas Carol and movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life, the story is defiantly, inherently, Doctor Who. While there are still elements of danger and plenty of running around to keep us on the edge of our seats, gone is the none-the-more-black approach of last years’ Christmas episodes replaced by just what we want to watch at Christmas. Perfect holiday viewing coming up, 6PM, BBC One.