So I was about to go off on one regarding the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special before - but ran out of space. Well, ran out of a will to put every single Doctor Who thought in one post, is more like it. Anyway, here we go - and yes, it may well be spoilery.
Danger! Danger! Spoilers, Will Robinson! Do not read this post if you have not yet seen the 2010 Christmas Special!
So, easy start then: I loved it. Not a lot could detract from the excitement and sheer whacky good fun of Eleven running up and down, breaking laws of being a Timelord and basically making Christmas a bloody good time on telly. I loved the fish, the timey-wimey slant, the little quirky jokes and the fact that it didn’t have a Hollywood ending. Woah, let’s back up and qualify all that.
Breaking Laws of Being a Timelord:
“Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden. Except for cheap tricks.”
Yes. Ten said it, all incarnations of the Doctor know it, but Eleven decides to conveniently subvert his own ideas of what’s ok and what’s not and simply go back and rewrite Kazran’s memory. Nice. He did it with style, to be sure, and no doubt he can justify this to himself by weighing up the amount of ripples made to the space-time continuum as a whole versus four thousand lives on a spaceship that hadn’t yet died (except, fourth-dimensionally speaking, they had already not yet will have died). Quick question - was it the 4,000-odd people on the ship, or the fact that his two friends were aboard - and he had put them there as part of some honeymoon thing? And I noticed he referred to the people on the spaceship. I think I’m right in saying not once did he say he wasn’t going to let the ship crash because his Companion(s) was/were on it. Hmm. Anyway, as a catalyst, the spaceship plot was a good idea - and it did keep Amy out of the way, so I was particularly glad about that. I think he gets away with it. (And I’m reliably informed that Amy and Rory in outfits was rather like Rodney and Cassandra in ‘Only Fools And Horses’.)
“It’s going to eat us!”
“Well perhaps we’ll eat it - but I don’t like the odds!”
From fish using fog to swim in the air, to the female shark out to lunch, it was all typical Doctor Who - take the norm and skew it just enough to make it cool, and slap on some skience to make it passably believable. Or, in a word, ace. We know fish, we know sharks, we can relate to them. Put them in the hands of Stephen Moffat and you get anarchy in the physics classroom that amounts to excellence in the ideas department. Weaving all that around the delta-wave patterns of some bird singing her Welsh heart out and you have a heart-warming tale of consideration. But not too thickly spread. Again, good stuff.
“Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him: Jeff.”
Oh, it was rich. It was snappy. It was Stephen Moffat writing Eleven at his best - respectively. Just sheer bloody fun. I doubt there was a sentence in there that Mr Moffat didn’t pore over and adjust twenty times to make it just that little bit more amusing (or was gazumped by Matt Smith ad-libbing, perhaps). As a script, it was genius. As a mechanism to show how fab the Doctor can be when he’s not hindered by an annoying Companion, it did very, very well. No words can describe how much fun it is to listen to Matt Smith going off on one as if he’s the victim of the universe’s largest sugar rush, and yet coming off like some absent-minded professor who’s just dying to show something fab to his class because they’ll like it. Some of my favourite lines:
“A big flashy-lighty thing, that’s what brought me here. Big flashy-lighty things have got me written all over them. Well actually, give me Time. And a crayon.”
Doctor: “Clever old Mrs Manto - she only went and won the lottery.”
Kazran: “There isn’t any lottery.”
Doctor: “I know! What a woman!”
“Do you know, there’s a thing called a Face Spider. It’s just like a tiny baby’s head with spider legs and it specifically evolved to scuttle up the backs of bedroom cupboards. Which… yeah, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned.”
And then the follow-up gag which wins above all others, simply for the way Matt Smith delivers the fatal line:
Kazran: “Are there any Face Spiders in here?”
Doctor: “Nah, not at this time of night. They’ll all be sleeping in your mattress.”
And then there was the one that made me go out and make a t-shirt because I loved it so much:
“What do you call it if you don’t have any feet… and you’re taking a run-up?”
And little in-jokes, perhaps regarding a certain other Timelord bird (Timelady?):
Kazran: “I kiss her now?”
Doctor: “Trust me, it’s this or go to you room and design a new kind of screwdriver. Don’t make my mistakes.”
Even the lines that were perfectly ordinary get turned into a prompt for out-and-out laughter when they are spewed from the Doctor’s mouth:
“Marilyn! Get your coat!”
“People think that Time is a linear progression from one thing to another, when in fact it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, uhm, stuff.”
Hard to forget those words. Said by Ten, written by Stephen Moffat. Of course. Which is what Stephen Moffat does best - playing with Time. He can jump backwards and forwards, he can write stories that rely on the wibbly-wobbliness of Time to work - with his stories, Time isn’t so much a backdrop for the Doctor, it’s another character in the play. As it should be, with someone who fannies about in the fourth dimension for fun. So many of the Doctor’s stories forget he’s a time traveller, once the actual landing has taken place. It’s a real treat to get Moffat screwing with timelines and using Time to the story’s advantage, and I hope he has more of these ideas on his laptop.
This is not the Hollywood ending you’re looking for:
The Doctor let her die. He did. Because there was nothing he could do? No - he didn’t even ask, didn’t even check. Because it was the right thing to do? Perhaps. From someone’s point of view, somewhere. Then again, ‘many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.’ (Thanks, Ben.) We’ll never know exactly why he didn’t bother to try and help Abigail - but perhaps we don’t need to. It’s One Of Those Times. It needed to be left. And anyway, he gave her a good way to go. How many other people can get back in touch with a very close friend to ride a shark-cab on their last day? Not bad.
I think I’m all done. (Except for - woah woah woah, Eleven - isomorphic controls? Didn't the Master use them on his laser screwdriver? Just asking...) All I can say is, this was a great episode and it more than made up for the rather lacking latter half of series five. I can only hope that series six is as good.
That’s shallot. Onion. I’m off. Probably back soon in my usual vitriolic mood.
But for now - peach and lube, people. Peach and frelling lube.
~ Doctor Who ~ BBC ~ David Tennant ~ Matt Smith ~ Stephen Moffat