Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol

Less than a week to go before the new series kicks off, and I’ve finally caught up with myself. Maybe I don’t suck after all. Normal blogging may even resume sometime soon…

“A Christmas Carol” has, of course, been parodied and pastiched to death over the years, but something about the 2010 Christmas special felt genuinely original. I’m not sure why; maybe it was the flying sleigh being pulled through the fog by a shark? In all seriousness, though, this episode was a joy to watch from start to finish. Certainly, Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who carries with it a new-found maturity, one comparable to the change in tone that arose under Philip Hinchcliffe in the mid-seventies. It’s as if the production team are now properly acknowledging that the audience is somewhat wider than young children and pitching the episodes accordingly. At the end of the last series, for example, the Doctor does some narratively complicated things with time travel that are complex enough to entertain a more mature audience, and younger viewers are given an explanation with flashbacks. Amy and Rory’s costumes, of course, are a knowing wink to the same mature audience. And the younger viewers do not get flashbacks.

Despite the central premise of Dickens’ work being kept, and Dickens even being cited as the Doctor’s inspiration for his plan, Doctor Who‘s Christmas Carol is a crazed beast all of its own. The consequence of failure is no longer that Scrooge dies lonely, but the deaths of hundreds on a crashing ship. Kazran Sardick is only changed in one night according to the linear narrative; the Doctor uses time travel to change him over years of his past. And it all takes place in a mad world where fish swim in the fog.

Strangely, this episode contains both more and less of Christmas than the previous specials. Most of Russell T. Davies’ specials shove Christmas in the viewers face at the start before quietly forgetting about it for the rest of the episode. Moffat, however, has the Doctor entreat Sardick in the name of Christmas, makes a series of Christmas Eve visits to Sardick’s younger self, and doesn’t overplay the Christmas decorations at any point. The whole thing comes off as a nice romp, subtly put together.

The casting, too, was excellent. Michael Gambon played the cantankerous old Sardick to perfection while Katherine Jenkins did a surprisingly good turn as Abigail. I’d say it was a gamble that paid off: the easy way out would have been to cast a tested actress and dub a session singer over the final scenes. That it was Jenkins own voice leant an air of authenticity to the finale.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying Matt Smith’s Doctor and the new series as a whole, and I’m quietly bouncing with excitement for Easter Saturday. Knowing my luck, however, I shall probably be working that Saturday night. Let’s hear it for iPlayer!

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~ by Scary Rob on 17 April, 2011.

One Response to “Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol”

  1. Roll on Easter…

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