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Dickens' story gets the Doctor Who treatment, full of mad humor and
personal tragedy as the Doctor has to reclaim a damaged soul in a world
of flying sharks to save Amy, Rory (Arthur Darvill getting an upgrade
to Companion status with a front-of-credits listing) and four thousands
other people on a crashing space ship. With the great Michael Gambon as
that Scrooge-like figure, it takes only half the show to manage the
effort -- but series producer Steven Moffat never makes things that
As a fancier of Charles Dickens and the Doctor, I am quite taken with another example of how the Doctor treats all time as simultaneous, rushing back and forth to get information from Gambon to get himself out of scrapes half a century earlier.
Moffat has shown a dab hand at making Victorian stories sensible to a twenty-first audience in series like JEKYLL and SHERLOCK. I'm glad he has decided to do the same for Scrooge.
Oh, and Karen Gillan makes a wonderful Ghost of Christmas Present in a short skirt.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Have just finished watching, and it was a touching, sometimes funny,
but at no time was it cloying or overly sentimental. It whipped along
at a good pace, and the performance were all good from Gambon, which
was only to expected, to Katherine Jenkins, who for someone who had
never really acted before was a very pleasant surprise, even if she did
have to sing to a shark, but that is not as silly as it sounds when you
see why in the last ten minutes. The ending is sad, but in a way
uplifting, and you try not to have a lump in your throat, or a slight
tear in your eye. .
I loved this episode, perfect for the holidays. Imaginative,
unpredictable, original and a great holiday diversion.
Some viewers seem to find it necessary to pick apart the plot and think of ways the Doctor could've resolved things without jumping back and forth in time, or that time-lords shouldn't be doing it for those reasons. It's the Christmas Special; rather removed from the series in general and is meant to be enjoyed in the spirit of the holidays, let go and have fun with it ;)
My only criticism is that you can't yet purchase that wonderful song written for the show, sung by Katherine Jenkins -- "Abigail's Song".
Without any Wallace & Gromit and robbed of "big" movies by virtue of
everyone seeing them already, the BBC continue to put all their festive
spirit on the back of reality dancing shows and the annual outing for
Doctor Who. This is not the place for people such as myself that
watches Doctor Who for the occasional darkness and engaging plots and
just puts up with the kiddie-friendly silliness that it will always
have; no, the Christmas special is usually full of colourful, noisy
nonsense and Bernard Cribbins in a Santa hat. So there was a certain
amount of "strapping in for the ride" when I heard the plot of this
years special (which it took me till now to watch happy Christmas!).
The plot is essentially that Amy and Rory are on a spaceship crashing onto a planet but trapped in a thick cloud layer which is controlled by one man on the ground. Kazran Sardick is a real sour dick though and decides to just let the ship crash and kill everyone. Unable to do it without his help, the Doctor decides to travel back in time and show Sardick the miracle of Christmas, thus changing him into a good person and getting him to allow the ship to land. Meanwhile though, the Doctor cannot help but also be mystified by the cloud layer, in which fish freely swim and live. So it is a version of A Christmas Carol with flying sharks basically sounds like a recipe for silly spectacle and easy sentiment right? Well, a little, but far less than I expected.
The viewer does have to deal with the image of a shark harnessed like a reindeer flying through the sky, but otherwise the special is actually very engaging and smartly done. The Christmas Carol aspect is actually pretty good and it even held my interest even though I'm not one for the whole "what a special day Christmas is" thing. Gambon plays his scrooge really well and I thought he gave the special a lot of heart. I had assumed that Jenkins would be a novelty but, while not brilliant, she was reasonably OK. Smith worked the thing as well as one would expect while neither Gillan nor Darvill (who really should not be in it in my opinion) didn't have much to do other than be the plot device but weirdly the special was better for their absence.
Overall this was a really enjoyable Christmas special which (unlike the Poseidon in Space one the other year) actually feels festive due to its content rather than its trimmings. Engaging, quite clever, quite touching while also having the silliness that kids need much better than I expected it would be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having had a season to get used to Matt's Smith's incarnation as The
Doctor and Karen Gillan as is beautiful assistant Amy Pond it is time
for their first Christmas special; would it turn out to be rather twee
or would it be a classic? It was a classic! As the episode opens a
space liner is in trouble, heading towards a planets where it appears
to be doomed to crash; that is until one of the passengers, Amy Pond
who is on honeymoon with Rory, summons her friend The Doctor to help.
Unfortunately he can't help directly but a man called Kazran Sardick on
the planet can, unfortunately that man shows no desire to help so The
Doctor is forced to persuade him using Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' for
his inspiration. Going back in time he changes the bitter old man's
boyhood self. In the past the young Kazran meets a pretty woman who his
father has frozen in his basement, they let her out because they need
her freezer then on subsequent Christmas Eves the three of them go out
together until on day Kazran announces that he wants the tradition to
end leaving the woman frozen. The Doctor is not told the reason
although the viewers know so can sympathise with Kazran. The old
Kazran's memories may have changed but now he just has different
reasons to be bitter, the Doctor; and a hologram of Amy, must convince
him to help them and the only way left will mean a great sacrifice on
I thought this was a great variation on the theme of 'A Christmas Carol' it used science fiction rather than spectres to visit the past and show it to the elder Kazran and surprisingly didn't find an easy route to avoid a sad ending. The two stars were great but after the previous series I expected that; Michael Gambon brought suitable gravitas to the role of the elder Kazran and I'd never have guessed that this was singer Katherine Jenkin's first acting role. I liked the idea of fish swimming in the fog and the little fish did indeed look great; unfortunately the shark CGI looked obvious, even so I laughed when the Doctor flew in a carriage pulled by the shark in what is one of the strangest variations on Father Christmas and his reindeer that I've seen. Fans of Karen Gillan may be upset that Amy doesn't get as much screen time as usual this episode but the should be happy that she is wearing her 'sexy policewoman' costume again clearly her and Rory were playing dress-up in the honeymoon suite when disaster struck!
In summary this was another great episode from the pen of Steven Moffat and starring a top notch cast that had plenty of thrills, heart-warming moments and a bitter-sweet ending that had me smiling and crying simultaneously.
I can't say I've been impressed by Mopffat's version of DOCTOR WHO .
Season five was easily the weakest season of the resurrected show and
gave the impression that the audience were watching cast off scripts
from the previous regime of RTD even down to the Tennantesque dialogue
of the eleventh Doctor so I expected to see some seasonal fluff with
the oxymoronic sub heading of " Christmas special "
Premonitions were confirmed in the opening hook where Amy and Rory are aboard an intergalactic cruse liner which instantly reminded me of the STAR TREK movies . Not only does Moffat rip off RTD but he also has to seek inspiration from ST . Things weren't looking good for Amy , Rory and thgis viewer
Despite this I became more and more involved as the story continued. It's a sophisticated reworking of A Christmas Carol featuring unrequited love and redemption . What works so well apart from the stunning performances of Gambon and Jenkins is the lightness of touch in Moffat's writing . It's manipulative to a certain degree but we never get the teeth gnashing and tear stained scenes that caused overkill in the RTD finales
If there's a slight flaw to the story it borders on being a fantastical fairytale rather than straightforward science fantasy that the show was famous for since its inception in 1963 . But Moffat has described that he thinks of the show as being a dark fairy tale and if he takes the show in this direction he'll certainly get no complaints from me . Especially since Matt Smith seems to improve in every episode he's in
As a footnote however I notice this special has only received an average rating of 6.8 which is on a par with Victory Of The Daleks ! I do hope fans aren't expecting to see old monsters appear adnausuem in season 6
This is one of the most beautiful episodes of Doctor Who. It's almost a
year since i watched it, and simply can't get it out of my head.
Perfect Christmas episode, guaranteed to have tears in your eyes by the
end of the show.
This special has that fine line of strange, funny, sad and exciting. Steven Moffat at his best.
I hope the next Xmas special will be as good as this one. Season is also good, so special continue to give prediction of season that will follow in the new year. Can't wait for new episodes of this silly show, that has something that holds you and doesn't lose it's grip for a long long time.
Highly entertaining and perfectly fitting for Christmas.
Takes an old tale and masterfully reinvents it, meshing it seamlessly with the Doctor Who look and feel. Where many try to simply shift the story into a new setting, and by so doing botch the underlying message of the tale or make it so blatantly obvious as to strip it of all of its poetry, the Doctor Who team have managed to make it entirely their own while keeping its simple elegance.
This once again reaffirms my belief that Doctor Who is one of the best series on television in quite some time, even after having watched now for five years, each new episode continues to be new and refreshing.
One comment on the music ... beautifully executed, and magnificently sung by Katherine Jenkins ... did anyone else get the impression that "Abigail's Song" was strongly influenced by Philip Glass' "Open the Kingdom"?
Doctor Who's Christmas Specials have occasionally been hit and miss,
sacrificing quality for spectacle. I'm happy to say that this year's
entry did nothing of the sort.
Whilst in the honeymoon suite of a starship, Amy and Rory (dressed in their police and centurion costumes for reasons they don't wish to discuss) are about to crash land. Their only hope is Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon) a cruel old miser who controls the sky. Borrowing an idea from his old friend Charles Dickens, The Doctor shows Kazran his past, present and future in the hope of bringing some warmth to the old man's heart.
The visuals in this episode, particularly on Kazran's palace, are spectacular, but it is the acting that is the real treat this Christmas. Gambon is sublime as he subtly transforms in true Scrooge style, whilst soprano Katherine Jenkins makes a pleasing debut, although a plot point involving her singing may possibly point out some stunt casting.
But the real Christmas star here is Matt Smith, who has settled into the role quite comfortably by now, he manages to be both entertaining and empathetic at the same time, some of his best scenes involving his interaction with the young Kazran, and later when he finds himself engaged to most unusual (yet familiar) bride.
This years episode ends on a high, despite the tragic fate befalling one of the characters and leaves this reviewer hungry for more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was the first full episode of Doctor Who I watched (I had
previously caught bits and pieces and enjoyed it, but last Christmas I
sat down and watched this one), and it was a beautiful thing. I love
Matt Smith as the Doctor (don't love the series quite as much as with
Tennant, but he was helped by a wealth of amazing companions, both in
the Tardis and back on Earth), and he is at his best in this episode.
When he's allowed to act on his own, without Amy constantly harping on
him, he is brilliant.
A couple reviews have discussed the unfortunate broken rule of time travel, that you can't go back on your own timeline. Thankfully, they have not repeated this error. Also, upon discussing it with some other fans, we decided that this episode shows what happens when you DO violate that rule. Kazran, even after what should have been a happier adolescence, still ends up bitter, unhappy, and basically exactly the same as he started. Going back on your own timeline doesn't work - it wasn't until the Doctor helped him in the present that he became happier.
Either way, it is a beautiful, poignant story, with Matt Smith at his best.
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