It's Christmas Day on a remote human colony, and the Doctor is hiding from carols and comedy antlers. But when the Time Lord's help is requested, he finds himself recruited into River Song's squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy! King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious and his giant robot bodyguard is out-of-control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River work out who the Doctor is? All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and at a destination the Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time...
As Mels, River used the phrase "penny in the air" when someone was oblivious to something important, following up with "and the penny drops" when they finally figured it out, seen in Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler (2011). Ironically, River is guilty of becoming the butt of her own joke for being oblivious to the fact that the Doctor is right in front of her until it is made indubitable. See more »
If River had already dug up the wreckage of the spaceship 400 years later, why is she surprised when she recognizes what planet it is crashing on? See more »
Changes to the opening credits were made for this Christmas time episode. There are added snowstorm effects that the Tardis flies through and in addition the circling 'planets' (visible just after the Alex Kingston credit) are in fact Christmas ornaments. See more »
Christmas Special 2015: The Husbands of River Song: Sells its weaknesses by virtue of managing to be entertaining and enjoyable
I think for the majority of people the most recent season of Doctor Who was not all it could have been – although the reasons are different depending on whom you are speaking to. Part of this is due to the season feeling ill at ease with what it is trying to do – delivering plots that ask for a knowledge of episodes from decades ago, but yet still very much being 'Nu Who'; having darker elements but yet still copping out of them, and so on. It was a season that I found as much to like as I did to dislike and it was rather uneven in its tone and content. So the usual Christmas Special was a worry – particularly since it is always a bit of a dice-roll in terms of quality.
To be fair though, the special is the opposite of the season that had gone before it; not because it was lighter and easier to enjoy (although it was) but simply because it seemed to know precisely what it was doing, how it wanted to do it, and how long it wanted to do it for. The plot is a solid adventure one; it has comedy, danger, some silliness, and it ends on a nice note which doesn't totally overdo the sentiment. Of course the plot is somewhat daft, but this is Doctor Who on Christmas Day, so the important thing is that it has enough about it to support the daftness, the comedy casting, and the Christmas clichés being worked into it. Personally I though it did, and the material kept things moving along with a sense of fun but not being stupid enough that I didn't care.
And this is not to say that I wasn't tested by some of the convenient or silly writing (for instance the robot being defeated by the moneyball which the Doctor happened to have drop into his lap at that second), but it does carry itself with enough energy and fun to more or less forgive it these weaknesses. The performances are a big part of this happening. Capaldi seems to enjoy himself, and his sarcasm and slightly dour edge is nicely used (the scene where he gets to do the 'wow, its bigger on the inside' thing is a lot of fun). Although I am not a great fan of her character all the time, Kingston works with Capaldi very well here, and the two enjoy themselves. Outside of them everyone else is support and does decent jobs – even Lucas was a lot less annoying than I had assumed he would be when he first popped up.
I'm not really sure anymore what I want Doctor Who to 'do' as a show, and the whole modern era seems quite uneven and changeable when you look back over it – so I will not draw any big conclusions or make sweeping statements following this special. That said, although I would not want every episode to be like this, I did enjoy the energy and commitment of this special; it seemed to know what it wanted to do and, although it came with all the usual problems, it mostly sold them and made it work by virtue of being entertaining – which is really good enough some times.
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