I’m on record as not being the hugest fan of the most recent season of Doctor Who and as outright hating Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. So what did I think of this years Christmas special, which combined both? Read on, but be warned:
Simple truth is, I liked it. I thought it was a fun time, and was the sort of Christmas special we should have been getting all along. It was a cheerful, joyful story instead of the doom and gloom we usually get. Even the one death we do get isn’t the merciless tragedy they so often are.
And although it was a slap in the face to fans of the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (not to mention Adric), I like the idea of the Doctor blithely interfering with his own timestream and that of others in order not to save the universe or defeat a monster, but just to make a single person less unpleasant.
What’s more, he does it in a way that does more than just, ultimately, scare an old guy into being good (he scares a young kid into being good). He does it in a way that makes the transformation believable and lasting, despite all the supernatural hijinks.
Does it “ruin” other stories, seeing the Doctor happily futz with time, enter his own stream, seemingly contradict other things we’ve been told or shown? Not for me it doesn’t. I don’t even have to put the story on some special “non-canonical” shelf so that it doesn’t taint the “real” stories with its iconoclasm. Smith’s Doctor is far more anarchic than the other two incarnations in the new series, and I can fully believe he doesn’t care about the rules and laws the other two did. After all, what’s more absurd: Smith’s Doctor screwing around with one guy’s personal timeline or Tennant’s Doctor resigning himself to watching a bunch of innocent people die because of a “fixed moment in time” that has to be respected?
This story was, in my opinion, stronger than the entire previous season rolled together, and again that’s partly because there wasn’t much Amy Pond in it, who I’m starting to go from not liking too much to actively disliking. The writing was what I expect from Moffat instead of what he delivered in season five, and as usual I thought Matt Smith’s Doctor shone.
I’m really hoping this indicates a tighter season six, but we’ll see.