Director: Toby Haynes
Writer: Steven Moffat
Principal cast: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Katherine Jenkins and Michael Gambon
Broadcast date: 25th December 2010.
The Doctor’s companions Amy (Gillan) and Rory (Darvill) are trapped whilst on honeymoon aboard a space liner destined to crash into a planet inhabited and controlled by lonely old miser Kazran Sardick (Gambon). Although the richest man in Sardicktown and controller of the tamed storm infested skies surrounding his planet he refuses to help The Doctor (Smith) save his friends.
But is the old miser beyond redemption as The Doctor becomes the ghost of Christmas past to show Sardick the error of his ways?
Moffat and Smith manage to craft something touching and in tune with the season by creating a new spin on a familiar story by borrowing not only from Dickens but also Moby Dick, Citizen Kane and Tim Burton.
Smith is simply great as The Doctor and his kooky fifties post war professor with flourishes of comedy and angst seem to embody everything from a young Patrick Troughton through to Michael Palin and even Peter Snow from Newsnight!
Hopefully he will keep to his word and continue to explore and expand the character foundation laid down during 2010.
Gambon brings a gravitas to Sardick and is quite simply electrifying to watch throughout the episode switching emotions as his wasted life is gradually rewritten by the time travelling Doctor. Elsewhere the off kilter flying fish and homage to Moby Dick via a man eating shark allow for a diversion from the drama by providing the necessary monster thrill.
Visually it’s a very rich episode with a mixed bag of influences, the highlight being the Citizen Kane (1941) style movie images of Sardick’s past projected on to his library wall and the ice vaults used to freeze his dying love (Jenkins) and those financially in debt to him.
It’s not perfect, I would have liked to have seen more of Amy and Rory but they were after all a foil to the focused events taking place below and Moffat crams so much in to the episode that the story does need a second viewing to fully digest everything.
Some fan boys will have wanted "Clash of the Cybermen" or yet another “Darlek invasion of London" but truth be told, the previous seasonal specials had really very little to do with a Christmas vibe and were just another excuse for what I personally believed to have become just lazy invasion or action stories with a previous incarnation of the Doctor who had failed to evolve as a character during his time in the Tardis.
A Christmas Carol may be too sweet for some but it acts as a breather after the more challenging, adult and excellent first season for Smith and the new cast with the added bonus of the new season trailer promising to continue the more complex story lines and darker tones explored during the last year.
All out for the kitchen sink and so sweet it should never have been allowed, Moffat’s Who inspired fairytale is simply great and acts as a breather for the darker stories to follow in Spring 2011. Cannot wait……