Monday, 27 December 2010

DW: A Christmas Carol

When I watched this, I got a certain sensation that the basic conceit was familiar, although about the Doctor trying to get a library book... gee, I wonder why...

Anyways, this is pure schmaltz. Even more, it is Steven Moffat schmaltz which, when it works, is schmaltz turned up to 11. And, to be honest, when we get to the end, the dial is twisted hard... and, yes, the schmaltz starts to rule. Thumbs up, mate, thumbs up...

(And this kind of knocks RTD's xmas attempts into a cocked hat. Do we need aliens every where? Do we need a giant lumbering mechanical construction? Do we, even, need earth under threat? Nope. We just need a great story about trying to convince one man to be good.)

I haven't seen the Confidential yet, but I'll bet that Steven Moffat says something like "We take A Christmas Carol, a wonderful Christmas story, and give it a Doctor Who twist". [Reminder to self: come back and edit this before posting if that line isn't there... however Ben Stephenson has already said it.] Fortunately, Moffat doesn't excuse that this just happens to fit that story, but has the Doctor get the idea to replicate it (by hanging up a lampshade... well, he should have just to complete the idea). Although with a nice time travel twist on Christmas Future. Nicely done all around really. [And although I deserve a near-slapping for asking: what about the BLE, eh? Just going to discard established rules because it makes for a better narrative? Damn you, Steven!]

Michael Gambon, eh? There's an actor who knows what he's doing? There are a few confrontations with the Doctor where I went "Matt, you've got a long way to go yet." And Katherine Jenkins, so beautiful. And quite the singing voice! Talk about a Christmas treat! (Another treat: Karen Gillan back in the police uniform, ta Steve!)

A mixture of classical and the new, Steven Moffat brings tears to Christmas...

Coming Soon: Do we really need the Ood back? And the companions get possessed by Zsasz at some point?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked the shark. It was used well, on multiple levels. First up this is _Doctor Who_, so it needs an obligatory monster. So we get a cool looking flying shark that gives the kiddies the scary chase scene in the bedroom, which is a very monstery plot function.

But then it gets used as a reason to go on a quest. ZOMG, we have to save the poor defeated shark! How? We'll go down and get a freezer unit for it, and that means we get to meet the pretty girl who sings to fish and who has only a few days left to live, which in turn leads into the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boys turns into a bitter old man who *still* won't turn off the weather control machine. (And the Doctor probably should have expected a complication like that, because the universe has already resisted his attempts to change history before, when he went off the deep end with the Time Lord Victorius schtick in 'Waters Of Mars'.)

And in the end the shark gets used for a third purpose, as a symbol for regaining wonderment and happiness when it gets harnessed to pull the flying carriage again. Earlier the Doctor had marvelled at the prosect of flying fish ("I love new planets!"), and our toothsome friend re-adopts that theme of wonder. Flying fish are wonderful (they cause wonder) even if some of them are big predators that are also terrific (they provoke terror).

As for the Blinovitch Limitation effect... yeah, well. You and me and the rest of even-semi-hardcore-Who-fandom will obsess about it (maybe the Doctor has fitted out some type of paradox engine inside the TARDIS for Just Such An Emergency?). But the truth is that the 21C series has gone out of its way divorce itself from both strict continuity (at least two soft reboots: the Last Great Timewar occurring offscreen, and The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang at the end of last season) plus the repeated use of the convention that the rules of time are complicated and are not going to be explained to the audience (in short: wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey; in long: some points in history are fixed, others aren't and can be changed). Yes, I expect they will discard established rules if it makes for a better narrative. And in the long run: as long as that make DW a popular show with the mainstream audience, then this will be the right thing to do.