Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

One, yes so I haven’t posted for a while. Erm…I’m still here! Have you been telling people I’m dead? I’m perfectly fine, if a bit fangirlier than I was before. Yes, I now have a sonic screwdriver. Two sonic screwdrivers, to be exact. (10’s and 11’s, aka the blue one and the green one) And they make *the* sound! Well, I also have a TARDIS, and it also makes the sound (well, the other sound) and a disappearing TARDIS mug, and The Writer’s Tale (I’m on Chapter Three, and it’s insane! And gigantic. Poor Penny. Must be one helluva unlucky name.) and The Science Of Doctor Who…(Oh, Mr. Parsons you are a brilliant man, just to come up with the idea…) and…The Brilliant Book 2011…(“Don’t listen to Hitler. He’s rubbish.” Thanks, Rory!)…phew, I am one lucky girl.

But the Christmas Special, right? Doctor Who Christmas Specials are generally cheesy, with a general sense of “What the hell, it’s Christmas,” and, most importantly, a sense of warm and fuzziness. Yes, there’s still a monster of the week, but things tend to get more personal and intimate. The Christmas Invasion and The Next Doctor, for example, both boiled down to sitting down, drinking tea, and just having fun after the attack. Did A Christmas Carol accomplish this? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Sharks, fezzes, the Doctor getting married — twice!, morals, and AAAAAANGST after the jump.

Right, so it’s Dickens. I have to say, I was a bit dubious when I heard this. Does the world really need another Christmas Carol? There was a bit of an inevitability to the decision, that Doctor Who just had to use the Christmas Carol idea, since the idea was used by everyone writing a Christmas story. I’m always a little annoyed with this idea that there are some ideas that Doctor Who has to use, just because it’s a long-running show and these ideas are used all the time. Still,  I held out hope that Steven Moffat would bring a nice timey-wimey twist to the already timey-wimey story,  but I doubted how much of a ‘new twist’ this was going to be.

Strangely, the story didn’t seem hampered by the fact that it was Dickens. Sure, we had Scrooge, we had Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, but that was it. It didn’t seem bothered with redoing all the little minutiae of the original story into the space theme here, which was nice. Scrooge wasn’t really adapted into a space theme here. Kazran was the same as every Scrooge, grumpy, mean and Christmas-hating. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, however, were quite different.

First, as seems to happen a lot in adaptations of A Christmas Carol, the Ghosts weren’t really ghosts. Nothing about them was supernatural, as usual it was all explained away scientifically (except for the singing, Moffat did a good job of making fun of himself when the space fish were attracted to the singing: Eleven tries to technobabble his way into an explanation, and young Scrooge Kazran says “SHUT UP THEY JUST LIKE THE SINGING!”).

Second, there was changing the past instead of showing Scrooge his past, an interesting twist but not something that could carry the whole thing on its own. Then there was Amy the hologram, something that seemed a bit boring but at least gave Amy a bit of screen time (the Doctor needs his companions, isn’t that something we’ve already learned from the RTD era?) Then of course, the finale, a very literal version of The Ghost Of Christmas Present. Though it was clever, none of this was clever enough to make the whole episode. So on to the fun.

Oh dear, this episode tried so hard to be full of wacky zaniness, at least in the early bits. Early on, the Doctor, young Scrooge Kazran and the beautiful singing woman (she had so little characterization, I’m just going to call her that…but also I’ve forgotten her name) did lots of craaazy stuff. They wore fezzes, they were pulled by flying sharks, the Doctor got “married” to Marilyn Monroe…yes, it was fun while it lasted.

But every time, beautiful singing woman was pushed back into the freezer, with no thought that they could possibly keep her out of the freezer, and no thought to the millions of frozen people standing behind them. It was a bit annoying, really. There’s a review discussing the issue more here. In fact, the Doctor seemed to have a bit of trouble with morals this time, like the Tenth Doctor’s final end, which is a bit worrisome. It wouldn’t be good for Eleven to become as flawed and angsty as his predecessor, not now.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional on Moffat’s part, but there was another question of morals that was similar to Genesis Of The Daleks, a Fourth Doctor story. To catch you up, Genesis had the Fourth Doctor on a mission to destroy the Daleks at their very beginning, thus the title. Of course he would do it, right? A chance to get your very worst enemies out of the way, who wouldn’t do it? But he didn’t. His reasoning was that even the pain and suffering caused by the Daleks brings people together and causes happiness, and he didn’t have the right to undo everything that’s ever been influenced by the Daleks, good and bad.

Now here, in A Christmas Carol, the Doctor changes Scrooge Kazran’s past. For the better, you might say, taking his evil dad out of the picture. But what about any happiness that came from that? I assume this isn’t just a black and white world, that there’s a little grey, and that Kazran’s evil dad was more than simply evil. Now, of course, there was just one person changed here, as opposed to the many, many people affected by the Daleks. But as the Doctor said himself:

“I’ve never met anyone who isn’t important.”

And that “little people” sort of mentality reminds me of The Waters Of Mars and the beginning of the end of Ten. Having that angst-filled “dark Doctor” episode remind me of this whimsical “fairytale” Christmas special is not really a good thing.

The characters? Meh. They serve their purpose, Scrooge Kazran is Scrooge-y, beautiful singing woman is beautiful, helpful, and a love interest, the poor family is poor – but happy!, everyone on the ship is sad, and sadly there’s not much more to it. Well, except the Doctor. Despite the moral problems, he’s zany, comical, but ever so subtly angsty here.

Ah, I realize I seem a bit cynical and meh about the whole thing here. The sum of the parts is greater than the parts this time, fortunately. And it is a whimsical, fun, sappy, and overblown hour, as always with Christmas specials. Yes, there were problems, and yes it raised some unfortunate questions, but overall it’s worth it. If you’re into Doctor Who, or want a timey-wimey way to get into the Christmas spirit, watch this.

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About queenofokay

I'm Isabelle. I'm in 9th grade and go to school at Oak Hill School in Oregon. I love books and food. (And Doctor Who!) I fan-fic as Space Gandalf on Teaspoon (http://www.whofic.com/) I also love branding website Brand New, and magazine Mental_Floss. Music - The Talking Heads, Phoenix, Bombay Bicycle Club, .

4 responses to “Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol”

  1. Geoffrey Dow says :

    Here because I noticed that you’d linked to my review, and pleased that I dropped in. To my mind, in your decision not to look up “beautiful singing woman’s” name, you very nicely summed-up an awful lot of what was wrong with this episode.

    On the other hand, I’m not so pleased I dropped in because, until today, I had no idea that such an abomination as a “turducken” even existen. *shudders*

  2. Robert Carnegie says :

    Well, one hour plus “the making of” for an hour if you watched that, does that count or did it just seem longer or…?

    We’ve been told previously that Doctor Who can’t simply change the past, partly because very disproportionately bad things happen very quickly – compare Rose Tyler’s “Father’s Day” story to the “Final Destination” film series – and, of course, partly because if he could just go back in time and fix things, most of the stories would last about five minutes. So this time he couldn’t change everything that was “wrong” in the past along with the rest of what he was doing…

    Also, I got a bit fed up with it being dark all the time. It isn’t dark in Dickens’s “Christmas Carol”!

    (I assume that “Sardicktown” relates to “It’s a Wonderful Life”, however!)

    • isabellerogers says :

      Ah, well, on BBC America they didn’t show the Confidential. A bit annoying, I like to hear random facts associated to the episode, but I feel lucky that us Americans can watch Doctor Who (legally) at all.

      As far as changing the past, a lot of time travel “rules” of previous seasons seem to have been tossed aside by Steven Moffat, like the idea that you can’t touch your past or future self. That was a big no-no in seasons 1-4. But in the Season 5 finale, “The Big Bang”, even the Doctor gave his future self a hug, and in “A Christmas Carol” young Scrooge hugs old Scrooge and nothing happens.

      Being dark all the time in Sardicktown probably relates to the mantra of the episode, “Halfway out of the dark”.

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