TV: Wholly good


Travel back in time to Christmas Day 2010 with Emer Sugrue and her review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special

This Christmas, Doctor Who finally succumbed to the inevitable – an episode based on A Christmas Carol. It seems to be a law that every show running longer than three years must have a version of A Christmas Carol. It must be the most ripped off plot in history.

Since the definitive adaptation, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, surely there is nothing more that can be wrung from that story. Despite my totally normal and non-obsessive love for Doctor Who, I was deeply sceptical about what enjoyment yet another adaptation could hold. However, this being Doctor Who and being written by the utterly marvellous Steve Moffat, the story manages to stay fresh by being massively self-aware.

The doctor happens upon Kazran, a man too bitter and selfish to help Amy and Rory after a spaceship crash on Christmas Eve. Hoping to save his friends, the doctor sets about engineering a Scrooge-style turnaround. Instead of taking him to the past and showing the error of his ways, the Doctor goes into Kazran’s past to give him a good holiday, therefore jollifying old man Kazran in time to save Christmas Amy and Rory. Of course, there is an hour to fill, so it doesn’t go quite to plan and devolves into a charming shambles.

The episode was the usual excellent standard we have come to expect from the series. My doubts were washed away as soon as we hit the opening credits and I was hooked all through. There was something for everyone, from the adults who know the original story inside out to the tiny kids who may never have come across it.

There are also a few quite rude jokes in there that were played so subtly that a child would never notice them. I can imagine, on Christmas Day, many parents choking on their sparkling wine while the children remained obliviously enchanted by the whimsy of it all.

It’s all terribly cheesy of course; there’s snow, carolling, slightly dodgy CGI flying sharks and the doctor even gets married to Marilyn Monroe at one point, but I thought I might explode with Christmas joy at the end. I was making odd squeaking noises throughout the show out of sheer childish glee. It was a perfect end to the series and I can’t wait to see what the next one has in store for us. According to rumours, there will be an episode written by Neil Gaiman as well as one featuring the staple of all time travel fiction: Nazis.