Friday, December 30, 2011


"It's a glowing, pulsating package...what's to be afraid of in
a glowing, pulsating package?"
"Are you the new caretaker?"
"Usually called The Doctor, or The Caretaker, or Get Off This Planet...though, strictly speaking, that probably isn't a name."

1) mincing around with this special, is there? Let's just chase Matt Smith around a disintegrating starship then toss him off it, why don't we?

2) Right off the top, I appreciate that Moffat has chosen to make this special a showcase for Smith's talent for physical comedy. Whether stumbling about in a spacesuit with its helmet on backwards or bounding around the superhouse he's created for the Family Arwell, Smith excells--and looks like he's having a ball doing every single stunt.

3) As opposed to Russell T. Davies, who just created episodes writ large that just happened to have a Christmas Tree in the background, Moffat seems to be using the Christmas Specials to both illuminate other aspects of this Doctor's personality by giving him problems he can't just speechify away and explore actual perceptions about the holiday season. Setting this at a very particular time in England's history gives him the chance to deal with the darker side of the Christmas Season (It does play host to the highest suicide rate of the year, after all) which gives some of the broader comedy bits a bittersweet patina.

I also respect that giving the Doctor de facto new companions who wouldn't work on a weekly basis like Madge Arwell allows us to see a different Doctor than we do in the regular series.

4) At the center of this episode is Claire Skinner's performance as Madge, and she is able to add a great deal of nuance and subtley to a character that could've been all string-pull-y and manipulative of the audiences' emotions. There's a definite sense of a before-and-after life for her and her children with helps build the veracity of the story. seems Britian can't forget A Christmas Story either...
5) Okay, Stephen Moffat, be honest--you cast Maurice Cole because he looks so damn much like that kid from A Christmas Story, right? Right?

6) I don't know why, but I love the interplay between our three soldiers. Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Paul Bazely have wonderful comic timing--and you understand what each of these characters is about just from their initial exchange.

7) I love how the Moffat Christmas Specials show the Doctor affecting positive change both personal and universal--Hell, here we get him helping Madge save an entire race while also getting her to cope with the death of her husband....

8) ...or so we think. And the genius of Moffat is that we suspect that's where we going very, very early on (pretty much from the first moment that the Arwell father's death is mentioned)--but when it happens, it happens in a thoroughly logical way...and it's not The Doctor's hand, but Madge's that creates this Christmas miracle.

Put all your Doctor/Woodie jokes in here...
9) Claire Skinner scolding the Doctor into going and visiting Rory and Amy? Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.

10) Is it just me, or has Karen Gillen gained a bit of weight? If so....damn, it looks good on her, and we all know what I thought of her before...

Overall...I have to agree with the common feeling that this is a lesser entry than last year, but I'll still take this over any of Davies' specials

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