Doctor Who Xmas Special 2007 • 30 December 2007 • The SnowBlog
Doctor Who Xmas Special 2007
Em and I should have more going on in our lives, but the Christmas Doctor Who seems to be a big deal. We swapped notes after watching it and were just about able to award it an 'OK'. There were lots of reasons to like it and probably slightly more reasons to feel disappointed. Unlike last year, we weren't asked to root for someone whose every utterance and gesture grated. But rather like other years, almost all the elements of the story seem to be... well, like other years. [contains spoilers] The idea of a luxury cruise orbiting Earth where the systems have been sabotaged we've seen before in The End of the World. The idea that a legion of identical menial helpers turn murderous because they've been taken over reminded me of the Ood in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit - maybe crossed with the masked automatons from the Girl in the Fireplace. The idea that to dispose of a character dramatically you show them drifting away from the camera in slow-motion free-fall, while heavenly voices sing, comes from... well, it seems like at least half a dozen episodes from the last three years. And painful farewells are more poignant when one of the participants is see-through, à la Rose's exit in Doomsday.
There's also the matter of killing most of the people the Doctor hoped to save. Russell T Davies admits he sometimes gets confused between 'drama' and just torturing characters, but tragic accidents leading to love-lorn suicides, followed by murders and the disintegration of a very likable new companion after only a few minutes in the job didn't fill me with the spirit of Christmas. (Clearly Kylie hasn't got time to join the show, but they didn't need to make her innocent, kind and hopeful - and then bump her off. I'm not sure the Xmas Special is the right venue to work on creating a sense of sadness and loss.)
I liked the acting, though. David Tennant was excellent as usual, Kylie did a fine job, as did everyone else. And it was lovely to see Bernard Cribbins - with the suggestion from the trailers that he will return. But for some reason, the lighting on this episode was very poor. If you happen to watch it again, check out the ballroom scenes at the beginning while the party is still going on - glaring hard light and murky shadows, when what was needed was some warmth, richness and twinkle. Britain has some fantastic DPs and lighting cameramen - seems strange not to use one.
So, all in all, time for some fresh ideas among the writing staff I think. A new showrunner with more of a flair for coherent and imaginative storytelling would be good. After all, Doctor Who can go anywhere and do anything; the show should never need to recycle themes and plots.
One final thought from the opening seconds: why would a spaceship be sounding a foghorn? Fog in space? Horns in space? Is it possible they filmed the collision with the Titanic long before they came up with a plot?