Thursday, 22 November 2012

Review: Doctor Who 2.X: The Christmas Invasion

Yes, Christmas Fever has begun here on Nostalgia Filter. While the banner still flies for these last few Autumn days, I have to start looking at those Christmas stories that I missed out on over the years. Starting, of course, with the Christmas Special that began the Christmas Specials...

New Doctor, new era, new characterisations...
Doctor Who - Season 28, Christmas Special - The Christmas Invasion
Written 20/10/12

It's been said on the blog before, and I've met lots of people who practically tried to tie me to a cross just for saying it, but I am not a fan of David Tennant's version of the Doctor. And I'm sorry for that, I really am, because at the time I considered his era one of the best that the show had ever seen. However, I was also ten years old. Maybe it's just my cynicism, maybe it's experience, or maybe it's just a slow realisation, but I came to see as I rewatched the Tennant era how much of a total and utter whazzock the Tenth Doctor really was. Of course, I'm not the best person to truly articulate the reasons why Ten is the way he is, but I will be doing some downright complaining if he warrants it. But, it's the spirit of Christmas here on Nostalgia Filter, and in Doctor Who. Heartbroken by the loss of Christopher Ecclestone after just one series, the nation wondered how the newly reborn Doctor Who would cope with yet another new lead. It's fair to say that the innovative Christmas Invasion would blow them away and make sure that David Tennant's Doctor was one of the most popular in the show's present history.
     Freshly regenerated, the Doctor crash-lands into London, and immediately goes into coma-mode, firmly diagnosing this episode with Spearhead Syndrome, whereby the Doctor spends half of the story completely comatose and out of the action. He's picked up by Rose and her increasingly worried family who, after being chased by killer Santas and Christmas Trees, are forced to help out when an alien spaceship owned by the Sycorax, an alien race who are currently indecipherable. Despite Harriet Jones and Rose's best efforts, the day is truly saved when The Doctor wakes up, beats the Sycorax leader in a fight, murders him and tells the Sycorax to bugger off home before he gets cranky.
The Doctor and the Sycorax have a sword fight. The Doctor
will later kill him, even though he's plenty of opportunities
to let him live. And suddenly Harriet is in the wrong.
     It is well known that I am not the biggest fan of Rose and Ten at this point in their respective histories. Rose after this became a lot more whiney and teenage-like - a regression, if you will, from a character who was young yet adult enough to take on the dangers of her travels with a smile. Hereon she spends nearly every episode either moaning or flirting, and of course Ten does nought but return her advances until he realises what's really going on and then sorta totally fails to nip it in the bud because it helps his ego to just leave his fangirl gushing at his side. Luckily, in The Christmas Invasion, they're absolutely fine! Of course the first signs of teen-girl-with-a-crush Rose start to appear here, and the Tenth Doctor's annoying mannerisms are ever present, but there's an optimistically awesome feel to the Doctor's portrayl that feels as if it looks back upon the previous incarnations lovingly. Tennant is playing the Doctor who he always wanted to be.
     However. Ten does one little itty bitty thing in this story that almost immediately sets him up for a bad time. Harriet Jones is one of my favourite guest characters from the early stages of NuWho, and this is because she is usually always right. She always makes the sane decision and she seems to act like a normal person would in that situation. Here, she authorises the name-dropped Torchwood to blow up the Sycorax ship, explaining that The Doctor's just sent out a massive barge full of Fuck You into the Universe and she's not gonna be there to see it blow up in their faces. His ego challenged, Ten decides to have a spazz-attack and uses ageism to bring Harriet Jones down. Now, besides the fact that six words whispered to a private aide (sworn to the Official Secrets Act) would never have the power to bring down a Prime Minister, we must wonder the concequences of what he's just done. Not only has he fucked up time by ending Harriet Jones' Golden Age a decade early, but he also creates a power vaccuum in Britain that leads to a series of fucked-up decisions. Firstly, there isn't a stable government there to question Torchwood's experiments with the Void Ship and the Ghosts, leading to the Battle of Canary Wharf. Then, next series, The Master uses this weakness to take over the world as Harold Saxon and eventually manages to almost-destroy Earth. And finally, after the mess with Saxon, the loss of Harriet Jones allows a corrupt Parliament to be there during the 456 crisis, allowing the aliens to pretty much fuck up everything. Good going, Ten!
"I say we'll go and annoy that planet next."
     But despite those few niggles and that massive final piece-of-absolute-trollop ending, I have to say that I really like The Christmas Invasion. There are a few sillier moments with robot Santas and killer Christmas Trees, but it is what it says on the tin - a decent Invasion story, that happens to be set at Christmas. Tennant's absence for most of the episode is probably to its favour in the long run, as it allows that brilliant climax where Tennant's string of inspirational speeches and decent one-liners simply bowl us over. It's certainly not the best opener in the world, but the bits where none of our main cast actually appear are a really interesting and well-executed invasion story that sets the Tenth Doctor's era off to great start. Well. Apart from that whole, me hating the main characters thing. Onto next Christmas!


NEXT THURSDAY: It's The Runaway Bride, and the guest star makes me very bovvered indeed.

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