I don’t mind saying that one of the lovely little Christmas traditions I have picked up over the last few years is waiting around for Doctor Who to turn up. I was particularly intrigued to see what Moffat would do with his chance to write a special and even more intrigued when I learned he would be borrowing a notion from Dickens and expounding on it. The result was, I thought, a lovely blend of nostalgia, emotion, and imagination.
Amy and Rory are stuck on a space liner about to crash due to the disruptions of the engines based on a heavy fog over a planet. The miser who controls the fog has no interest in causing it to drift and thus letting the space liner land and not even the Doctor can convince him to change his mind. It is Christmas Eve and thus the Doctor has a challenge before him — inspired by a Christmas carol he hears in the street, he decides to play Ghost of Christmas Past and revisit the old man’s childhood, inserting him into it and changing not only his life experiences, but the future as well. This leaves Amy to later play Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Doctor to return as the Ghost of Christmas to Come. Once he reaches the past, and the child who will grow up to be a right old grouch, the Doctor discovers many things… including a beautiful woman encased in ice and… well, a shark.
I admit it. I am now a full-blown geek, because rather than snorting at the absurdity of it, when I saw a swarm of minnows crowding around one of the street lamps in the fog, I was delighted and cooed, “Oh, that is so cool!” I knew there would be “bigger fish,” but did not expect the shark. Since childhood, I have had a mortal dread of sharks. It took me twenty years to watch Jaws and even then, I was terrified and refused to budge from the couch throughout, all the while screaming about what morons they were to go out in such a tiny boat! (I still maintain that was stupid.) So when the shark swam in through the bedroom window and just about took the Doctor’s face off, I let out such an almighty shriek that my poor cat ran for the other room, scrambling to gain her footing on the hardwood floor. I loved it, of course, but that does not erode the fact that I was petrified. Yet… I totally was with the kid; even though the shark tried to eat the Doctor, it was just a shark, it was going on its instincts, it was hungry… and I didn’t want it to die.
Yes… I am the sort of person who captures spiders and sets them loose outside rather than stepping on them. PETA would love me… if I didn’t think they were a bunch of hypocritical morons. Don’t laugh.
Back to everyone’s favorite Doctor…
There were a lot of things I thought were marvelous about this episode — obviously, the fish in the fog and the shark, but also the haunting sadness that Moffat writes so well, in this case encasing a woman in ice and awakening her each Christmas Eve, but then reminding us that she is going to die. That’s just bloody mean and marvelous all at once. Although my one major nitpick is that Moffat seems to have forgotten the actual passage of time … we meet the woman’s sister and her kids at the start, don’t we? Wanting the old man to release her for just one night? Collectively, if the woman was frozen when the old man was still a kid, wouldn’t her sister be 60 or more years older at the beginning of the episode than when we see her back in time? I get overlooking minor details, but that seems rather… major to me. Like, glaringly obvious and why did not one single person working on this episode notice that? Either way, brushing that aside…
Oh, gosh, this episode was funny. I literally burst out laughing when the Doctor came down the chimney. “Yeah, landed on the roof, saw the chimney, couldn’t resist!” His mention of the creatures that live in closets but during the day sleep in your mattress, then following it up with a classic, “Oops… I probably should not have told you that.” Then his reference to Mary Poppins, him getting married to Marilyn Monroe, and of course the psychic paper pulling an EPIC FAIL that is… well, epic.
Doctor: “I am a mature and responsible adult!”
Kid *looks at psychic paper* “All I see are a bunch of wavy lines.”
Doctor: “Yeah, it shorted out… finally a lie too big.”
Oh, Doctor. It is so marvelous having you back, even if it is just for a short time. But I do have one question, one that may be meaningless or mean rather a lot in the new season… if the audience saw no fish nibbling on him, yet he kept smacking at them, does that mean we couldn’t see the fish or that something else was going on? Something that may return to haunt us in a few months when once more we are thrust into his world?