Review: The Christmas Invasion

Last Alteration: Friday 13 January 2006

The Christmas Invasion

Doctor Who, BBC1, Christmas Day and Prime time. I never thought I'd see the day. The viewing figures were mega too. This finishes a very successful year for the programme and let's face it, it's gone better than we could have hoped for.

This special episode was really good fun and no doubt families up and down the country sat down to view it together post turkey and trimmings. I'm pleased that Russell T Davies didn't just write a light hearted romp as some fans feared - this episode had some very dark moments within it's tight one hour remit and once again they emerged most strongly during moments of seemingly camp whimsy (for example the corny snow scene that gets turned on it's head when we discover that it isn't really snow at all). Russell also peppered his script liberally with witty one-liners which delivered the laughs but this was where the problems started.

When you take the plot holes out of this episode there is barely anything left but the jolly japes. In fact it seems as if certain things happened purely to enable a character to say a funny line here and there. This also crept into the dramatic moments where we witnessed a ridiculous baddie being jettisoned from his own ship by the Doctor throwing a satsuma at a button just so that the Doctor could say something cool about what kind of man he is.

And that was what the episode was about - the Doctor's 'new' character. We had to wait a long time before we saw him in action but what an entrance - pyjamas and all. Tennant is really very good and if this is his 'Robot' then I'm looking forward to his 'Genesis' or 'Talons' but I suspect that this story will not be on my 'to see again and again' list.

It simply came across as slapdash. Why did Rose go shopping (a few hours ago she was fighting Daleks and watching her best friend change shape)?, why did Harriet Jones introduce herself to a scientist who two minutes previously we saw speaking at her press conference?, and why on Sycorar did the alien ship have a button that made the bit of ship the baddie was standing on break off?. Because it was sloppy. Plot is bread and butter when it comes to TV drama but you couldn't feed a mouse on this stuff.

Russell has been instrumental in the shows success (far above any other single person) but perhaps writing so many episodes per year is a mistake. I'd prefer three really cracking and well plotted RTD scripted stories (for example The End of the World, Aliens of London / WW3) rather than five or six lacklustre Long Games or Boom Towns. The general viewing public will watch something without a logical narrative for only so long and for Doctor Who to carry on the success it has found in this revived form it will need to deliver on plot as well as one-liners.

John, 11th January 2005

  • You can read a spoof "review" that Jon wrote during the summer last year!