Tis the season to be jolly, mainly because it's the time for the annual Doctor Who Christmas special. I say that, but half of them suck, and none more than last year's boring Narnian tale. Because of that I wasn't hugely excited for this year's, but after seeing it, I loved it. Now I'm not going to try and defend it's many faults, I'm aware that it has them, but whatever the problems were, this was still a very enjoyable Christmas romp.
First of all I'd better deal with the three main things people'll be talking about in this episode. New Titles, New Tardis and New Companion.
New Titles: Love them. They're a bit mental, but the Doctor's face is back for the first time in 20 years and they sound a bit more classic. Good way to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
New Tardis: I saw the promo pic and hated it, but the way it was shot here was a lot better than a crap on-set shot, and I love it. Again, old-school, 50th anniversary... blah blah blah. It's gorgeous and that's it.
New Companion: I thought she might have just be cast for her looks like Karen Gillan seemed to have been originally, but no, Clara Oswin Oswald was very fun to watch. She's clever, strong and cheeky, which could be used to describe Amy as well, but Jenna Louise Coleman comes across with a much more likable character. It's just really enjoyable to see her and the Doc together.
Now that's over with, what problems were there? Well, Clara didn't get enough time onscreen, maybe it's because she's getting another introduction next episode, but this episode was very Doctor-centric. That's not a bad thing, but when seeing a new companion it's nice to get a little bit more of them. Why she kissed the Doctor, I will never know, it was another end-of-Flesh-and-Stone moment, where the Doctor and companion kiss for no reason except to spark debate. Richard E. Grant was great, but he didn't get a lot of time onscreen either and the scene where the Intelligence took him over was a bit cheesy. The Ice Governess was a cool design, but the effects never really worked and she wasn't as scary as she could have been. In general the main storyline of the Intelligence could have been a bit stronger, but for a Christmas episode it was pretty good, so I'll give it a pass.
But what made it so good for me? Well Grant and McKellan's villains might not have been on screen as much as I wanted, but they're both brilliant actors and their performances were great. The shout-outs to the Troughton era pleased the geek in me. Matt Smith was on top form and made a sulking Doctor interesting rather than boring. It was nice to see a darker Christmas special than the rather too whimsical tales we get normally. And of course, it was hilarious, mainly due to the return of Vastra, Jenny and Strax, three characters I didn't really care about the first time they appeared, but here are used fantastically. This year's special was fun, funny and a bit creepy, but still kept a magical Christmas air about it, being a lot of fun while introducing a whole lot of new things, people and ideas. It wasn't perfect, but for all the work it had to do in one hour I thought it managed very well.
(Oh and the trailer for next year looks smashing)