Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: A Christmas Carol

In the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special, the Doctor is faced with saving over four thousand passengers on board a space liner (of which Rory and Amy are on during their honeymoon), but a scrooge-like character stands in his way. So he time travels. And it’s awesome. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Of all the Christmas specials I’ve seen over the course of this project, “A Christmas Carol” might just be the most Christmas-y one yet. Every one so far seems loosely tied to the holiday, usually in setting and a few thematic elements. Like ash falling to the sky like snow. Totally Christmas-esque. But in hindsight, it now seems really glaring that the show never re-worked Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, given that the show had basically professed its love to him in the first series of the reboot. And really, given that this is a show about time travel, there is certainly no better device to deal with the past, the present, and the future.

I think in many respects, this Christmas special does not take the easy route, is routinely uncomfortable, and is a lot more serious than the five specials that preceded it. I am not ignoring the fact that we first see Rory and Amy dressed in rather familiar outfits in the cold open. I am merely stating that I was in no way distracted by the humor of the situation and then it was really weird thinking of them as a couple in that way and that if this show was super meta, Rory would probably be posting in role-playing communities online and that I definitely did not spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about this. Most certainly did not. No, sir. Right.

The risk is much more ominous and terrifying than in the original story, since Scrooge didn’t have to save over four thousand lives, but this Doctor Who adaptation doesn’t really stray far from the original. Well, at the start, at least. Kazran Sardick runs Sardicktown, a planet engulfed in an ice-and-water type cloud that the spaceship above is caught in. His father long ago discovered a way to control the “fish” that live in this cloud and use it for monetary gain. Thus, we are shown a man completely consumed by greed and selfishness, one who takes family members as collateral in order to give out loans to the impoverished members of Sardicktown. And that Kazran…he’s hyperbolic in his greed, as his character was meant to be. He denies the chance for a specific family member to be thawed for Christmas because Christmas is worthless. It’s just an “excuse to get something for nothing,” he tells them. And look, I personally don’t like Christmas because I don’t have the positive experiences in my past to give it the same meaning and connotation that a lot of other people in the United States may have, but… DUDE. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. THAT IS ONE GREAT REASON WHY IT IS AWESOME. SO MUCH FREE STUFF FOR JUST EXISTING. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with that.

Ah, that’s right. Dumbledore—er, Kazran was abused by his father, never encouraged to foster his creativity and imagination, and he’s grown up to believe that because he is on his own, all others should be, too. Which is sad. Did A Christmas Carol have this backstory? I haven’t read it in a long while and I don’t remember. Regardless, I actually liked this small conclusion, which is called into the story later on, because it’s a reason for a person being abusive that actually makes sense. Plus, it doesn’t feel exploitative like “Fear Her” did. (REFUSE TO DROP THAT GRUDGE BITE ME).

And then the Doctor arrives. Oh, glorious Doctor. Even though I watched this just one day after “The Big Bang,” I felt like I hadn’t seen him in so long. How is that even a rational thought. It had been like TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Oh fuck, how am I going to last until April 23? WHY WERE THERE TWELVE SERIES SO THAT I COULD STILL BE WATCHING MORE OF MATT SMITH AND KAREN GILLAN AND ARTHUR DAVRILL.

Ok, anyway, I swear I can stay on topic. The Doctor is a bit out of his element with Kazran, isn’t he? This is where Kazran’s absurd hyperbole is actually a wonderful dynamic for the episode, because the Doctor quickly realizes that Kazran is seriously committed to be a complete and total douchebag. He won’t activate the isomorphic controls to save the space liner simply because he doesn’t want to. Dude is way into this way of life. And that genuinely confuses the Doctor! If you think about it, it makes sense that the Doctor would be flabbergasted at the idea. All Kazran has to do is press a few buttons. He doesn’t lose money. It doesn’t harm him. He loses nothing at all and yet he still won’t do it at all.

This is where the show takes the original Dickens story and twists it to fit what can happen on Doctor Who. We heard, “The past can be rewritten” a lot during series five, and for the next forty minutes or so, we watch that happen to Kazran Sardick. The Doctor uses time travel to become Kazran’s Ghost of Christmas past and show him what made him become such a bitter man. When Kazran is resistant to change, even when being forced to rewatch his own father reject him, the Doctor is quick to make this episode REALLY WEIRD REALLY FAST. Because while the projection of Kazran’s past is still playing, the Doctor VISITS THE MEMORY. And by visiting the memory, the Doctor actually changes it. I mean…how eerie is that?

I’m glad that Moffat doesn’t ignore this, either. The Doctor ends up spending a whole lot of time in young Kazran’s past, changing the present Kazran’s memories. And I think it is inherently fucked up, in a way, though I do get that by altering this one man’s past, the Doctor can save FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE. So he’s probably weighing the odds and Kazran Sardick might not be that worth ignoring. I GET THIS. So I appreciate that Moffat doesn’t ignore the ramifications of this. As we watch Kazran’s memories change and his present become altered as well (Abigail’s painting appearing was a great example), I became confused as to what the Doctor was doing with Kazran and Abigail. There are a couple conflicts presented here, the first which I did not understand until it was spelled out by Kazran: the dial on her freeze tank. I thought it was counting down to a moment when she could be set free but NO, MOFFAT CANNOT GIVE US SUCH JOY.

In that context, the Doctor was unknowingly creating a disaster, one that led directly to conflict #2: The Doctor could not change the present by (dramatically) changing the past. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this (“The Waters of Mars” comes to mind), but here, it seems all the more devastating because the Doctor’s actions have inherently shortened Abigail’s life. Actually…yeah, that’s pretty fucked up. Yes, he didn’t know, but it’s still fairly sad.

And I think this is where “A Christmas Carol” doesn’t take the easy route. The scenes of the Ghost Of Christmas Present (otherwise known to us as a projection of Amy Pond aboard the very ship that is crashing) represent a contrast of hope. Those aboard the space liner are singing, as the Doctor told them to, in the hope it may stabilize the ship. Of course this is absurd and their chances are slim-to-none. Kazran, on the other hand, has given up all hope that he’ll ever be able to be changed or “rewritten.” There’s no reason for him to save anyone aboard the crashing space liner and today is as good a day as any for them to die. Clearly, Kazran lives by the philosophy of Puppy Dogs and Unicorn Clouds.

In a moment, the Doctor’s plan is revealed. Knowing that his present self is not understanding the direness of the situation, the Doctor announces that he will show Kazran his future. Kazran, unsurprisingly, goads the Doctor into doing so, claiming he already knows he will die “cold, alone and afraid as we all do.” Which is one bleak statement to have on Doctor Who.

Oh, except the Doctor is showing Kazran his future already. Young Kazran took a little trip on the TARDIS and is watching the whole thing. And the cycle of abuse rears its head again, but after all he’s seen over the course of this night, Kazran relents.  It is resolved rather quickly, but it’s nice to see that the Doctor goes after what helped caused Kazran to turn out the way he did: Elliot Sardick. (Young Kazran actually believes his future self is his father.) Ironically, though, after having finally succeeded in changing Kazran Sardick, he actually changed the man’s brainwaves so much that the isomorphic controls no longer responds to his touch. Soooo….ok, I do have a limit to the amount of cheesy plot devices I can tolerate. My toleration is much higher for this show, but using Abigail’s last day to sing the ship to safety is just a tad too much for me. Only a bit, but it was just….awkward? Right? I think it was meant to feel redemptive and emotional and intense and I just sat one my couch and wished someone else was watching this with me so I wouldn’t feel so weird on the inside.

But that’s really my only major complaint. This was an entertaining and interesting re-imagining of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, done in a way that only Doctor Who could do. BRAVO.


  • Ok, so I couldn’t figure out who played Kazran/Elliot for the first five or ten minutes of the show, and then Elliot showed up and yelled something and my brain instantly went to HARRY POTTA DID YA PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIYAH and then it was really obvious. Also, MICHAEL GAMBON RULES.
  • Sky fish. I love this show.
  • I wish the Doctor had been my baby sitter. :: tears ::
  • So is this the second special/episode that deals with making it snow at the end?
  • “Sorry, Christmas Eve on a rooftop, saw a chimney, my whole brain just went, ‘What the hell?’ Don’t worry; fat fellow will be doing the rounds later, I’m just scoping out the general chimney-ness.”
  • “It’s got my name written all over it. Well, not actually., but give me time. And a crayon.”
  • I loved the scenes of the Doctor playing cards with Eric.
  • “I’ve never kissed anyone before—what do I do?” “Well, try and be all nervous and rubbish and a bit shaky.” “Why?” “Because you’re going to be like that, anyway. You might as well make it part of the plan, then it will feel on purpose, off you go then.” “Now? I kiss her now?” “Kazran, trust me, it’s this or go to your room and design a new kind of screwdriver. Don’t make my mistakes. Now go.”
  • “Got any more honeymoon ideas? “Well, there’s a moon that’s made of actual honey. Well, not actual honey, and it’s not actually a moon, and technically it’s alive and a bit carnivorous, but there are some lovely views.”
  • Ok, so, last full episode of sorts of Doctor Who is this. Here’s how this is going to work. Tomorrow, I start my new project for Mark Watches. Doctor Who airs on Saturdays, starting April 23, so I am going to set aside the Monday following each new episode to be the day I do Doctor Who. We will be doing a liveblog of Doctor Who: The Movie on Saturday, April 9th, at 11am PST. (2pm EST and 7pm in the UK) because I have to see this beautiful atrocity, and then the review will go up on Monday, April 11. I’m posting this today (and earlier than usual) so those with Netflix can send out their discs ASAP to get the movie by Saturday. THEN IT WILL BE PARTY TIME.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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251 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: A Christmas Carol

  1. leighzzz31 says:

    I love this Christmas special! I watched it like three days after it aired because I was too consumed by the Christmas spirit (and the turkey and the chocolate and the presents – I KNOW, SHAME ON ME FOR FORGETTING!) but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Plus it was sooo unbelievably pretty – the fish in particular. Also some amazing oneliners – the chimney one and anything involving Marilyn Monroe come to mind. All in all, perfect for Christmas!

    Hopefully, I'll be able to do the liveblog – my social life may be a hindrance this Saturday LOL – because I haven't seen the movie. I know I'll enjoy it more with everyone's commentary!

    On another note: SO SAD THAT OUR TIME WITH YOU AND DOCTOR WHO HAS ENDED, MARK! (FOR NOW ANYWAY!) It was an infinitely enjoyable ride and you actually made me watch every single episode of New Who – I'd cheated before and had missed quite a few! So, thank you and I eagerly await more Who with you!

  2. awildmiri says:

    I definitely agree on the 'Most Christmassy Christmas Special' thing – you aren't the first to point it out, either, in fact iirc that was actually what Moffat was aiming for! My only problem was I remember being really headdesky about the whole older-Kazran hugging younger-Kazran thing, I couldn't quite get past it. I know, I know, MST3K Mantra, but. :C (That and the whole "NOT THE SAME PERSON ANY MORE" thing, what sense did that even…..)

    Also the Doctor/Marylin Monroe cracked me up so hard. Just saying. Looks like Eleven kept some of that habit Ten had of accidental romantic liaisons.

  3. Goldensage says:

    Watching this on Christmas was a joy. Partly becuase I was sick of waiting, and partly because it was awesome and the best Christmas special ever. (I had been underwhelmed by the previous Christmas specials. Come at me.)

    I think I cried for a good chunk of the middle – (the happy part – Christmas with Abigail), because I knew it was going to break my heart. But oh, I laughed. Laughed at the Doctor and his fez and the Tom Baker scarf. And he looked really good in his 50s party getup. Mmm, Eleven.

    I will continue leaving all of the coherant/plotty explanation parts to other viewers, but I loved the time travel, and I especially loved the reveal of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Michael Gambon was fantastic too. Well done, Moff.

    I loved the Christmas special – the cinematography was excellent – the one shot of Eleven dramatically standing at Teenage Kazran's window is gorgeous. I really liked the atmosphere, as per usual
    It's been over three months since I watched this episode and I'm itching for some new who. Thankfully we don't have to wait much longer.

    And now it's spring, and we are out of the dark.

  4. Stephen_M says:

    Right up front I’ve gotta say this is EASILY the biggest nightmare fuel episode that Who has ever done as far as I’m concerned. I’ll get to why in a minute (though I suspect some of you are waaaaaaaay ahead here) but let’s get the brilliant, fun, wonderful and generally superb stuff out the way first.

    This is, by far, the best Christmas Special we’ve had and shows just what you can do when you have the Doctor largely on his own for an hour. Yes, Amy and Rory set the story in motion and play a part but while the emotional connection is a bonus they could have been random bystanders and it would have worked almost as well. For the record, I have no problem with this at all, Xmas episodes SHOULD be continuity light to get new viewers into the show. It looks unbelievably gorgeous, easily the match for anything else out there in terms of sci-fi TV and verging (again) into feature film territory. The script is a belter too and, as is becoming customary with Moffat, there’s a lot here to reward repeat viewings. And, once again, a time travel plot WORKS with very few plot holes (there’s a few slight liberties taken with the time it takes the TARDIS to take off and land but for the sake of keeping the story flowing, plus the lols, I can overlook that).

    Amy and Rory show up before the Doctor so let’s talk about them first. I just can’t help but adore these two as a couple… still very new, still finding their feet, still maybe looking for the right balance between the two of them but very, very cute together and you get the feeling this one could last. I’m also kinda curious who initiated that roleplay of theirs… because I can’t quite shake the feeling that Amy is rather appreciative of Rory’s 2,000 years of penance (do you REALLY see Rory being the one to suggest cos-play?). Oh, and can I also give a cookie to whoever on the production team managed to not only remember that Amy’s outfit had space for a pair of handcuffs (in a very VERY obvious position) but also made them about six times bigger than they needed to be and incredibly shiny. Bravo sir or madam, bravo.

    Anyway, sorry, Amy and Rory. I like the way they bounce off each other, I really like that Rory seems to be moving slowly in the tech guy direction (he’s the one fiddling with first the phone and then the ship controls later), I like that Rory can be a bit annoyed with the Doctor for his suggestion of honeymoon destinations but still clearly want to be on this particular ride and I love Amy’s ability to at least TRY and crisis-manage the Doctor. Oh, and on a purely superficial level, my GOD Karen looks amazing here, the last scene in front of the TARDIS in particular. Don’t know if it’s the hair, the lighting, if she’s recovered from the stresses of shooting Series Fnarg or what but holy moly…

    Eleven is, as always, wonderful and gets some classic lines, far too many to quote actually although I’d have to go with ‘shorted out… finally, a lie too big’ as my favourite closely followed by ‘what do you call it when something with no feet is taking a run up?’. He’s SUCH a fantastic character to watch, seemingly always in motion, always enjoyable… and yet with that darkness hiding not too far beneath the surface. Matt’s ability to switch from funny to deadly serious in an instant is such a powerful weapon and something I hope we see a lot more of. He also more than holds his own against Michael Gambon who is clearly having a great time being a bit of a bastard and that’s saying a LOT.

    Special mention has to go to Katherine Jenkins. Her first ever acting gig and she’s more than good enough to keep up with the rest of the cast and her singing voice…… wowzers. Oh, and did anyone catch the lyrics of her song at the end? “When you’re alone, Silence is all you see, When you’re alone, Silence is all you’ll be.” Yeah, does ANYONE think that just happens to be a coincidence when Moffat’s running the show?

    And so to the trauma. No, not the shark (though the shark is a great, silly, OTT monster… the Brian Blessed of Monsters if you will) but the idea that someone you love, truly deeply love, not only has a very short time left but that you have to choose when that day will be? God no, just… no thank you. That’s something that ranks right up there at the top of the ‘do NOT want’ list and I honestly have no idea how you’d get through that without it destroying you. I found it hard to let go of my wife for about three days after watching this…

    Let’s not finish there though, too depressing, random good things: TARDIS in flight always makes me smile! the Doctor making snowmen! Oooh, christmas tree! “Hello little fishy, what do you eat?” OMNOMNOM. What colour is it? Big… big colour! And, of course, face spiders… you just can’t help yourself can you Moffat?

    • George says:

      You are the refreshing master 😛

    • NyssaOfTraken says:

      >;Special mention has to go to Katherine Jenkins. Her first ever acting gig and she’s more than good enough to keep up with the rest of the cast and her singing voice…… wowzers. Oh, and did anyone catch the lyrics of her song at the end? “When you’re alone, Silence is all you see, When you’re alone, Silence is all you’ll be.” Yeah, does ANYONE think that just happens to be a coincidence when Moffat’s running the show?

      I love Katherine Jenkins and that Carol that Murray Gold apparently threw together in a couple of days. (Amazing!) I had it on almost permanent repeat all Christmas, so I know it very well by now. The lyrics are definitely more than just lyrics.

      Likewise the `halfway out of the dark` line…just a reference to Christmas? And the fact that this episode is the exact midpoint in the 2 series arc is just co-incidence? I believe fish can fly, but pigs – no way!

      • Stephen_M says:

        Can't…. Resist….

        Pigs! In! Spaaaaaaaaace!

        Sorry, showing my age there. And yes, I'm now firmly convinced NOTHING happens by accident under Moffats watch. Just wait, the Leadworth ducks are going to be behind the silence…

        • ThreeBooks says:

          PFFF. The duck pond is empty because they all went back to their planet because the Question is about to be answered! That's just an obvious one, really.

        • __Juniper Aurelia__ says:

          Pigs! In! Spaaaaaaaaace!

          This is one of those phrases that runs through my head any time anything remotely related to pigs or space is mentioned (and that seems to be more often than one would expect). And then I have to hunt down a clip to watch. I mean, who can resist Link Hogthrob!

    • Weston says:

      That final song is so sweet until you hear the lyrics. Moffat being who he is, you KNOW it's a set up for something down the line.

    • John Small Berries says:

      "because I can’t quite shake the feeling that Amy is rather appreciative of Rory’s 2,000 years of penance"

      If they actually have that memory, it raises the question of whether or not Rory's still an Auton.

  5. Stephen_M says:

    The movie??? For reals? That's a yay from me, any excuse to watch eight is good (the movie itself… well, why spoil the surprise).

    Hmm, there's a weekend in there that isn't Who'd yet… oooh, the suspense!

    And THANK YOU for making Monday Who day, means us UK folks can join in without seeing dawn from the wrong end! 😉

    • ferriswheeljunky says:

      I am so happy you're doing the movie – I love Eight to pieces. He more than redeems the thing. (I made all my friends sit through it; weirdly, none of them will watch it with me again.)

  6. Wookie_Monster says:

    The Scrooge-guy's refusal to save the ship didn't seem that convincing to me, but apart from that, this special rocked.
    What struck me was how much Eleven reminded me of Ten in this, as if at least part of the script had been written with Tennant in mind.

    • Stephen_M says:

      Really? Wow I went totally the other way, that this was a script that wouldn't have worked with Ten at all. He's too switched on, too cool, he wouldn't have 'got' young Kazran in the same way and CERTAINLY wouldn't have gone for the nice route once old Kazran turned him down simply because he's a jerk. Just feels like the whole story would have gone into something far grander and show-offy around the point the Doctor got thrown out of Kazran's home if it had been Ten.

      • Wookie_Monster says:

        Maybe not the plot, but there were a lot of "Doctor babbling at light speed" monologues that seemed very ten-ish to me.

        • nanceoir says:

          Well, they are the same man, after all.

        • Stephen_M says:

          But 11 has been doing that since… Eleventh Hour actually. The babble on twenty minutes for instance. I'd say the difference is ten tended to go on a bit too much about the topic at hand, eleven tends to go on a magical mystery tour down many shiny paths.

          • arctic_hare says:

            LOL that is a great way of putting it. My own mind tends to do the same thing on occasion, actually, so I suppose I ought to add it to the pile of things Eleven and I have in common…

            • Stephen_M says:

              You'll kill me for this if you get the reference but:

              My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!

              Eleven's thought process in a nutshell 😉

              • arctic_hare says:

                On the contrary, I'm going to laugh my ass off because it is TRUE and I love that movie (and Dug). 😀

              • Will says:

                OMG DUG!

                I love Dug so much, he is my favouritest character of all of the up characters and- SQUIRREL!

      • arctic_hare says:

        Agreed, it wouldn't have worked at all with Ten. In addition to what you said, I can't imagine him saying the line "Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before." And if he did, I just wouldn't buy it from him. From Eleven, though, it just underlines why I love him so much.

        • Meganne says:

          I disagree. Towards the end of "End of Time: Part mhnmn," Wilf and Ten sit on the space ship discussing Earth and when Wilf makes a comment about how they all most look so small to him, Ten replies, that no, he thinks they're giants.
          That scene right there makes me think that Ten would have had no problem pulling off the line: "Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before" and making it believable, no less.

          • arctic_hare says:

            But he also told Donna in Runaway Bride that she wasn't important, and then later in the same episode as that chat with Wilf, he says that Wilf is "not remotely important" as part of his infamous rant about how he himself could do so much more. To me, it makes that chat, nice as it is, ring false to me, as does what he says to Wilf about saving him being his honor. Due to that stuff, I'd have a harder time believing that line of Eleven's from him; meanwhile, it seems a natural progression for Eleven from the moment in The Lodger where he tells Craig "You're important."

            • THIS. Seriously, if Ten were to say the line it would just be him being his hypocritical-ass self. I'm not sure he wasn't full of it when he said the giants thing to Wilf. He likes to wax lyrical all this stuff about humanity, but I don't think he actually thinks too highly of your average human. The word "quaint" comes to mind.

            • echinodermata says:

              Additionally, in Waters of Mars, Ten says this: "I've done this sort of thing before. In small ways. Saved some little people."

              So I second what swimmingtrunks says, as he sometimes says the right things, but other times says the opposite. And every time Ten says this shitty sort of thing it's been the same writer at the helm so it can't even be blamed on different people's conceptions of the same character.

  7. Kaybee42 says:

    The doctor did more than get engaged to Marilyn Monroe- they actually got married!
    And he made more than one snowman, he made "about twenty!"
    oh doctor, i love you so!
    I cannae wait for the DWM liveblog :D:D:D it's so fantastically hilariously bad 🙂

    • Hypatia_ says:

      IKR? Poor Eight, he deserved better than that movie.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      Since Ten married Elizabeth I, does this mean that the Doctor is a bigamist? Why do I think about these things?

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        Eh, she's already dead by the time he marries Marilyn, but you can argue that he is a bigamist as he moves through time and space….

  8. lunylucy says:

    This is a fun enough episode (and man, it was SO great to see this team TARDIS back so many months after the finale) but I don't have much to say about it. Here's so fun stuff:

    <img src=""&gt;
    You won't get this if you don't read Kate Beaton/Hark! A Vagrant hehe. (source)

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    And I don't even really ship Rose/Doctor all that much, but people thought that “Would you do it? Would you do this? Think about it Doctor. One last day with your beloved, which day would you choose?”
    exchange was a callback to 10 visiting Rose one last time, and that's kind of heartbreaking..

    <img src=""&gt;

    Kazran: Are you really a babysitter?
    The Doctor: I think you’ll find I’m universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult.
    Kazran: It’s just a lot of wavy lines.
    The Doctor: Yeah. Shorted out. Finally, a lie too big.

    • echinodermata says:

      I am so predictable. This comment is lovely, but that tweet!
      <img src=""&gt;

    • leighzzz31 says:

      Damn that last picture! All kinds of sad and happy at the same time!

      "Yeah. Shorted out. Finally, a lie too big." LOL. My favourite line of the episode!

    • KVogue says:

      These are all lovely pictures! Gotta love that Christmas fez! Or any fez the Doctor wears for that matter. I can only hope that if eleven in involved in some sort of multi-doctor episode he's wearing that fez. I'd like to hear what Nine and Ten have to say about it.

      I was going to make a comment about lens flares and the Star Trek movie and all that jazz… until I saw just whose twitter account that was. That movie probably has me conditioned to lens flares because I didn't even notice them.

      • SporkyRat says:

        Yes. I want to see what Nine and Ten have to say about that fez. And what Eleven has to say about Nine's ears.

    • always amy says:

      I never connected it to Rose I thought it was a reference to the last time The doctor would visit Riversong since that hasn't happened yet.( for a certain value of hasn't happened yet that includes time travel)

      • lunylucy says:

        I think people might have connected it to Rose cause when 10 visited her for the last time it was also around the holidays. But it definitely rings true for River as well. Oh Doctor 🙁

  9. echinodermata says:

    Um, so, not my favorite ep. Frankly, not even my favorite Christmas special (ilu Donna; not even a genocidal Ten can stop me from liking your special best).

    The good (and this will mostly be a gifspam):

    DUMBLEDORE fuck yeah!

    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    Finally a lie too big. FLAWLESS. (And how adorable is it that Eleven wants to use "official" confirmation that he is a responsible adult? Cause we all carry that sort of thing around.)

    <img src=""&gt;(Source)

    I also generally love all the fish in the atmosphere: shark flying a sleigh around? AWESOME.

    And Abigail is adorable, and lovely, and pretty much just awesome. I also love her final song like a lot.

    And I really did love Kazran's and the Doctor's conversation about Abigail wanting to kiss Kazran. Oh, Doctor.

    "One last day with your beloved; which day would you choose?" I am probably biased because I so adore River, but I totally thought back to the Library eps. River: "you turned up on my doorstep with a new haircut and a suit. You took me to Derillium. To see the Singing Towers. Oh, what a night that was. The towers sang. The night you cried. You wouldn’t tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time."
    And Moffat wrote both those and this, so I think it's a pretty plausible explanation that Eleven's thinking about River and her dying. And that breaks my heart because their relationship is really kind of tragic.

    Finally, this was the first Christmas special that truly felt in the spirit of the holiday for me. This episode was kind of a celebration of Christmas, and finally not in a quasi-religious sense. RTD gave us Jesus!Doctor, whereas Moffat is giving us Santa!Doctor. I absolutely prefer the latter. And I enjoy the way he weaved in Dickens' Christmas Carol, while still keeping it Doctor Who in all ways. I really do think this is the most successful Christmas special of Doctor Who on the basis of its spirit, even if it's not my favorite.

    <img src=""&gt;(Source)

    Things I don't care about:
    Potential contradictions in past canon with respect to crossed timelines and the like. I've always been of the opinion that Doctor Who canon really doesn't exist in the first place. So, people can hate it, people can give fan explanations for it still making sense, I'm just gonna embrace the story as is.


    • echinodermata says:

      And the not so good:
      Firstly, needs more Amy and Rory.

      And the more egregious point: pretty much literal fridging of Abigail. Oh, Moffat, why? I think he's normally quite good at making sure his characters are given their own agency, and especially his female characters. This is the pretty obvious exception, then. I honestly don't get why she died, in the context of the episode: the Doctor was there to save a shapeship full of people, and he tells us everyone's important. Frankly, the Doctor should have found a way to save her, and I'm kind of pissed he didn't.

      I get the Watsonian explanation: that Abigail is sick and therefore was always fated to die. I don't care about that explanation, since it's a writing choice. I dislike that Abigail's character is meant to teach Kazran how to feel for people, and that her illness and death are the means to make Kazran emotional. She's "let out" on her final day, and Kazran reluctantly allows it, because that's how the story shows that Kazran has changed given his experiences with the Doctor. The only real excuse I can give for the way Abigail was used in the story is that this episode is an homage to Dickens, and so yes, the minor characters are there to depict pseudo-Scrooge changing because that was the point of the original story. And that's a resonable defense of this aspect of the episode, but I ultimately still don't like Abigail's fate.

      Honestly, this is the only time in Doctor Who that I've felt disappointed in the writing of one of Moffat's female characters. I just wish it hadn't happened, and I'm hopeful that he'll go back to his usual pattern of having amazing female characters whose fates are not decided by their emotional impact to a male character. That's why the Dickens homage argument gives me hope – that this maybe was just a one-time thing because it was based on an already established narrative. I really don't want to go back to that old pattern of a female character getting screwed over to establish emotional development for the men and/or to 'tie things up,' since that was my main issue with RTD's writing.

      I loved S5 (it's easily my favorite season/series of Who that I've seen), and I hope this episode will, for me, be a blip on an otherwise good track record for Moffat.

      • roman_legion_hare says:

        Agreed so hard on Abigail, on preferring Santa Doctor to Jesus Doctor, on that being my main issue with RTD's writing too, not caring about "canon" in this show, and about him thinking about River. First thing I thought of when I watched that part and saw the look on his face, it was a no-brainer for me. I may have sniffled a bit, no, just something in my eye, honest…

        (Why do I actually want to see that scene with her and Eleven? Because I'm messed up, I guess. Plus I know Matt Smith would BREAK ME in it.)

        • burritosaurus says:

          YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I want to see that scene SO bad, but I hope she's in the Doctor's timeline past Eleven.

        • __Juniper Aurelia__ says:

          Agreed so hard on everything you're agreeing with.

          (I don't know, but I do too. So badly. I want it to make me sob. IDEK.)

        • psycicflower says:

          I talked in the past on the spoiler blog about how much I can just see that scene with River and Eleven. I want it so bad.

        • masakochan says:

          Plus I know Matt Smith would BREAK ME in it.

          Considering how much it messed me up even with just him sounding choked up at the end of talking to little Amelia in The Big Bang- it makes me dread the thought of actually seeing him cry.

        • Anonymous says:

          I want the scene where River meets the Doctor for the first time. I would probably be grinning the whole time. But the River before dying scene would give me all the sads.

      • We briefly commiserated about Abigail yesterday, so you know IA. It's worse in some ways than fridging as I'm used to it being defined- taking an established character and sacrificing them for the (emotional) development (aka angst) of another- where as Abigail seems to not only be destroyed, but created for the sole purpose of serving Kazran's story. She's not even worth developing, it seems- she's a walking talking singing plot device. And yeah, Moffat, I'll give you this one, but don't make a habit of it.

        Also the Jesus Doctor vs Santa Doctor is a really interesting and apt way to put it! Which is funny because the more religious folks will tell you that Jesus is the reason for the season and Santa is the embodiment of its commercialized straying from the true path– but IA there too, that Santa!Doctor just seems truer to the spirit of Christmas. Less sacrilegious, less deifying of an extremely fallible and morally problematic figure, much more emotionally on-point. Despite what series 1-4 told us in less than subtle terms, the Doctor is better stomached when approached as a myth, and not as a god. I wonder if part of the problem I had with RTD's portrayal is that he seemed to think the two ideas were one and the same, when no matter how you feel about the veracity of religion, there are some key differences.

        • hassibah says:

          "Less sacrilegious, less deifying of an extremely fallible and morally problematic figure, much more emotionally on-point."

          I actually thought you were talking about Jesus for second then I realized it was 10, nevermind!

          And yeah like I said ages ago I dislike Abigail(or I guess, what was done with her.) I like all of Moffat's other female characters including Mlle de Pompadour but this is one that I definitely have problems with and agree she's totally flat.

          • echinodermata says:

            "I actually thought you were talking about Jesus for second then I realized it was 10, nevermind! "

            I loled.

        • __Juniper Aurelia__ says:

          Despite what series 1-4 told us in less than subtle terms, the Doctor is better stomached when approached as a myth, and not as a god. I wonder if part of the problem I had with RTD's portrayal is that he seemed to think the two ideas were one and the same, when no matter how you feel about the veracity of religion, there are some key differences.

          This is perfectly put, and I think a large reason why I have little patience with the quasi-religious aspects of S1-4, and grew to be very frustrated with the writing for 10.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          The thing about fridging is that it isn't necessarily bad. It really can help the 'emotional development' of a character, not just in terms of agnst, but also making them have to become more responsible and independent, and it often functions as having an important place in the plot- when its the mentor that dies, its an important step since the Hero has no one to fall back onto.

          Even when characters are created for that sole purpose, still bearable. After all, if anyone knows about 'Uncle Ben', who was pretty much created just to be killed in Spider-Man's origin story.

          This is definitely worst, though, because Moffat really didn't give Abigail any characterisation beyond being sweet and beautiful and being in love with Karzan. I definitely would have loved more focus, or just personality, on her part.

          • Well, when a character is offed in a manner respectful to the character that also lends itself to the development of another character AND the overall story, I call that plot. See Rory's mid-season death for an example of this. Even if he hadn't come back, his death was clearly a part of larger events, and not simply for the angst of the Doctor and Amy. The events of his death did not tarnish his character, and were a result of his own agency. When a character is offed in a way that denies them agency and respect for their own story, with no apparent purpose but to further another character's emotional development, that's fridging, and no, I don't believe it is ever not bad writing.

            Uncle Ben wasn't fridged, partially because his death was such a huge part of the origin story. He wasn't a long-established character– his death is so early that it's really more of a character than he is. His death kick starts the whole plot of Spiderman. That's based on Peter's emotional development, yes, but within the frame of the story he as a character, dead or alive, is treated with more respect or reverence than anything else in the story, as far as I know.

            Basically, the reason I'm not sure we can call Abigail's impending death fridging is because she doesn't really have enough story or personality as a character, so there's nothing really there to be treated with a lack of respect- like I said, she's a plot device in the shape of a woman.

          • echinodermata says:

            My issue with fridging is that it usually means a character is basically disposable: it doesn't matter what their personality is, what their motivations are. The character deaths I consider fridging are when it's a character that is important to the narrative solely for their purpose of giving characterization to another (most frequently male) character, and/or for moving the plot along.

            I honestly don't care for that sort of writing. Basically, I feel like if a character is best summarized by how they affect another character, then it's not a well-written character. And that, to me, is what fridging is: killing a character solely for the purpose of affecting someone else.

            • Yes, you put it much more eloquently put than I. You have been +1'd

              • echinodermata says:

                Well, you did offer some different points that I was making.

                I would consider killing off a flat character to still be fridging, for instance. But I do agree there is a strong matter to consider in the respect of the narrative, which underscores how I perceive a character's death. And the amount of agency given to a character ties into that respect.

                • Yeah- I don't think we're of the exact same mind here, but we have the same sort of basis to our opinions on this, and I got kind of tangled up in the ifs and buts while you communicated the core idea more clearly, if that makes sense.

                  I'm not even sure I completely agree with what I said before, but my mind's feeling a bit on the blink tonight, so I'm just going to leave it. @_@

          • bookling says:

            It's also important to note that fridging usually refers to a female character being killed off to further a male character's development. So it's also a sexist trope.

            • echinodermata says:

              Good point, and thanks for linking that. I wasn't sure how much to bring up the gendered aspect of the trope, since I don't care for when male characters are killed off in a similar manner, either. And I have seen the term fridging used to describe characters of both sexes.

              But the fact that Abigail is female does make it a more egregious point to me.

  10. OpenInClosus says:

    I was not prepared for the early review, but I am so glad you posted early, because i would have missed it if you posted at the regular time! <3

    Why hai there, Dumbledore!
    <img src=""&gt;
    While I never had a problem with Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore (except for that one scene in GoF), I think the part of Kazran suits him much better. I also really love the two young Kazrans.

    I think this this episode is just a great feel good Christmas-y special. I have to say, I don't really like the Doctor messing about in people's personal timelines, though it does bring me some of my favorite moments. The fez and the scarf return! Another Christmas cracker moment! The Doctor accidentally marries Mariyn Monroe! Plus, it has some great quotes:
    "In 900 years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before."
    "Finally, a lie too big."
    "Or go to your room and design a new kind of screwdriver."
    Also, Father Christmas is Jeff! Who knew?
    <img src=""&gt;
    Also, I love the Star Trek crew on Amy and Rory's spaceship.

    And the lyrics to Abigail's song are really creepy and pretty!
    When you’re alone, Silence is all you see,
    When you’re alone, Silence is all you’ll be.
    Give me your heart to come to me.

    When you are here, music is all around.
    When you are near, music is all around.
    Open your eyes; don’t make a sound.

    Let in the shadow! Let in the shadow!
    Let in the light of your bright shadow!

  11. Stephen_M says:

    "So is this the second special/episode that deals with making it snow at the end?" – Third I think… Christmas Invasion had the ship burning up, Runaway Bride had the Doctor manipulating the weather. Can't remember if the Titanic caused it or not but I don't think it did.

    "My toleration is much higher for this show, but using Abigail’s last day to sing the ship to safety is just a tad too much for me. " – Does it help any to check the lyrics? "When you’re alone, Silence is all you see, When you’re alone, Silence is all you’ll be."…. Bearing in mind Moffat's tendency to feast upon our collective fear does that REALLY strike you as being coincidental?

    • NyssaOfTraken says:

      Plus, there was a sci-fi explanation that it wasn't the singing as such, but the vibrations acting on the fog, soothing the fish, etc. But seriously, who cares about that?

  12. roman_legion_hare says:

    Awwwww, Mark, never change. I LOVE your ongoing grudge against Fear Her, it gives me lulz and warm fuzzies. 😀

    I haven't got a real review, thanks to my plan to download and rewatch going kaplooey because of internet problems, sooooooooooooooo I haven't seen this special since… Christmas, actually. But I pretty much felt the same way as you did, Mark. Aside from my reservations about Abigail basically being fridged, I really enjoyed this special, and it's my favorite of the Christmas specials.

    Also, it's just plain BEAUTIFUL to look at. I want to visit that planet! And see the fishies! Reminded me of one of my favorite video games, actually, Skies of Arcadia, where the world has no aquatic oceans, just clouds and sky, and there are fish flying through the air there that you can catch as you sail around in your airship. It's awesome, I assure you.

    The Doctor's sad look when Kazran asked him about spending one last day with your beloved… I dunno about anyone else, but I saw River in those eyes. I hope we get to see the day she described in Forest of the Dead with Eleven. Yeah, it'd break my heart FOREVER, but it'd be so perfect too.

    Lastly… damn. I want to join in on those honeymoon games. And lucky Marilyn, I want to undo that bow tie too. Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. My dirty imagination went lots of lovely places watching this one, let me tell you. And I liked it.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Okay, other thoughts I'm being reminded of:

      – "Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before."

      I love that line, it's part of why I love Eleven so much, it goes back to what I babbled on about in The Lodger. It always bugged me in Runaway Bride when Ten said Donna wasn't important; I wouldn't have bought this line from him. But with Eleven, I honestly do believe that he believes that everyone is important. Ten may have been more "human", but for all his alienness, Eleven is a kinder, gentler person and I yearn to travel with him more than any other Doctor because of this.

      – The fact that the bow ties are cool because he wears them and he doesn't care. He actively does not care what other people think – he does what he wants, wears what he wants, and that makes it cool. AKJSGDHJGSDLKSJ I LOVE THAT SO MUCH I LOVE YOU ELEVEN. It's a mindset I really, really adore, and that I've grown into myself.

      – I also love him making all those cute snowmen and rubbing noses with that last one. HE IS TOO ADORABLE OMG <3 <3 <3

      • bookling says:

        YES. When I re-watched The Runaway Bride after seeing this special, that line really stuck out to me. I think Eleven has really learned from Ten's mistakes in this respect: he knows now that you shouldn't discount anyone. Everyone has value, and I think Donna taught him that (like the way she treated Miss Evangelista with kindness even though everyone else thought she was unimportant, including the Doctor).

      • Tauriel_ says:

        THIS. So much this.

    • Stephen_M says:

      Totally with you on River, people tend to forget that the Doctor knows how she dies from the first time he meets her, that ain't an easy thing to live with.

      Oh and those honeymoon games… I know we'll never, ever get this but I'd LOVE to know what the deal was between them when Amy was still a kissogram rather than an intergalactic BAMF. Looking at it in universe for a moment I'm almost convinced that the choice of roman outfit wasn't entirely accidental and Amy definitely remembers what he did for her during the big bang. Plus, and there's no polite way to say this, does ANYONE believe that Amy is the sort of lass who has a whole heap of dodgy outfits in the closet along with bondage kit (okay, handcuffs, it counts) and WOULDN'T want to use them in a non-professional capacity?

    • NB2000 says:

      If we ever do see River's last day I need it to be with Eleven. Like you said Matt will almost certainly make it completely tragic.

      • Stephen_M says:

        Just… while I want this to happen very very badly please let eleven not be on his own in the TARDIS afterwards. There's a limit to how much pain and misery is good for the show before it spirals into… uh, into the End of Time actually. Have him give River her last day, return her to wherever she is, pick up the Ponds and the last shot is of Eleven surrounded by Amy and Rory, her hugging him ala beast below, Rory being his usual slightly awkward self with a hand on eleven's shoulder or something. Would love a three way hug but seems a bit out of character somehow.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, I don't want him to be alone after that either, it'd be a bit too much.

        • NB2000 says:

          Yeah having him alone would be too much, I know I'd proably be a complete emotional wreck if that's how it happened. Either Amy and Rory or, if this happens after they leave (not that I want them to go but it's almost inevitable that they'll leave at some point) then whoever the companion is at that point, need to be there to support him.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Totally agreed.

      • VicarPants says:

        Oh hell, I'll need to start hydrating NOW if I'm to make it through that episode without weeping myself into a raisin-like state.

  13. Kaci says:

    I am so glad you're finally caught up and we don't have to worry about spoiling you anymore! YAY!

    Okay, now that that's out of the way…

    I know some people didn't like this episode. I know some people thought it was cheesy or–actually, I don't even know why someone wouldn't like this episode because it's amazing, but it totally melted my cold black heart. I don't even like Michael Gambon and I wept for him throughout all of this.

    But mostly, my favorite scene is where the Doctor is walking around Kazran and Abigail as they kiss, trying to get them to separate, and when he can't, he just sort of huffily snaps, "FINE. I'LL JUST GO GET MARRIED THEN, SHALL I? MARILYN, GET THE CAR!" or something. Cracks me up every damn time.

    Also, I loves me some role play married couple sex. GOOD FOR YOU GUYS!

  14. NB2000 says:

    Aaaah early review! Okay very first thought: OMGYAY MOVIE LIVEBLOG! I should have my computer back by Saturday so I'll definitely be here for that. Oh god this is in fact the last review, I'm going to miss this 🙁

    Right, the actual episode. Even though it breaks almost all of the shows rules about time travel and Abigail's story is a rather blatant bit of fridging I find that I really honestly can't care. It's just too delighhtful yet heartbreaking for me to dwell on those problems for too long.

    Once again, proof that Amelia Pond is smarter than everyone else, turns out there IS a Santa to pray to, although whether he could have heard her is another issue.

    Any excuse for more Roman!Rory (and Police!Amy) is alright by me. Thank you Moffat/costume designer.

    I'll admit that thefirst time I watched I was disappointed by the Ponds lacks of direct involvement in the plot but in rewatching I realise that instrad we get something like 15 minutes of Eleven witb young Kazran, and Matt interacting with kids is always amazing to watch. Matt really is amazing throughout the episode.

    • NB2000 says:

      Katherine Jenkins is so lovely throughout and she does a really good job considering this is her first time acting. I'd somehow managed to go without hearing her sing before this (or if I had I didn't know it was her) and now I wish I'd heard more. I adore the song she sings at the end of the episode, although the repeated references to silence are…unsettling shall we say. The last verse, the "when you are here, music is all around." always warm my heart.

      The production design of Sardicktown and the Sardick house itself are absolutely stunning. The big CGI vistas of the city with the clouds are so pretty.

    • NB2000 says:

      Okay final thoughs in a list:

      – Fezzes! They're back, briefly!

      – "Marliyn! Get your coat!" probably my favourite line of the episode, it's Matt's delivery that makes it work.

      – Face Spiders…FACE SPIDERS?! Spiders that crawl in your cupboards and hide in your bed! FUUUUUU THANKS FOR THOSE NIGHTMARES STEPHEN MOFFAT! Seriously I have had nightmares about spiders in my bed, NOT FUN,

      – okay my one teeny, tiny, really not a big deal nitpick: I kind of wish the message had said "Come along Ponds"

      – Eleven rubbbing noses with the snowman is way too cute to be allowed. Rory's little friendly arm punchs are almost as cute

      – okay one last bit of TARDIS!love, there's new railings in the console room! That distracted me throughout the original broadcast, NEW RAILS OMG! They attatch on the sides of the steps and platform and sort of bow outwards instead of just being straight now. I wasn't sure about them at first but they're growing on me.

      • Maya says:

        Eleven would totally be resigned to marrying Marilyn. Seriously, Matt acting that whole chunk of dialogue was PRICELESS.

      • ThreeBooks says:

        LOL, I didn't even notice the thing about the message. But yeah. COME ALONG, PONDS would have been hilarious xDD

    • Hotaru-hime says:

      And in Abigail's case, it was the most literal case of fridging since the original.

  15. Jenny_M says:

    I am so sad/happy you are not done/only sort of done with DW! I will miss watching an episode a day to watch right along with you. Although, I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited to rewatch the pilot of ATLA tonight. Is that what you're definitely doing next?

  16. elusivebreath says:

    I actually really liked this Christmas episode more than some of the previous ones, just because it really felt Christmas-y. Plus, I just really had fun with it and enjoyed the plot (the isomorphic controls changing thing notwithstanding LOL).

    I will miss the liveblog b/c I'm working that day, but I will see if I can get ahold of it over the weekend. I've got an Unearthly Child from Netflix right now so if I can just watch it this week, I can send it back lol.

    Is anyone else as super excited as I am for series 6?? I'm just as excited for that as I am for Game of Thrones on HBO so April is going to be The Best Month Ever in terms of TV.


    • Bobcat says:

      The isomorphic controls thing IS a little cheesy, but it does make a lot of sense. Why -would- his dad put an altruistic, kind man in charge of his business empire? Thought it was really clever, myself. Soz. D:

      And yes! I am -super- excited. I keep on stumbling over bits of info I don't want to find, but also loads of info I -do- want to find, so I'm just grumbling and drudging on. Spending basically every day poring over the internet for (sanctioned!) information. It's going to be SO good.

      • elusivebreath says:

        I guess in my mind the isomorphic thing would be based on like DNA or something, rather than personality? I think that's why I WTF'd at it lol, but it's a tiny thing in an episode I loved overall.

        Hahah, I accidentally spoil myself all the time trying to find little interesting tidbits!

        • Bobcat says:

          Oh! Yeah, it IS set to DNA. But Kazran's dad set it up.

          In the old timeline, Kazran was a grumpy bugger just like his dad, and his dad saw him as a worthy heir to the Sardick business empire, so he gave him access to his whizbangy sky-changer.

          However! When time was altered so that Kazran was a nicer bloke, Elliott wouldn't've left the business to Kazran, and therefore he would never have set the isomorphic controls to respond to Kazran's DNA.

          THAT's why they don't work. Think of it as password protection. In the new timeline, Elliott never gave Kazran that permission.

          • elusivebreath says:

            Wow, lol DUHHHHH. That makes much more sense, THANK YOU!!

            After a discussion about ableism on Mark Reads, I feel bad about this comment, so I am fixing it!

    • monkeybutter says:

      I'm so freaking excited for them both, and I'm going out of my way to watch spoilers, hehe. Game of Thrones AND series 6 in the span of one week!
      <img src=""&gt;
      <img src=""&gt;

  17. echinodermata says:

    Also, just a quick correction: The U.S. is on Daylight Saving time, so PST and EST should be PDT and EDT, respectively.

  18. Sparkie says:

    Ahh, one of the best Christmas specials, definitely. You have to watch the Comic Relief mini-episodes though too!

  19. Hotaru-hime says:

    I liked this episode! It was the first Christmas episode I really liked since Runaway Bride and it has this wonderful TARDIS cast!
    The Doctor rolling out of the chimney! Oh Doctor! You're the best! It's such a ridiculous thing to do.
    Child Kazran insisting that the Doctor comes every Christmas Eve and the Doctor going "Oh hey, wait, no, I didn't say anything like that!" but showing up the next year and the year after that. And Michael Gambon's face as his memories were rewritten and those nights of gladness that he'd never had coming into existence… *sigh*
    And Roman Rory and Policewoman Amy. *snerk*
    It was a good romp, full of fun and sadness and surprise like it ought to be, but there were a few things that prickled me:
    1. The Doctor being engaged to Marilyn Monroe. I know they probably only picked her because everyone knows who she is, but she was an intelligent but depressed woman who was seen only for her sexuality, so to me it feels like taking advantage of her. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but that's how I feel.
    2. The brainwaves not being proper for Kazran anymore. They have to work after his father dies because who would have been controlling it in the time between his dad's death and now? But we have to ignore that for the girl to sing the fishes to docility.
    3. Abigail/Kazran. Sorry, I know she only spent a couple nights with him before he grew up and got all handsome, but… really? Kind of creepy for me.

    But we got a carriage pulled by a sky shark, so I'm really not gonna argue with you. But… when the sky fishes die, do they just fall on the rooftops or something? WHERE DO THEY GO?!

    • NB2000 says:

      I'm now imagining the residents of Sardicktown hearing thuds as dead fish land on their roofs, turning to each other and going "well that's dinner sorted."

      Although I feel bad for whoever gets stuck with a dead shark landing on top of their home/them.

      ETA: "active 104947 weeks ago"? 😮

    • Inseriousity. says:

      Well Kazran only changed on the day so between his father's death and now, Kazran controlled the clouds then the Doctor went through all his past and changed everything but he still remained where he was so it does make sense 😀

      although I agree with 3. Not sure I'd date someone I'd seen growing up from a young age but as it's sort of an important plot point, I'll let it go!

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        I find it hard to believe that one revelation can alter your brainwaves so completely that the computer software you've been running with it can't recognize you, but hey, the Doctor makes snowmen in the end.

  20. Roxanne says:

    Mark, are you going to watch the two comic relief specials that aired not too long ago titled "Space" and "Time"?

  21. Hotaru-hime says:

    Also, Sardicktown just sounds terrible. Really, Elliot Sardick, you live up to the last four letters of your name quite nicely.

    • Starsea28 says:

      Really, Elliot Sardick, you live up to the last four letters of your name quite nicely.

      LOVE IT. XD

    • Bobcat says:

      Looks gorgeous though! So otherworldly. I adore it.

      Actually, I thought it looked just a teeny bit like the town in the Muppet Christmas Carol. (Which, sorry Doctor Who, is my favourite rendition of the story. Still like this one, though.)

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        A Muppet Christmas Carol had Muppets and Michael Caine, so it's pretty hard for anything to beat it.

      • NB2000 says:

        I'm slightly ashamed to admit that Muppet Christmas Carol is the only version I'm at all familiar with. But the I remember that it's Muppet Christmas Carol, it's made of awesome and I don't feel ashamed at all.

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        Oh, and I meant that the actual name of Sardicktown is terrible. I mean, saying it out loud, "Sardicktown" – it sounds so clunky.

      • YESSSSSSS Muppet Christmas Carol. My favorite Christmas Carol, my favorite Christmas movie— nothing compares. NOTHING.

  22. carma_bee says:

    I haven't seen anyone link to this so here I go! One of the big internet vlogging guys is Charlie (charlieissocoollike), who you might know as one of the members of Chameleon Circuit, the band that sings about Doctor Who. Because he's such a big fan of Doctor Who and he lets everyone know, he got invited to the set of Doctor Who when they were filming this special, and last December for Christmas time, and he made some videos with the Doctor Who Confidential crew. The link to the playlist is here:… I think the best one is the last one, because it has Matt, Arthur, and Karen being super cute and funny (he buys Christmas presents for all three of them XD). Anyway, give it a watch, they're awesome.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Also, I'm super glad we're doing the movie, because I've had it on my computer for like two years, and I haven't gotten around to watching it yet. This'll be just the push I need for that.

    • NB2000 says:

      "Badger badger!" "Stop saying badger!" Matt's badger fixation is ridiculously adorable. I'll be so sad if that puppet doesn't show up in an episode as a throwaway or background gag.

    • WingedFlight says:

      I love this set of confidential episodes with Charlie! So funny, and it's really neat to see behind-the-scenes like this. Especially love the badger part.

    • qwopisinthemailbox says:


  23. nanceoir says:

    I rewatched this in two chunks (darn getting tired late at night!), and even so, wouldn't you know I teared up a bit at the end, when Abigail unfreezes for the last time. I don't think I did that before, actually.

    Anyway, even if there are bits and pieces in this episode that I kind of look at oddly (which have already been mentioned), it's just such a fun ride, beginning to end, which is what I want from Doctor Who generally and a Doctor Who Christmas special specifically (The End of Time, Part 1, I'm talking to you… even if you did give me some great Wilf moments). And, seriously, practically every other line in this episode is just… quotable gold! What do we say in the face of danger? "Mummy!" Awesome.

    And, actually, I think for any young person, that bit about first kisses and it's going to be like that anyway so make it part of the plan, I think that's… kind of amazing advice. Just, you know, embrace the awkwardness of it, own it, that sort of thing. I love it.

    Oh, Doctor Who, what would we do without you?

  24. FlameRaven says:

    I love the hell out of this special and thought it was really clever, but I did have some issues with it:

    1) Why is that lady the only one who can sing the fish to rest? I get that it may be hitting exactly the right notes that works, but surely there are other opera singers around?
    2) Why, if the Doctor is abusing time travel already, does he not GO GET A CURE FOR HER, SRSLY. Save the world, jump back in the TARDIS, go get her cured. THEN SCROOGE DOESN'T NEED TO ANGST. PROBLEM SOLVED.

  25. Coughdrop01 says:

    I love the hell out of this special. Watching it last christmas on christmas was incredibly magical!

    Yeah the end is cheesy but the singing itself–I mean like the actual voice itself was so moving to me that it managed to make me cry…. But I have been known to cry just from beautiful voices alone… I may or may not be a bit of a vocal nerd….

  26. Maya says:

    The Doctor getting married to Marilyn Monroe = BEST THING EVER. Also, whoever plays teenage Kazran is really attractive.

    OMG Doctor Who: The Movie. I watched that while waiting for series 3. This is going to be fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun 😀

  27. katherinemh says:

    Okay, I just want to flail over how pretty this episode is. The colors are so gorgeous and the costumes in Sardicktown and the lighting and the lens flare on the spaceship and the sets! I am obsessed with those giant round windows. All of series five was pretty, but this episode just took the cake, in my opinion.

  28. polkert says:

    Which also means: IT'S CRAZY THEORIES FOR SERIES 6 TIME!
    My personal favorite, straight out of the TVTropes crazy theories pages, simply must be quoted in full:

    "The Big Bad for Series 5 and/or 6 (Seasons 31 and/or 32)… is Amy's apple. The one with the face, from the first episode. It makes perfect sense:
    Like the Weeping Angels, its form is its power, and giving it that face somehow gave it sentience (maybe the proximity to the crack had something to do with it). After seeing the Doctor savagely devouring one of its kind, and then daring to declare them all "rubbish", the apple swore to take revenge on the Doctor. When Amelia showed it to the Doctor, the apple used some kind of mind-control to convince the Doctor to take it with him – why else would the Doctor take an apple "for later", when it was established merely minutes before that he HATES APPLES?
    The apple was in the Doctor's pocket when he examined the crack in Amelia's room, and has traveled in time to 12 years later, so it is aware of the cracks and can remember what they do to people. The apple realizes that the Doctor is afraid of the cracks, and that they may be the key to defeating him, so with a dash of Timey-Wimey, it goes about creating the cracks in the first place and arranging the trap for the Doctor.
    When the Doctor shows Amy the apple 12 years later, there's a blue flash across the screen. The same blue flash appears at the end of The Pandorica Opens, when the TARDIS explodes (it's a blink-and-you-miss-it, but there are pictures of it somewhere, I'll try to find some). COINCIDENCE?
    Plus, Steven Moffat has said that the Big Bad is in the first episode, but not the way you'd expect. Jeff hardly seems like the villainous type, and the ducks weren't even there. It must be The Apple."


    The first reply is, of course, "What the hell are you smoking and where can I get some?"

    (Can someone please please try to find those blue flare images? I know exactly what he/she is talking about but I don't know how to upload images myself)

  29. Karen says:

    You know, the first time I watched A Christmas Carol, I enjoyed it. But after the initial “yay! New Doctor Who!” wore off and I actually thought about the episode, it just bothers me. I mean it’s not the worst Christmas special ever. “The Next Doctor” still exists after all, but the way it just flouts all the rules of time travel that had been previous established just rubs me the wrong way. Also, this episode NEEDS MOAR RORY.

    It’s long been established that once the Tardis lands, the Doctor is part of a series of events and he can’t fuck around with them. But then this episode is basically entirely the Doctor doing just that. If the Doctor could go back in time to change Kazran in order to save Amy and Rory, then why couldn’t the Doctor go back in time in a billion other episodes in order to fix the problem of the day?

    Speaking of changing Kazran I know that the Doctor was trying to change Kazran’s life ~for the better~ or whatever. But this is still super creepy. The Doctor is basically like “So I’m going to go back in time and fuck with your life/memories for my own purposes while you’re forced to watch and powerless to stop me. Ta!” It’s very Time Lord Victorious with none of the consequences or any of the other characters questioning his actions. Not a fan.

    And how does it work exactly anyway? Does old!Kazran have 2 sets of memories, I guess? That’s weird.

    Also the old!Kazran and young!Kazran hug was just unnecessary. It violates so many rules of time travel. Blinovitch Limitation Effect, what’s that? Gah. I mean, Moffat even had the two screwdrivers spark in TBB when they touched, so here it just seems like he is breaking his own rules. WHY ARE THE KAZRANS ABLE TO HUG HERE?

    And the episode totally ended with all those frozen people down there still frozen? Ok. I guess they don’t matter or something. I mean, I guess we can assume Kazran frees them later, but it’s a pretty big on screen lose end. And it’s just SO weird to me that Eleven doesn’t really care. He knows that there is that huge freezer full of “collateral” and apparently it’s NBD. Um.. ok. I guess. I’d like a bit more righteous indignation from you, Doctor (like when Ten freaks out on the cat nuns for using human clones for experimentation). It’s just so weird and unsettling that the Doctor doesn’t care and there’s nothing on screen to suggest that Kazran is going to free them.

    Another thing that bugged me was the fact that Abigail was just a plot point, with no real voice of her own. She only serves to forward the Kazran plot. But I am going to be kind to Moffat and pretend that this was actually a direct reference to Dickens’s work wherein most of his heroines are also little more than pure angels there to love the hero.

    Things that save this episode for me:
    1)LOL Amy and Rory have kinky costume sex.
    2)When Kazran said, “One last day with your beloved. Which day would you choose?” With my shipper goggles engaged, the Doctor is totally thinking about Rose, y/y? lol. Don’t judge me. I just miss the Doctor angsting about stuff, so I need to reach for things and create these angsty moments in my imagination.
    3)Our space aquarium just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Now we have space fish and space sharks in addition to the space sting rays from “Planet of the Dead” and the star whale from “The Beast Below”. What’s next? Space jellyfish? I can only dream…

    Are you planning on watching the Comic Relief mini-episode?

    • mkjcaylor says:

      Ooh, SPACE JELLYFISH. Want!

      Also yes to #2. I definitely and absolutely thought of Rose when he said that.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I'm just saying, if jellyfish could descend upon you whenever you walk out to buy groceries, that would be the creepiest thing ever- and this is coming from a scuba diver. *shudders*

    • Anon says:

      I found the messing with Kazran's past a little disturbing too especially as old Kazran was aware of it happening. But and this is a big but i tend to think of Christmas episodes as not really proper episodes because they are made with a different audience in mind, so i just try ignore all the timey wimey stuff.

    • Starsea28 says:

      I thought of River but Rose definitely works too.

      Oh dear God, space jellyfish would be terrifying.

    • virtual_monster says:

      Whats next? Space jellyfish? I can only dream.

      Starfish aliens?

    • turtle_turtle says:

      Yeah, this episode is fun enough, but if I think about it seriously, it tends to kill the enjoyment for me.

      My favorite things are your favorite things! Kinky Role Play! ROSE REFERENCE – NOTHING WILL CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE! Space Aquarium!

      Ugh. The CR Mini Episodes.

    • Bobcat says:

      I kinda figured it was self explanatory that a man like NewKazran would be no more "into" freezing the peeps than the Doctor was. Don't think it needed spelling out – although a two second shot of him pulling the lever and opening all the chambers wouldn't've gone amiss.

      I don't particularly care about the Blinovitch Limitation Effect myself (many 'pologies!), but the one bit you mention that does strike a a chord with me is that it's a little creepy to be going back and changing Kazran's life. OldKazran looks very uncomfortable with it. But, I think the Doctor does get comeuppance for it. To an extent, anyway. Kazran actively scolds him for it. MidKazran. When he explains to the Doctor that he's been shown heartbreak and that Abigail is going to die, the Doctor seems to realise that, all intentions aside, he has not improved Kazran's life. He's failed.

      In the Doctor's defence, he's trying to save the lives of 4,022 people by giving a man the upbringing he wishes he had. That's two good things rolled into one. Plus, if he'd initially met Kazran when he was 10, absolutely none of us would have had any problem with it and would've thought it was the most heartwarming thing in the world. Tell the story like this…

      The Doctor meets someone who, because they've had a sad life, will in their future kill thousands of people. This child is in desperate need of a respectable father figure, and someone to talk to. So the Doctor steps in and, as the universe's coolest babysitter, saves the future.

      …and it's absolutely sterling. I think it's just watching Kazran's memories mutate that feels disturbing. But he gets told off for it! And, in fairness, it's necessary!

      I don't know. I think it's weird, and questionable, but I think seeing Kazran's memories change is such an absolutely genius storytelling technique that I'm more than happy to go with it. And the end justifies the means.

      And, yes. Space jellyfish would be sterling.

    • __Juniper Aurelia__ says:

      This might be relevant to your interests!
      <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    • VicarPants says:

      Space giant squid. It can hang out with the star whale.

  30. ldwy says:

    I loved it. I love watching different versions of A Christmas Carol, even really bad ones or really dorky ones.
    I was reading a lot of comments, and I understand the complaints people brought up.
    But in the end, didn't alter the enjoyment for me. I loved that it was so Christmas-y

  31. Albion19 says:

    Ahh can't embed!! :

    Abigail's Song is beautifully weird and a bit creepy when you think about it, the lyrics about shadows and silence…

    OMG can't wait for you to see the movie. It's pants but I love Eight! 😀

    (if someone could delete my comment above, wasn't logged in)

  32. Nessa says:

    This is the first Christmas special that I got to watch on Christmas Day, and it was … magical. I know a lot of people who don't like it, because of the Doctor allowing Kazran to cross into his own timeline, which was always strictly forbidden, but I just loved absolutely everything about it.

  33. Mary Sue says:


    That is all.

    (Seriously. Seen the episode four times. That's all I really remember. Because it is AWESOME.)

  34. Bilbo-sama says:

    Hooray! You're now caught up on New Who!


    2: YAY THE MOVIE. Paul McGann is awesome and they need to bring him onto the show sometime. :O

    And I dunno I'll be there for the liveblog shenanigans. I have school on Saturdays. orz

    3: Have you seen the two mini-episodes made for Red Nose Day yet?

    • jennywildcat says:

      I second your #2. I want them to bring him into a multi-Doctor story for the 50th anniversary.

  35. feminerdist says:

    Wait, there's a MOVIE?

    • NyssaOfTraken says:

      I believe there is some debate about that in certain circles. 😉

    • Bilbo-sama says:

      Back in 1996 when Doctor Who was busy being on hiatus (aka canceled), Fox, the BBC, and I think Universal collaborated on making a TV Movie that would serve as the pilot for an American series and the reason why there's That Guy between the seventh and ninth Doctors whenever we get a clip show.

      It epic failed due to a) Fox airing it during Sweeps Week and in competition with Rosanne and b) it caused a large amount of nerd rage on both sides of the Atlantic. And for years American fans were never able to see it again due to a tangle of airing rights issues (or…something) until last February when it was finally released on DVD.


    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Don't get too excited. Its pretty much one of the worst episodes/specials of Doctor Who, with wonderfully bad over-acting on the villain's part. It does, however, have the only live action instances of Eight you'll ever see, and the movie is worth it just for him, because his actor nails it.

  36. FlameRaven says:

    Also, as sad as I am for the Doctor Who blogs to be over, I am SO EXCITE for Avatar: the Last Airbender. :DDD

  37. Starsea28 says:

    I am not ignoring the fact that we first see Rory and Amy dressed in rather familiar outfits in the cold open. I am merely stating that I was in no way distracted by the humor of the situation and then it was really weird thinking of them as a couple in that way and that if this show was super meta, Rory would probably be posting in role-playing communities online and that I definitely did not spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about this. Most certainly did not. No, sir. Right.

    Mark, it's okay. We all love Rory, too. And some of us fancy the pants off him.

    When you reviewed "Fear Her" and condemned it so utterly, I wanted to hug you and say "But there IS an episode that does this better, Mark! It's a long way to go but I promise you it's worth it!" Of course, it was a spoiler, so I didn't say it. I was shocked and impressed that Moffat went there in a CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. I thought he was just going to hint at Elliott abusing Kazran, but NO. Moffat sits there and says "Children get abused on every day of the year, including Christmas Day, so I'm going to make you sit there and watch this." So then we get this marvellous shot where we hear young Kazran getting hit and old Kazran lifts a hand to his cheek because it STILL HURTS, because he is STILL that abused little boy!

    The Eleventh Doctor is at his best when he's interacting with children, as proven by this video: Good God, I still melt at the cute. I feel like this is a Christmas version of "The Lodger" in some ways, because we get to see so much of Eleven's character, and yet there's a darkness there, too. Bringing young Kazran to see what he turns into? DAMN. That is cruel. Brilliant but cruel. It's as if Eleven being one of the kindest Doctors means he can also be one of the cruellest. Bit like Ten was one of the nicest Doctors so he could also be one of the nastiest.

    Favourite Christmas special by a mile.

    • Yeah I remember Fusionman posting trivia with the "fact" that Fear Her was the only episode of Who to deal with child abuse. I pointed out that it wasn't true without the spoilery addition of "anymore, thank god for that!"

      So then we get this marvellous shot where we hear young Kazran getting hit and old Kazran lifts a hand to his cheek because it STILL HURTS, because he is STILL that abused little boy!

      Beautifully pointed out.

      It's as if Eleven being one of the kindest Doctors means he can also be one of the cruellest. Bit like Ten was one of the nicest Doctors so he could also be one of the nastiest.

      A+ job! The good bit is though, at least so far we've only seen Eleven be cruel in order to be kind. But yeah, definitely the capacity for large amounts of both.

  38. WingedFlight says:

    Despite my disappointments about not enough Amy and Rory, and Abigail's fate, I really enjoyed this episode. So many clever moments and funny lines. Love the flying fish (especially the shark). Can the Doctor be my babysitter, please?

  39. Hotaru-hime says:

    I think because her family loved her and that even though she was going to die, freezing her felt much worse to her. Or perhaps he didn't know about it until after the fact and the deal was unalterable? Or perhaps he did have a spark of goodness underneath everything. But that last one is the least likely, eh?

  40. NyssaOfTraken says:

    This Christmas Special is simply magnificent. The first Christmas Special set on an alien planet, and the design work is just perfection. Everything just fits together in a subtle and coherent way. The cinematography has come on leaps and bounds even since the end of Series 5 – how is that possible? (And by the looks of the S6 trailers, that trend seems set to continue.)

    I really want the Doctor to come down my chimney at Christmas, except I don't have a chimney.

    The first kiss advice is spot on and now we know why bowties are cool.

    A flying shark puling a sleigh, a timey-wimey plot based on Dickens' original timey-wimey story, Michael Gambon acting his socks off as Scrooge/Kazran, Matt Smith doing his Sherlock Holmes thing, and snow – real snow – real *alien* snow.

    What's not to love?

  41. virtual_monster says:

    The Moff feeds on fear with his Face Spiders om nom nom. But here's a floating fish-snack of trivia…

    Flying sharks were apparently Steven Moffat's own childhood nightmare. He found sharks frightening and was terrified that they'd evolve an ability to fly and eat him in his bedroom.

    And he remembered that into adulthood and used it as a Doctor Who monster (share the fear, why not?). And then fastened it up to a carriage!

    Honestly, what's not to love?

  42. potlid007 says:

    List about this episode:

    Because the plot of the story didn't need to go anywhere, if that makes sense. With Ten, the Xmas specials had to progress the plot of the overall narrative with regenerations, losing companions, ect. Here, it was a complete story.
    Legit when he opened the thing and he was older it was glorious.

  43. Anseflans says:

    Can I just say hellooooo Danny Horn? <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    You fine man, you. And he makes music too!

    I really liked this Special, best so far. And now we wait…

  44. KVogue says:

    I'm really glad you enjoyed this episode, it's not perfect by any stretch but I think overall it's just lovely. I enjoyed a more direct relation to Chirstmas this year, and if more of the specials went along this route by modifying classic Christmas tales I certainly wouldn't mind. If only they hadn't already sort of used the elements of 'It's a Wonderful Life' because that could have been great. (I'm not really complaining though, since Turn Left is fantastic and shouldn't change except for the unfortunately stereotyped fortune teller.)

    There are so many good things about this episode, I'll try and go through them quickly before I get to the bad.
    I really enjoy just the way the city in this special looks. It looks like a city built by humans who were trying to find their footing on a new world with everyone jumbled together. I also like the costume design. Also the concept of freezing people for collateral is terrifying but awesome.

    I also love seeing all of the places the Doctor, Kazran, and Abigale went together. Any mention of Marilyn Monroe makes me happy too, so yay for that! Possible return as the historical character episode? You never really did break up with her Doctor, way to be jerk. Though I still would love to see an episode where the Doctor find Amelia Earhart. She'd make a fantastic companion for a one shot episode. I know it's unlikely though, I don't think that's something speculated about all that much outside of the US. I can dream though!

    I generally loved everything with Amy and Rory in this episode, especially "Come along Ponds!". The only part I didn't really like was where Amy tells the Doctor not to treat her like an idiot for telling her everything's fine when she asks then tells Rory everything's fine when he asks. Don't treat Rory like an idiot either Amy!

    The one thing that bothered me more than anything else in this episode was Abigale's family. I don't know if I missed something all those times I watched it near Christmas, but how are they all the same age when Kazran is a teen and an old man? Does having money on this planet make you age an an alarming rate?

    I didn't mean for that to be so scatter-brained and strangely worded. Ugh. I'm sad that this age of Mark Watches has ended. I've loved watching you go through all of the episodes and emotions (You can stop hating 'Fear Her' when Donna and River stop being incredibly awesome OH WAIT THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN SO PLEASE CONTINUE). I am excited for you to get into Avatar though, and I hope that you come to enjoy it like I came to enjoy both Doctor Who and Avatar. Now if only I didn't have class until 5:15 CST so I could see the review when it comes up!

  45. Caroline says:

    YOU ARE ALL CAUGHT UP! I'm so going to miss reading these every day. I loved having something to look forward to. Now that you're all caught up, you should watch the comic relief special. I'm sure someone has posted a link to it. Don't know if you've seen the trailers and prequel to series 6, but it looks like there will be a whole lot of WE ARE NOT PREPARED when the new series starts. 😀

    I don't have any awesome animated .gifs to share, but I do have a craft project you inspired. 🙂

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    Thanks so much for all the entertainment these past few weeks!

  46. __Juniper Aurelia__ says:

    I was not prepared for an early post, so this is a big jumble of a response for me today. This is by far my favorite Christmas special! It is epic, and beautiful and christmasy, and its focus on Eleven being eleven-ish greatly pleases me.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    The moment his fanboy self realizes that he could makethis into The Christmas Carol made me punch the air with glee. 😀 Also, this episode is INSANELY QUOTABLE. Moffat seriously writes the best funny dialogue.
    Keep the faith. Stay off the naughty list.
    Finally, a lie too big.
    The Doctor: Ahh, you'll never guess. Clever old Mrs. Montebuoni. She only went and won the lottery.
    Young Kazran: There isn't any lottery.
    The Doctor: I know! What a woman!
    Young Kazran: If you're my babysitter, why are you climbing in the window?
    The Doctor: Because if I was climbing out the window, I'd be going in the wrong direction. Pay attention.

    I could keep going, but then I'd quote the whole episode.

    How much do I love that the Doctor had epic adventures with SantaJeff and Albert Einstein at Frank Sinatra's hunting lodge? And that he married Marilyn Monroe?*
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    And that he didn't just make one snowman, he made 26!*
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    Another fabulous thing about this episode is that it had Eleven interacting with a number of children, which is basically Eleven at his very best IMO. I admit to watching the first bit with Young Kazran, and the part with the card trick and the Christmas cracker over and over again.

    I do have some quibbles with the episode that I mentioned on the spoiler blog, so I'm copy-pastaing from myself here. I'm a bit iffy on the timey-wimey aspect of the episode. As part of a contained story, I LOVE it. The idea that Old Kazran is his own ghost of christmas future, all of the changing memories, and just all the funny and emotional bits that ensue are fantastic. As part of Doctor Who, it is kind of insane. Here's the Doctor, deliberately interfering with an individual's timeline to get his own desired results- changing a personality! Young and old Kazran touched! Now, perhaps since his timeline was in flux-old Kazran had changed enough that the isomorphic controls wouldn't recognize him- there was enough of a difference that existence didn't implode, but idk. I also have issues with Abigail's character, as she is pretty clearly just a plot device. Yet, I still loved the episode as whole. 😐 I guess this is just one of those instances where I decided that I loved the narrative so much that I didn't mind hand-waving some things. I really love the idea of Christmas being a universal celebration of being halfway out of the dark. It's just a beautiful idea to me.

    However, FACE SPIDERS WTAF, MOFFAT!!?!?!? I really just noticed it when re-watching yesterday, but the throwaway mention to spiders that have evolved to live in the back of bedroom cupboards that have the face of babies, and which occasionally live inside mattresses- THAT'S JUST EVIL. Aaaaaghhghgh. I don't care if the Doctor was kidding! The very idea creeps me out now, and would have given child!me nightmares for weeks. Abigail's song is another thing of potential Fridge Horror, but I love it to bits regardless.

    All in all, this was a great story, with great acting and cinematography and pretty much exactly what I've always wanted from a Doctor Who Christmas special.

    *Apparently, it wasn't a real chapel.
    *He's been a bit busy.

  47. jackiep says:

    The Doctor as babysitter. "Face spiders" and I love the bit with the shark wedged in the door. "I get two goes then it's your turn" followed by that fantastic wave of his arms as he indicates why he only has two goes!

    And "Marilyn, get your coat" (as in the old Northern chat-up line "get yer coat, you've pulled"). Brilliant. How marvellously bonkers that in the attempt to stop a spaceship from crashing, the Doctor ends up having to go through a Las Vegas wedding.

    What is interesting is that the Doctor actually fails. Firstly, he fails to convince original Sardick to save the ship. Then he changes the boy but although he unfrosts the old man's heart, it gets refrozen again when he loses the love of his life. Then he finally succeeds in turning him into a decent man who cares about others, but that's not the man his father would have ever given the power of the cloud control system to. So Sardick starts off as a hard-hearted nasty piece of work and ends up as a lonely old man with his heart shortly to be broken for the last time.

    Loved the bit at the end though "why are you dressed like that?" "We're on honeymoon!" "Yes, but why are you dressed like that?" He clearly doesn't get the idea of dressing up roleplay does he? I also like the impression that this is one of a series of increasingly dangerous notions that the Doctor has to give Amy and Rory a perfect honeymoon.

  48. thefireandthehearth says:


    Second: You hated "Fear Her" too? Man, that episode was just… NO. BAD.

    As for the Christmas special, I both liked it, and I didn't. I liked it in that Matt Smith is always charming, and there was a fucking sky shark-pulled sleigh. (The Doctor broke the psychic paper. Seriously.) Even though it's still about the Doctor saving people, it felt like it was on a much smaller, more intimate scope. It wasn't the Doctor preventing an alien invasion- it was the Doctor trying to save some people and help a sad old man. It was, in a lot of ways, a classic Christmas story Unfortunately, I think that worked against it in some ways, especially with the non-entity that was Abigail (though her voice was gorgeous). Still, it wasn't the worst Christmas special.

    Also, Moffat just made one of my favorite pieces of fanon (Amy and Rory kinky costume play= win) into canon. Bless that insane man.


    I laughed so loudly the cat fell off the mantlepiece. I hope you're happy

  49. who_cares86 says:

    I'd forgotten about this until I saw someone else posting about Charlie's set visits.

    <img src=""&gt;

  50. Twelve says:

    Face spiders that are like baby heads with spider legs that exist in your closet and then sleep in your mattress at night? MOFFAT, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT. DAMMIT.

    • NB2000 says:

      This this this! Seriously, I've had nightmares about spiders being in my bed, THIS DOES NOT HELP ME FORGET THAT!

    • Emma says:

      I'm going to need a bit of help……..How does a liveblog work? Because of the fact I live in Australia all of the other liveblogs were either at midnight or during school, really I only have a rough idea of what a liveblog actually is (I feel so immature). Anyway, help?

      • OpenInClosus says:

        Everyone starts the movie simultaneously. For example, Mark will start his movie at 11am in California, and I will start mine at the same time, only for me it will be at 2pm in the Eastern U.S. Mark will usually post to let us know when he starts his so we can all hit "play" together. Of course, some people will be a few seconds off, but that's totally okay. Then we just all comment as our thoughts come to us. The "Last Activity" feature from Intense debate is really useful here, since there are usually so many comments.

        Liveblogs are really fun and I think you will love it! I'm glad you finally get to do one!

  51. Minish says:

    WHY am I suddenly incapable of composing my thoughts and feelings about episodes that I actually quite love, and all I want to do is go "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY THIS EPISODE WEEEEEEEEEEE!"

    FINALLY a Christmas special that doesn't try to tie in Christmas themes to a Doctor Who episode. And not only that, but it was a bloody masterpiece. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy, but IT'S CHRISTMAS. What's Christmas without a cheesy heartwarming (if not somewhat HEARTBREAKING MOFFAT OMG) tale of peace on Planet Sardick and goodwill to alienkind? Christmas and cheese go together like fish fingers and custard.

    And my GOD it was a beautiful work of art, wasn't it? That pan downward over Sardicktown after the opening credits is one of the most beautiful CGI shots Doctor Who has ever produced. And the FLYING FISH IN THE CRYSTAL CLOUDS. So pretty, guys. =')

    I'd like to quote MaryAnn Johanson now because I love how she explains this episode and I'd like to share:

    "I look at this episode and I cannot help but imagine that Steven Moffat set himself a challenge. I’m almost convinced he must have put a whole bunch of little slips of paper into a hat, each of them with snippets of story notions written on them — things like “a day at the beach” and “killer bees” and “nice Dalek” — and vowed that he would write a story using all the little disparate elements that popped up on the slips of paper he pulled out. And he pulled out these:


    “shark attack!”

    “Dickens’ Christmas Carol”

    “Marilyn Monroe gets married”

    “disaster in space”

    “famous opera singer guest star”


    "How else do you explain the insanity of the hodgepodge that is this episode? And I mean that in a good way… no, a great way. Because Moffat pulled it off. This is brilliant. Insane, yes. But genius in a way that only Doctor Who can get away with. And maybe genius in a way that only Steven Moffat can get away with."

    Favorite quote of the episode, and one of my favorites of all of Doctor Who:
    “D'y'know, in 900 years of time and space, I never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”

  52. Beci says:


    but yeah seriously, Comic Relief 2011 Doctor Who Special. V. epic. must-see

  53. Scott says:

    It kind of mess with anybody else that The Doctor took on 2 new companions for this episode and was an important part of 2 people's lives in the course of a night? Moffat REALLY knows how to play around with time in story telling.

    Random trivia: The Doctor(4) had previously made up the isomorphic controls as a lie to trick an enemy, which is why he laughed at Kazran.

  54. Minish says:

    My comment doesn't want to show up for some reason. So I'll summarize.


    The cheese didn't so much bother me because it was a Christmas special. And for once, it actually FELT like a Christmas special. And cheese and Christmas go together like fish fingers and custard.

    Favorite quote of the episode, and one of my favorites of the series as a whole:
    “D'y'know, in 900 years of time and space, I never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”

    And Danny Horn is a beautiful slice of man.

  55. "Clearly, Kazran lives by the philosophy of Puppy Dogs and Unicorn Clouds."
    I loved this 😀

    Your review is awesome! I just have to say, I loved the "Abigail singing via shark" ending, even if it was cheesy. It tied so many plot points together (Abigail being able to sing the shark to sleep, the storms being stopped by sound, the shark eating the screwdriver, etc), and tightly written Moffat plots make me squee 😀 It's a weird kink, I know, but nerdgasms are a scientifically proven phenomena :p

    (Although now I think about it, once she started singing, shouldn't the shark have fallen asleep and come crashing to the ground???)

  56. Fuchanicus says:

    Ahh, I was not prepared for an early review today! Of course, the one day I was getting out of work early and would have time to write something up before the review normally gets posted…

    Make sure to watch this clip that was released early for this episode! (I think they had a bit too much eggnog when making this video… but I love it.) Before the episode aired, everyone was calling the holiday "Smithmas" which is wonderful.

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    I love the Star Trek reboot so Simon Pegg's comment made me giggle like mad, and then someone went ahead and did this!

    <img src=""&gt;
    My favourite Christmas special, probably because it is the most Christmas-y. I laughed when you said that you couldn't figure out who Kazran/Eliot was until he started yelling. Also:
    <img src=""&gt;
    Completely what popped into my head when I heard him say that.

    In conclusion:
    <img src=""&gt;

    • blackrose says:

      That line totally made me think of Snape too, lol!

    • OpenInClosus says:

      OMG, that Snape macro is perfect! Talking about Gambon's yelling has made me think of this:
      <img src=>

  57. Kaybee42 says:

    Also, the doctor ate FISH fingers and custard!

  58. Elexus Calcearius says:

    You know, there is something about this episode which encapsulates what I love about Doctor Who so much. It is the fact that I can write the sentence “The time-travelling alien dresses up as Santa Clause and rides a flying shark in order to use to prevent a space-ship from crashing,” and have that be an accurate description for a genuinely moving episode.

    While it’s moving, though, it’s not perfect. Far from it. My biggest problem with it is definitely the characterisation of Abigail, who really had the characterisation of cardboard, and functioned as basically someone to fall in love with and grieve over. I’ll admit that since this was drawing heavily from ‘A Christmas Carol’ (No, duh), it might have been trying to keep more in line with the source material, and I also know that this special was filled with so much, in terms of plot and other characters that it might have been difficult to fit in, but still. A little more effort would have been liked, and it’s one of the instances where I think accusations of sexism towards Moffat (in the actual writing, not just interviews) is actually justified.

    Another thing I dislike is how little Amy and Rory we get, but I’m more willing to forgive this, since as mentioned it’s a very busy episode, and they didn’t need to be directly related to the plot. Plus, weren’t presumably getting an entire season with them as companions, so I’m not exactly going to be suffering over here.

    My biggest criticism from a continuity stand-point would be the timey-wimey stuff. I was able to overlook it in the Big Bang, because I figured that all of time was unravelling, and most of the laws of time are probably dead anyway. This episode does pretty much kill all rules about being a part of events, and not meeting past/future selves though, and it’s a little bit jarring. I do know you can probably fan-wank an explanation, and it does make for a beautiful and moving story though. What can I say? It’s Doctor Who. It’s never really had the greatest grasp on continuity.

    This is probably my favourite of the Christmas Specials, with the Runaway Bride following right behind because that’s got Donna Bloody Noble in it. It’s certainly the most Christmas-y of the specials, and hey, I love the trappings of Christmas, however silly it may be. I thought the plot of Karzan’s redemption was fun to watch, the dialogue managed to be both emotional and witty, and the twist about Karzan being the Ghost-Of-Christmas-Past for his child-self was a wonderful addition. Not to mention, it’s beautiful. I’m never going to be one who values eye-candy over actual substance, but it was a really great visual spectacle.

    Favourite Parts:

    1)Flying Shark. I know it’s cheesy, but come on, it’s Christmas, and Doctor Who is really one of the only shows you could get away with it.
    2)“A CHRISTMAS CAROL- ooohhh.” I love the look of enlightenment that dawns on the Doctor’s face there.
    3)“It’s got my name written all over it. Well, not actually., but give me time. And a crayon.”<3
    4)I personally thought the child abuse was handled quite well in this episode, especially compared to that other episode…
    5)The Fez makes a valiant return.
    6)The Marilyn Monroe joke was brilliant. Did you know that for a (very) short time after this episode aired, Monroe’s Wikipedia article under marriages was edited to read that she was shortly married to an unnamed Doctor? XD
    7)I thought Rory and Amy dressed as the centurian and policewomen were nice touches. 😉
    8)Micheal Gambon was great in this, and I never once got distracted and thought “Dumbledooooorrreee.”
    9)Can I just say that the moment when the Doctor disappears though the door and then you see the TARDIS appear in the old video recording is simply wonderful?
    10)I can see a little bit of Sherlock slipping through….

  59. jennywildcat says:

    THIS IS THE BEST "DOCTOR WHO" CHRISTMAS SPECIAL EVER!! If Steven Moffat had never written anything else in his life, I would love him eternally for this one episode. "A Christmas Carol" is my favorite Christmas story and I was so stinking happy when I found out that that "Doctor Who" was doing it – and even more thrilled when it turned out to be so fantastic. All I can do is gush about how much I adore it – the storytelling is solid, Matt Smith puts in a wonderful performance and I love Michael Gambon as Kazran Sardick (which is saying something because I don't really like him as Dumbledore – please don't hurt me…). Plus, this was the first "Doctor Who" I saw the day it actually aired and it was just so fun to realize that I was watching it along with the rest of the world.

    Also – I am SO EXCITED for your thoughts on the TV Movie (Paul McGann – VERY YES!), but I have class Saturday morning and won't be able to join in the liveblog (boo…) But I hope everyone has fun ^_^

    (On the subject of the 8th Doctor – Mark, if you ever get the chance to listen to some Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas with Paul McGann, you should. Even if you don't do it for Mark Does Stuff, they are well worth your time and attention).

  60. Jaxx_zombie says:

    This is my favorite Christmas Special….. BUT

    Yes, a big old but…

    I didn't like the paradox……
    With 9 a paradox was horrible and caused 9 to get eaten, and just a lot of bad stuff happened.
    When 10 came around it was the paradox machine, which somewhat made some sense….
    BUT with 11 there was no machine and nobody was eaten…. so…. it just kinda bother me….
    That's all….
    *end of mini rant*

  61. Elexus Calcearius says:

    So…..Avatar;The Last Airbender tomorrow, I presume?

    If so (and actually, this applies to whatever show you're watching next, if its not ATLA) mind telling us exactly how much you know? It shall prevent accidental spoilage, because in Harry Potter you knew the premise, so we didn't accidental spoil, 'he's a wizard'.

  62. Tauriel_ says:

    I wonder – are you going to watch "Sherlock" anytime soon, Mark? It's only three episodes, I think most people here would love it if you reviewed it before plunging into A:TLA… *nudgenudgewinkwink* 😀 Pretty please? 😀

  63. @anzel89 says:

    Yea… This is/was pretty much my reaction to the episode.

    I love Moffat and Season 5, I really really do! I just couldn't get past this backhand to the canon established laws of time travel, for the sake of a few cheap tears. -.-

    • Penworthy says:

      Omg Phelous! <3
      But yeah, I'm agreeing with you here. TBB could get away with it because the universe was collapsing, but still… I guess one could argue that kid!Elliot and adult!Elliot weren't the same person anymore because of the Doctor's meddling, but it still doesn't make sense. =/

  64. Emily Crnk says:

    All other awesome stuff aside (Universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult!) this episode has one of my favorite Who moments ever:
    Guys, the doctor is driving a sleigh.
    A flying sleigh.
    In a massive, swirly cloud on Christmas.
    Life doesn't get better than that.

  65. syntheticjesso says:

    Young Kazran could easily be a Young Rory. There were a couple times where he made certain facial expression or did certain gestures that just screamed "RORY" at me. Am I the only one?

    • VicarPants says:

      Something about his hair, yeah–I totally got little Rory from that kid, too! Until he opened his mouth, at least–the accent and tone were so different.

  66. VicarPants says:

    I love Michael Gambon until the end of time (just about wet myself with glee when I realized he was narrating the Downton Abbey sketch for Comic Relief,) but Abigail mostly just creeped me out, and I'm not sure why or if anyone else felt that way. I don't know if it's her character or just something about Jenkins, I can't put my finger on it, alas.

    Anyway, this is all I've got to share right now:

    <img src="; alt="">

    No one can tell me that pony does not have Matt Smith's hair. Which made the apple-cart incident in MLP:FiM 10x more hilarious in view of how Eleven feels about apples.

    G'head and judge me for my pony love. o/


  67. Eager_Ears says:

    Late to the party, but I had an idea about this episode’s relation to Dickens.

    As quite a few people have said, Abigail's passivity bothered me some, although it didn’t ruin the episode for me. I think the explanation that a few people (Karen and Elexus Calcearius, that I saw) made, about that plot strand coming from the fact that it’s a Dickens homage, is good and makes a lot of sense — except that Dickens' original story subverts the "passive heroine saves hero's soul" trope by having the love interest break off her engagement to Scrooge when she realizes that he's come to care more for money than for her. (She then goes on to marry someone else and live a full and happy life without Scrooge.)

    So maybe Moffat was working with that Dickens TROPE, but I think it would have been cooler if he’d followed the specific Dickens STORY closer. Abigail would have seen Kazran start to become more and more like his father, and when he finally got control of his father's empire and offered to let her out and marry her (and cure her disease?), she would have asked, “Are you letting everyone out?” and he would have said, “No – they’re the basis of my wealth, I can’t do that!” and she would have told him to put her back in the fridge and not let her out again until he had become bighearted enough to see that everyone’s important, and that people’s lives matter more than money. And he wouldn’t get to that point until he was an old, Gambon-acted man (and the Doctor had interfered as we see in the episode). And the story would be even MORE tragic. (Can you IMAGINE the scene when Kazran went as an old man to let her out? Her realizing that it took him that long to learn to be good?) And it would end with him letting everyone out while she sang, and they would all stand under the falling snow together in wonder. That version would at least give her some (limited) agency, and an opportunity to stand up for what’s right even at cost to herself. Make her a bit more like Lizzie Hexam from “Our Mutual Friend,” one of Dickens’ strongest heroines.

  68. OpenInClosus says:


    More, you say? Well, since you asked! There's the comic relief mini-episodes Space and Time, there's this little bit from the National Television Awards, and you might find Matt Smith and/or another actor you love in the SJA episodes "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith" and "Death of the Doctor."

    And it's not really relevant to this comment, but I think this gif is gorgeous.
    <img src=>

  69. OpenInClosus says:

    lol, I also thought of the spoiler blog when I saw this image. We totally should have screencapped it.

  70. enigmaticagentscully says:

    "In 900 years of time and space I've never met anyone who wasn't important before."

    That's one of my favourite ever Doctor Who quotes! 🙂
    Pretty good episode, very Christmassy, but it did feel a bit like a career vehicle for that singer, Katherine Jenkins. She had a lovely voice though.

  71. trash_addict says:

    I may not keep up with the next Mark Watches project, but I will be looking forward to the weekly Doctor Who blogs – I haven't really actively participated in fandom as it was airing for a few seasons, mainly because fandom can be a little….well, batshit crazy. But I love this community so I can't wait to discuss the new eps with everyone!

  72. OpenInClosus says:

    Ok, so I couldn’t figure out who played Kazran/Elliot for the first five or ten minutes of the show, and then Elliot showed up and yelled something and my brain instantly went to HARRY POTTA DID YA PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIYAH and then it was really obvious.

    Whatever could you mean?
    <img src=""&gt;
    by kellywormtongue

  73. canyonoflight says:

    I didn't find the singing that cheesy, but I did watch this Christmas night, so I was filled with wine and good cheer. It was a small little party I had after everyone left. Just me and the Doctor. Also milk and cookies.

  74. CharlieInWonderland says:

    Um Mark…What about the children in need mini episode?

  75. Reddi says:

    This was not my favorite Christmas ep. It was okay. I felt like the resolution was a bit too rushed.

    But what got me is WHAT the singing was… it was about the Silence. And the Carol on board was Silent Night. Somewhere in this, Moffat is dropping CLUES about the big bad.

    And the doctor is STILL MESSING WITH TIMELINES! Will he EVER learn????

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