‘Tis Actually the Season this Time
A Christmas Carol…no, stop singing. Please stop, it’s horrible; I meant the story. Is there any story more well-known than ‘A Christmas Carol’? Is there a story that has been updated and rejuvenated more than that beautiful tale by Charles Dickens? Probably not and Doctor Who’s version of A Christmas Carol might just be the best adaptation, in my opinion. So, without further ado, here is my review of ‘A Christmas Carol’ written by Steven Moffat (the episode was written by him, not my review. If he says any different, I’ll deny it!)
This story is my favourite Christmas Special solely because it is the most Christmassy. This story’s whole plot revolves around Christmas. With the other Christmas Specials, it seemed to me that they were just episodes that happened to be set around Christmas time. Their plots could have been easily taken from that setting and placed into a different one with just a few minor adjustments. If you tried to take this story out of its context, it would probably resemble a badly edited picture with all of the background still attached from the original…the point is, it’s Christmassy. Even ‘The Unquiet Dead’, which is not technically a Christmas Special but is set around Christmas and actually features Charles Dickens, has nothing on this episode in terms of Christmas spirit.
Another thing I liked about this episode was the acknowledgment by The Doctor that he was using the plot of A Christmas Carol to aid him in his plan. There have been so many adaptations that just use the plot without a character even mentioning the similarities but in this story, the Doctor has a wonderful epiphany moment and realises that’s how he’ll get Kazran to turn nice.
Aesthetically, the story was beautiful. Sardick Town seemed to have a Terry Pratchett flair to it. The sort-of-almost-steampunk-ish buildings and costumes were brilliant and worked well with the story. They really seemed to say ‘A Christmas Carol in Space’. The special effects were stunning as well. The opening shot of Sardick’s house and the clouds swirling around the top of it was absolutely gorgeous and the way the hologram of Amy and Rory and the rest of the passengers looked was quite eerie which worked well in this story.
Speaking of the story, I was so glad that Steven Moffat utilised time travel for this story in an interesting way. He could have just had the Doctor go backwards and forwards in time and show Kazran his life but he was creative with it. The manipulation of the whole ‘fixed points can’t be changed but everything else is in flux’ idea in order to in turn manipulate Kazran’s life was ingenious and having the present Kazran as the Ghost of Christmas Future was a very Doctor Who and indeed Steven Moffat way of interpreting the story. Michael Gambon was detestable as both of his characters (and I mean that in the best way possible. The way he played both Kazran and Elliot Sardick was fantastic. They were so horrible.) And I think it goes without saying that Katherine Jenkins did wonderfully in the episode both on the acting and singing fronts. While I loved Amy and Rory, I thought the decision to use them sparsely in this episode was a good one. It allowed for more time to focus on Kazran and Abigail’s relationship and gave Amy more gravitas when she appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
If there was one word I would use to describe this episode, it would be ‘beautiful’. It was visually stunning and the plot was wonderfully optimistic and full of Christmas cheer. In my opinion, this is the best Christmas Special that Doctor Who has ever produced (although, with Santa in ‘Last Christmas’, I don’t know how I’ll feel come Boxing Day). I believe this episode is worthy of a 10/10.
Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas!
Written by Joshua Gardiner