Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion

A one-hour Christmas special to warm us up for the new series and
introduce us to David Tennant’s tenth Doctor. Does it work? The answers
lie in this review…

Cast

David Tennant as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Noel Clark as Mickey Smith
Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler
Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones
Daniel Evans as Danny Llewelyn
Adam Garcia as Alex
Sean Gilder as the Sycorax Leader
Chu Omambala as Major Blake

Written & Directed by Russell T. Davies

Original Airdate

Originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 25th
December 2005.

Synopsis

Christmas Eve, London: the newly-regenerated Doctor brings the
TARDIS to a rather inelegant landing outside Jackie’s flat. He then
collapses and is put to bed in the flat, leaving Mickey to try and have a
normal Christmas with Rose and Jackie. Unfortunately, a group of
figures dressed as Santa Claus playing carols in the market square
have other ideas, and flamethrowers. A full-scale alien invasion is
underway, and with the Doctor unconscious it’s going to be up to Rose
and Harriet Jones — now the Prime Minister — to deal
with the situation.

High Points

  • Most of Penelope Wilton’s appearances. As Harriet Jones MP she
    was excellent, but it is as Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, that her
    character starts to shine, and as an actress she’s more than capable of
    delivering what the role requires. Three events in particular stand out:
    her habit of introducing herself to everyone, now completely
    superfluous since she became Prime Minister; her message to the
    President of the United States of America; and her argument with the
    Doctor.
  • The opening scene showing Jackie preparing for a Christmas
    where she has no idea if Rose will be there or not. As we saw in the
    first series, this is new territory for Doctor Who. What does happen to
    the people left behind by the companions? With the continuing
    relationship with Rose’s mum and boyfriend we find out.

Low Point

Regeneration sickness has been seen before, but using it to save
the day is a little too convenient.

The Scores

So the Earth is about to be invaded by aliens. Again. Who hasn’t
done this? How many times has Doctor Who done this? How
many times in the last series alone? The main trigger for the invasion
has also been covered, although I don’t believe it’s particularly
common for the Doctor’s presence to be an aggravating factor. Three
out of six for originality, although it doesn’t really feel
stale.

The effects matched and surpassed what we’ve seen in
the previous series of this new Doctor Who. Not perfect, but
very, very good. I particularly liked the Sycorax teleporters. Five out of
six.

I greatly enjoyed the story. It’s suitably provided with
crises, a worsening situation, unpleasant choices to make and a
definite sense of Very Important Things happening. Not that it couldn’t
have been better in places, but you can’t really fault it — and I
felt that the ending was extremely good. Five out of six.

I don’t think you could have asked for better acting.
Penelope Wilton, as mentioned in the high points, has more than
enough ability to handle her role and handle it extremely well. David
Tennant has proven himself in several appearances on British television
recently, and internationally in Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire
. He’s now shown that he can be Doctor Who as well, and
delivers an appropriate level of insanity to the role. Billie Piper remains
exactly the same as she has always been, and the supporting cast are a
commendable selection, even down to the short appearance by a
policeman, much more convincing than the policemen seen in
World War Three last series. Six out of six.

The emotional response could have been stronger, but
this programme has never been about emotional extremes (with the
exception of The Empty Child last series). What it does
manage is to make you care about what happens to the
characters, and to the Earth. Four out of six.

I can’t find fault with the production, except that I’m not
entirely convinced by the filming of the swordfight. Five out of six.

Overall I have to give this episode five out of six. Not only
is it a welcome dose of Doctor Who (and slightly longer than usual
— an hour without advert breaks giving us a whole extra quarter
of an hour over the previous series’ episodes), it’s a good look at some
of the future already hinted at in the previous series, it ties the ninth
and tenth Doctors together in terms of character continuity (while
establishing some differences) and reestablishes who the Doctor is
— a major theme toward the end of the episode.

And this leaves us with a total of thirty-three out of forty-two,
mainly from the low originality score. This should not be taken as a
sign that the episode isn’t worth watching though — it most
certainly is if you’re into Doctor Who.

19 replies on “Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion”

  1. Timeshredder says:

    Aliens invade
    As you say, a good introduction to the new doctor, but I really hope we
    get away from “alien invasion of earth as seen from the perspective of
    London” in this season. It’s been done to death. They’ve also created a
    potential problem for future invasion stories in that the British,
    apparently, now have alien tech that could be used in future invasion
    stories (and in theory should radically affect geopolitics). Then again,
    such things rarely affect the continuity of Doctor
    Who
    ….

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: Aliens invade

      As you say, a good introduction to the new doctor, but I really hope we
      get away from “alien invasion of earth as seen from the perspective of
      London” in this season. It’s been done to death. They’ve also created a
      potential problem for future invasion stories in that the British,
      apparently, now have alien tech that could be used in future invasion
      stories (and in theory should radically affect geopolitics). Then again,
      such things rarely affect the continuity of Doctor
      Who
      ….

      The amount of time travel in Doctor Who means that in many cases, history is being altered continuously, and you can’t rely on one depiction of Earth in, say, 2100AD as being reliable when considering a later episode showing events in 2050AD. Also, the British defensive weaponry might one day be dismantled or disabled, or simply come up against a ship it can’t handle. I’d be willing to bet that it couldn’t do much against a Dalek or Cyberman invasion.

      I think this series they are going to leave Earth a bit; the reason to stay on Earth for the first series was mainly to help viewers unfamiliar with Doctor Who (and with science fiction in general) find their way around it, I think. Such thinga have been said by relevant people in interviews :-)

      I am hoping to see some alien worlds this time. Comments in the first series episodes imply that Rose has been to a few other planets, so let’s start having adventures there!

      • Raonaild says:

        Re: Aliens invade

        I think this series they are going to leave Earth a bit; the reason to stay on Earth for the first series was mainly to help viewers unfamiliar with Doctor Who (and with science fiction in general) find their way around it, I think. Such thinga have been said by relevant people in interviews :-)

        I am hoping to see some alien worlds this time. Comments in the first series episodes imply that Rose has been to a few other planets, so let’s start having adventures there!

        Has there been anything said to suggest they wouldn’t be sticking so close to Earth this time around? From the little clips of S2 they showed at the end of the CBC broadcast, it still looked rather Earth-oriented to me. The thing with episodes on Earth is that they can include Mickey and Jackie in the story, and they don’t have to construct weird alien environments from scratch. There have been several other years of Doctor Who that spent the whole season on Earth, so it wouldn’t be unprecidented.

        That said, I’d like to get away from Earth more too. The episode that really drew me in last year was The End of the World, which was the most alien episode of the season.

    • zocalo says:

      Torchwood
      That would be setting up “Torchwood” (an anagram of “Doctor Who” if you missed it), which is to be a spin-off series staring Captain Jack. It looks like a safe bet that Torchwood will be set in the near-present with minimal time travelling, or space travelling for that matter, leaving all of the space/time travel to The Doctor and Rose. I’m assuming that the geopolitical aspects will be explored in the spin-off, but I’m certainly not assuming that Torchwood is exclusively a defense system for London, or even the UK for that matter.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Torchwood

        That would be setting up “Torchwood” (an anagram of “Doctor Who” if you missed it), which is to be a spin-off series staring Captain Jack. It looks like a safe bet that Torchwood will be set in the near-present with minimal time travelling, or space travelling for that matter, leaving all of the space/time travel to The Doctor and Rose. I’m assuming that the geopolitical aspects will be explored in the spin-off, but I’m certainly not assuming that Torchwood is exclusively a defense system for London, or even the UK for that matter.

        When is Torchwood supposed to start?

        -Joe

  2. y42 says:

    Only caught the end of it
    I did love the “6 words” bit. I pity the fool that messes with the Doctor!

    • obiwan says:

      Re: Only caught the end of it

      I did love the “6 words” bit. I pity the fool that messes with the Doctor!

      Was that entirely psychological?

      • y42 says:

        Re: Only caught the end of it

        I did love the “6 words” bit. I pity the fool that messes with the Doctor!

        Was that entirely psychological?

        Yup, funny thing is though, I thought pretty much the same thing he said right before she made the call for the death-star laser.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Gags

          David Tennant appeared in Goblet of Fire, and I’m told that, along with the bits of previous incarnation’s costumes in the Doctor’s wardrobe, a Gryffindor scarf can be spotted. If so, it’s a great fannish touch, in an episode that also references (more obviously) Hitchhiker’s Guide… and The Empire Strikes Back.

          • obiwan says:

            Re: Gags

            David Tennant appeared in Goblet of Fire, and I’m told that, along with the bits of previous incarnation’s costumes in the Doctor’s wardrobe, a Gryffindor scarf can be spotted. If so, it’s a great fannish touch, in an episode that also references (more obviously) Hitchhiker’s Guide… and The Empire Strikes Back.

            Ok the Hitchhiker’s Guide reference is the giant threatening spaceship over Earth? ESB would be the ion cannon zapping the Star Destroyer? Did I get them right?

            • GrimSean says:

              Re: Gags

              Ok the Hitchhiker’s Guide reference is the giant threatening spaceship over Earth? ESB would be the ion cannon zapping the Star Destroyer? Did I get them right?

              Tennant makes a remark about being “very Arthur Dent-ish” when talking about being dressed in pyjamas.

              As to The Empire Strikes Back, I’d say it was more Return of the Jedi (or even A New Hope) seeing as everyone’s favourite not-a-moon isn’t in ESB.

              • Timeshredder says:

                Re: Gags

                As to The Empire Strikes Back, I’d say it was more Return of the Jedi (or even A New Hope) seeing as everyone’s favourite not-a-moon isn’t in ESB.

                I was thinking more of the scene where our villain unhands the Doc.

          • joe__gee says:

            Re: Gags

            David Tennant appeared in Goblet of Fire, and I’m told that, along with the bits of previous incarnation’s costumes in the Doctor’s wardrobe, a Gryffindor scarf can be spotted. If so, it’s a great fannish touch, in an episode that also references (more obviously) Hitchhiker’s Guide… and The Empire Strikes Back.

            k. The Gryffindor scarf is in the last scene in the wardrobe room, to the right of the Doctor as he is walking towards the camera. :) And I loved the Arthur Dent line. :)

            -Joe

            • Alexius says:

              Re: Gags

              k. The Gryffindor scarf is in the last scene in the wardrobe room, to the right of the Doctor as he is walking towards the camera. :) And I loved the Arthur Dent line. :)

              I Thought That Was The Fourth Doctor’s Scarf.

              • GrimSean says:

                Re: Gags

                k. The Gryffindor scarf is in the last scene in the wardrobe room, to the right of the Doctor as he is walking towards the camera. :) And I loved the Arthur Dent line. :)

                I Thought That Was The Fourth Doctor’s Scarf.

                I did too, at first, then I realized it didn’t have enough colours.

  3. joe__gee says:

    The NEXT episode. :)
    Sarah Jane Smith? K-9? Cybermen? COOOOOOL, even though I’m not too sure about the “Cats” rejects. I suspect the tone for this Doctor will be more physical, possibly even more risk prone.

    The turn with the PM towards her dark decision at the end kind of shocked me, but I guess that was the point, and I suspect it sets the tone for Torchwood. I see Torchwood as being an “us versus them” type of show, with “us” perpetually at a very desperate disadvantage.

    I am still trying to imagine a death laser under London. I’m surprised the Millenium Wheel wasn’t the focus. :)

    -Joe

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: The NEXT episode. :)

      I am still trying to imagine a death laser under London. I’m surprised the Millenium Wheel wasn’t the focus. :)

      -Joe

      They couldn’t use that, because that was already used as an antenna by the Nestene Consciousness during ‘Rose’.

      It should’ve been the Millennium Dome :-)

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: The NEXT episode. :)

        I am still trying to imagine a death laser under London. I’m surprised the Millenium Wheel wasn’t the focus. :)

        -Joe

        They couldn’t use that, because that was already used as an antenna by the Nestene Consciousness during ‘Rose’.

        It should’ve been the Millennium Dome :-)

        EXCELLENT idea. :) I was thinking though, since the Nestene Consciousness wasn’t using it any more … On a side note, I’m curious, do anyone besides tourists ride the wheel? Is London one of those places where tourists and visitors are more common than locals? I’d love to visit some time, but I really, really would want to see stuff besides HRH’s jewels and various houses, and all the standard tourist-trap places.

        -Joe

  4. y42 says:

    Hurrah p2p
    Finally got to see the whole thing. I have to say, I love how the aliens are borderline demons… they have some technology, obviously, but everything they did had a look of magic to it, the rocket scientist even says so. I loved that, they could have as easily been Buffy villains ;-)

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