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.