[personal profile] morganminstrel
Well, hello again, everyone! Before I begin, a request: I very seriously thought about not bothering to write anything up for this one. So, if you read and/or enjoy my thoughts about Doctor Who, please let me know. Thanks!

Ok, non-spoilery review: I've used the term "curate's egg" before, and I'd almost go so far as to use it now. That said, I liked quite a lot about this one...it just didn't quite work. It's possible that a longer running time (this was barely over an hour) might have helped, but I'm not sure. I guess it'll boil down to this: great baddies, great Doctor, slightly eye-rolling pseudo-B plot. It's honestly hard to say much more without spoilers, but I'd recommend watching it for the baddies and the Doctor/Nardole alone.

Ok, let's pull that cracker and make with the spoilers.

All right, let me say this now: Peter Capaldi was flat out bonkers-great. He's done precisely what Colin Baker wanted to do--start out abrasive and gradually ease his way into being incredibly silly and charming. (And I think Baker would have done it, too, with one more season.) His scenes with kidGrant were fantastically pitched, and I love that his cockiness was, unlike the Tennant/Smith "I'm the Doctor, you want to run now", more than a bit of a sham. There was a hell of a lot of Tom Baker in this script and performance, and that is in no way a bad thing.

Matt Lucas was a surprise. I mean, it not surprising he was funny, but his chemistry with Capaldi was fantastic. I'm glad they got around to explaining how he's returned since the last special, and I am really glad he'll be around this year. Nardole is funny, deferential and knowing how to puncture the Doctor's balloon at the same time. (Well, I guess the guy has known the Doctor for 24 years...) And he's also caring; that last bit when he tells Grant and Lucy about River Song was wonderful.

Ah yes, the Ghost and the reporter. I did have some eye rolling there, I must admit. (Oh, if anyone cares, that Superman comic the Doctor was paging through in the beginning was from the mid-80s; it was clearly drawn by John Byrne.) I did like the explanation of how Grant got his powers. Yes, it's a magic wishing stone, but, you know, at least it wasn't some kind of weird dream reality or anything. It sort of made sense in context. (Did the Doctor ever fix that temporal anomaly in New York in the '80s?)

But the whole Grant/Lucy thing felt soooo forced, didn't it? I mean, it's totally a cute idea, but it took a lot for me to buy into it. I only did because the good feeling the script gave me (and I do love Superman) put me in the mood to. But it's more than a little contrived. Yes?

The baddies--yes, I liked the Harmony Shoal. They were creepy as hell, and very well realized. Their plot was pretty dang crazy, but certainly less so than the average Cyberplot, amirite? And it felt like a bit of a weird, back-handed tribute to Watchmen, didn't it? (Blow up NYC to simulate an alien invasion=world peace in Watchmen, do the same=successful alien invasion here!) The open-ending makes me hope for a sequel if and when we get another UNIT episode....

And one definite relief is, except right at the beginning, there was no overwhelming Christmasness. There's been a big thing for years now that each year's special must be "the most Christmassy one we've ever done." (Both RTD and Moffatt have said variations on that over the years, again and again.) I was really glad we could give it a rest again this year. A bit of Christmas was ok, but geeze, once you name a damn town on an alien planet "Christmas" and have the Doctor stuck there for a few centuries....

So yeah, that's the thing. I liked the plot a lot, I just felt that the Grant/Lucy side of it felt contrived...and almost tacked on. It fell together in the end, of course, but it's definitely not one of the strongest Doctor Who stories. That being said, I'm very much down with seeing more of Capaldi and Lucas as soon as I can!

Speaking of which....

COMING THIS SPRING: Season 36! A new companion and a whole new set of eyes to view the wild, wonderful, and often terrifying universe! Bill joins the Doctor and Nardole in all new adventures--episode titles TBA! (Probably, to be fair, within the next couple of weeks...)

Click here for my previous Doctor Who episodes.

Oh, and for those who don't get the joke in the title, guess what Doctor Who was called when it ran in Mexico in the '60s? And guess what it's called in Spanish speaking countries now?
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morganminstrel

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