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Festive Who

Paul Cornell's festive story, The Hopes and Fears of All the Years was nice to have, but I wasn't bowled over by it as a Who story, TBH. I mean, I know it's Christmas, and sentimentality is the name of the game. But the 'What the Doctor really wants is a cuddly nuclear family all of his own' button is a bit too easy to press, and needs to be handled with more subtlety than it was here if the Doctor is to retain his essential alienness. The idea of the Doctor experiencing someone else's lifetime more quickly than they do has also been done too recently, and too well, in The Girl in the Fireplace, as has the creation of a time paradox by sending notes into the past or the future in Blink. In short, it felt fanfic-ish. Which is a pity, because I know Cornell's capable of better things.

As for Voyage of the Damned, I laughed like a drain at cavalorn's parody of its sillier aspects this morning. But while Cav is Quite Right, the silliness didn't stop it being a pretty good watch all the same.

It was fun to have it set off Earth for one thing. I mean, obviously near enough to Earth to get the Christmas theme in. But it rang the changes all the same, and helped to stop the Christmas special 'genre' getting stale. It also made sense in terms of the Doctor's current companionless status, too. He didn't have anyone to tie him to the Earth - and although last year that was solved by using Donna to pull him there, it seemed to me like a good call not to do that in quite the same way again.

I guess nothing too 'big' in terms of story arcs can happen in the Christmas special. Rather like the Children in Need skits, it has to stand apart from the main storylines, so that it's a nice bonus, but it doesn't matter too much if people miss it. But I thought there were some nice low-level references to the Doctor's ongoing character development. For one thing, he's obviously pretty clear now where he stands in relation to companions after his time with Martha. He's looking all right, and would certainly have taken Astrid. But he has his standards, too. He's not desperate, and alas poor old Mr. Copper wouldn't do (and didn't really want to travel anyway - he'd done that all his life, and you saw how excited he was when he realised he could finally have a house!).

Actually, Astrid probably wouldn't have worked out long-term, either - she was too much of a perfect match, really, and would have got dull. But as it was, her death, and the Doctor's embarrassingly desperate, close-but-no-cigar failure to rescue her, have served the narrative purpose of reminding him both of his loneliness and of his limits. Nice touch - especially after all the Magic Doctor stuff at the end of the last series.

The clearest indication of his state of mind, though, came for me in his answer to the aggressive "Who the hell are you anyway?" from Mr. Hard-Ass Corporate Whore: "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Timelord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old...." From someone who only mentioned Gallifrey by name for the first time (in New Who) during last year's Christmas special, that's a quantum leap forward in his sense of ease with his own identity. I'm not surprised they foregrounded it so much in the trailers - and I wonder what it will foreshadow in the series ahead? After his experiences with the Master, he's clearly no longer afraid to stand as the last representative of his people, and it seems to me that he is ready to take on Universe-shattering things as a result.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 26th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
Dear god, cavalorn is a genius!
Dec. 26th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
Methinks you speak aright. :-)
Dec. 26th, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
I wonder what it will foreshadow in the series ahead? After his experiences with the Master, he's clearly no longer afraid to stand as the last representative of his people, and it seems to me that he is ready to take on Universe-shattering things as a result.

Or, it could be just gratuitous bad writing on the part of RTD, dropping the Doctor squarely out of character, picking a really unworkable party to base the plot around, continuing his determined march up his own rear end with the whole messiah-imagery thing, and generally sending the whole special spiralling off into the land of bad American action-hero B-movies.
Dec. 26th, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC)
Ya - could be read that way, too. ;-)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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