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Day 05- Favourite Christmas television

Well, I would love to be able to say that the annual Doctor Who special is my favourite Christmas TV. And indeed it probably is fair to say that one of my favourite parts of Christmas Day is sitting down to watch that year's Doctor Who special. But the truth is that the story-telling in the Doctor Who Christmas specials usually falls solidly within the bottom quartile for quality by comparison with the ordinary weekly episodes produced in the same year, and the one broadcast last Christmas (Narnian forests and tropey guff about motherhood, for those who have blanked it out) was just awful.

Meanwhile, on a stage which extends beyond Christmas Day itself, the Doctor Who specials have to contend with The Box of Delights, and they simply cannot win that fight - not any of them. Quite apart from the fantastic theme tune and opening sequence, Box offers childhood nostalgia, time travel, snowy landscapes, Romans, magic, paganism, scary wolves, some absolutely fantastic villains and Patrick Troughton.

It isn't perfect. I don't know what's changed in how child actors are trained since the 1980s, but you definitely seemed to get a much higher incidence of clipped woodenness back then than you do now. I was also surprised to find, when I bought myself a DVD of The Box of Delights last December and re-watched it for the first time in at least a decade (and only the second time since my childhood), that the story was much less well-paced and structured that I had remembered. But it is a tribute to how captivating it was to me as a child that a very vivid memory of the individual scenes, characters and excitement of the whole story has stayed with me all that time. It captures a very British sense of Christmassy magic, without descending into cliché and schmaltziness, which I really don't think any other seasonal TV production has ever come close to.

So this has to be my nomination for favourite, and I am already looking forward to watching it again this Christmas. This time, though, at the steady rate of one episode a day until Christmas Eve, à la altariel, rather than all in one joyous rush of rediscovery like last year.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2012 01:38 pm (UTC)
The Box of Delights! I loved that show when I was a kid! I still get little flashes of particular scenes in my head now and again. I'm happy that someone else remembers it so fondly :)
Dec. 7th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC)
I definitely recommend getting hold of the DVD and rewatching it. Those scenes will be every bit as magical as you remember them - although as I've said above, the story as a whole may not make quite as much sense as you once thought.
Dec. 6th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
Hah! I bought that last Christmas and we haven't watched it yet. I think I will try watching an episode a day with Charles ...
Dec. 7th, 2012 10:14 am (UTC)
Do! He will love it. There are six episodes, and the last is set on Christmas Eve, so what I'll be doing this year is starting with episode 1 on the 19th, and carrying on up to the 24th.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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