see that's the thing. I'm the Doctor.
beyond that I just don't know.
I do not know who I am. It's all untested..."
Jackie Tyler is at home preparing for the festive season, unsure of whether
or not her daughter Rose will be home in time, when she hears the familiar sound
of the TARDIS.
Mickey, who is hard at work, also hears it and they both race across the estate
just in time to witness its glorious, chaotic crash landing. The doors open and,
much to their delight, out steps Rose and a complete stranger.
Except it isn't a stranger. It's the Doctor.
Disorientated, yet overwhelmed to see them, he takes a few minutes to regain
his balance and considers what it is he wants to tell them before yelling: "Oh, I know! Merry Christmas!" then
The Doctor falls in and out of consciousness, with Rose and Jackie powerless
to help him. In a bid to boost Rose's spirits, Mickey suggests a spot of Christmas
shopping, but they soon find themselves under attack by a sinister brass band
of masked Santas.
Not-so Happy Christmas, everyone!
It seemed like an age since June.
In the lyrical words of "WHO CARES" back in 1985, "six months is too long
Waiting is something that DOCTOR WHO fans are very good
at, whether an epic three hour wait in a Longleat Convention autograph queue
or sixteen years for a new series to be commissioned.
With the first Christmas Day episode since 1965, THE CHRISTMAS INVASION had
the similar marketing hype that Christopher Eccleston's first episode had earlier
in the year but could it ever match (or exceed) its predecessor's impact? Not
only is Eccleston a 'bigger draw' but also Christmas is a busy time for potential
viewers. Selection boxes to rummage through, lost Grandparents to be salvaged
from a mass of discarded wrapping paper, and gifts to be opened. And then there's
the plethora of televisual options to choose from.
How on earth could a British sci-fi fantasy TV show be noticed?
Oh, but it did.
From the opening "oh, yes!" opening sequence
of the TARDIS ram-raiding the Powell Council Estate, pin-balling itself from
building-to-building over the heads of Rose's mum and (former) boyfriend, Russell
T Davies' THE CHRISTMAS
INVASION hinted at an epic. For the next hour, the episode rocketed
from one set piece to another set piece, leaving even the most jaded, plum pudding
laden viewer wanton.
Weapon wielding Santa Claus; a mentally unstable Doctor; dervish-like homicidal
artificial Christmas Tree; seemingly suicidal earthlings; a vast spaceship hanging
over London; a decisive sword fight for which planet Earth was the prize.
You cannot make it up! If you see what I mean.
It could be said that Davies is a one-trick
pony with yet another Earth-based story, with the same threats (i.e. another
invasion) to the same array of characters (i.e. Jackie, Mickey and, now Prime
Minister, Harriet Jones MP). However, whether it is being a "one-trick pony",
or playing safe or retaining the essence of the DOCTOR
WHO DNA, the unfolding tale of family, loss and anti-war was rewarding
and refreshing (more so for being on Christmas Day). And, of course, there's
a smattering of adult innuendo that either makes you smile or wince.
Unashamedly, it's a two-part story and like a TERRY'S CHOCOLATE ORANGE, each
segmented into delightful shareable treats.
First part: focusing on Rose's relief to
return home and her pain & frustration
that the new man at the centre of life has changed/died and re-born.
Second part: the Doctor's revival, restitution and reprobation.
The first "segment" takes Rose back to the bosom of familiar; her mum, Mickey,
and her manor. All of which, as we have seen from Davies before, establishes
the cosiness only to be shredded (literally in the case of a razor-tipped revolving
festive decoration) by an alien invasion but with a incapacitated Doctor she
has to be step up to the plate. Has travelling with the Doctor furnished her
with the resourcefulness and wits that she has so admired? Or has she merely
been a parasitic joy rider within the TARDIS? This is her defining moment, becoming
the person that she had longed to be - independent, strong and, finally, a woman.
And, the Doctor seemingly dying, she said it for herself; "Someone has to be
ROSE (addressing the Sycorax): I command you to leave this world with all
the authority of the Slitheen Parliament of Raxacoricofallapatorius and the Gelth
Confederacy, as sanctioned by the Mighty Jagrafess, and the Daleks. Now leave
this planet in peace!
Okay, the Sycorax scoff in her face but she tried; a character that has come
of her age. The same can be of both, to differing levels, of Jackie Tyler and
Whether or not Davies' intended to make Jackie
softer, less abrasive, less CARRY
ON. , Camille Coduri's alter ego is, for the first time, likeable and,
like a Swiss Army Knife, useful. Her grocery list tirade as the Doctor's struggles
with pain is skillfully crafted not only as a piece of 'light comedy' but it
demonstrated as this Council Estate worldly mum only could her warming to the
time traveller. After slapping him across the face (ALIENS
OF LONDON), she
was redeeming herself the only way she knows - 'smotherly love'.
Query: why does Benefit recipient, Jackie
have a bottle of expensive Abbey Well Spring Water in her fridge? Even though
she is, under the new Harriet Jones' "Golden
Age" Government, surely she'd be buying 'value range' groceries?
Mickey Smith played "Adric". A supporting role that adds little to the episode
other than to remind viewers that the concept of 'family' is central at Christmastime.
We are promised that his time will come in SERIES 2.
Additionally, as part of the first "segment" is
Davies' anti-war sermon and how one decision can be correct and damned simultaneously
depending on your point of view. His foray in side swiping at those who govern
is nothing new (See WORLD
WAR THREE: ".massive weapons of destruction. Capable of being deployed
within forty-five seconds...") but here he sets out a political stance that leaves
PRIME MINISTER (of the USA President):
He is not my boss and he is certainly not turning this into a war.
A comment that came back to haunt this inexperienced
leader as she embraces wilful destruction without a comprehension of inevitable
consequences. As Davies said: "She does that very easy speech about not listening
to the American president but at the end she's out of her depth and she does
the wrong thing."
And again it is the Doctor's responsibility,
as Earth's 'champion', to hypocritically
admonish her. Indeed, he seems to be a Doctor without 'second chances' for those
cross the line.
It is within the second "segment" of THE CHRISTMAS INVASION that
we meet the (Tenth) Doctor for the first time, (seemingly) free from Vortex energy
and completely regenerated.
Like his performance in CASANOVA,
David Tennant is an actor that does not precociously demands attention for his
on-screen performance; he just deserves it. A talent. An effortless performance
every time, and, having spent some 40 minutes flat on his back, is rewarded with
a defining monologue that will be recreated by ardent fan look-alikes at conventions
for years to come.
THE DOCTOR (to Rose): Am I ginger?
ROSE: No. You just sorta brown.
THE DOCTOR: Oh, I wanted to be ginger. I've never
been ginger. And you, Rose Tyler! Fat lot of good you were. You gave up on me.
Oh, that's rude. Is that the sort of man I am now? Rude. Rude and not ginger.
THE DOCTOR (to the Sycorax Leader): You see that's the thing. I'm the Doctor
but beyond that I just don't know. Literally, I do not know who I am. It's all
untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?
(Winks aside to a bashful Rose)
Mild misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter?
A coward? A traitor? A liar? A nervous wreck? I mean judging by the evidence
I've certainly got a gob.
THE DOCTOR: No second chances. I'm that kind of man.
Defining three words, pertinent to not only
aliens invading Earth and hypocritical governments but no doubt TARDIS travelling
companions (remember Adam - see THE
LONG GAME). We have been warned.
However, with the planet safe (.for the time being.),
normality returns to the Tyler household. Turkey, Brussels sprouts and a man
who can change his appearance.
And that's where it all kicks off again.
A universe of possibilities, a garrulous Time Lord and a bored wanting teenager
and Police Public Call Box.
Unlike the "stupid Satsuma" abandoned in
the Christmas stocking, this special episode is like finding, well, a special
episode of DOCTOR WHO printed
on the Christmas Day page of the RADIO TIMES.
Beguiling, imaginative, funny, flawless and pure magic.