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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special/BBC DVD)

 

Picture: B-  †† Sound: B- ††† Extras: A†††  Episode: A+

 

 

Itís become tradition for Doctor Who to have a Christmas Special every year, airing on Christmas Eve in the UK and on now on Christmas night in the USA on BBC America.  A Christmas Carol marks new Doctor Matt Smithís first such special, and he and lead writer Stephen Moffat rise beautifully to the occasion and help to deliver a dynamite re-working of Dickensí classic holiday tale of redemption.  Regular companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) are relegated to mere bit players in this tale, but they play those roles well, while the Doctor, Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon playing the Scrooge role), and the luminous Abigail Pettigrew (played by opera singer Katherine Jenkins) take center stage.  

 

In order to save the lives of his friends and many others, the Doctor must convince the ornery and seemingly loveless Sardick to aid him, and in the attempt he discovers the man possesses a tragic secret that sits at the root of his cruelty and despair.  Gambon plays this taleís Scrooge flawlessly, offering equal measures of nasty and bitter until Smithís Doctor manages to crack his armor by showing him the things in his past that made him who and what he is.  Set on a planet in the far future, the brilliant set design and excellent use of CGI create a world that blends aspects of Dickensí England with elements of modern sci-fi.  Director Toby Haynes takes Mr. Moffatís slick script and brings it to life.  Mr. Smith plays brilliantly against the unfolding tale of Sardick and Pettigrew.   

 

Although filled with plenty of action, romance, and sadness, there are moments of hilarity most often provided courtesy of Mr. Smithís deadpan delivery.  His Doctor can make the most out of just a few snatches of dialogue, and at one point, he laments at marrying a certain blond Hollywood starlet from the 1950s and 1960s.  How can a sci-fi version of Dickensí Christmas Carol lead the characters into 1960s Hollywood?  Mr. Moffatís clever plot makes it happen, and does so almost effortlessly.  As witnessed by the finale of Mr. Smithís first season as the Doctor, Mr. Moffat plays fast and loose with the concept of time travel and its effects.

 

Extras on this disc include the excellent Doctor Who Confidential chronicling the making of the special, and the complete Doctor Who at the Proms 2010.  Sounds and picture are both excellent, and the song specially written for Ms. Jenkins for this episode possesses a spectral beauty that will take hold of the viewer, staying with him or her long after the credits roll.  Matt Smith continues to make his own way as the Eleventh Doctor, and fans of the show will want to add this special tale to their collections.

 

 

-†† Scott Pyle


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