Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special/BBC DVD)
B- †† Sound: B- ††† Extras: A†††
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
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.
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.
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