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12 November 2014 @ 10:37 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Christmas Invasion  
David Tennant it transpires did not do a great deal in his first outing.

It is relatively easy to understand the temptation to construct Tennant's first episode around Rose's reaction to the regeneration as opposed to the Doctor's new character. After all this approach worked very well in Rose in which she represented the new audience being introduced to the character of the Doctor and the concepts of the show. I'm not sure it worked so well here, in part because there was relatively little for Rose to react to. The Doctor, after all, wasn't doing a great deal for much of the story.

The story is also, of course, experimenting with the idea of how people cope with an invasion without the Doctor but the ideas here are not very well put together. [personal profile] ed_rex has been talking recently about the way Rose takes charge in The Satan Pit but here, a few stories earlier, her reaction is primarily to hide. It's possible that this was intended as a deliberate contrast with the episode to come but I'm not entirely convinced. I've also never really been happy with the way the Harriet Jones plotline was presented. I think RTD probably had his doubts about it as well since in her final episode (IIRC) she asserts that she continues to stand by her decision here. Among other things it is difficult to believe even the Doctor is capable of bringing down a government with the words "Don't you think she looks tired?". Of course this is setting up the tenth Doctor's vengeful god persona but it feels clumsy and out-of-place here.

NLSS Child was pleased with the return of Harriet Jones but I'm not sure she thought much of the rest of the story. Certainly it was followed by an extended hiatus (for reasons somewhat beyond our control) from Who viewing beyond the weekly episode and she didn't appear particularly keen to return and see more of Tennant's run.

I was expecting to like this story more than I remembered, but I think its the first one on this rewatch which I haven't really re-evaluated. It works fine as a Christmas special, but I continue to dislike episodes that focus on the after-effects of regeneration and find the approach towards paradoxes being taken by these stories confusing and ill-thought out. Where the stories in season 9 were working with a small set of themes and a clear sense of direction The Christmas Invasion seems to be making its points in a clumsy fashion and is unclear about how the themes the production team wants to explore with this new Doctor really fit into the narrative they wanted to tell.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/132203.html.