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25 July 2015 @ 10:20 pm
NuWho Rewatch: A Christmas Carol  
Five minutes after the end of A Christmas Carol NLSS came into my office and solemnly announced that Eleven was now her favourite Doctor. For reference Nine is second favourite, followed by Twelve and she "can't remember anything at all" about Ten*.

NLSS Child adored this Christmas special and, in retrospect, it has a lot in common with In the Forest of the Night which also completely captivated her. It has the same atmosphere of magical hyper-realism though I think A Christmas Carol's fish work better than In the Forest of the Night's magical space trees. I think it has a couple of fairly significant flaws but it is actually tighter and more coherent than Davies' specials had been, and Victorian Christmas Planet has yet to completely outstay its welcome. On the down side, the basic premise - the Doctor goes back in time to change someone's life to suit his purposes - does not work terribly well in the wider context of the show which works pretty hard to explain precisely why this sort of thing doesn't work. It is very effective in the context of the story, however. It's also Moffat mining his previous work for good ideas, again, though that was sufficiently successful in Blink that one can see why he may have tried it again here. The other big problem is that Abigail's character begins and ends with "friendly and can sing"**. The fact that she is ailed by an exceptionally precisely timed and apparently entirely symptomless illness only underlines the extent to which she never really rises above the status of plot device. Michael Gambon's Karzan is very well realised, on the other hand, and I like the way the original Dickens story is used in the plot as the Doctor's inspiration rather than as a rigid template.

The Doctor Who christmas special is an awkward beast. Like the end of season finales, spectacle is required, but the various production teams, under Moffat moreso than under Davies, have obviously also felt a pressure to be "christmassy" which brings with it a real risk of the saccharine. I actually mostly like Moffat's Christmas specials rather more than I like the season finales (despite my complaints about Victorian Christmas Planet) and, despite the flaws listed above, I think this is a good one.

* I have heard numerous criticisms of David Tennant's Doctor, however forgettable insignificance is a new one on me.

** and it is unfortunate that she spends most of the story literally in a refrigerator. While Moffat, like Davies before him, has expressed irrritation with some segments of the fandom, he doesn't strike me as the kind to deliberately write a woman in a refrigerator out of spite, so I assume this is just an unfortunate coincidence.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/165465.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on July 26th, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
It's self-plagiarising in another way, as Moffat wrote a short story for one of the Virgin Decalogs which is basically this story minus Christmas, but in the library from Silence in the Library (more or less). I had a similar reaction to that story: excellent on its own terms, but awkward in the wider Doctor Who continuity. It seems that every few years Doctor Who tries to establish new rules for time travel, then quickly discovers that it wants to break those rules for a good story. It's a tough problem: overall consistency or individual greatness.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on July 30th, 2015 10:07 am (UTC)
It was the Consequences story I was thinking of, I'm now wondering what else you perceive Moffat as self-plagiarising here.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on July 30th, 2015 10:27 am (UTC)
I misunderstood and thought you were saying that he was plagiarising Blink as well.