Saturday, 17 December 2016

A Christmas Carol

2010 Christmas Special: 1 x 60min episode, 25th December 2010, Writer: Steven Moffat, Director: Toby Haynes, Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg, Executive Producers: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger & Beth Willis.

Love that the planet looks like a snowball.

The Apple spaceship interior is snazzy too.

Chris@KosmicKris I know it’s expected nowadays, but i still am left breathless by the production values of the New DW!
Bob McCow@BobMcCow I would rather have had the adventure on the spaceship! That looks fab!

Someone's sent a distress call from the Honeymoon suite!

Enter Amy and Rory, both, ahem, dressed for "a bit of fun." 

The Pilot needs something to lock onto, which is why Amy sent the distress signal...

...because flying alongside them is a familiar blue box.

The message from the "other ship" reads: COME ALONG POND

"What does that mean?"
"It's Christmas!"
Chris@KosmicKris Lovely fun pre-title credit - nice set up of the danger straight away, no messing about :)

Can't say I was ever particularly fond of this theme arrangement or title sequence. 
Bob McCow@BobMcCow Lacks imagination, doesn't it? Blue Cloud Red Cloud. Like the RTD era version but a bit cheaper. And sometimes you get the thunder / lightning sound effect and sometimes not!
Mark@Th3DarkMark was this when people liked Moffat? I forget...
Chris@KosmicKris  We were just off the back of the brilliant s5 - I was full on delighted with Steven Moffat at this time..

Yes, I enjoyed Series 5 very much - I reckon it was the start of Series 6 that the honeymoon was almost instantly over, but that's for another time...!

On the planet below, an imposing tower pours energy skywards to control the turbulent cloud belt in the atmosphere.

As we journey through the town below, we hear the voice of Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon)...

"On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs, as if to say, well done. Well done, everyone. We're halfway out of the dark. Back on Earth, we called this Christmas, or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it the Crystal Feast..."
Chris@KosmicKris Half way out of the dark is a wonderful theme for this Xmas special.

Sardick is a wealthy, heartless man, Scrooging it up good and proper: "You know what I call it? I call it expecting something for nothing!"

Sardick is an unscrupulous money-lender, who takes as collateral a cryogenically frozen family member from his borrowers!
Chris@KosmicKris Shameless pilfering of Scrooge-like motifs ‘Decrease the surplus population’ - nice shorthand so we know Sardick is mean.
Mark@Th3DarkMark reckon he does 'Space Apprentice'?

Just when he's about to turn a family out at Christmas...

...someone arrives down the chimney!
It's none other than that madman with a box, the 11th Doctor! "Saw a chimney, my whole brain just went, what the hell!" 

"Don't worry, fat fellow will be doing the rounds later. I'm just scoping out the general chimney-ness. Yes. Nice size, good traction. Big tick."
Chris@KosmicKris My goodness, I miss Matt Smith! When he got the job I was full of doubts but he is just sublime. Wonderful little touches!
Mark@Th3DarkMark same here, when he was announced I was very doubtful, but he won me over with his first episode.

"Me and Father Christmas, Frank Sinatra's hunting lodge, 1952. See him at the back with the blonde? Albert Einstein."

"Stay off that naughty list!"
Chris@KosmicKris He’s clearly found his ‘Doctor’ voice here and is just effortlessly good!
Chris@KosmicKris I think this was Michael Pickwoad’s first full story? The production design is brilliant!
Darth Marenghi@DarthMarenghi Yes, Planet Dickensia is sublime. Ed Thomas was great but Sir Michael Pickwoad truly is the man for this era.

The Doctor takes an interest in the frozen woman, who Sardick says is "Nobody important."
"Blimey, that's amazing. Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important before."

Sardick - and he alone - controls the machine that will clear the clouds and prevent Amy & Rory crashing.

The Doctor tells him he doesn't have to let the 4003 people aboard the shop die.
"I know, but I'm going to."
Chris@KosmicKris For DW (and Moffat), the stakes are really rather low here - it works so well when the threats are more intimate.

Mark@Th3DarkMark "Is that some kind of a threat-y thing?"

Chris@KosmicKris Let’s be right, what a great Xmas present this was: Gambo in a roll he can rip into!
Mark@Th3DarkMark yes, he was perfect for it!

As the frozen woman's family are thrown out on their ear, the little lad chucks a lump of coal Sardick's way.  The old miser moves as if to strike him, but can't quite bring himself to do it.

Far from going unnoticed by the Doctor, this leads to some lightning quick Sherlockian deduction by the Time Lord: 

"There's a portrait on the wall behind me. Looks like you, but it's too old, so it's your father. All the chairs are angled away from it. Daddy's been dead for twenty years, but you still can't get comfortable where he can see you."

But more: "There's a Christmas tree in the painting, but none in this house, on Christmas Eve. You're scared of him, and you're scared of being like him, and good for you."

Sardick turns him out, saying that he despises Christmas, but the Doctor responds that "it's very you: halfway out of the dark." Despite everything, he's optimistic because the money lender wouldn't hit the boy. 

From the stricken ship, Amy calls the Doctor to ask if he has a plan yet.
"Yes, I have."
"Are you lying?"
"Yes, I am."

When the Doctor imparts that he's found the man who can save them but "he hates me," Amy somehow manages to guess that he was "being extra charming and clever"...

The Doctor is thanked for his earlier intervention, with the grateful man reminding him that there's a "fish warning".

Fish that can swim in air... such a Doctor Who idea.
The Doctor can save the day, by re-writing time, or as I like to call it, cheating. 

Tim@parks8472 Is it just me or was 11 a lot more about the "cheating" than previous incarnations?

I'm afraid time has shown us that that's just Steven Moffat 101, hasn't it? 
Chris@KosmicKris “…A Christmas Carol… Merry Christmas Kazran Sardick” - no attempt at disguising the homage here :)
Mark@Th3DarkMark not even remotely, but I suppose no point when it would be obvious anyway!
Chris@KosmicKris More than that, by being explicit, Moffat has saved a lot of exposition. This is the Columbo model of ‘How?'

You know what, this looks a hell of a lot more filmic than Doctor Who has of late. Hadn't really noticed that. Bring back Toby Haynes!

Chris@KosmicKris It’s utterly beautiful - sumptuous almost! I’m enjoying it so much more than I remembered :)

Later that night, then...

Sardick is awoken by one of his old home videos projected onto the wall of his empty chamber...

He watches as his tyrannical father (also Gambon!) berates his younger self for his interest in the fish.

The Doctor appears in his room. "I wouldn't bother calling your servants. They quit. Apparently they won the lottery at exactly the same time, which is a bit lucky when you think about it."

Sardick demands to know who the Doctor is.

"Tonight, I'm a Ghost Of Christmas Past..."

The old man watches in amazement as the Doctor appears in his old home video, and his memories begin to change...
Mark@Th3DarkMark quite a brilliant bit, watching your past changing before your eyes, then your memories changing. Mind-blowing!
5thdocactionfig@4thdocactinfig this reminds me of the story "Continuity Errors" in Decalog 3:Consequences. It was written by someone called Steven Moffat.

M.R.Michael@The_Cybermatt It's a mix of Continuity Errors and The Glass Princess by Justin Richards (waking Abigail for a day a year). I hate this more than anything since 1985. It robs the character and series of meaning. When the Doctor alters a person's character and personal history on a whim, it makes him a monster Its the equivalent of lobotomising a troublesome patient: he basically does a McMurphy on Sardick - He murders Kazran Sardick and replaces him with a man with the same face. The most evil thing the Doctor ever does. Sorry, you're reminding me just how utterly, jaw-droppingly horrifying that episode is.
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland A Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas special.
Chris@KosmicKris The young Sardick's pretty good & unusually not annoying :)

The Doctor finally finds a lie so big the psychic paper can't blag it: that he's a mature and responsible adult!

The Doctor taps into young Sardick's interest in the fish, promising to help him see one up close.

Kazran has always been told that the fish are dangerous, but that doesn't faze the Doctor: "We're boys, and you know what boys say in the face of danger: Mummy!"

Not sure using the Sonic Screwdriver as bait is the best idea the Doctor's ever had!

Kazran is interested in the fish *because* they're scary.

It's not long before they've got a bite.

Sure enough, a curious fish has come to investigate the Screwdriver.

But it's not alone...

The Doctor wonders what the fish eat, and the big answer seems to be each other!

He's soon diving for cover in the wardrobe.

"What colour is it?"
Chris@KosmicKris Was this the shark that was eventually jumped in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’?

Well, obviously, Sardick didn't die...

Tim@parks8472 Whoa, easy with the spoilers there, I thought his number was up LOL :D

The Doctor realizes that when the Shark smashed through the cupboiard door it wedged its' jaws open, so they can just reach inside its' jaws and pull out the sonic scredriver to subdue it.

"I've only got two goes, and then it's your turn!" 

Sure enough, the new friends tame the beast.

The Doctor's only got half a screwdriver now.

It seems the shark is dying; the fish can only survive outside the cloud belt for short spells, popping out just to feed.

The older Kazran watches as his young grows concerned for the ailing shark.

The Doctor tells him what's needed is a fully functioning life-support, and young Kazran leads him to the "Surplus Population".

More wibbly wobbly cheaty weaty as the Doctor obtains the security code from old Kazran to help him & young Kazran enter his dad's freezer.
Chris@KosmicKris  A great little shortcut to show how Sardick is being redeemed and rewritten by the Doctor

M.R.Michael@The_Cybermatt I challenge the redemption statement. A human being is replaced by an invention of the Doctor's. Scrooge is redeemed by being shown the impact of his actions. He has a choice. Sardick is killed and replaced.
Chris@KosmicKris That’s a very interesting thought :)

The "surplus population" is the people frozen as collateral by Kazran's dad, the moneylender.

They can put the Shark in one of the freezer units if they take someone out for a bit.

That's when they reach the unit housing Abigail Pettigrew, who volunteered to save her family so that she could be amongst the fish.

Young Kazran warily starts the defrosting cycle.

The shark's started to perk up in the cold, and homes in on the half screwdriver again.


Kazran and the Doctor cower, as the Shark stalks them through the ice clouds.

It's a memory that lives on in Kazran's mind...

Blimey, the Shark is becalmed by operatic renditions of Christmas carols, it seems!

Lucky Abigail's up!
Chris@KosmicKris  A clever use of music - integral to the plot and as a ‘mood cue’

The Doctor has to be  a spoilsport and "The notes resonate in the ice crystals, causing a delta wave pattern in the fog."

The Older Kazran starts to thaw, as Abigail becomes a part of his history...

Using Abigail's freezer unit, the Doctor can take the Shark back to the clouds above.

Abigail & young Kazran are stunned as they board the TARDIS.
 Chris@KosmicKris And, once more - that gorgeous s.5 & 6 TARDIS interior… Oh i miss that lots!

It suited 11 - with its Willy Wonka craziness - but I was never *that* much of a fan, I have to say.
Chris@KosmicKris I think it was the copper and burned orange colour scheme that did it for me :)

Soon enough, Mr. Bitey is doing what he does best...

...and terrorizing nearby sky shoals.

He does like showing off a bit, the Doctor, doesn't he?

Young Kazran takes her picture...

...and in the future, his older self finds the snap.

The Doctor notices the numbers on Abigail's cryochamber, and asks her what they mean, but she answers with a couple of questions - the second of which starts alarm bells ringing at the edge of his mind...

"You say you're a Doctor? Are you one of mine?"
"Why, do you need a Doctor?" Hmmmm.

Chris@KosmicKris Poor Katherine isn’t the greatest actor we’ve seen in Who.

Mark@Th3DarkMark but luckily she's gorgeous and can sing!

The Shark may have been freed, but that doesn't mean they need to say goodbye to Abigail. 

In the heat of the moment, Kazran promises her that the Doctor comes every Christmas Eve. So to speak. So they can see her again next year! 

And just like that, a Christmas tradition is born!

The numbers on the cryo-chamber count down...

For their second Christmas, the Doctor has cooked up something special...

...dashing through the clouds, on a one shark open sleigh!

They make for quite the unbelievable sight!

"Best Christmas Eve ever!"
"Till the next one!"

Christmases come and go...

...and while old Kazran is charmed by his new memories...

...(including scarves galore and a sneaky Ribos Operation homage!)...

...and time ticks away...

...his younger self grows up.
Chris@KosmicKris A clever riff on Christmas Carol - The Doctor is the ghost of Xmas Past, Present and Future; instead it is Sardick who moves.
Mark@Th3DarkMark this is probably the most Christmassy of the Christmas specials.
Chris@KosmicKris  It is a really lovely bit of Xmas nonsense :)

This year, though, Abigail has a special request... spend Christmas with her family...

Very Bob Cratchitt.

Kazran and Abigail have grown close.

When they ponder whether it'd be okay to go inside...

...the Doctor is already inside!

As Abigail catches up with her sister...

...the Doctor proves he's rubbish at card tricks.

Tim@parks8472  I know the look on 11's face; he's just seen sprouts on his dinner plate :D

He's still no good at card tricks.

It's the perfect Christmas for Kazran and Abigail...

They've fallen in love...

...changing old Kazran's memories more and more.
He comes across a photo of them in California, in 1952...

...where Abigail has something bad to tell his younger self...

...but is interrupted by the Doctor, on the run from new fiancee, Marilyn Monroe...

Tim@parks8472 Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe, that's two that must be enough; I'm sure he won't add a 3rd wife, that'd be too much :D
Mark@Th3DarkMark he never learns!

Abigail and Kazran say a goodbye that seems somehow final...

...and suddenly, something has gone wrong - Sardick says Christmas is for kids and seems to give up on Abigail.
The Doctor's able to persuade him to take the half a sonic screwdriver to call him whenever he wants.

...but as Abigail's clock finally counts down to her last remaining day, Kazran seems to decide that not only will he never see Abigail again, but that he's no more time for the Doctor. 

Instead, Kazran takes more of an interest in the family business...

...and starts to shut the Doctor out. 
Chris@KosmicKris Love that image of the Doctor standing at the window - as you said, this is wonderfully filmic!

Old Kazran's history has shifted back towards its' original path, it seems.

When the planet's President phones him up to plead the case of the , he's back to his Scrooge-like self. "It's not going to crash on my house, so what's it got to do with me?"

Though now, there's a more personal bitterness...

"As a very old friend of mine took a very long time to explain, life isn't fair!"

Tim@parks8472 Ooops... he learned a lesson alright, fairly certain that isn't what 11 was trying to convey.

Kazran sees another "ghost" - a projection of Amy, pleading from the crashing ship.
Chris@KosmicKris “A Ghost, dressed like that..” Gambo is brilliant!
Mark@Th3DarkMark  makes me want to believe in ghosts...

Ha! Something in your Christmas stocking? Suit you, sir. ;-P

Amy shows him the crew of the ship, singing for their lives, trying to resonate the crystals in the clouds like the doctor said, but it's not working, they still need Kazran's help. 
Amy asks to see Abigail. "The Doctor told me."
"Did he now?"
"You know the Doctor."
"I never met him before tonight. Now I seem to have known him all my life."

The Doctor gave Kazran hope, but it died. Abigail was terminaly ill; they used up all but her last day, so he could never see her again. "I would never have known her if the Doctor hadn't changed the course of my whole life to suit himself..."

M.R.Michael@The_Cybermatt This bit works better: the fact that the rewriting in the end isn't what makes the difference. It's the saving grace.

Amy flips things to show Kazran the people that will die if he doesn't help.

The Captain pleads their case...

... but Kazran Sardick is still unmoved. "Everybody has to die. Tonight's as good as any other. How do you choose?" 

Sardick finds himself back in his vault, where the Doctor awaits him.

"All my life, I've been called heartless. My other life, my real life, the one you rewrote. Now look at me." 

"Better a broken heart than no heart at all." 

"I don't and never will care."
"I don't believe that."
"Then show me the future. Prove me wrong."

"I *am* showing you the future. I'm showing you right now."
Chris@KosmicKris “I’m showing it to you right now… and i’m also forgetting Mawdryn Undead as well"

Tim@parks8472 I love the look on 11's face as he shows the boy his future self.

Kazran's memories make him pull back from the brink of becoming the father he feared so much...

...and he breaks down, apologizing in tears to his younger self.

The Doctor breaks the news to his shipbound mates confidently, but a bit prematurely: "I've just saved Christmas!"

But now Kazran's changed TOO much; the cloud machine won't respond.
Chris@KosmicKris “But Doctor, we’ve got Katherine Jenkins out of the fridge and we need to crowbar her singing into the plot”...

Abigail is their last hope, on her last day.

It's a bittersweet reunion as Abigail "meets" old Kazran.

"Look at you. You're so old now. I think you waited a bit too long, didn't you? Hoarding my days, like an old miser."

"We've had so many Christmas Eves, Kazran. I think it's time for Christmas Day."
Darth Marenghi@DarthMarenghi Should also put in a word for Toby Haynes' wonderful direction. Really need to get him back on the show someday!

Definitely; noted earlier how much more filmic this looks than anything we've had for a while.

The Doctor mics up the sonic, to resonate Abigail's singing into the clouds...

...opening the way, and causing it to snow! 

Amy and Rory are saved!

And so, it seems, is Kazran Sardick!

Bad luck, Abbie.

The Doctor and young Kazran watch as their old pal, Bitey McBiteface, swims happily above them in the snow clouds.

The Doctor departs to put Young Kazran back in his rightful place in time.

When the Doctor is reunited with Amy & Rory, he's been busy, with 20 snowmen under his belt! 
Sadly, the Doctor confirms to Amy that it'll be Kazran and Abigail's last day together. "Everything has got to end some time, otherwise nothing would ever get started."

A happy, if bittersweet, ending for Kazran and Abigail. 

Next time... the honeymoon's over...
Mark@Th3DarkMark well watching that was the first moment I've felt remotely Christmassy this year!


Coming Soon... Voyage of the Damned

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